Merino Castro, José Toribio (1915–1996)

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Merino Castro, José Toribio (1915–1996)

José Toribio Merino Castro (b. 14 December 1915, d. 30 August 1996), Chilean naval officer. Born in La Serena, Merino entered the Chilean Naval Academy in 1931 and graduated as a midshipman in 1936. He specialized in gunnery and fire control. During the last year of World War II he served as an anti-aircraft battery officer on board the U.S. cruiser Raleigh. During his career he commanded the corvette Papudo, the transport Angamos, and the destroyers Almirante Williams and Almirante Riveros. Between 1956 and 1957 Merino served in the Chilean naval mission to Great Britain.

In 1963 Merino became chief of staff of the fleet. For the next four years he served as the assistant chief of the General Staff and the director of the Bureau of Weapons. In 1970 he became commander in chief and the naval judge of the fleet, the senior naval command afloat, and in 1973 he was named commander in chief and naval judge of the First Naval Zone.

Merino and other naval officers initiated a plot to overthrow the government of Salvador Allende, informing General Augusto Pinochet, commander of the Chilean army that the navy would act on 11 September 1973. This forced Pinochet to advance a plot of his own from 14 to 11 September. With the overthrow of the Allende government, Admiral Merino served as a member of the junta and the commander of the navy until his retirement on 8 March 1990. He died on August 30, 1996, after an extended illness.

See alsoChile: The Twentieth Century; Pinochet Ugarte, Augusto.


Augusto Pinochet, The Crucial Day (1982); "Cambio de mando institucional" in Revista de Marina (Valparaíso) 2 (1990): 217-220; El Mercurio (Valparaíso), 9 March 1990, pp. 1, 12.

Additional Bibliography

Arce, Luz. The Inferno: A Story of Terror and Survival in Chile. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Dinges, John. The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents. New York: New Press, 2004.

Meneghello Matte, Raimundo. Merino: El segundo hombre. Santiago, Chile: Universidad Finis Terrae, 2004.

                                Robert Scheina