The Guardian December 12, 2001


Chile: familiar forces behind attacks on Communist Party

by Bob Briton

As the Communist Party of Chile (CPC) prepares for the country's 
parliamentary elections, a clearer picture is starting to form about which 
forces were responsible for the recent brutal eviction of the Party's 
Central Committee from its building in Santiago.

Progressive people and organisations from around the world have roundly 
condemned this latest attack on the Chilean Party.

It involved the storming of the building located in the San Pueblo district 
of the capital on November 27 by more than 300 police (Carabineros). They 
were accompanied by trucks carrying water cannons and tear gas equipment. 
The police isolated the headquarters by cordoning off the four city blocks 
surrounding the building. 

Inside, the Carabineros left a trail of destruction. Paper and broken glass 
litter all three floors and computers and other equipment that wasn't 
stolen were simply destroyed. The occupants were physically and verbally 
abused during the eviction. Women were dragged out by the hair.

Altogether 50 people were brutalised, arrested and detained including the 
Party's General Secretary Gladys Marin. Five of the detainees were 
seriously injured.

Throughout the night Party activists and supporters continued their brave 
efforts to re-enter the building. A small group actually achieved this 
goal.

In the port city of Valparaiso, demonstrations which broke out at news of 
the eviction were ruthlessly suppressed by baton-wielding police, water 
canons and another wave of arrests.

The Party was given no notice of the eviction. The first they knew of the 
event was when a reporter came to the building and announced his intention 
to cover the forced evacuation of the building.

The Party was thus able to call its lawyers to the headquarters but their 
intervention was to be ignored by the invading Carabineros.

The series of events leading up to the eviction points to the operation of 
forces hostile to the Party. The saga began in 1975 when the leadership of 
the then clandestine Party sought to buy a property for its eventual use in 
the name of some friends of the CPC.

To further obscure the Party's ownership, its nominal "ownership" was 
transferred from one supporter to the next. Unfortunately, at a certain 
point one of these stand-in "owners" placed the property in their family 
company, which later incurred debts requiring the sale of the building.

The court authorities in Santiago ordered that the building be auctioned. 
It was eventually bought by a company identified only as "JQ", which has as 
one of its principals a person who has been imprisoned on a number of 
occasions for fraud.

JQ had not been properly incorporated and, aside from buying the building 
that housed the CPC's Central Committee, had shown no evidence of any other 
financial activity. 

Taking advantage of an improper leasing agreement with the Party, JQ sought 
and was given an eviction order by the courts.

This document was signed by none other than Silvia Papa who was accused by 
prosecution lawyers in the recent trial of Augusto Pinochet of falsifying 
the medical records of the former dictator in an attempt to thwart the 
proceedings against him.

As was previously mentioned, no notice was given to the Party of the 
impending eviction. When the appointed court official first met with the 
CPC's lawyers outside the building immediately prior to the eviction, 
witnesses attest that she agreed that the Party's lawyers ought to be given 
24 hours to try to sort matters out. She was promptly escorted to a police 
bus and the barbaric rampage ensued.

Government figures from President Largos through to the new director of the 
Carabineros, General Cienfuegos, have denied knowledge of the eviction 
plans or involvement in them.

Some commentators have suggested that the heads of the Carabineros took 
part in the ransacking as a protest for being removed from the authority of 
the military and placed under the control of the Minister for the Interior. 
Others suggest it was a gross misunderstanding caused by transfer of power 
to the new police chief.

In any case, the Government has felt guilty enough to provide a temporary 
headquarters for Party. This was crucial seeing that Chilean law requires a 
Party to have its HQ's address lodged with the electoral authorities at 
least a fortnight before the election date. Could opponents of the Party 
have been unaware of this potential for additional inconvenience for the 
CPC?

The Party has now moved into its temporary accommodation with barely any 
equipment and without its list of activists and helpers. It is severely 
handicapped in its preparations for the forthcoming elections.

However, militants of the Party have shown great courage in the face of 
this latest challenge and are committed to do their utmost for the eventual 
liberation of their people.

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