Members of Pinochet's Infamous <i>Caravan of Death</i> Jailed by Chilean Supreme Court

In 1973, Augusto Pinochet overthrew the government in Chile through a USA backed a military coup. Shortly thereafter, he formed a military committee nicknamed Caravan of Death. For years, these men, led by Gen Sergio Arellano Stark, traveled across the country eliminating anyone they saw as a threat to Pinochet's rule, mostly left-leaning activists or vocal opponents of the new dictatorship.

Stark, now 88 years old, was recently convicted by the Chilean Supreme Court and will serve six years for ordering the murder of four men at a military prison in southern Chile. Four other retired military generals are reported to have been sentenced to jail time ranging between 4-6 years.

"It's great news, above all for the families of all the victims of the Caravan of Death which, we now know, got its orders to murder and kill from Arellano Stark," said Hugo Gutierrez, the plaintiffs' lawyer, after the sentences were passed.

In May, 2008, over 100 hundred former secret police and soldiers were rounded up under suspicion that they had committed human rights abuses for the notoriously violent Pinochet. It was the largest round-up of its kind since the end of the military leader's rule 18 years ago. The detentions were announced as part of a probe into Operation Colombo, a 1975 plot to murder left-wing opponents of Pinochet. The Caravan of Death was a particularly bloody committee of Pinochet's soldiers assigned to handle the task.

More than 3,000 people were killed or disappeared in Chile between 1973 and 1990 under the general's rule. Pinochet died on December 10, 2006, and while he was formally accused of fraud and human rights abuses, his poor health prevented him from facing trial. Some believe that the officers who stand accused of the abuses deserve the same sympathy, Arellano's lawyer, Claudio Parker, described the sentence as "extraordinarily unjust" saying his client was in no condition to understand the proceedings of the trial or his sentence due to his age.

What do you think? Do you believe the old age and health of these men should allow them to skip out on their sentences? Or do you think that no matter the age, they should have to pay for the crimes they committed against humanity?

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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