Chile: Long Live Pinochet

Ten years ago, Chile’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed the persecutions and political killings that followed the overthrow of President Salvador Allende by a military junta led by Augusto Pinochet.

The World Today Published 1 April 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 4 minute READ

Monica Threlfall

Senior Lecturer in Politics at Loughborough University

Exactly a decade later the Chilean Court of Appeal has confirmed that the first of over two hundred cases against Pinochet can go forward to trial. For full truth and true reconciliation the dictatorship’s mesh of secrets and internal resentments has had to be unravelled.

Europe’s longest-serving dictator General Franco boasted on his deathbed of leaving Spain’s political future ‘nicely sewn up’. His declared admirer General Augusto Pinochet thought he could do better. He would perpetuate his dictatorship by obtaining a popular mandate or failing that, appoint himself Senator-for-life.

Both moves ended in defeat. Even the new democracy’s 1991 attempt to lay matters to rest through truth and reconciliation, known as the Rettig Commission, failed to keep the wolves of justice from Pinochet’s door.

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