Top Chilean human rights advocate Ana González dies at 93

SANTIAGO — Ana González de Recabarren, one of the historic leaders of the Association of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared, died Friday at age 93 without knowing the fate of her husband, two children and pregnant daughter-in-law who were forcibly disappeared during the country’s dictatorship.

She died in a hospital in Santiago after years of suffering from breathing problems. Born in Tocopilla in 1925, Gonzalez spent more than four decades searching for her loved ones and the more than 3,000 people who were killed or disappeared during Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship.

Her family members disappeared in April 1976. Her daughter-in-law, Nalvia, was kidnapped when she was three months pregnant. Then, dictatorship agents came after Gonzalez’s sons, Luis Emilio and Manuel, and her two and a half-year-old grandson, Manuel.

She fought fiercely against the dictatorship and had addressed the United Nations, the Organization of American States and many others about human rights abuses.

Her death generated several emotions in social networks, where members of the world of arts and politics paid tribute to this outstanding fighter.

“She dedicated her life to seeking the truth and finding justice for the crimes that she suffered in her own flesh,” said Consuelo Contreras, head of Chile’s Human Rights National Institute.

In an emotional video posted on social media, U.N. Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet also paid homage to Gonzalez, holding back tears.

“You will remain in the hearts of thousands of Chileans for your selfless struggle for the rights of all,” said Bachelet, a former Chilean president who was tortured and fled her country’s dictatorship into exile.

Gonzalez gave her last interview in September of this year to the newspaper El País, where she said of Chile today: “The country is as Pinochet thought. When they say ‘we beat Pinochet’ … I think it’s not true, we do not beat him. We are still divided and the fighters from before were picked up at their homes. That’s what the dictatorship was for: to silence the people who had won their freedom. But I trust young people today. They go out to the streets to protest and that means we’re doing well.”

Her remains are being veiled in her house, in Calle Cantares de Chile 6271, in San Joaquín, and tomorrow her funeral will be held at 10:00 am in the Catholic Cemetery.