Torture Ship Sparks Protests


Published Sep 1, 2015 5:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

About 60 people gathered in London on August 29 to protest the arrival of La Esmeralda. The vessel is a Chilean naval ship used during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship as a torture and interrogation center. The ship docked in London’s Canary Wharf.

Protestors call La Esmeralda a torture ship and see it as a symbol of Chilean life under military rule. The Ministry of Defense contends that the vessel’s arrival is symbolic of the U.K.’s strong relationship with Chile.

Pinochet displaced Salvador Allende in a bloody military coup in 1973, and more than 3,000 people were killed during his 17-year rule. Reports from Amnesty International and the Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission describe La Esmeralda as a floating jail and torture chamber for Pinochet’s political prisoners.

Family members of those detained and tortured on the vessel are still seeking justice. British priest Michael Woodward was among those detained and killed on the ship.

The arrival of the 400-foot La Esmeralda has also sparked protests in Amsterdam, Dartmouth, Pearl Harbor, Quebec and Vancouver.