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Sister Of Boris Weisfeiler, Missing In Chile Since 1985, Gets Support From U.S. Congressmen | Print |  E-mail
Written by Adrienne Lee   
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 06:45

In a letter addressed to Sebastián Piñera on June 11, more than 50 U.S. Congressmen called on the Chilean president to support continued investigations into the disappearance of a Penn State University mathematics professor during the Pinochet regime.

Boris Weisfeiler vanished while hiking near the Argentine border in southern Chile in January 1985. His is the last reported “disappearance” during the Chilean dictator’s 17-year rule.

Chilean authorities under Gen. Pinochet declared after a cursory investigation that the 43-year-old mathematics professor had drowned in the Ñuble River, but declassified documents from the U.S. government alleged that he was in fact detained by the military and sent to a secretive German enclave called Colonia Dignidad.

Under the direction of former Nazi Paul Schaefer, who recently died in prison serving out his sentence for committing pedophilia and several human rights violations, the isolated German settlement was used as a torture center under Pinochet.

Weisfeiler’s sister, Olga Weisfeiler, has spent more than two decades working to uncover the truth about what happened to her brother. She had the case reopened in 2000 following the declassification of the U.S. documents and has traveled to Chile many times in pursuit of a resolution to the case through the government and judiciary.

U.S. congressmen Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.) co-authored the letter to President Piñera, which was signed by senators and representatives from 15 states, including Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

The letter expresses optimism at the decision by the Policía de Investigaciones (PDI) to “appoint the present Human Rights Brigade led by head officers Prefecto Arnaldo Pedreros Guenante and Comisario Sandro Gaete Escobar, and with Alberto Pérez as the chief investigator.”

Still, it also expressed concern over the possibility that under the new administration, there might be personnel changes in the PDI resulting in the dispersal of the current team of investigators. The letters asks for Piñera’s support in allowing the team, which has already made progress in pursuing new leads and finding new witnesses, to continue its work.

Ms. Weisfeiler told the Santiago Times that she had not received any word from the Piñera administration so far, but that she hopes that the large number of signatories on the letter will help bring the case to his attention. She said she believes that the team of investigators appointed last July has made progress and that replacing it would be “devastating to the case.”

“It is impossible to invest so much time and then every few years have a setback and start from the beginning,” she said.  “The case will will never move forward if every two years you are forced to go back.”

Mr. Weisfeiler’s body has never been recovered and his case is still under open investigation.

Paul Watzlavick, press attaché for the U.S. embassy in Santiago, which has worked closely with Ms. Weisfeiler and other Weisfeiler family members, said the embassy was following up on developments in the case and those of two other disappeared U.S. citizens, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. He said, “We are confident that the recent progress made in those cases will continue.”

Horman and Teruggi, both journalists who wrote in support of the deposed Allende government, were killed in first few days after Chile’s 9/11/73 military coup after being taken prisoners by the new military authorities.  Family members of Horman and Teruggi allege U.S. government complicity in their murders, arguing that the coup was aided and abetted by the U.S. government and that the new military leaders would not dare kill U.S. citizens with first checking with their CIA co-conspirators.

For Ms. Weisfeiler, real progress in her brother’s case has been slow going. After 25 years and dozens of investigations, she said, “We still don’t have any resolution to this case. I don’t know what happened to my brother, whether he was killed and by whom. We still don’t have solid information.”

When asked how optimistic she was about the outcome of the current investigation, she said, “I don’t believe I will find him alive, but I believe I will eventually get closure.”

By Adrienne Lee ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )