Chile’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights Launches Archive Dedicated to the Case of Leopoldo García Lucero

As the 50th anniversary of General Augusto Pinochet’s military coup in Chile approaches on 11 September 2023, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos) in Santiago de Chile has created a permanent archive in their collection dedicated to the case of Leopoldo García Lucero, a REDRESS client

Leopoldo was arrested as a supporter of Allende, after Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup by General Pinochet in September 1973. He was held in several concentration camps, including the National Stadium, where he was tortured. He was subsequently forced into exile in the United Kingdom with his wife and their three daughters, leaving all their loved ones and possessions behind. 

In a landmark decision on 28 August 2013, almost 40 years after the events, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the highest human rights court in the Americas, issued a landmark ruling in his case, ordering Chile to provide him with reparations, including compensation for failing to complete a criminal investigation into his torture; funding to cover the costs of his medical treatment in the UK and a public apology. It was the first time the Court had decided the case of a living survivor of torture under Pinochet’s dictatorship, opening the way for similar cases to be brought by other exiled torture survivors from the Pinochet era. It is estimated that during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) around 200,000 Chileans were forced into exile and over 38,000 survived torture. 

This initiative by the Museum of Memory and Human Rights reinforces the museum’s commitment to shedding light on the human rights violations that occurred under the Pinochet regime, allowing “a reflection which transcends what happened in the past” in order to construct a better future, and thereby acting as a further form of reparation and redress to the victims.

Although Leopoldo died on 18 August 2021 his legacy endures as a symbol of resilience and bravery in the fight for justice for survivors of torture. Leopoldo stood for other victims of torture as well as for himself. His case created a precedent that will serve as a reminder that this should never happen again, anywhere in the world. 

Photographic Portrait of Leopoldo García Lucero by Fiona Lloyd Davies

At the time, Leopoldo said of the Court’s decision: “Overall what satisfies me is that this ruling sets a precedent not only in Latin America but for the whole world so that it doesn’t happen again.” 

The Museum’s permanent archive is a vital resource for researchers, activists, survivors, their families, and individuals seeking to comprehend the injustices that unfolded throughout Chile’s history. 

The newly launched archive on Leopoldo’s case provides a comprehensive collection of documents, including legal proceedings, testimonies, expert reports, and other evidence that exposes the violations he endured.  

REDRESS is honoured to have been involved in Leopoldo’s quest for justice and continues to work to secure the full implementation of the Inter-American Court judgment. 

Read more about Leopoldo’s case here.

Read more about our work to deliver reparations for survivors of torture here.