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Olga Weisfeiler unyielding in the
search for her brother Boris
by A. Weisfeiler
WEISFEILER AS DETERMINED AS EVER IN CHILE
Hopes To Make
Progress In Case Of Brother’s Disappearance
(March 28, 2006)
For the fifth time, the sister of Boris Weisfeiler is back in Chile,
trying to attract attention to her brother’s strange disappearance
in 1985 and push his case forward. Olga Weisfeiler plans to meet
with officials from all areas of government, adding that she is
“optimistic about the new faces” in power in Chile.
Weisfeiler, who was a math professor at Pennsylvania State
University, is the one U.S. citizen still unaccounted for among
1,119 people who disappeared during the 17 years of Chile’s
On Monday, Olga delivered a letter
to La Moneda, signed by a group of 14 US Senators and
Representatives, urging President Michelle Bachelet to “continue the
investigation of Professor Weisfeiler’s disappearance, so that a
resolution to this tragic case can finally be
Early Tuesday morning, she will meet with Judge
Zepeda, who is in charge of her brother’s case. Olga says that she
is frustrated by the number of times the case has been transferred
from one judge to another, and she hopes that Judge Zepeda will
finally be able to make some progress.
Later this week she
expects to meet with U.S. Ambassador Craig Kelly and Chile’s State
Defense Council, the legal arm of the Chilean government. She also
hopes to meet the president of Chile’s of the Supreme Court and
President Bachelet herself, whom she met in 2002 when Bachelet was
the Minister of Defense.
Olga hopes that her persistence
will pay off. “We have come here to push every possible government
agency forward,” she said, adding that, “if you don’t push, nothing
will get done.”
Olga recalls that her brother Boris had said
he would call her upon his return from a hiking trip in southern
Chile in January, 1985. Days passed with Olga waiting anxiously for
a call that never came. Finally, a friend of Boris called her to say
that he had not returned and that his green backpack had been found
on the banks of the Nuble River in southern Chile.
government conducted a cursory investigation, concluding that he had
drowned in the river. Olga never believed that account.
Then, in 1987, a Chilean military informant 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, he was alive and being held in Colonia
Dignidad, a secretive colony founded by a known paedophile and
former member of Nazi Germany's air force. Colonia Dignidad is now
known to have been a torture centre used by the military
Olga visited Colonia Dignidad in November of 2004 to
learn more about her brother’s disappearance. But she wasn’t able to
find any answers. “They were evasive. We saw almost no people there.
They (the new leaders) are not saying that he isn’t there, they just
say that they are too young to know what happened 20 years ago. It
is very depressing. I kept looking and thinking in which corner,
under which tree is my brother kept,” Olga told The Santiago Times.
She remains focused on uncovering the truth behind her
brother’s disappearance, despite years of indifference from the
Chilean government, and inaction by the U.S. embassy and government.
Olga says that during the crucial months and early years
after her brother's disappearance, “They didn't do anything, the
embassy. They did nothing.”
In April 1986 – more than a year
after Weisfeiler's disappearance – Consul Jayne Kobliska wrote in a
memo, “the real danger in this case is that we will delay action
until it is too late to either save Weisfeiler's life or to
determine the true circumstances of his death.”
says now, however, that things are changing and that in recent years
the U.S. Embassy in Santiago has been “active and supportive for a
On March 8, the same group of 14 Senators and
Representatives sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza
Rice urging her to address the disappearance when she met with newly
elected Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
There is hope
that Bachelet – who was herself a victim of torture under the
Pinochet regime – will push harder for answers than her
predecessors. Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman, said
that Rice did address the issue with Bachelet. “She (Rice)
emphasized the importance that the U.S. government attaches to this
case,” Higgins said. “And the Chilean president said it was
important to Chile, as well.”
Bachelet told Rice that new
investigations in the Colonia Dignidad case are yielding new
information, Higgins said.
Until the details of her brother’s
disappearance are brought to light, Olga Weisfeiler will not rest:
“we must leave no stone unturned,” she said.
By Geoff Burt (firstname.lastname@example.org)