Letter: Chile awakens

Sir: The judgment of the Law Lords on Pinochet's immunity has been historic for the Chilean people.

Just before Pinochet's miscalculated trip to England, our country had been portrayed as an example of a civilised nation that had left the sins of its past behind. Chile has been marketed to the world as a country with a great entrepreneurial spirit, a strong economy, as a model of transition to a democratic state. Pinochet was transformed from dictator to wise elder statesman. He was presented as a key political figure in this transition process, able to effect agreements between the military, the right, and the government.

Forgetting the crimes of the dictatorship was central to this peculiar Chilean democracy.

Chile has a new constitution that enshrines the right of the military to intervene if governmental policy does not go its way. It ensures a right of veto to the most conservative sectors of Chilean society by giving 22 per cent of the senate to unelected members. The armed forces have the right to appoint their commanders-in-chief; they have 10 per cent of the income from the revenues of Chile's main natural resource, copper; they are protected against criminal investigation by the 1978 Amnesty Laws.

In Chile justice has only been symbolic. The crimes of the military regime - torture, hostage-taking, genocide and exile - have been side-stepped in order not to upset the armed forces. Economic triumphalism has been used to show that Chile is a model of stability and economic growth, and all of this thanks to Pinochet. (Figures from the Inter-American Development Bank show that Chile is one of 10 nations with the worst distribution records; most wealth goes to less than 10 per cent of the the population.)

Thanks to Pinochet's trip, the Chilean people have awoken to reality. Pinochet has no immunity beyond Chile and can be brought to trial for his crimes against humanity. The whole structure of the protected Chilean democracy has been shaken by the ruling of the Law Lords.

The return of Pinochet to Chile would mean impunity and would be an obstacle to further progress on Chile's democratic process.

Pinochet should be extradited to Spain. He and those involved in crimes against humanity should be held accountable by the international community. This would be the best way to help Chilean democracy.

S VASQUEZ

Hanover, New Hampshire, USA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable