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Now the US Must Face Its Past on Chile

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://www.egroups.com/group/smygo Tuesday, December 5, 2000 LA Times Now the U.S. Must Face Its Past on Chile By MARC COOPER
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2000
      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      Tuesday, December 5, 2000

      LA Times

      Now the U.S. Must Face Its Past on Chile


      It has taken nearly 30 years, but former Chilean dictator
      Augusto Pinochet finally is being called to account before
      his nation's courts. Late last week, a courageous Chilean
      magistrate formally charged the 85-year-old retired general
      for the kidnapping and murder of 77 civilians during the
      first few weeks of the military regime Pinochet established
      in 1973.

      The historical ledger on Pinochet--who often fancied himself
      a liberator--was finally slammed shut when Magistrate Juan
      Guzman Tapia ordered the former dictator locked up under
      indefinite house arrest and bumped him up one step closer to
      trial. As the news crackled on radio and TV, countless
      Chileans sensed the gravity of the moment. Not only had the
      once supine Chilean justice system regained its
      independence, but the country as a whole was being given a
      much-needed opportunity to draw the balance sheet on its
      recent dark past. During the 17 years of the Pinochet
      dictatorship, more than 3,000 people were killed, a thousand
      of them "disappeared," while tens of thousands had been
      tortured, imprisoned or hounded into exile.

      Only a few years ago Pinochet's current plight was
      unimaginable. All debate on human rights in Chile had been
      suffocated and Pinochet himself had become an unelected

      That all changed when Pinochet was held two years ago in
      London on an international warrant issued by a Spanish
      court. After 500 days in British custody, Pinochet was
      allowed to return home on questionable health reasons. But
      Chile had changed during his absence. The shock waves
      emanating from his London arrest had shook loose an ossified
      Chilean judiciary. And Pinochet soon became the target of an
      aggressive investigation, one that culminated in his formal
      indictment last Friday.

      But now that Chile finally is coming to terms with its
      bloody history, will the U.S. follow suit and account for
      its role in supporting Pinochet when he rose to power?

      One significant step in that direction occurred when the
      Clinton administration, under intense international
      pressure, began releasing thousands of previously secret
      U.S. government documents about our relationship to
      Pinochet. Those papers, the latest batch of which were
      released on Nov. 13, reveal not only new details about the
      copious amounts of financing the Nixon administration and
      the CIA handed out to the forces that brought Pinochet to
      power, but also prove that the U.S. government was, at the
      time, fully aware of the death squad barbarities for which
      the former general is now facing trial.

      And we learn from other recently released documents that
      three years after Pinochet seized power, just as the
      bloodletting was reaching a frenzied crescendo, a crucial
      face-to-face meeting transpired in Santiago between U.S.
      foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger and the Chilean
      dictator. Transcripts of that meeting now archived at the
      Gerald Ford Presidential Library show Kissinger apologizing
      to Pinochet for any hiccups of protest coming from the U.S.
      Congress and reassuring the blood-stained general that he
      still retained full and unconditional American support.

      A wily Pinochet clearly read the political message from
      Kissinger. Barely two months later, Pinochet's most elite
      death squad had the audacity to forge ahead with a car
      bombing in downtown Washington D.C. that took the lives of
      dissident Orlando Letelier and his associate Ronni Moffit.
      That Pinochet himself played a direct role in these murders
      is now confirmed by intelligence reports among those
      released in November.

      If a former Chilean head of state can be tried by his own
      courts for the heinous crimes he committed, why shouldn't
      American officials be held morally and legally accountable
      for their complicity with him? Are the intellectual authors
      and financiers of mass murder any less guilty than the
      material executors? Clearly not.

      Word comes from Washington D.C. that the Department of
      Justice may finally be ready to lodge its own indictment
      against Pinochet for his role in the Letelier murder. That
      would be another welcome step in clarifying the murky
      historical links between the U.S. and Pinochet. But we still
      will have not gone as far as the Chileans have.

      It's a safe bet that Kissinger will live out his final years
      in considerable more comfort and peace than his former
      interlocutor and political ally, the forlorn and abandoned

      - - -

      Marc Cooper, a Nation Magazine Contributing Editor, Served
      as Translator to Former Chilean President Salvador Allende.
      he Is Author of "Pinochet and Me: a Chilean Anti-memoir"
      (Verso, 2000)

      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      Dan Clore

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