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BRIEF: WEISFEILER MEETING, PLANT EXTINCTION, AND SUPREME JUDGE
(April 24, 2006) Also in the news over the
SOURCE: LA NACIÓN, LA TERCERA
By Geoff Burt, Jen
Sotolongo, and Matt Malinowski
U.S. AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH
As part of the FBI’s new investigation into
the disappearance of American citizen Boris Weisfeiler, U.S.
Ambassador Craig Kelly met last Thursday with Jorge Zepeda, the
judge in charge of human rights investigations at Colonia Dignidad.
Weisfeiler, a math professor at Pennsylvania State
University, is the only U.S. citizen still unaccounted for among
1,119 people who disappeared during the 17 years of Chile’s
Weisfeiler disappeared during a
hiking trip in southern Chile in January, 1985. Two years later, a
Chilean military informant told U.S. embassy officials that he was a
part of a military patrol that arrested a foreign hiker two years
earlier and concluded he was a Russian spy. According to the
informant, he was alive as of 1987 and being held in Colonia
Dignidad, now known to have been a torture center used by the
military regime (ST, March 23).
Boris’s sister Olga has
stated her desire to meet with current Army Commander-in-Chief,
Óscar Izurieta. She believes that members of the military patrol
that detained her brother 21 years ago still have information about
PLANT SPECIES UNIQUE TO CHILE FACE
A recent study by the University of Chile found
that native flowers species in Paposo, a desert area located on the
coast of Region II, may become extinct within the next eight months,
principally because of unfettered goat grazing.
provides a habitat for between 80 and 140 different species of
flowers. Of these species, 50 and 60 percent exist only in Chile,
and 15 percent are endemic to Paposo, found nowhere else in the
The study revealed that one quarter of these plants
are either endangered or face extinction and calculates that within
eight months three species of flowers could be wiped off the globe.
The most threatened specie is the Blue Dhalia, with only 110 plants
The main threat to these plants are the 2,500
wild goats that eat them down to the roots and tromp through the
area destroying the plants with their hooves.
and the construction of miner paths are other factors that threaten
the plant species.
Environmentalists are working to protect
the plant species, encouraging plant preservation in environmental
information centers and by encouraging community involvement in
Paposo’s location is unique. It is situated
in an isolated valley in a desert climate adjacent a mountain range.
“The high peaks of the mountain range act as a natural barrier to
the marine air that runs along inside the valleys. This allows for
the levels of humidity to rise somewhere between 200 and 800 meters
high,” said environmental biologist and project coordinator
Francisco De la Barra.
PROGRESSIVE JUDGE RESIGNS FROM
Supreme Court Justice Enrique Cury announced
that he will leave his position on June 1 of this year. Cury, who
first started working in the Court in 1998, was to retire in
Cury was appointed to the court by former President
Eduardo Frei. Unlike most court appointments, Cury’s background was
not as a judge, but rather as an academic and attorney. His
appointment to the Supreme Court came only after extensive judicial
reforms aimed at revitalizing and democratizing the Supreme
During his years on the bench, Cury supported rulings
in favor of international human rights treaties on human rights,
saying they override Chile’s controversial Amnesty Law of 1978 (ST,
Since he currently sits on the Supremc Court’s
criminal law bench, there is concern that his replacement may not
adhere to a similar interpretation of the law.
Michelle Bachelet must select Cury’s successor from a slate of other
lawyers who are not judges. The Supreme Court will propose the slate
after filling the vacancies created by the retirement of Judge Jose
Benquis and the death of Judge Domingo Kokish.