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PHOTOS: Chilean torture centre converted into homeless shelter

The shelter has been named after songwriter and director Victor Jara who was tortured and killed at the facility in 1973.

JUST DAYS AFTER Chile’s bloody 1973 military coup, popular songwriter and theater director Victor Jara was dragged down to the basement of an indoor stadium that had been converted into a detention and torture centre.

The new government considered Jara, a member of the Communist Party, an enemy. Many people believe he could have served as a powerful voice against the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

But Jara’s life was cut short inside the scraped concrete walls of a locker room now guarded behind a heavy red door. Pinochet’s agents beat his head and shot his body with 44 bullets.

Four decades later, eight former army officers have been charged with Jara’s murder. And the infamous Chile Stadium, now renamed Victor Jara Stadium, has become Chile’s largest homeless shelter, housing about 500 people a night during the biting Chilean winter.

“For me, it’s a miracle to be here where they are now giving shelter and food to everyone and where they killed Victor Jara,” said Ana Luisa Villaroel, 78, who lived through the dictatorship.

Such shelters have been improved under President Sebastian Pinera’s government.

A census for the homeless says 12,225 people were living on the street last year. The number of homeless people who died on the street because of the cold fell from 150 in 2010 to 28 last year.

PHOTOS: Chilean torture centre converted into homeless shelter
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  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    A picture of Victor Jara hangs on an indoor stadium named for the folk singer, Estadio Victor Jara, that opens its doors to the homeless during the winter in Santiago, Chile. Just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup, Victor Jara was dragged down to the basement of this indoor stadium that had been turned into a detention and torture center. Four decades later, eight former army officers have been charged with his murder. And the infamous Estadio Chile has been renamed Estadio Victor Jara and is now Chile's largest homeless shelter, housing about 500 people per day during the biting Chilean winter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Ana Luisa Villarroel, 78, center right, waits in line to be one of the first to enter the homeless shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara in Santiago, Chile. This is her first night at the shelter after she left what she described as an abusive situation at her family's home. This emblematic stadium, which hosts sporting events throughout the year, was where Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was tortured and killed on Sept. 14, 1973, just days after the military coup. “For me, it's a miracle to be here where they are now giving shelter and food to everyone and where they killed Victor Jara,” said Ana Luisa Villaroel, 78, who lived through the dictatorship. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Jonathan Fuentes hugs his girlfriend Vivian Alvarez as they wait for the shelter to open for the evening at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara which opens its doors to the homeless for winter in Santiago, Chile. The stadium, which opened its doors on May 15 as a temporary shelter to house people throughout the winter who normally sleep on the streets, is where Chilean folksinger Victor Jara was tortured and killed in 1973, just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup. Today the stadium is named after him and is Chile's largest homeless shelter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Amador Segundo Alvarez Ruiz, who works as a gardener, poses for a portrait near his bike at the entrance to the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara which operates as a shelter at night during the winter season in Santiago, Chile. Alvarez says he slept in the streets for five days before the shelter opened for the winter season, after getting kicked out of his apartment due to being late with a rent payment. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    A woman opens her bag for soldiers to search through before entering a homeless shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara in Santiago, Chile. The stadium, which opened its doors on May 15 as a temporary shelter to house people throughout the winter who normally sleep on the streets, is where Chilean folksinger Victor Jara was tortured and killed in 1973, just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    A man staying at the homeless shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara rolls his bike toward the men's bedrooms beneath the stadium, as a soldier guards the door, in Santiago, Chile. Just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup, Victor Jara was dragged down to the basement of this indoor stadium that had been turned into a detention and torture center. Today the stadium is named after him, and is Chile's largest homeless shelter, housing about 500 people per day during the biting Chilean winter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Soldiers guard the entrance of a homeless shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara as people enter for the evening in Santiago, Chile. The stadium, which opened its doors on May 15 as a temporary shelter to house people throughout the winter who normally sleep on the streets, is where Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was tortured and killed in 1973, just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup. Today the stadium is named after him. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Men share a drink before entering a homeless shelter, where their liquor would be confiscated, at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara in Santiago, Chile. In the stadium that served as a torture facility 40 years ago, Santiago's most marginalized population can sleep indoors during Chile's biting winter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Umbrellas labeled with the the names of people staying at a shelter for the homeless hang at the entrance to the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara that operates as a shelter at night in Santiago, Chile. The stadium, which opened its doors on May 15 as a temporary shelter to house people throughout the winter who normally sleep on the streets, is where Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was tortured and killed in 1973, just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup. Today the stadium is named after him and is Chile's largest homeless shelter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Students play ping-pong at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara where spare beds for the homeless are stored in the seating area in Santiago, Chile. Political prisoners, mostly university students, were held in these same stadium seats in Sept. 1973 after the bloody coup that ousted President Salvador Allende. Those who survived were later transferred to another detention center. Today the stadium is Chile's largest homeless shelter, housing about 500 people per day during the biting Chilean winter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    The locker room where Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was tortured and killed remains in its original state in an indoor stadium now called Estadio Victor Jara, which operates at night as a shelter for the homeless Santiago, Chile. Just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup, Victor Jara was dragged down to the basement of this indoor stadium that had been turned into a detention and torture center. Gen. Augusto Pinochet's agents beat his head and shot his body with 44 bullets. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    The name Martin Sepulveda is etched into the wood of a bed frame where Sepulveda sleeps at a homeless shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara in Santiago, Chile. Sepulveda, who works as a welder, studied to be a physical education teacher but dropped out after two years when he could no longer afford his studies. This emblematic stadium, which hosts sporting events throughout the year, was where Chilean folksinger Victor Jara was tortured and killed in 1973, just days after Chile's bloody military coup. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    A door leads to the locker room where Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was tortured and killed, inside an indoor stadium that is now called Estadio Victor Jara and opens its doors to the homeless at night during the winter season in Santiago, Chile. Jara was one of Chile's most popular songwriters and theater directors. He was also a member of the Communist party and he would have been a powerful voice against the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    People eat a hot dinner at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara, which operates as a homeless shelter at night during the winter in Santiago, Chile. In the stadium that served as a torture facility 40 years ago, Santiago's most marginalized population can sleep indoors during Chile's biting winter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Armando Patricio Galleguillos Luna, 63, lies on a mattress in the designated area for people who have been using a substance, before they can access the rest of the shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara in Santiago, Chile. A census for the homeless shows that 12,225 people were living on the street last year. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Men relax on their bunk beds inside the heated shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara which opens its doors to the homeless for the winter in Santiago, Chile. The stadium, which opened its doors on May 15 as a temporary shelter to house people throughout the winter who normally sleep on the streets, is where Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was tortured and killed in 1973, just days after Chile's bloody 1973 military coup. Today the stadium is named after him and is Chile's largest homeless shelter. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Ivan Martínez Acuña, unemployed at age 52, plays a guitar and sings "Todos Juntos," written in 1972 by renowned Chilean folk rock band Los Jaivas, in the cafeteria of a shelter at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara in Santiago, Chile. The plaque on the wall is dedicated to the singer Victor Jara who was tortured in this detention center 40 years ago. According to testimonies by torture survivors, bodies were piled against this exact wall before they were hauled out of the facility by truck. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    A young soldier with the last name of Jara stands guard at the entrance of the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara moments before it opens its doors to the homeless for the night during the winter season in Santiago, Chile. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Tape marking height in centimeters is posted on a wall inside a men's dormitory at the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara which operates as a shelter for the homeless at night during the winter season in Santiago, Chile. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)
  • Chile Torture Centre Turned Shelter

    Beds line a hallway in the indoor stadium Estadio Victor Jara that opens its doors to the homeless in the evenings during the winter season in Santiago, Chile. Just around the bend is the locker room where famous Chilean folk singer Victor Jara was tortured and killed just days after the bloody military coup that ousted President Salvador Allende. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)

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