Latin America’s Schindler: a forgotten champion of your own 20th millennium

Latin America’s Schindler: a forgotten champion of your own 20th millennium

Roberto Kozak, at airport, helps a push back leader catch an airplane to the to the exile. Photograph: Art gallery of Recollections and you will Human Liberties, Chile

Not as much as Standard Pinochet’s code away from terror during the Chile, one-man stored huge numbers of people regarding dictator’s brutal wonders police. Exactly how performed Roberto Kozak take action – and you may eliminate dying?

J ust prior to 10am toward The newest Year’s Eve 1986, equipped boys come to work of a small organisation for the newest resettlement out-of migrants, in Santiago, Chile. It instantly first started rounding up staff. “It tossed all of us in the fulfilling space, on to the ground, deal with off. It slashed pc wiring and tied us right up, arm so you can wrist,” remembered Eliana Infante, among the employees. “When they fastened us upwards, it asked, ‘Who is the communist son from a great bitch Roberto Kozak?’”

Kozak try marched off a trip off steps. Having a server weapon to his head, he had been obligated to rest on top of a meeting table while he is interrogated by the paramilitaries.

The new gunmen was in fact members of good rightwing passing group super-devoted towards Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. They certainly were finding guns and cash which they thought have been stashed inside Kozak’s work environment: the newest Santiago branch of Geneva-created Intergovernmental Panel to possess European Migration (ICEM). These people were as well as seeking facts one Kozak was accused in the an assassination shot to your Pinochet two months prior to, which in fact had remaining five of dictator’s bodyguards dead.

Regarding the months upcoming ambush, Pinochet’s coverage properties had kidnapped multiple large-profile leftwing activists into the Santiago and you can slit its throats.

Immediately following an hour or so, Kozak was released, individually unharmed, and you will rushed upstairs so you’re able to untie their employees. “He had been green. It had been a color between purple, white and you will eco-friendly,” said Infante. “However, web based poker-faced, the guy went downstairs, calmly titled Geneva to inform her or him of raid and then continued together with works.”

In the event that paramilitaries bust with the ICEM place of work, Infante and remaining staff feared you to definitely Kozak try planning to getting murdered – which once killing him, the fresh new armed guys would set fire on their place of work, leaving him or her, tied up on the ground, burning in order to passing

Roberto Kozak’s is one of the high untold reports of your own 20th 100 years. Diplomatic acquaintances whom understand full information on exactly what the guy performed during the Pinochet point in time regarded him due to the fact “Latin America’s Schindler”. Instance Oskar Schindler, the fresh new German businessman exactly who assisted to keep 1,two hundred Jews in the Poland in 2nd community combat, Kozak’s tale would be the fact from a guy who bravely utilized their standing to store lifestyle. He might easily features kept their head off while you are thousands were drawn prisoner, punished or “disappeared” by the Chile’s brutal army and secret cops, but the guy picked to not ever. On the years after the 1973 armed forces coup, Kozak and you may diplomats off their nations helped an estimated 25,000-35,000 Chilean governmental prisoners escape from captivity and get secure haven abroad.

Lower than interrogation, Kozak insisted that Santiago office was only working in enabling refugees, and that there have been none firearms neither huge amounts of money for the premise

Over 10 years before raid to the his office, Kozak had has worked their way towards inner circles of your own Pinochet program, courting senior armed forces figures, people in politics, authorities and you will people in the trick cops. Deploying a combination of diplomatic attraction, perseverance and you may crates out of imported whisky, the guy begin painstakingly settling the release regarding detainees, many who was basically from the Chilean remaining. He actually hid a few of them in his house. Kozak brokered their profit into the batches, often results otherwise a huge selection of inmates immediately, both only one or two.

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