Chilean mothers of the “disappeared” gather, holding signs of their missing loved ones. (Photo by Kena Lorenzini, from Wikimedia Commons)
When I was a young child, my family lived in Chile, where my parents worked at an inter-Protestant seminary. We happened to be there to witness the end of the brutal, U.S.-backed military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, as he was peacefully voted out of power in the late 1980s. Even as a child, I knew about the dictatorship’s practice of “disappearing” people—of kidnapping students and dissenters, torturing and often killing them in secret, and then denying any such people had been detained. They were simply gone without a trace.