Chile under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth

Chile under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth

Chile under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth

Chile under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth

Synopsis

In this primary study of Chile under Pinochet, Mark Ensalaco maintains that Pinochet was complicit in the enforced disappearance of thousands of Chileans and an unknown number of foreign nationals.'

Excerpt

In August 1991, just weeks before the eighteenth anniversary of the coup d’état that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, the Vicariate of Solidarity announced the gruesome discovery of more than one hundred bodies in Santiago’s General Cemetery. the bodies had been interred secretly between September and December 1973. in a few cases, two bodies were placed in a single coffin. After years of heartbreaking and meticulous work, the women and men of the Roman Catholic Church’s human rights office finally had found some of the first of the more than two thousand Chileans “disappeared” by the Pinochet regime. General Pinochet had relinquished the presidency in 1990 after seventeen years as Chile’s dictator, but was still commander of Chile’s armed forces. After the discovery, Pinochet’s nominal commander-in-chief, transitional President Patricio Aylwin, summoned the general to the Moneda palace to express his outrage. President Aylwin could do nothing more than this. Pinochet enjoyed complete impunity for crimes that he may have ordered or that were committed by the men he commanded. President Aylwin could not even force the former dictator into retirement. As a dour Pinochet emerged from the Moneda, a young television reporter suddenly thrust a microphone at him, and asked him to comment on the appalling fact that some caskets contained two bodies. Pinochet quipped coldly, “How very economical!” That cruel and cynical remark is the origin of this book.

I was in Chile as Visiting Professor at the Law School of the University of Concepción at the time, where I was conducting research on the reform of Pinochet’s 1980 constitution, especially insofar as it involved the scheme of civil-military relations within the larger context of Chile’s democratic transition. I had arrived in the country on the first of several visits over the following five years just after the publication of the Report of the National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. Patricio Aylwin had created this presidential “truth commission” in 1990 as one of his first official acts, to provide an accounting of the human rights violations committed by the . . .

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