Wife and mother of 'disappeared' Pinochet victims dies, not knowing their fate

FILE PHOTO: Ana Gonzalez (L) and an unidentified woman, both members of the Chilean protest group Families of the Detained and Disappeared, cry and hug each other in Santiago, Nov. 25, 1998, after hearing a ruling by Britain's House of Lords against an immunity appeal for former Chilean dictator Gen.Augusto Pinochet, allowing for his eventual extradition to Spain./File Photo

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A Chilean woman who won global renown for her public battle to find her husband, sons and pregnant daughter-in-law after they disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship has died at the age of 93 without ever knowing their fate.

Ana Gonzalez, a housewife and daughter of a railroad worker from northern Chile, lost her husband Manuel Recabarren, two of her sons, Luis Emilio and Manuel Guillermo, and her daughter-in-law Nalvia Mena. They all disappeared in Santiago in April 1976 within 24 hours of each other.

She helped found the Association of Families of the Detained-Disappeared (AFDD) and led hunger strikes, protests and sit-ins that were often violently broken up by the regime’s security forces.

She traveled to Europe and the United States to address the United Nations, the Organisation of American States, Amnesty International and the Vatican about human rights abuses in Chile.

The UN’s recently appointed human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, a former Chilean president who was herself tortured by the regime, paid tribute to Gonzales’ “immense bravery and tireless defence of human rights and justice” in a message posted on social media.

Gonzalez died in a Santiago hospital after years of ill health.

More than 3,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during Pinochet’s 1973-1990 rule and around 28,000 people were tortured.

Pinochet died in 2006 without facing a full trial on charges of human rights crimes. The Chilean authorities continue to run searches for the remains of the disappeared.

Reporting by Natalia A Ramos; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by James Dalgleish