By Kalaya’an Mendoza, Field Organizer for Amnesty Western Region
On July 15th a group of activists from Amnesty International USA and Survivors of Torture International held a protest on board the Chilean vessel “La Esmeralda” as it docked in San Diego Harbor.
In 1973, after former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet seized power in a military coup, the ship served as an interrogation center for political prisoners. Survivors described torture that included beatings, electric shocks and sexual assault.
Currently, the Esmeralda is traveling around the Americas acting as a roving ambassador for Chile on a mission of “goodwill.” The crew invited happy families, wide-eyed tourists and, unbeknownst to them, a small group of human rights activists ready to unfurl signs on board that read: “Remember 1973. Hold Torturers Accountable.”