Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - In Chile, 40 years ago, the Vicariate of Solidarity ("Vicaría de la Solidaridad") was created, and its first executive Secretary, lawyer Javier Luis Egaña, remembers the difficult job of human rights defense which committed the Church of Santiago and Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, during the military government.
Lawyer Egaña was just 32 when Cardinal Silva Henríquez and Father Cristián Precht asked him, at the end of 1975 to take the post of Secretary of the Vicariate of Solidarity, which had the main aim to defend the right to life. A job carried out until 1981. His testimony, sent to Fides by the Archdiocese of Santiago, reports, besides the anniversary, also the current importance of this organism.
"It all started under the inspiration of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Our goal was to provide assistance to those in need, regardless of sex or religion or politial affiliation. At the beginning we were a few and gradually we become almost 300 people and were financed by the support from abroad, especially from the World Council of Churches", says Egaña. "There were dramatic moments. There was a situation of pressure and harassment against those who worked in the Vicariate and in 1985 Jose Manuel Parada was killed, an extraordinary man".
It was a tragic period for the nation remembers the lawyer, "many people were killed, many disappeared, one million Chileans were expelled, including some of my brothers, we also helped many people to flee abroad. Sometimes we thought that we were doing very little in comparison to the requests. We did not have the time to do everything we wanted to do".
"Currently, since 1992, much has been done. There is a lot of research work being carried out and teaching, university students elaborate their thesis on this topic. There are schools that come to see us to understand what happened in Chile with regards to the violation of human rights during the dictatorship. There is a permanent activity to keep alive a heritage that was built through the efforts of many people", concluded the lawyer.
The "Vicaría de la Solidaridad" now has more than 85,000 documents on human rights violations in the country, from 1973 to 1990: court papers, legal documents, appeals and descriptions of torture. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 21/01/2016)