After Pinochet overthrew the Allende government in the early ’70s, thousands of Chilean socialists fled the country.
Many came to NZ, including Victor Humberto Batista.
Formerly an officer in the Chilean Army, Batista was tortured by Pinochet’s secret police, before fleeing the country to NZ. Batista settled in Wellington with his wife and eleven children.
He worked for the Ministry of Transport, owned the Condor restaurant and later ran a printing business behind Wellington Trades Hall. The printing shop produced literature for the peace movement, trade unions and protest groups.
Batista also joined the Wellington Branch of the pro Soviet, Socialist Unity Party, as did several of his family. He was not open about his membership, but at one time served on the party’s Wellington regional executive. In 1985 Batista wrote an article for the SUP’s “Tribune” on Easter Island being used by US for “Star Wars”.
In April 1987, Katya Batista “presented party cards” at a Wellington SUP meeting.
In the early ’80s Batista co-founded the NZ/Cuba Friendship Society (which still exists)and was a leading member of the Chilean Committee for Human Rights.
In 1983, Batista was one of six Chilean exiles who tried to deliver a letter to Chile’s Wellington embassy calling for Pinochet’s overthrow. In October the same year he addressed a Wellington rally opposing the US invasion of Grenada.
During the mid ’80s Batista also served as a NZ contact for the “Chilean Government in Exile”, based in Moscow.
On the 10th of April 1987, MP Helen Clark, tabled a petition in Parliament from Victor H Batista, W Mason and 439 others, requesting that the government appeal for a “return to democracy” in Chile. Clark moved that the petition “…be referred to the government for the most favourable consideration“.
Batista returned to Chile in the early 90s, shortly after the end of Pinochet’s reign.