Chile to Pay Compensation for 1976 Slayings in U.S.

From Associated Press

A Chilean official said Saturday that his government has reached agreement with the United States to pay compensation for the 1976 killing of a Chilean opposition figure and a U.S. associate in Washington.

The “agreement in principle” came Friday in a meeting between Chilean and U.S. officials in Washington, acting Interior Minister Belisario Velasco said. He gave few details on the agreement.

Velasco said the payments would go to the families of Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean foreign minister who fled to the United States following a 1973 right-wing military coup, and Ronni Moffitt, an aide to Letelier who also was killed when their car was bombed in Washington.

“In the next few days, a complete announcement with details will be made,” Velasco said in an interview. He said the matter must now be taken to President Patricio Aylwin, a civilian who replaced Gen. Augusto Pinochet in March.


Pinochet led the 1973 overthrow of elected civilian President Salvador Allende, and his military government had blocked efforts by U.S. courts and the government to seek compensation in the killings.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Dillen said: “I can’t confirm the agreement by the Chileans, but their deputy foreign minister has been in town discussing bilateral issues with us and also meeting with the Organization of American States.

“As of yesterday, what we were saying was that we’re optimistic our discussions would result in a satisfactory resolution to the case.”

The agreement was not expected to affect criminal cases in the United States against former officials of Pinochet’s secret police who were indicted in the killings.

Letelier served as Chile’s ambassador to Washington and was foreign minister during the Allende government. In exile following the 1973 coup, he became a severe critic of Pinochet’s rule.

At the time of the Sept. 21, 1976, bombing, Letelier and Moffitt were working for the Institute for Policy Studies.