Latin The united states’s Schindler: a missing hero of twentieth 100 years

Latin The united states’s Schindler: a missing hero of twentieth 100 years

Roberto Kozak, at airport, helps a rebel frontrunner connect an airplane toward towards exile. Photograph: Museum off Recollections and you will Peoples Rights, Chile

Less than Standard Pinochet’s signal out-of horror for the Chile, one-man protected millions of people regarding the dictator’s brutal miracle cops. How performed Roberto Kozak do it – and escape passing?

J ust prior to 10am to your The fresh new Year’s Eve 1986, armed people visited any office from a little organization to own the new resettlement of migrants, inside the Santiago, Chile. It instantly began rounding up personnel. “They threw us from the meeting area, on to the floor, face down. It reduce computer wiring and you may fastened you right up, arm to arm,” remembered Eliana Infante, one of several group. “When they fastened all of us upwards, they asked, ‘Which of you ‘s the communist boy out-of a bitch Roberto Kozak?’”

Kozak is marched down a journey out-of steps. Having a server gun to their lead, he had been compelled to rest at the top of a meeting desk while he try interrogated from the paramilitaries.

The newest gunmen was people in an excellent rightwing passing team super-dedicated to your Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. These were in search of guns and money that they thought had been stashed from inside the Kozak’s office: the fresh new Santiago department of Geneva-dependent Intergovernmental Committee having Western european Migration (ICEM). They certainly were as well as selecting facts that Kozak try implicated for the an assassination decide to try into Pinochet a few months before, which in fact had remaining five of dictator’s bodyguards dry.

From the days then ambush, Pinochet’s defense attributes had kidnapped several large-character leftwing activists within the Santiago and slit their throats.


After an hour or so, Kozak was launched, directly unharmed, and rushed upstairs in order to untie their employees. “He had been environmentally friendly. It was a color anywhere between red-colored, light and you will eco-friendly,” told you Infante. “But poker-faced, he went downstairs, quietly called Geneva to tell him or her of one’s raid and then continued along with his performs.”

If paramilitaries burst to the ICEM office, Infante while the other countries in the group dreaded you to definitely Kozak is actually planning to getting killed – hence immediately after destroying your, the new armed people create set flame on the work environment, making her or him, tied up on the ground, to burn so you’re able to dying

Roberto Kozak’s is one of the higher untold stories of 20th century. Diplomatic acquaintances exactly who understand the complete specifics of just what he performed inside Pinochet era labeled him since “Latin America’s Schindler”. Eg Oskar Schindler, the brand new German businessman exactly who aided to keep step one,2 hundred Jews within the Poland during the next world battle, Kozak’s facts is that out-of one just who courageously made use of his condition to save lives. He could easily provides kept their lead down if you are plenty was indeed pulled prisoner, tortured or “disappeared” by the Chile’s intense army and wonders police, but the guy chose to not. Regarding many years following 1973 armed forces coup, Kozak and you will diplomats off their regions assisted an estimated twenty five,000-35,one hundred thousand Chilean political inmates escape from captivity and acquire safe haven overseas.

Below interrogation, Kozak insisted that Santiago office was only in providing refugees, and this there are none weapons neither large amounts of cash on site

More than 10 years until the raid towards his office, Kozak got did their way with the interior sectors of one’s Pinochet regime, courting elderly army figures, politicians, officials and you may members of the trick police. Deploying a mixture of diplomatic attraction, patience and you can crates from brought in whisky, the guy attempt painstakingly negotiating the production out-of detainees, almost all of who was basically regarding the Chilean left. The guy even hid several in the home. Kozak brokered their marketing inside batches, both ratings or countless prisoners at a time, often just a few.

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