Saturday, June 16, 2007

General in hiding

Retired General Raúl Iturriaga (who, incidentally, is also wanted in Spain and Italy) is still in hiding, and this is putting army Commander in Chief Izurieta in a tough position. He came out and said explicitly that the army does not support acting outside the law, but there are rumors that active duty officers helped to transmit Iturriaga’s declaration. He is also concerned that there might be a domino effect, where other retired officers will similarly go into hiding rather than face jail time. Some members of UDI (the far right party) have more openly supported him, saying the entire process is politicized and aimed only at vengeance.

A major complaint is that the charge is kidnapping, but like with so many cases, no body was found. Therefore the army says it is illogical to say someone has been kidnapped for over 30 years. This is one of the central elements to the legal debate about how to address the detained-disappeared.

In recent years, the army leadership has been doing a balancing act, trying to end the prosecutions while distancing itself from the individuals who committed crimes. As Pinochet’s image became more and more tarnished, and human rights activists unearthed more and more information, association with the dictatorship has become a political liability. Actually, I just read a good analysis on this general point by Felipe Agüero in a recent edited volume—he has done a ton of work on this topic.


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