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This was not a diary I intended on writing.  However, after posting a comment on mcjoan's front page diary Republicans Love Torture there were a few replies suggesting that I write a diary on this subject.

I won't go into detail about what happened other than to say, family members of mine were tortured in Chile in the 1970's at the hands of criminals trained by the CIA.  In fact, when Abu Gharib happened, the CIA involvement (or other US Intelligence agencies) was obvious after reading descriptions of what occurred as many of the exact same techniques were used in Chile as in Iraq.

Instead, I will write the story of how one family (my family) reacted to torture by the state.  I also want to point out that my family members that were tortured (and eventually released without charge) were detained for the mere fact of being student organizers and elected student leaders (at their respective universities).

For Kossacks not aware of what happened on September 11, 1973 the elected government of President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup.  Reason being that Chile in 1970 democratically elected a marxist-socialist (Allende) to be our president.  What followed was 17 years of a military dictatorship in which many thousands of Chileans (as well as Americans, Spanish and many other nationalities) were detained-disappeared, tortured and murdered by the State under Augusto Pinochet (with the full backing of Kissinger and Nixon).

The torturers lost.  My family in Chile has remained active in politics and to this day are proud members of the left and work in both government and politics.  My Aunt helped write the Chilean equivalent of the American's with Disability Act, my Uncle has worked in one capacity or another for the government since democracy was restored in 1990.  (Relevant to point out that the center-left coalition has won each presidential election since the restoration).

Not only were we not intimidated into submission, we were inspired to action.

Here in the states we have also become active.  My immediate family (nuclear family) escaped "torture" but my mother decided to leave after the military pulled her over while visibly pregnant with my sister (pulled for having an American-made car). While the car was searched, a young soldier literally rested the end of his rifle on my mothers pregnant stomach...that's when she decided to leave Chile.  My mother devoted her life to helping others as a health economist fighting the World Bank and IMF at each step making sure that the little resources that were made available were spent on those that needed it most, not wasted or misspent. (coming up through UNICEF and now working at the World Health Organization).

My sister is attending law school (at American Univ. in DC) and hopefully by this time next year will be a JD in Human Rights law.

I have dedicated my life to helping others by becoming a Democratic political consultant and have done 8 campaigns and am currently the Online Outreach Director for Students for Barack Obama.

As I once wrote

Senator Obama much like myself feels it in his core and it's not about power, its about using your god given talents and intelligence and using them in the most effective way possible to assist those that need assistance, inspire the apathetic, feed the hungry and provide medical assistance to the sick.  For the Senator that meant running for President and creating a national movement, for me that meant helping him get elected.

As I finish writing this, I want to add that I am not writing this for sympathy or "apologies" (as I'm 99.9% sure that no Kossack has participated in torture, much less the torture of my family).  I'm not really sure why I wrote this other than to share my story and perhaps give a personal touch to this debate on torture.  What was debated amongst the Republicans in South Carolina, approved by Attorney General Gonzales and practiced in Iraq and Cuba (and many other locations) is not merely an academic or political exercise, it will have a direct impact on the lives and families of scores of individuals, and that we cannot forget.

Nate de la Piedra is the Online Outreach Director for Students for Barack Obama. The ideas expressed herein belong to Nate de la Piedra and do not necessarily represent those of Senator Obama, his advisers, staff, or "The Campaign".

Originally posted to Pitin on Wed May 16, 2007 at 06:09 PM PDT.

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