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Chile: In Debt with Human Rights Truth, Justice and Reparation

Today, on the 69th anniversary of the declaration of the United Nations International Human Rights Day (established in 1950 to celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948), President Piñera defended the role of the Chilean state after 1989 in this area. Full of emotion, the president recalled President Aylwin's words that "never again" human rights in Chile would be violated, after the civilian-military dictatorship. Ironically, the president raises those false hopes of Aylwin, when we have lived, continuously, throughout the period after Pinochet, living these violations. And, in our days, as of popular revolt since October 18, 2019, these violations have multiplied and have been widely documented.

The truth is that the Chilean state is still indebted to the victims and subjects of the repression of the civil-military dictatorship of Pinochet between 1976 and 1989. Aylwin (the same of "never again"), Lagos (who pointed his accusatory finger to the dictator), Bachelet (the daughter of the aviation general killed by the dictatorship), Frei (the son of the former president killed by the dictatorship), and naturally Piñera (who supported the dictatorship), in his first and second term, did everything possible to spare truth, justice and reparation for the former political prisoners of the dictatorship. Recently, some former political prisoners have been successful in the courts of justice with complaints and lawsuits for human rights violations. But it was not always like this.

The National Union of Former Political Prisoners (UNExPP), understood early that the administrators of the Chilean capitalist state bequeathed by the dictatorship would not process such justice, despite its officials belonging to parties that were once leftist. There was a "social pact" (where have we heard that word before?) to obey: leaving old crimes against humanity in impunity. And these politicians were obedient to that pact, and must be judged even if only by the truth of history. Thus, this organization of former prisoners and political prisoners raised lawsuits against the state in search of reparation for torture and irreparable damage against former political prisoners in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007. All of them at the end of their proceedings before the Supreme Court, were denied. Let’s recall that the state is defended by the State Defense Council and its lawyers. And remember also who were the politicians in power in those days.

These lawsuits included more than 3,000 cases. Subsequently, all of them were filed in a complaint before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by the UNExPP against the State of Chile, in February 2011. These have languished in that international bureaucratic tangle for 8 years, thus expanding a continuum of violation of human rights for the plaintiffs. Many of the plaintiffs have already died waiting for justice. To avoid extending details of this situation it is recommended to see articles on the UNExPP website, in particular

However, the vast majority of former political prisoners of that period have not even attempted to raise lawsuits or complaints in search of justice, simply because they do not have the resources to do so. Consequently, it is the state that has the duty to establish justice, truth and reparation. We reiterate that all the administrations of the capitalist state have failed to comply, all are responsible for this injustice. In fact, at the end of 2017, in a hypocritical last-minute action, President Bachelet introduced a bill to Congress for a tiny reparation bonus for former political prisoners. And this was the first thing that President Piñera's government withdrew from Congress.

Now there are new massive violations of human rights. The old violations are being forgotten. That is why we raise our voice on this day of Human Rights and every day, the survivors of the great repression before, so that the young people who fight do not forget this background. So that they also learn from the political betrayals of professional politicians who sign social pacts behind the people's backs.

Many of us are participating in social movements, even with our feeble remaining force. We have the moral stature to point the finger at politicians like Lagos, Insulza, Bachelet, and others to tell them that they were instrumental in defending the neoliberal capitalist system in Chile, and that they betrayed their people. Likewise, we are clear that human rights are defended by fighting, from the courts to the street.