Rodrigo Andres Rojas De Negri (March 7, 1967 - July 6, 1986) was a young photographer who was burned alive by an army patrol during a street demonstration against the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile.
Rodrigo Rojas was born in the port of Valparaiso, the son of Veronica DeNegri, a communist party activist. In 1976 at the age of 10, and after the Chilean coup of 1973, he was sent to live with relatives in Canada. Soon thereafter, his mother was arrested for political activities against the government of General Augusto Pinochet and later exiled. They were reunited and settled in the Washington D.C. area of the United States. There he attended Wilson High School, and later studied photography. In 1986, DeNegri, by then a young American photographer, decided to visit Chile for the first time since he had left for the exile.
Events of the case
During this time Chile was experiencing widespread political instability and human rights abuses. A national protest was organized for on July 2 and 3, 1986. Rodrigo Rojas, who had been in the country for only six weeks, decided to try to participate and document the barricades that were going up in different areas of Santiago.
At 8 AM on July 2, 1986, he was part of a small group of people that were setting up a barricade in the Los Nogales neighborhood, in the municipality of Estacion Central. The group was carrying five old tires, a molotov cocktail and a gallon of gasoline. They were intercepted by an army patrol that was clearing barricades in the area of General Velasquez Avenue. All escaped except for DeNegri and Carmen Gloria Quintana, an engineering student at the University of Santiago, Chile. The patrol, under the command of Lieutenant Pedro Fernandez Dittus, was composed of three officers, five noncommissioned officers, and 17 soldiers.
There are two versions of the succeeding events: according to the official version of the military patrol as Quintana and DeNegri were arrested, some of the molotov cocktails they were carrying broke, setting them on fire accidentally. The opposing version (of Quintana, the only survivor) alleges that both of them were severely beaten by military personnel, and later soaked with gasoline and set on fire.
What is clearly known is that after both of them were in flames and unconscious, patrol members wrapped them in blankets, loaded them into a military vehicle and drove them to an isolated road in the outskirts of Santiago, over 20 kilometers away. There, in an irrigation ditch, they were dumped and left to die. Some agricultural workers found them and notified the police, who then took them to a public hospital.
Rodrigo Rojas' burns were fatal. He had second- and third-degree burns that covered 90 per cent of his body, a broken mandible and broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. He lingered for four days after the incident, and died on July 6, 1986.
The US ambassador to Chile at the time was unsuccessful at securing the transport of the severely injured Rojas to a better hospital before his death, which happened four days after the attack. His funeral in Santiago was attended by thousands, including the ambassador, and ended with the Chilean military tear-gassing the mourners.
On January 3, 1991 a military court found Fernandez Dittus guilty of negligence for failing to get medical attention for Rojas, but absolved him of any responsibility in the Quintana burning. In 1993 the Supreme Court sentenced Fernandez Dittus to 600 days in prison for his responsibility in the burning death of Rojas DeNegri and the serious burns sustained by Quintana. In October 2000 a court ordered the government to pay Quintana 251.7 million pesos (about US$500,000) in compensatory damages.
- Burnt Alive Case
- Chile under Pinochet
- Chilean political scandals
- 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Memoria viva
- Family memories
- Memories of his last days by his mother
- News compilations
Other pages about Chilean people
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Rodrigo_Rojas_DeNegri