‘A Sinister Sect: Colonia Dignidad,’ the latest true-crime offering from Netflix, features the interviews of former members of Colonia Dignidad, a religious sect in Chile started by German Paul Schäfer. After being established in 1961, the commune members were cut off from the outside world and lived a very different life than the rest. Paul was later convicted of abusing children while in the compound. Salo Luna Garrido, one of the Chileans who lived at Colonia Dignidad, shared his experience in the docuseries. So, if you’re curious to know more about him, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Salo Luna Garrido?
Salo Luna Garrido had come to Colonia Dignidad when he was about 8 years old. He stated that it was like paradise for him at the beginning, and he learned a lot over there. Salo mentioned that Youth’s Permanent Vigil was the movement he belonged to back then. He had a lot of interaction with Paul because he became a spokesperson for the Chilean youth. But Salo soon realized the terrifying truth Colonia Dignidad held.
In the docuseries, Salo called the place a cradle of horrors. Initially, he stated that Paul was nice to him. But Salo also mentioned that it slowly turned into an obsession to the point where Paul spoke with Salo’s mom regarding them moving into the colony. He even offered to build her a home. At Colonia Dignidad, the highest distinction a boy could receive was that of a “sprinter.” Paul would take these sprinters with him everywhere he went and they would assist him with his daily tasks.
While that position was supposed to be a source of pride, it also meant a sprinter would spend the night with Paul. They would stay in the same bedroom, and sometimes there was more than one sprinter. Paul would sexually abuse the sprinters. During Salo’s later years there, he was a sprinter too. Salo also stated on the show that when he was around 15 years old, he saw Paul through a kitchen window with a boy on his lap and his hand inside the boy’s pants.
When Salo was about 18 years old, he decided to escape and talked to a friend of his, 24-year-old Tobias Müller. As per the show, Tobias told Salo that Paul had raped and beaten him. They picked the 36th-anniversary celebrations as the day they would take off. They ran to Salo’s home, from where they ended up at the German ambassador’s residence, eventually being invited to Germany. Over there, Tobias filed a report against Paul. This happened in 1997, and at the time, it was believed that Paul was hiding out somewhere on the property. Tobias was thought to have known the location.
Where is Salo Luna Garrido Now?
Salo eventually returned home from Germany but stated that he would have people come up to his street and protest, calling him a traitor. But fortunately, his neighbors were supportive and helped protect him. After Paul’s arrest in 2005, Salo noted that he was satisfied and felt a sense of joy. He seems to be doing well for himself now, living in San Fabian, Chile, and working in a municipal office. He mentioned on the show he was still in touch with some of the colonists.
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