From the October 2000 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 47, No. 10)


Pinochet’s Not Immune

Robert Taylor, World Press Review contributing editor

The Chilean Supreme Court’s decision in early August to uphold a lower court ruling that revoked Senator-for-Life Augusto Pinochet’s immunity from prosecution on charges stemming from the infamous 1973 “Caravan of Death” marks only “the start of a phase of regression back to the bitter disputes over our historical past,” lamented the conservative El Mercurio of Santiago (Aug. 9). El Mercurio noted that the immunity ruling represents no judgment on Pinochet’s guilt or innocence in more than 150 complaints pending against the former president in Chilean courts in connection with human-rights abuses by security forces during the 1970s. But the editorial anticipated “domestic and international political pressure to obtain a conviction.”

The conservative La Tercera of Santiago (Aug. 9) argued that “the nation…has taken an important step in its effort to close the transition. In view of this, the politicians must be mindful of the message that the citizenry delivered through the presidential election,” which “set out clearly the consensus toward which a significant majority of the nation’s social forces are converging.”

La Tercera observed that neither the Socialist government of President Ricardo Lagos nor the conservatives who rallied last year behind the presidential candidacy of Joaquin Lavin stand to benefit from a long, bitterly divisive trial. The Lagos ad- ministration “is well aware that not only would an atmosphere of confrontation delay realization of the president’s agenda...for the coming months, but it would also create a climate of eroding confidence and instability that would end up affecting [Lagos’s] efforts to accelerate the pace of economic recovery and reduce unemployment,” the editorial said.

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