'Silicon Valley': The real history behind Maximo Reyes' family legacy of torture and crimes against humanity under dictator Augusto Pinochet

'Silicon Valley': The real history behind Maximo Reyes' family legacy of torture and crimes against humanity under dictator Augusto Pinochet

“Richard. There’s a reason Jared tried to ditch this guy. We cannot take his money,” Monica Hall (Amanda Crew) told Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) in episode 2 of ‘Silicon Valley’ Season 6. Aptly titled ‘Blood Money’, in the episode, Monica advised him to not accept an investment from a rich Chilean businessman called Maximo Reyes (Arturo Castro).

Her reasons were simple: Reyes’ grandfather was the chief of the secret police under Pinochet. And that they were, more or less, slave traders. The second one is obviously easy to understand. Mine-owners who forced people to slave for them is a big red flag when trying to understand a potential investor’s work ethics.

But what about the first one: Who was Pinochet and why was being chief of his secret police a bad thing? For starters, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was a dictator. And like most dictators, he was brutal.

Born in 1915, Pinochet seized power on September 11, 1973, in a bloody military coup against the Marxist government of President Salvador Allende. According to his obituary in The New York Times, even though Pinochet led Chile into an era of robust economic growth, his rule was splattered with the blood of many.

Reportedly, more than 3,200 people were either executed or made to disappear. Tens of thousands more were detained and tortured or exiled. Under his rule, the press was censored. Labor strikes and unions were banned.

But of all his machinery and policies, the most fearsome was the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (National Intelligence Directorate) or DINA, a secret police organization that persecuted, tortured and killed Pinochet’s opponents.

Established in November 1973, DINA was often referred to as Pinochet’s Gestapo. General Manuel Contreras, who headed DINA -- supposedly the grandfather of Maximo Reyes in the show -- was serving a combined sentence of more than 500 years for crimes against humanity when he died.


Contreras, according to The Guardian, supervised the kidnapping of thousands of suspected leftists after the coup as Santiago’s national football stadium was transformed into a detention center where hundreds were held and tortured. This particular facet was referenced in the show when Monica said, “You thought selling ads were bad? These guys executed people in soccer stadiums!”.

A government-commissioned report issued in 2004, according to The New York Times, concluded that almost 28,000 people had been tortured during Pinochet’s rule. So yeah, Monica makes an excellent point. 

New episodes of ‘Silicon Valley’ premiere Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.


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 Silicon Valley HBO Maximo Reyes Augusto Pinochet Secret Police Torture Manuel Contreras history dina