Monday, July 26, 2010

Chile: no amnesty for you

Following up on previous posts about requests from the Catholic Church and the Chilean military to use the bicentennial to amnesty some members of the military convicted of human rights abuses:

Sebastián Piñera says he won't do it.

He also uses a fascinating rationale, namely that it would reopen the wounds of the past.  That is particularly interesting because it is precisely the argument the military uses in favor of an amnesty.  For amnesty supporters, a country moves forward by halting trials and ending jail time.  That Piñera uses it in the opposite direction is a really novel and positive step.

He also uses the argument that an amnesty creates a slippery slope, which could then jeopardize convictions in other areas, such as narcotrafficking.  Given that the dictatorship is such a specific and historical context, I find this argument unconvincing.  Yet the fact that he used it anyway seems to show a commitment to using every possible argument to nix the overall idea.

Following the argument of my book on the topic from years ago, this is very good for civilian supremacy over the armed forces.  Finding no formal channels open to favorably address highly salient issues, retired military and other amnesty supporters went through less formal and more public contacts as a way to exert pressure.  Forced to react, the president--and one from the right no less--rebuffed them.  The fact that this is not a Concertación president is important too, because now there is no opposition to turn to (an issue my book did not address, since the right had been in opposition the entire time).


Ernesto,  9:14 PM  

He used the slippery slope argument because he's afraid that voters will see him as not as though on crime as he wants to be seen. A poll a couple of weeks ago showed that something like 60% of those asked thought that pardoning convicted people was a step back from his policies against crime, which doesnt' really make any sense, since the pardon was meant to benefit basically those over 70 and those terminally ill.

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