Friday, August 02, 2019

End of Chile's Copper Law

J.C. Arancibia has the details on the end of Chile's copper law. This is long overdue. It was a 1958 law, later reformed by (but not created by) Augusto Pinochet* to guarantee 10% of copper revenue to the Chilean armed forces.

I followed it closely while researching and writing my dissertation, followed by subsequent publications. It was a major way for the military to evade civilian control and remain very well-funded, even to the alarm of Chile's neighbors. I started my fieldwork almost 25 years ago, which gives you a sense of how difficult it remained to get enough support from the right to pass it. Presidents continually tried and failed. There was a big push in 2011-2012 that I blogged and published about, but it fizzled.

It's good that it is gone, but it should also serve as a reminder that antiquated laws still pervade the military institutions of the hemisphere and give them power and autonomy that undermines democracy.

*Ironically, Salvador Allende's nationalization of copper is precisely what allowed Pinochet the ability to increase the total amount since revenue went through CODELCO, the state copper company.


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