Frank Teruggi

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Frank Teruggi, Jr. (1949–1973) was an American student and journalist[1] from Chicago, Illinois who became one of the victims of the American-backed General Augusto Pinochet's military shortly after the September 11, 1973 Pinochet coup d'état against Socialist President Salvador Allende.

A Chilean court in 2014 found that the United States played a key role in Teruggi's murder.[2]

September 11, 1973

On September 11, 1973, Chilean presidential Palace was bombed and democratically elected president of Chile Salvador Allende, died. A coup d'état led by General Augusto Pinochet took place in Chile and a military regime was imposed.[3] It has been referred as the Chilean coup of 1973. Teruggi's death, as well as the death of fellow journalist Charles Horman, occurred as a part of the wave of killings, torture and kidnappings that took place as the military regime solidified its control over the government of Chile. Teruggi's death along with Horman's death were the subject of the 1982 Costa-Gavras film Missing.[4]

Arrest and death

On September 20, 1973, nine days after coup d'état, Frank Teruggi, in the same way as Charles Horman, was seized by Chilean military at his home and taken to the National Stadium in Santiago, which had been turned into an ad hoc concentration camp, where prisoners were interrogated and tortured and many were executed.

In the film Missing, by Costa-Gavras, Teruggi is depicted as a contributor for a small newspaper and friend of Charles Horman who had spoken with several US operatives that assisted the Chilean military government. The film alleges that Horman's discovery of US complicity in the coup led to his secret arrest, disappearance, and execution.

American complicity in the Chilean coup was later confirmed in documents declassified during the Clinton administration.The declassified documents mention Terrugi as one of the Chilean military executions and initially US embassy officials in Santiago released the false information that he had returned to the United States. His body was later found in a Chilean morgue among the "unidentified bodies" of the victims of the regime.[5]

Book, film, and television depictions of the case

The main character of the Missing (1982), directed by Greek filmmaker Costa-Gavras, was Charles Horman, but Teruggi is also depicted and his fate is described in the film by David Hathaway, his roommate who was arrested at the same time Teruggi was. Teruggi was portrayed by actor Joe Regalbuto.

When the film was released by Universal Studios, Nathaniel Davis, United States Ambassador to Chile from 1971 to 1973, filed a USD $150 million libel suit against the director and the studio, although he was not named directly in the movie (he had been named in the book). The court eventually dismissed Davis's suit. The film was removed from the market during the lawsuit but re-released upon dismissal of the suit.

State department memo

For many years thereafter, the US government steadfastly maintained its ignorance of the killing and torture of Americans in Chile. It was only in October 1999, that President Bill Clinton ordered the release of a document admitting that US intelligence agents played a role in the deaths of Americans. The United States Department of State memo, dated August 25, 1976, was declassified on October 8, 1999, together with 1,100 other documents released by various US agencies which dealt primarily with the years leading up to the military coup.

Written by three State Department functionaries — Rudy Fimbres, R.S. Driscolle and W.V. Robertson and addressed to Harry Schlaudeman, a high-ranking official in the department's Latin American division — the memo described the Horman and mentions Teruggi's case as well.

2011 indictments

On November 29, 2011, Chilean judge Jorge Zepeda indicted Ray E. Davis, commander of the U.S. Military Group in Chile during the time of the coup, along with Pedro Espinoza, a member of Chilean army intelligence, in the murders of Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman.[6] Teruggi and Horman were among the 40,000 who were detained in the Stadium.[7][8][9] In 2012 Chile’s Supreme Court approved an extradition request for Davis. As of September 11, 2013 the U.S. has not yet been served with the request.[10] Davis, secretly living in Chile, died in a Santiago nursing home in 2013.[11]

See also


  1. Bonnefoy, Pascale (November 29, 2011). "Chile Indicts Ex-U.S. Officer in 1973 Killings". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Chile: U.S. Had Role In 'Missing' Killings of Two Americans. NBC News, July 1, 2014.
  3. Sept. 11, 1973: A CIA-backed Military Coup Overthrows Salvador Allende, the Democratically Elected President of Chile
  4. Chile and the United States:Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973 - National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 8
  5. Ad Hoc Interagency Working Group on Chile (1970-12-04). "Memorandum for Mr. Henry Kissinger". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2010-11-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Americans Testify In Chile". Orlando Sentinel. July 18, 2001. Retrieved 2010-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Bill Vann (17 May 2002). "Chilean court reenacts stadium execution of American journalist". Retrieved 2010-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Jonathan Franklin and Duncan Campbell (June 12, 2002). "Kissinger may face extradition to Chile". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2002 - Chile". UNHCR. Retrieved 2010-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Horman, Joyce (11 September 2013). "Justice for Charles Horman – and the truth about the US and Chile's coup". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Chilean court links US intelligence to 1973 killings of two Americans. The Guardian, 1 July 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2015.

External links