Five years ago, the Chilean courts made an extradition request to Australia, to return former National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) agent Adriana Rivas to face justice for her role in the kidnapping, torture and disappearances of seven dictatorship opponents affiliated with the Chilean Communist Party and the Revolutionary Left Movement.
On 19 February, the news that Rivas had been arrested spread like wildfire. The National Campaign for Truth and Justice in Chile broke the news on its Facebook page with the words, ‘This news is real. Adriana Rivas was arrested today in Sydney.’
Throughout the five years since the first extradition request, Chileans mobilised at home and abroad to ramp up pressure on the authorities. In 2017, the Chilean courts submitted further information to the Australian authorities regarding Rivas’ involvement in crimes of genocide during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship’s early years.
Rivas has been living in Australia since 1978, working as a nanny and a cleaner. In 2006 while visiting relatives in Chile, she was charged with kidnapping, torture and disappearance of dictatorship opponents and released on bail. She fled Chile while still on bail in 2009 and returned to Australia. A 2013 interview with SBS where Rivas defended the use of torture in the Pinochet era and stated that her best years ‘were the ones I lived in the DINA’ drew the attention of Chileans at home and abroad, igniting the campaign to extradite Rivas to Chile.
Rivas formed part of the Lautaro Brigade and worked at the detention and extermination centre Cuartel Simon Bolivar. Jorgelino Vergara Bravo, a former errand boy for DINA chief Manuel Contreras who later became a DINA member, has publicly attested to seeing Rivas torturing detainees, stating, ‘She wouldn’t kill them, but she would leave them for dead.’ Investigative journalist Javier Rebolledo has stated that torture was a DINA requirement that no agent was able to opt out of. Read more.