August 1, 2003
Meeting with the officers of the Department of State
According to the World Status Map issued by the State Department in October 1984 Chile was a safe place for American travelers. That map was found on my brother’s desk.
My brother, Boris Weisfeiler, arrived in Chile on December 25, 1984 for the purpose of spending his winter vacation in a solitary hiking trip in the South of the country. He had disappeared January 4, 1985, in the area near Colonia Dignidad, a sect-like German enclave in the South of Chile (document # 1). Ten days later on January 14th his backpack mysteriously appeared and was found by a hunter on the river’s edge.
On February 6, 1985 a Penn State mathematician offered the US Embassy in Chile to post reward money for information on Weisfeiler fate/whereabouts. The offer was rejected by the US Embassy; it was suggested that the issue be addressed to the State Department (#2).
On March 4, 1985, the case and legal investigation, requested by the US Embassy, was closed by the local Chilean judge; the cause of death was stated as accidental drowning. Nevertheless, in October 1985 two consular officers on two separate occasions visited the area again, collecting information from some still unidentified informants (#3, p 6 of 10/17/1985)
From early 1985, the disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler in Chile was connected to Colonia Dignidad. The facts discovered and publicized by the press (#4, #5) aroused suspicions: Boris was trying to cross Los Sauces River but was forbidden to use the cable-car bridge by its guards; the Army and Carabinero patrols, apparently involved in the so called ‘search’ party, were relocated to other posts across the country soon after; the only known civilian witness, Luis Lopez, who was the last person to have seen Boris alive soon died in an apparent suicide.
Numerous reports received by the US Embassy during the years suggested that the disappeared American “is or was kept imprisoned inside Colonia Dignidad.” Several documents contained reports that he was alive for some period of time (# 6). On June 20, 1987 the US Embassy had been told by an informant that the disappeared North American was alive and being held in Colonia Dignidad as recently as early June 1987, and retained in Colonia as a caged prisoner (cable of June 23, 1987). The identity of that informant is still unknown to the investigation, only his alias “Daniel”. The Chilean attorneys, working on the case, found out that during one of the interviews of the informant in 1987 an FBI agent from Washington DC was present. Chilean investigators strongly believe that Daniel’s real identity is hidden somewhere in the State Department files.
A CIA memorandum dated November 1987, based on the testimonies of another still unidentified informant, stated: “Weisfeiler was detained by either a Carabinero or army patrol and interrogated, fatally beaten, then thrown into the river somewhere near the confluence of Nuble and Sauce.” The fore mentioned report is the only CIA report declassified on the subject: “A situation in Chile involving ‘Colonia Dignidad’.” (#7). There is no evidence of Boris’ actual death; he might still be alive today.
In November 1989/February 1990 the State Department/Embassy refused to finance a Chilean attorney, to be hired by the embassy, to reopen the investigation (#8, #9). The offer made by the American Mathematical Society in 1986 “to pay the cost of whatever help they can get” seemed to be forgotten (#10). $10,000.00 collected by friends for the search of Boris was donated to the Pennsylvania State University for a series of “The Boris Weisfeiler Lectures”.
A second report, which confirmed Daniel’s description of Boris’ kidnapping, and apparently written by Daniel yet again, was received by the US Embassy on March 22, 1990. The report stated that on January 4, 1985, in the South of Chile, an American Boris W. with a Pennsylvanian drivers license, was detained by the Chilean Army patrol, brought to Colonia Dignidad, and interrogated there (doc.#11a). That second report was never again mentioned in the declassified embassy/State Department correspondence and is not even on the State Department/FOIA web site; there is only its cover letter which suggested: “According to [Pacheco] our records should indicate who the source is” (#11)
The declassified note, written some time after February 1991 declared: “Since Mr. Weisfeiler’s whereabouts are still unknown, the US government maintains an active interest in this case, as it would in the case of any missing citizen anywhere in the world” (#12). The newly declassified documents, however, on no account mentioned Boris’s case for a period of six years: from April 1991 until May 1997, when the subject “Missing American Citizen Boris Weisfeiler” appeared yet again in the State Department correspondence (# 13). It confirmed suspicions of officers of the US Embassy that Boris was killed in Colonia Dignidad; yet, no actions ever had been taken to press the Chilean Government for full accounting. The information on Boris’s disappearance and his possible murder in Colonia Dignidad was classified and secretly kept in the State Department files for fifteen years, until year of 2000.
A few month later, in October 1997, a radio talk show in Santiago received a call concerning my brother’s fate, which was followed by a written statement delivered to the US Embassy saying that Weisfeiler had been tortured and killed by Germans in Colonia Dignidad (#14). According to handwriting, that statement was written once again by ‘Daniel’ (compare #14, 15, 11a). For some still unknown reason he changed the story; this was the first time he stated that my brother was killed. There is no indication for the date of the apparent murder.
In January 2000, even before the documents on Boris Weisfeiler disappearance were declassified, the case was reopened by my attorney in the San Carlos Court, VIII Region. Attorney Hernan Fernandez, who specializes in criminal investigations, became the first attorney ever to officially represent my brother in the courts
On April 1, 2000, the US government sent a diplomatic note to the new Chilean government requesting “an accounting of the fates of four US citizens who were either killed or disappeared during the period of military dictatorship.” The State Department demanded that the new Chilean government of Ricardo Lagos mount “a vigorous and thorough investigation aimed at uncovering the facts, and in accordance with Chilean law, prosecuting those responsible.”
On June 30, 2000 the US Department of State made public a third batch of the records related to Chile 1979-1991. On the case of Weisfeiler’s disappearance alone, these included more than 400 of the U.S. Embassy/State Department cables and memoranda. Later on, in August 2000 I had a meeting with then-Assistant Secretary Harold Koh and other officers of the State Department to discuss the case.
In October 2000 at my request the case was transferred to the Santiago Court of Appeals to Judge Guzmán. The case of Boris Weisfeiler, the only American disappeared in Chile, became complaint number 169 against former dictator Augusto Pinochet, leader of Colonia Dignidad Paul Schäfer, and others responsible for my brother’s disappearance.
Later on, on October 16, 2000 attorney Hernan Fernandez informed me: “In a search of the Colony were found hundreds of folders, referring to politicians, authorities of the catholic church, rabbis, political parties, embassy of the United States, Israel; among them was one nearly empty folder labeled ‘BORIS WEISFEILER’.”
In an effort to discover the real identity of the informant, in late November 2000 some uncensored declassified documents were delivered by the US Embassy to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Those documents were released strictly to Judge Guzmán in early December 2000. By that time, the State Department admitted that the documents did not contain the informant’s identity, only his alias.
In early December 2000, my family for the first time ever went to Chile. We discussed the case with then-US Ambassador John O’Leary and Judge Guzman. While I was in Santiago, the US Embassy provided me a few newly declassified by the State Department documents for the period 1997-2000. Some of the documents demonstrated the failure of the US government to follow up the case and press the Chilean officials to reopen the investigation in 1998.
On May 19, 2002 the front page of Sunday issue of the New York Times published an article “Hints of Cruel Fate for American Lost in Chile” (#16). The article said that President Lagos would accept/permit the FBI assistance in the investigation; to the best of my knowledge there is no a FBI participation in the investigation to date (locals rejected the lie-detector test).
In October 2002 the Chilean Supreme Court transferred Boris Weisfeiler’s case to another judge - Minister Alejandro Solis. Judge Solis became the third judge during the past three years responsible for the case.
In December 2002 we went to Chile again. We had meetings with Chilean Minister of Defense Michelle Bachelet, US Ambassador William Brownfield, Judge Alejandro Solis, and others. We also traveled to the actual place of my brother’s disappearance (# 17). There we had found new witness and new evidence. First of all - the information on a second person who saw my brother on the day Boris vanished. That person, Manuel Asensio, had died suddenly in a lake some fifteen years ago, apparently from a heart attack. As it was mentioned above, the first witness, Luis Lopez, also suddenly died in 1985, just a few months after my brother disappeared. — The facts that confirm the conspiracy theory and cover up by the Chilean officials. Another witness, a local farmer, claimed that he had himself found footprints on the ground and on the water’s edge left by a stranger. Eight month later that witness has still not questioned either by the Police or by the Judge. The Washington Post published report of our trip to the place of Boris’ disappearance: “Tracing a Mystery of the Missing in Chile” (#18). Upon returning from Chile in December 2002 I sent letter to Chilean President Ricardo Lagos demanding the closure of Colonia Dignidad. The letter was published on different web sites in Chile, Sweden, and on our web site which is dedicated to the search for my brother.
On June 6 2003 I sent letter to Ambassador Brownfield in regard of Secretary Colin Powell’s visit to Chile; I was requesting to raise the unresolved issue of my brother’s case with the Chilean government officials (with a copy to Mr. Mittnacht). I received a reply from Mr. Mittnacht saying that: “asking the President to become involved in a judicial matter would without doubt be seen by President Lagos as improper interference in the affairs of another branch of government” On June 24th I sent another letter (enclosed) to Ambassador Brownfield requesting the FBI contact with Judge Solis and its active involvement in the investigation; I also asked to consider offering a reward for the information on my brother fate. I have had no reply.
In attempts to put political pressure on both governments, the United States and the Chile, and help to move the investigation forward, letters on my behalf were sent to Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Colin Powell, and to the US and the Chilean Ambassadors. Additionally, during the past three years I, on many occasions, had contacted Pennsylvanian Senators, Congressmen, and officials of Penn State. I am in contact with Massachusetts Senators Kennedy and Kerry. Congressman Frank was in correspondence with the FBI and the CIA offices in attempt to find out the identity of the informants – at no avail. Barney Frank, with assistance of Mr. Kovar, continues to provide major support in my search for truth and justice. And last but not least, Peter Kornbluh, senior researcher of the National Security Archives, endlessly makes available help and support in my endeavor. Two legal teams, the US’s and the Chilean’s, Human rights attorneys, are working on the case pro bono. But the investigation desperately needs very specific information – names of the informants. I am asking you, the officers of the Department of State, to make that information available for Judge Solis. To make the investigation into the disappearance of an American citizen in Chile successful, I would like to request:
1. The identity of ‘Daniel’; of the Embassy’s informants (October 1985); of the CIA’s informants;
2. The FBI/technology active participation in the investigation;
3. FBI’s active contact with Judge Solis;
4. Reward posted by the US government for information on Weisfeiler’s fate/disappearance;
5. Raise the Colonia Dignidad/American citizen’s disappearance issue with the Chilean government officials, asking for immediate actions against Colonia Dignidad.
1. Embassy memorandum “Eyes only”, April 10, 1985: “Thus, at the time of his disappearance Weisfeiler was either on or very near to the Colonia property.”
2. Embassy memorandum, February 6, 1985: conversation with Prof. Ross Irwin: “The Consul General stated in reply that such an offer of reward to Chilean government authorities might be constructed by them as insulting. She suggested that the reward offer be referred to the Department in Washington for appropriate consultation and action.”
3. Embassy cable, October 17, 1985; subject welfare-whereabouts: case of Boris Weisfeiler. Summary: Weisfeiler case has taken a most serious turn with statements to embassy officers by […blank…] that he suspects Chilean police killed Weisfeiler….
4. The Washington Post, July 1, 1986: U.S. Presses Case of Missing Professor - Chilean claim of drowning doubted; no body found.
5. The TIME magazine, May 16, 1988: Colony of the Damned – Bizarre allegations plague a West German settlement.
6. Embassy correspondence: to Mr. Penn, February 21, 1985: “…he asked me to ask you if there is any way to refresh, revive, update that one contact you had that suggested W. was still alive.”
7. The CIA report on the subject “A situation in Chile involving ‘Colonia Dignidad’.”
“In […] November 1987 [….blank….] (source) […blank…] provided his impressions of the Weisfeiler case…”
8. Embassy cable, November 20, 1989; Subject: Request for approval of legal services – Weisfeiler case. “Department has no objection to the post’s employment of private local counsel … provided the cost of the legal services will be paid for with post’s funds. Baker”
9. Embassy memorandum, February 6, 1990; subject: Funding for Weisfeilor case.
“At present time there are no funds available in Post S&E allotments for this project.”
10. Embassy cable; May 23, 1986: “The U.S. Society is prepared to pay the cost of whatever help they can get.”
11. Embassy cable: March 22, 1990; from political secretary of the US Embassy Nancy Mason: “According to [Pacheco} our records should indicate who this source is.”
11-a. A report on Boris W. fate and disappearance brought by Pacheco; March 22, 1990. In the FOIA documents it dated as 3/30/90 (in Spanish).
12. Correspondence addressed to Harrach: “Since Mr. Weisfeiler’s whereabouts are still unknown …. The ex-Colonia Dignidad property is located approximately 10 miles north of Weisfeiler’s alleged drowning site.”
13. Embassy memorandum (unclassified); May 21, 1997 – document was declassified in November 2000. Subject: Missing American citizen Boris Weisfeiler; “Murder, possible by the Colonia Dignidad members, was suspected.”
14. “Anonymous” report on Boris Weisfeiler fate/murder delivered to the US embassy in October 1997 (in Spanish).
15. Hand written map made by informant “Daniel” in June 1987, pointing the places of Boris’s arrest and delivery him to Colonia Dignidad (one of cables mentioned that an informant during the interview drew the map).
16. The Washington Post story by Pascale Bonnefoy: Tracing a mystery of the missing in Chile, January 18, 2003.
17. Map made by the local judge on January 31, 1985. – The map is showing the place we visited in December 2003.
The meeting was held in the Congressman Barney
Frank's office, with the presence of Congressman's Chief of Staff, Peter Kovar;
and Peter Kornbluh, the Senior Researcher of the National Security Archives.
From the State Department were present:
1) Robert Jackson, Director, office for the promotion of Human Rights and Democracy (DRL);
2) Jeanette Davis, the same office;
4) Len Kusnitz, Deputy Director, Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs (WHA);
5) Matt Phillips, office of Legislative Affairs (H);