to ask the IGU to change the venue of the next Regional Meeting


As it has been informed recently, the next IGU Regional Conference (14-18 November, 2011) will take place in the Military School based in Santiago de Chile. As critical geographers we are surprised by this, since this School is pointed at as one of the operational bases of the bloody Chilean dictatorship (1973-1990).

The Military School General Bernardo O’Higgins was a centre of torture and murder according to the two most important official reports on the violation of Human Rights and crimes against humanity happened during the Chilean dictatorship (Comisión Rettig, 1991; Comisión Valech, 2004). In addition, in the weeks immediately following the coup on 11 September, 1973, the meetings of the ‘Comité de Coroneles’ (also known as ‘Grupo DINA’) took place at the Military School. This Group is identified in the Rettig Report as one of the think-tanks of the dictatorship, and it played a key role in justifying the violation of Human Rights during this dark period of Chilean history.

The relationship between the IGU and the Chilean militaries is made clear in the Decree Nr 18 of the SSG (22/1/79) in which the Instituto Geográfico Militar is appointed as the institution officially representing the Chilean Government before the IGU. This Decree was signed in by the very Augusto Pinochet and has remained unmodified until present.

We the undersigned are astonished and worried about the decision to hold the IGU Regional Conference 2001 in a place so strikingly marked by terror, in a country with a vast conference infrastructure. For this reason, we ask the IGU, as an allegedly democratic organisation, to postpone the Conference unless it is moved to a different place.