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Fr. Mariano Puga Concha

April 25, 1931 – March 14, 2020

Mariano Puga Concha was a Chilean Roman Catholic priest and a human rights activist.

Born into wealth and prestige, Puga was exposed to extreme poverty in Santiago prompting him to abandon ambitions to become an architect to study for the priesthood. By 1972 he had become minister to the miners and workers in Chuquicamata and witnessed severe labor exploitation. The military coup that made Augusto Pinochet dictator of Chile occurred only year later. At the same time Puga’s extreme fidelity to the Liberation Gospel and his strong sympathies for Socialism led him to being dismissed from his pastoral role in Chuquicamata.

In 1974 Puga was arrested while preaching and served time in some of Chile’s most notorious prisons. Scorned by many conservative Catholics after his release, Puga had to find part-time work as a painter for churches, schools, and hardware stores, to sustain himself financially while maintaining his activism.

When Pope John Paul II visited Chile in 1987, Puga met with him urging the Pope to do more to bring attention to the situation of the Chilean people.

[To General Pinochet}: "I have seen tortured victims, missing people, and searches and seizures, general. If I keep my mouth shut on that, Jesus will turn his back on me." - Mariano Puga Concha

Submitted by our members in 2020.