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Chile: 5 Stories Making Headlines At Home
Benjamin Witte

This week we shine the spotlight on Chile:

PACT OF SILENCE

Testimony provided by a former army conscript has turned national attention to a nearly three-decade-old human rights case and prompted Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to demand an end to the shroud of secrecy that has covered this and other crimes committed during the 17-year Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990). "Enough with the silence," the center-left President said during an event earlier this week.

The events of the so-called "caso quemados" (case of the burned people) took place on July 2, 1986 during a pro-democracy protest in Santiago, where soldiers seized two young participants — Carmen Gloria Quintana, a university student, and Rodrigo Rojas, a photographer — allegedly doused them in gasoline and lit them on fire. The soldiers then loaded the victims into a truck, drove them out of the city, and dumped them in an abandoned lot. Passersby discovered the pair and helped get them to a hospital. Quintana somehow survived, despite extensive second and third-degree burns. Rojas died.


Military officials have long claimed that the burning happened accidentally. But in testimony given late last year — and made public earlier this month — ex-conscript Fernando Guzmán said Quintana and Rojas were intentionally torched. Guzmán's testimony prompted the judge overseeing the case to order the arrests of a dozen former soldiers, including the commander of the patrol, Pedro Fernández Dittus, who was charged Thursday with both aggravated and attempted homicide.

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Coronavirus

The Main COVID Risk Now: Long COVID

Death rates are down, masks are off, but many who have been infected by COVID have still not recovered. Long COVID continues to be hard to diagnose and treatments are still in the developmental stage.

Long COVID feels like a never-ending nightmare for those who suffer from it.

Jessica Berthereau

PARIS — The medical examination took longer than expected in the Parc de Castelnau-le-Lez clinic, near the southern French city of Montpellier. Jocelyne had come to see a specialist for long COVID-19, and exits the appointment slowly with help from her son. The meeting lasted more than an hour, twice as long as planned.

“I’m a fighter, you know, I’ve done a lot of things in my life, I’ve been around the world twice… I’m not saying this to brag, but to tell you my background," says the 40-year-old. "These days, I’m exhausted, I’m not hungry, I no longer drive, I can’t work anymore, I have restless legs syndrome.” She pauses before adding sadly: “I can’t read anymore either.”

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