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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Álvaro Varela Walker

Interviewed December 10, 2023

Since I was very young, I have been very interested in participating in social movements.

In high school I established and was elected president of the Students’ Center. Later, I went on to study law at the University of Chile in 1969.

There I became involved in politics and in 1971, I joined one of the movements that supported Salvador Allende’s government.

[Salvador Allende (1908-1973) was president of Chile between 1970 and1973.]

In 1972 I was elected President of the Law Center, the law student center of the University of Chile. And that was where I was during the period when the coup d’état occurred in Chile in September of 1973.

Immediately after the coup d’état I was expelled from the university. It was done in such a way that it was impossible to continue my studies at any other university under the military regime.

So, under those circumstances, plus the fact that since the beginning of the coup d’état on September 11, 1973, I learned personally of many people (my friends, people with whom I had worked in politics) that began to suffer the consequences of repression.

It was then that, at the beginning of 1974, I became interested in joining the advocacy activities that the Catholic Church, along with the rest of the churches, had begun.

So I joined [the movement], as a law school alumnus who had knowledge of the law and that could contribute as such. In April 1974 I approached the Catholic Church and signed up to work in the defense of human rights in what was then the called the Cooperative Committee for Peace in Chile.