Chile Completes Its Transition To Democracy

In two key decisions Chile has restored her democracy lost on September 11, 1973 when Gen. Augusto Pinochet overthrew democratically elected president Salvador Allende in a bloody Coupe supported by the United States.

On July 6, a Chilean court ruled 11 to 10 to remove Picnochet’s immunity he had granted himself when he became dictator in 1973. This opens the door to the families of those murdered and tortured by his regime to pursue legal action against him. There were more than 3,000 leftists murdered by the Pinochet regime and over 20,000 tortured.

In addition to the court decision the Chilean senate voted to remove several privileges Pinochet had granted himself and his military cohorts. Among those was Pinochet’s self proclaimed right to personally appoint 9 senators, 4 of whom were appointed by the military or police forces.

Full civilian control over the military has now been restored and the power of the president to sack any of the military commanders is now granted.

Chile’s current president, Richard Lagos, will end his term in December.

The leading contender to replace him is a medical doctor, Mrs. Michelle Bachelet. She currently has a 47 percent lead in the multi party survey just done. Mrs. Bachelet is a socialist and is expected to continue the liberal social policies of the outgoing present Lagos.

Mrs. Bachelet lived in political exile during the Pinochet era and is highly respected and charismatic. If she is elected she will become Chile’s first woman president. Her main principles include social justice and equality.