Monday, July 15, 2013

Pardons in Chile

The Commander in Chief of the Chilean army, Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba, just brought up a recurring issue, namely concern for retired officers still going through trials or in prison for human rights abuses.

“Lo único que nos apena es la situación por la cual atraviesan algunas personas que, habiendo pertenecido a las filas del Ejército y que hoy tienen avanzada edad o situaciones médicas complejas, uno podría darles una mirada en términos humanitarios, ya que viven tanto en lo personal como en lo familiar situaciones muy complicadas”, precisa.

Añadió que “efectivamente nos entristece ver que todavía esas personas permanecen ancladas a una situación de hace 40 años”, y estima que Chile debiera permitir superar estas situaciones “aunque ello no significa dejar de sacar lecciones” de lo ocurrido.

This came up very publicly at the time of Chile's bicentennial in 2010, and even included Catholic bishops. Sebastián Piñera said no.

Fuente-Alba's logic is especially twisted because he says officers should not be "anchored" to the past, but of course the families of the victims--and living victims--are now always tied to that past. The military and the right always want to "move on" (indeed, Piñera based his 2010 decision on not wanting to get mired in the past) and "not look backwards" For them, though, that simply means getting off the hook. Not once do they mention that when your child, father, mother, brother, sister was killed or just disappeared, moving on is not so simple. When the victims asked for mercy, they were given none.

Whether or not to grant pardons is always a touchy issue (just ask Gerald Ford!). In Chile, where dialogue has been gradual and painstaking, that is particularly true.


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