Friday, October 05, 2007

Chile arrests

A Chilean judge ordered the arrest of Pinochet’s widow, his children, and 17 of his close associates on corruption charges related to the fortune that mysteriously appeared in foreign bank accounts under his control. One of those associates is retired army General Jorge Ballerino, who was very close to Pinochet and a key figure in the negotiations of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

I interviewed Ballerino nine years ago while doing research for my dissertation. I remember it particularly well because it was my most vivid, and highest ranking, sense of what you might call “interview cognitive dissonance.” Here was a guy so closely associated with the military government and Pinochet himself, yet he was one of the nicest people I’ve interviewed in Chile, military or civilian. He invited me to his house, where we drank coffee and he answered my questions for about an hour. I immediately understood why Pinochet chose him as a negotiator.

The fact that people like Ballerino (not to mention Pinochet’s wife!) are being arrested is extraordinary, certainly nothing I would’ve anticipated 9 years ago.

Update: Tomás Dinges has a very good, detailed discussion of the charges and people involved.


Anonymous,  4:14 PM  

Several people in Chile have mentioned that these arrests are nothing more than an attempt to boost Bachelet's numbers by distracting the public from the failures of her government. I Latin American version of "Wag the Dog" I suppose. Menea la Colita?

Greg Weeks 8:01 PM  

I think that accusation would come up no matter what Concertación president was in office. Obviously, we can only speculate, but we should also remember that this case has been under investigation a long time and has periodically led to legal action, so this is not out of the blue.

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