President Bachelet met with Olga
Weisfeiler, daughter of missing US professor Borris
Photo Courtesy of Olga Weisfeiler
At a Tuesday press conference, Olga Weisfeiler
expressed frustration over the lack of new information
concerning the disappearance of her brother, Boris
Weisfeiler. In the presence of newly arrived U.S.
Ambassador Paul Simons, Olga said authorities have not
done enough to investigate the case’s most important
leads. “Much time has past and, nevertheless, the
three most important leads — the role of Chile’s
military in Boris’ disappearance, the role of Colonia
Dignidad, and Máximo Pacheco’s relationship with the
informant ‘Daniel’ have not been investigated in depth,”
Olga told reporters.
Boris Weisfeiler, a
naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Russia, was a
math professor at Pennsylvania State University. He
disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 1985 while
hiking in the south of Chile.
“He wanted to
enjoy your country (Chile),” Olga said on Tuesday. “He
was not interested in politics at all.”
government of former dictator Augusto Pinochet
maintained that Weisfeiler had simply drowned while
hiking near Region VIII’s Ñuble River. Still, Olga
refused to believe these claims.
Then, in 1987, a
Chilean military informant known only as “Daniel”
appeared and told U.S. embassy officials that he was a
member of a patrol that arrested a foreign hiker two
years earlier and concluded he was a Russian spy.
According to the informant, Boris was alive and being
held in Colonia Dignidad, a secretive colony founded by
a known pedophile and former member of Nazi Germany's
air force Paul Schaefer.
Besides ruling his
followers with an iron fist, Schafer turned the colony
into a torture center used by Pinochet’s secret police
force during the 17-year dictatorship. It was not until
Chile’s return to democracy in the 1990s that the
charitable tax status of his organization was revoked
and Schaefer prosecuted for crimes committed in Chile.
Meanwhile, between 1987 and 1997, “Daniel” met
with Chilean and American officials on at least eight
occasions, all of which have been documented by articles
declassified by the U.S. government in 2000. Four of the
meetings occurred in the office of Santiago lawyer
Máximo Pacheco, during which time "Daniel" said that his
life had been threatened.
occurred with the former U.S. Consul Larry Huffman and
Vice Consul Phillip Antweiler. “Daniel’s” final meeting
occurred in 1997 with José Viera-Gallo, who was a
senator at the time, but now serves as Chile’s Secretary
General to President Michelle Bachelet. The meeting was
facilitated by radio talk host Ricardo Israel, who
arranged for the two to meet.
Encouraged by the
declassifiaction of US government documents, Olga first
came to Chile in 2000. In subsequent trips, she met with
dozens of officials, including U.S. ambassadors, judges,
and Michelle Bachelet, who was serving as Chile’s
Defense Minister at the time. Olga would meet with
Bachelet again in 2006 after she had assumed the
Olga also visited the Colonia
Dignidad, located near the Region VII town of Parral,
both in 2004 and 2007, but said she left the colony
In spite progress at the start of
the decade, Olga said Tuesday that Judge Jorge Zepeda,
who is currently in charge of the case, “has not
responded to offers of help from the United States
embassy, which includes the cooperation of the F.B.I.”
Olga adds that many of the U.S. documents have still not
been translated into Spanish, and that Zepeda has
refused grant the Weisfeiler family lawyer, Hernán
Fernández, access to documents prepared by the police's
“He is not accepting any
help from anybody,” she said.
lamented that Chile’s Armed Forces have remained largely
silent about their involvement in Boris’
“No, there is nothing at all. No
new developments…it seems like everyone who has any
connection to my brother here is gone,” Olga
When questioned by the Santiago Times about
what the U.S. Embassy has done to pressure the Chilean
army, Ambassador Simons said embassy officials “have
arranged a set of meetings between army officials and
Ms. Weisfeiler.” Simons would not comment on whether or
not he believes that there is a “pact of silence” among
Chilean army officials.
“I have waited enough. I
have waited for news in this investigation. I have
waited for better times, while other human rights cases
have been solved… I am extremely disappointed that we
have not made more progress when we have had so many
opportunities to do so,” Olga said.
sometimes that this case will be solved. I do not know
when. I do not know how,” she told the Santiago Times.
“But, health permitting, I will continue to come. I will
do so as much as I can…I need to find out about what
happened to my brother. I need to find the truth to the
case. I need to know. It needs to be done. I have no
The Santiago Times maintains an in-depth
archive of the Boris Weisfeiler case, and Olga maintains
a website dedicated to her mission for truth at
By Matt Malinowski
and Alicia Word (editorATsantiagotimes.cl)