SANTIAGO – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday described labor leader Tucapel Jimenez as “an upright, reliable man,” during a ceremony commemorating his death 35 years ago at the hands of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
“At 35 years since his assassination, it hurts and moves us still... and Tucapel still has lessons to teach us. He understood that only perfect unity could win the victory of settlers, workers and students,” the head of state said in a voice full of emotion.
Jimenez, then president of the ANEF public employees union, was kidnapped on Feb. 25, 1982, had his throat cut and was finally shot to death on a country road near Santiago International Airport by agents of the Army Intelligence Authority, one of the repressive organizations of Pinochet’s military regime.
To cover up the murder, a carpenter with no political ties was kidnapped and forced to write a letter confessing that he had committed the crime. He himself was then killed and his death was officially written off as a suicide.
Bachelet recalled the story of the murder as something that “cost us many years and a great deal of pain for the truth to become evident to our compatriots.”
For his part, Judge Sergio Muñoz in 2004 sentenced seven agents of the dictatorship for the murders of Jimenez and the carpenter.
The head of state also used the moment this Monday to note the labor leader’s legacy: “Unity for those who seek social justice, and the loyalty of representatives to those they represent.” She then called on all present to embrace Jimenez’s ideals.
Among those taking part in the commemoration were government ministers and leaders of the political parties that form the ruling New Majority coalition, as well as legislator Tucapel Jimenez, son of the slain labor leader.