Unfinished Business

Mary Helen Spooner

in The General's Slow Retreat

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520256132
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948761 | DOI:
Unfinished Business

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Olga Weisfeiler, sister of the Pennsylvania State mathematics professor who disappeared in southern Chile in 1985, was horrified to find information about her brother's disappearance in some of the documents the U.S. State Department had declassified in 2000. She read and reread the documents, which suggested the U.S. embassy had neglected to pursue the case. A lawyer for the Weisfeiler family was able to get the case reactivated, with Judge Juan Guzmán presiding. Olga, accompanied by her two children, traveled to Chile for the first time at the end of 2000, meeting with Guzmán and U.S. embassy officials, who promised full cooperation and support for the investigation. For two years Guzmán worked on the investigation, along with a sizeable backlog of other cases of Chileans missing or killed during the military regime. Even as U.S. officials raised the issue with their Chilean counterparts and the government of President Ricardo Lagos professed its support for the investigation, the judge encountered so many obstacles that he was unable to rule out any hypothesis in the case.

Keywords: Judge Juan Guzmán; Chileans; missing persons; military regime; Olga Weisfeiler

Chapter.  7732 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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