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Declarations & Statements



Muriel Dockendorff Navarrete was born in Temuco[1] on the 2 March, 1951; the daughter of Ana María Navarrete Mulsow and Tomás Dockendorff Mulsow. What follows is the testimony written by her mother in 1986. This English version contains slight modifications aimed at making the text clearer to English speaking readers.

From an early age my daughter showed an interest in reading. She was very sensitive and loved music, art and nature. When she was five she entered the German School in Temuco where she received a prize for her German, given to pupils whose parents did not speak that language. Her flair for languages was manifested years later, when she studied English at the Chilean-North American Institute - she became fluent in that language too.

My daughter then went to the Holy Cross School of Temuco for two years before spending the last year of secondary education at the Liceo Vespertino de Temuco, a state school for students who have to work and can only study during the evening.

I believe that these changes of school showed her how people from different social classes lived; from expensive private schools to a free college, where the pupils had not had the opportunities or the money to study in better conditions, but where the desire to make something of their lives had lead them to seek education in the evening, after work.

In 1970, she received a scholarship to study in Mexico. She then travelled through the United States and then to Colombia, and all this contributed to heightening her political awareness. On her return she attended the faculty of Social Studies in the University of Temuco which she didn't like so she re-sat the University Entrance Exam with great success and went to Concepción[2] to study Economics. During this time she was noticed as a resolute and determined person who also had a sensitive and artistic side; she composed verses which were set to music and included in the repertoire of the local choral society.

On the 2 May of 1973, only a few months before the coup, she married Juan Molina Manzor, a fellow economics student at the university. The military coup on the 11 September of that same year caught her by surprise in Santiago. She was never able to return to Temuco, as her position as a student leader in the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR)[3] meant she was in serious danger. The terrible fate suffered by many of her comrades and friends was beginning to be known.

During the time that followed she wrote, read a lot and looked for work. That is how she found work in IANSA[4] for a short period.

In 1974 the situation got worse and in June of that year she was arrested together with her husband in her house in Santiago by security police from the FACH (the Chilean Air Force); this arrest was carried out in my presence. Subsequently she was set free although her husband remained in detention. Unfortunately, her freedom only lasted 20 days as this time she was arrested by the secret police, the DINA.[5] The persons who arrested her in her house were Marcia Alejandra Merino and Osvaldo Romo. Marcia Alejandra was a member of the MIR who was tortured and then forced into locating and identifying her comrades, a tactic frequently used by the DINA. Muriel had met Marcia Alejandra in Concepción and had helped her while she was on the run hiding from the police.

Marcia Alejandra knew where my daughter lived and did not have any problems finding her; the arrest took place on the 6 August of 1974. From that date on I never saw my daughter again.

Seriously ill with cancer I started to search for her - I went to ProPaz[6], I visited the prison camps such as Tres Alamos, Sendet, Tejas Verdes and I also travelled to Puchuncaví, where Muriel's husband was in prison in the hope that he might have heard something from other prisoners who might have seen her.

We presented writs of habeas corpus before the Appeal Court, and then to the Supreme Court. Letters were sent to the Interior Ministry, to the Ministry of Defence and to hundreds of other official bodies, none of which was ever replied to.

We obtained many sworn statements from people who were with her in the DINA's secret torture centres of Cuatro Alamos and Villa Grimaldi. There is news of her up to 1975, and I have proof that she was in Villa Grimaldi with Sandra Machuco, who is today living in exile in Mexico. Muriel wrote a message to her, together with a poem for her husband in a cigarette packet, before being taken away to an unknown destination. Both the message and the poem were handed over to me in person by Sandra before she fled abroad.

In 1975, in July, a fateful list of 119 Chileans who were said to have died in "armed encounters with other extremists" in Brazil and Argentina was published.[7] These names were first published in the Brazilian daily papers Lea and O'Dia. Muriel's name appeared in one of these lists. This was a terrible blow for the relatives of those on the list, who had only been searching for detainees. It filled them with desperation but also made them strong. Rapidly, an incipient movement was born and the search without rest for news of the whereabouts of our loved ones went on as the information published in the government lists was clearly false.

When the government decided to close down ProPaz, the Catholic Church offered refuge and legal help to the relatives; from this the Association for the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared was formed.

As a mother I have always taken an active role in the Association's work in spite of the poor state of my health. In the Association I found a real family who understood my pain and could share my agony. Now my best friends are within the association. My work will not end until I find out what happened to my daughter and to all the other disappeared prisoners. It has been a long and hard road, with many setbacks and times of desperation. That does not matter, I will continue where destiny takes me, in Chile, abroad, wherever.

My life has changed radically. Without any political knowledge, I could not understand anything of what was happening. In these long years I have done something I never dreamed of doing - I learned to give a completely different focus to my life, to be compassionate, to share and to be brave in adversity.

My struggle is to learn the truth of what happened to thousands of people, and above all to obtain justice, so that the guilty are punished, as they deserve. Do Pinochet and his government believe they are Gods, that they can take life when they feel like it and plunge a community into misery and terror? No, I cannot accept that and while I have life and the health to do so, I will continue to struggle against injustice.

Translated by Remember-Chile

Translator's/editor's notes:

  1. Temuco is a city some 430 miles south of Santiago in an area identified with the Mapuche native people who supported Allende and were repressed after the coup as a result.
  2. Concepción is a city 320 miles south of Santiago, a university town that suffered heavily from repression after the coup.
  3. The MIR or Movement for the Revolutionary Left was a radical student movement politically to the left of President Allende's government and as such was heavily persecuted after the coup.
  4. IANSA, or Industria Azucarera Nacional S.A. , a national company that extracted sugar from sugar beet.
  5. DINA, the Spanish acronym for National Intelligence Directorate, the Chilean army's secret police. Headed by General Contreras who was answerable directly to General Pinochet. Contreras is currently serving a prison term in Chile for being the intellectual author of the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit in Washington DC in 1976.
  6. ProPaz was the forerunner of the Vicaria de la Solidaridad, these organisations were set up by the Catholic Church to help relatives of the disappeared.
  7. This information, extensively repeated by Pinochet's subservient Chilean media, was eventually denied by the countries concerned.

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