The very rarity of these situations makes the legislation all the more important.Samuel Buffone, lawyer for Isabel Letelier
On September 21, 1976, former Chilean Ambassador and Minister Orlando Letelier drove to his job in Washington, DC, in his Chevelle, accompanied by his coworkers, Ronni Moffitt and Michael Moffitt. As the Chevelle veered off Massachusetts Avenue into Sheridan Circle, the bottom of the car exploded upward, blowing off Letelier's legs and killing him within minutes. A short time after that, at George Washington Hospital, Ronni Moffitt died from a severed carotid artery. Michael Moffitt, sitting in the back, survived with minor injuries. Most observers of the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which had overthrown Marxist President Salvador Allende in 1973 and jailed and then exiled Letelier, Allende's defense minister, pinned the crime on the Chilean despot, and the Departments of Justice and State came to the same conclusion within a few years. The assassination remains to this day the only instance of state-sponsored terrorism in Washington. In the 1970s and 1980s, it spawned several criminal lawsuits in the United States and Chile, the most important of which was not settled until 1995, and remnants of which continue to this day. In Chile, the case also inspired a wave of legal activism against impunity for human rights violations.