(Jan. 30, 2008) At a Tuesday press conference, Olga Weisfeiler expressed frustration over the lack of new information concerning the disappearance of her brother, Boris Weisfeiler. In the presence of newly arrived U.S. Ambassador Paul Simons, Olga said authorities have not done enough to investigate the case’s most important leads.
At a Tuesday press conference, Olga Weisfeiler expressed frustration over the lack of new information concerning the disappearance of her brother, Boris Weisfeiler. In the presence of newly arrived U.S. Ambassador Paul Simons, Olga said authorities have not done enough to investigate the case’s most important leads.
Boris Weisfeiler, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Russia, was a math professor at Pennsylvania State University. He disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 1985 while hiking in the south of Chile.
“He wanted to enjoy your country (Chile),” Olga said on Tuesday. “He was not interested in politics at all.”
The government of former dictator Augusto Pinochet maintained that Weisfeiler had simply drowned while hiking near Region VIII’s Ñuble River. Still, Olga refused to believe these claims.
Then, in 1987, a Chilean military informant known only as “Daniel” appeared and told U.S. embassy officials that he was a member of a patrol that arrested a foreign hiker two years earlier and concluded he was a Russian spy. According to the informant, Boris was alive and being held in Colonia Dignidad, a secretive colony founded by a known pedophile and former member of Nazi Germany's air force Paul Schaefer.
Besides ruling his followers with an iron fist, Schafer turned the colony into a torture center used by Pinochet’s secret police force during the 17-year dictatorship. It was not until Chile’s return to democracy in the 1990s that the charitable tax status of his organization was revoked and Schaefer prosecuted for crimes committed in Chile.
Meanwhile, between 1987 and 1997, “Daniel” met with Chilean and American officials on at least eight occasions, all of which have been documented by articles declassified by the U.S. government in 2000. Four of the meetings occurred in the office of Santiago lawyer Máximo Pacheco, during which time "Daniel" said that his life had been threatened.
Another meeting occurred with the former U.S. Consul Larry Huffman and Vice Consul Phillip Antweiler. “Daniel’s” final meeting occurred in 1997 with José Viera-Gallo, who was a senator at the time, but now serves as Chile’s Secretary General to President Michelle Bachelet. The meeting was facilitated by radio talk host Ricardo Israel, who arranged for the two to meet.
Encouraged by the declassifiaction of US government documents, Olga first came to Chile in 2000. In subsequent trips, she met with dozens of officials, including U.S. ambassadors, judges, and Michelle Bachelet, who was serving as Chile’s Defense Minister at the time. Olga would meet with Bachelet again in 2006 after she had assumed the presidency.
Olga also visited the Colonia Dignidad, located near the Region VII town of Parral, both in 2004 and 2007, but said she left the colony unsatisfied.
In spite progress at the start of the decade, Olga said Tuesday that Judge Jorge Zepeda, who is currently in charge of the case,
“He is not accepting any help from anybody,” she said.
Additionally, Olga lamented that Chile’s Armed Forces have remained largely silent about their involvement in Boris’ disappearance.
When questioned by the Santiago Times about what the U.S. Embassy has done to pressure the Chilean army, Ambassador Simons said embassy officials
The Santiago Times maintains an in-depth archive of the Boris Weisfeiler case, and Olga maintains a website dedicated to her mission for truth at http://boris.weisfeiler.com.
By Matt Malinowski and Alicia Word (editorATsantiagotimes.cl)