This blogger is not an academic and so was very flattered to be asked to write this review of an article in Diplomatic History by Professor Tanya Harmer of the London School of Economics, “Fractious Allies: Chile, the United States and the Cold War, 1973-76. It appears in H-Diplo, a diplomatic history discussion network: http://www.h-net.org/~diplo/reviews/PDF/AR395.pdf
The Fundación Presidente Pinochet has taken out full page advertisements in El Mercurio, Chile’s largest newspaper, expressing its condolences over the death of Margaret Thatcher, saying the former British Prime Minister “had defended Chile’s jurisdictional sovereignty during very difficult moments in our recent history.” This refers to Thatcher’s public defense of Pinochet during his detention in London from October 1998 to March of 2000, when she called him Britain’s “friend and ally” and claimed he had “brought democracy to Chile.”
Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker interviewed Pinochet in London shortly before his arrest and has a blog post about the Chilean dictator and the Iron Lady, noting that Britain lifted its arms embargo against Chile the year after she took office and that the Chilean military helped Britain with intelligence on Argentina during the Falklands War
“Thereafter, the relationship became downright cozy, so much so that the Pinochets and his family began making an annual private pilgrimage to London. During those visits, they and the Thatchers got together for meals and drams of whiskey. In 1998, when I was writing a Profile of Pinochet for The New Yorker, Pinochet’s daughter Lucia described Mrs. Thatcher in reverential terms, but confided that the Prime Minister’s husband, Dennis Thatcher, was something of an embarrassment, and habitually got drunk at their get-togethers.” http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/neruda-pinochet-thatcher-chile-murder-exhumed.html
La Segunda has a story on Thatcher’s visit to Chile in 1994, including an incident in which she fainted while giving a speech to local business leaders. The article reports that Thatcher had just praised Chile for defeating socialism and instituting free market economic policies when her speech slowed and she fell forward against the podium. http://www.lasegunda.com/Noticias/Internacional/2013/04/836777/su-fuerte-vinculo-con-chile-desmayo-en-santiago-y-su-defensa-a-pinochet
Almost a year ago I wrote about Hartmutt Hopp, the German doctor who fled Chile after a court charged him with supplying children to the pedophile leader of Colonia Dignidad, a secretive sect used by the Pinochet regime as a detention and torture center. http://notesontheamericas.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/the-never-ending-colonia-dignidad-horror-show/
Hopp, 68, resurfaced in western German city of Krefeld, and as the German constitution does not allow the extradition of German citizens, may have believed himself beyond the reach of the law. But German prosecutors began their own investigation and this week said they were awaiting a special request from Chile for Germany to carry out the sentence against Hopp. And Amnesty International has been campaigning for Hopp’s arrest, handing out leaflets about the case in the doctor’s home town.
“Normally we call for the release of prisoners,” Amnesty International’s Klaus Walter told the German newspaper The Local. “But in this case it is the other way around.” http://www.thelocal.de/national/20130409-49027.html#.UWSPNqLCaSo
Periodistas extranjeros—mentirosos y embusteros!
Foreign journalists—liars and fabricators!
–a chant by Pinochet supporters
Here, courtesy of YouTube, are two parts of a documentary on the press and the Pinochet regime’s one-man presidential plebiscite in 1988. There are opening remarks by Pinochet speaking to supporters and blasting the foreign press “from Spain, from France, from Germany.”
Here’s Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwQ2h_qG5-M
and Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNahTdcVvKw
I have a guest post on my publisher’s web site, about the political background to Chile’s Oscar-nominated film,”No.”
And The New Yorker has a review of the film: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2013/02/25/130225crci_cinema_lane?currentPage=all
For the first time in the history of the Oscars a Chilean movie has joined the roll of nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. Pablo Larrain’s “No,” about the campaign to defeat dictator General Augusto Pinochet in the 1988 one-man presidential plebiscite, was one of 71 entries this year, making it to the short list of nine films under consideration and has now been named as one of five final nominees.
The film uses archival footage from the series of nightly 15-minute television broadcasts the “No” and “Si” campaigns aired the month prior to the vote, and here, courtesy of You Tube, is the first of the “No” programs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUNB_PxP6i8 .
And one from the “Si” campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm7PkPNr0-A.
Here’s a video review of my book, The General’s Slow Retreat: Chile after Pinochet. This comes from East Tennessee State University:
It was the sort of incident you’d associate with the Pinochet years: intruders enter the home of an investigative journalist and steal his laptop, leaving other valuables untouched. But this past Saturday that is what happened to Mauricio Weibel, a Chilean reporter for the German news agency Deutsche-Presse Agentur (DPA) and coauthor of a recent book on the military regime’s security apparatus, Asociacion Ilicita.
Weibel told the digital newspaper El Mostrador (http://www.elmostrador.cl/noticias/pais/2012/12/17/periodista-sufre-robo-de-computador-que-contenia-investigacion-sobre-dictadura-militar/) that thieves stole two laptops, one containing research for his work as a journalist. “That same afternoon a man was discovered photographing my house and fled when family friends asked him to identify himself,” he said. Chilean police visited the home, and Weibel had a conversation with Interior Minister Andres Chadwick, who assured him he would be protected. But then another robbery occurred: intruders entered the property and stole tools from Weibel’s patio.
And on the same day Weibel’s computers were stolen, intruders entered the home of another Chilean journalist, Javier Rebolledo, author of another book on the Pinochet regime’s security forces, La Danza de los Cuervos, and stole a computer disc. Reporters Without Borders has a piece on the case and other attempts to intimidate Chilean journalists: http://en.rsf.org/chile-break-in-at-home-of-reporter-who-16-12-2012,43799.html.
A Spanish judge has issued indictments and international arrest warrants against seven former Pinochet regime security agents for the 1976 kidnapping and murder of Carmelo Soria, a Spanish diplomat working for the Santiago-based United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America. The former agents include Manuel Contreras, former head of regime’s secret police agency, the DINA, who is currently serving multiple prison sentences for killings and torture and Michael Townley, an American-born DINA agent who was extradited to the United States for his role in the killing of Chilean exile leader Orlando Letelier and his American colleague in a car bomb explosion in Washington.
Townley served a reduced prison sentence in the United States in return for testifying in the case, and entered the Federal Witness Protection Program. While working for the DINA his Santiago home was used to hold detainees, and Soria was among these victims (see earlier post http://notesontheamericas.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/nocturno-de-chile/).
Judge Pablo Ruz said his Chilean counterparts “had shelved the case” and that there has not been “a serious investigation and follow up of these deeds.” So what happens next? A lawyer for the Soria family said they were waiting for an extradition request in order to petition Chile’s Supreme Court to reopen the case.
Some recent news:
1) Last month an army internal document was leaked to Chile’s Canal 13. The memo suggested the army exclude potential recruits with “physical, mental, socioeconomic problems” as well as “drug users, homosexuals, conscientious objectors and Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Chilean civil rights campaigners were outraged, with some urging that the document’s author be removed from the armed forces.
But it’s not Pinochet’s army anymore. On October 23 the president of Movimiento de Liberacion Homosexual (MOVILH) met with Chilean army commander General Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba and other senior officers to discuss ways to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. MOVILH’s president, Rolando Jimenez, called the meeting as “historic,” and that it showed the Chilean army’s interest in eradicating homophobia. “This reflects a profound and positive cultural transformation,” he said.
2) A new report by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, “Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises,” lists Chile as the best place in Latin America for doing business. The report examines legal procedures such as obtaining credit, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency as well as the cost and efficiency of such matters as starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property and paying taxes. Chile ranks 37th worldwide, ahead of Puerto Rico (41st place), Peru (43rd place), Colombia (45th place), Mexico (48th place) and Panama (61st place)
The full World Bank report is here: http://www.doingbusiness.org/~/media/GIAWB/Doing%20Business/Documents/Annual-Reports/English/DB13-full-report.pdf