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Chile Essay, Research Paper


Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was Chile’s military dictator from 1973 to 1990. He became commander in chief of the army and intervene to throw Salvador Allende out of power and save Chile from Marxists chaos, and rise Chile’s economy with his “free market reforms” that made Chile the most consistent in economic success. During his regime Pinochet practiced torture, murder, and genocide, which cause him to be condemned by the human rights groups. After eight years since General Augusto Pinochet left power and became senator for life in Chile, an Spanish judge, Baltazar Garz n, taking advantage of Pinochet’s visit to a London hospital sent a warrant charging him of murder, torture, and on the disappearance of Spanish people during his regime. He was arrested in London, which cause great anger, delight and disbelief at the same time, on the Chilean people. Most couldn’t believe it, other went to the streets protesting or supporting his arrest. He waits until a decision on whether he is judged in Spain or if he has diplomatic immunity and therefore go back to Chile. Pinochet, during his regime was accused of committing mass murder, torture, and violating human rights, that is why he is facing charges against him. Pinochet should not be judged for his acts in London or in Spain, if he is to pay for his accused murders, he should pay them in his country, Chile.

General Augusto Pinochet on the 16th of September travel to London to deal some weapon negotiation and while being there, he presented a backbone problem and went to the hospital to operate. Once on the hospital, while recovering from his back surgery a warrant arrived, issued by a Spanish judge ordering his detention on the charges of murder and torture. On the 16th of October he was detained in the hospital, till the British high court decided if he is extradited to be judged in Spain. (Dad) Many Chileans protested his detention declaring that he is Senator for Life and that he has immunity. On a trial it was decided that he had no diplomatic immunity due to the fact that “only diplomats accredited to the host government have immunity from prosecution in that particular country” (Padgett, 14). Also because according to Baltazar Garzon, a Spanish judge, who studied human rights abuses against Spanish citizens in Argentina and Chile, concluded that Pinochet does not apply to immunity because murder and torture are not part of a head of government’s job. (Nelan, 12). A 1991 government-sponsored investigation found that there were 3197 deaths and disappearances from 1973 to 1978, 90000 tortured victims and 50000 exhiled from Pinochet’s dictatorship. (Larmer, 33) Due to the fact that he has no immunity he can be judged outside his country. In Chile he is safe, “since the moment he took power he began constructing a series of legal, political, and psychological barriers to keep himself untouchable” (Larmer, 33). He placed some laws while being in power that free him from any action he has committed. The 1978 amnesty along with his status as senator still protects him from prosecution in Chile. (Padgett, 14).

His detention has created a lot of consequences. In Chile people was separated in the pro and con Pinochet, a total separation on the Chilean community, that involved marching people on the streets, whether protesting Pinochet’s detention, or supporting it. In the International, it created a polemic discussion on whether a person can be judged outside his home country or not. (Dad) The European governments had faced the problem on whether it is legal to collar and trie someone for crimes he committed on his nation soil; outside his nation. According to Arturo Valenzuela the director of Georgetown University’s Latin America studies Center, “this case could dramatically alter the line between legal sovereignty and supernational human rights jurisprudence” (Padgett, 14). David Turner, and Anglo-Chilean says, ” it is an invasion of our country’s sovereignty and pride; this is a domestic affair… It is damaging because it uncovers old wounds and old wounds only heal with time” (Larmer, 34).

A time magazine writer, Brook Larmer, said “His detention has thrown Chile into a national crisis of conscience, revealing the haunting power of the past and the enduring tension between memory and forgetting. It has also pushed human right law into a controversial case that is being closely watched through out the world.” (Larmer, 32) Many Chileans see Pinochet as a right wing monster. About 40% prefer to see him as a kindly hero who saved their country from Marxism and laid the formation for the strongest economy in Latin America. (Larmer, 32) The best defense that Pinochet has is a booming economy. “He reshaped the Chilean economy, reviving export industries and introducing free markets into nearly every facet of public life.” (Larmer, 33) The tumultuous reactions to his arrest shows that the past wounds are far from being healed. “Almost half the population still admires the former dictator, first because he save the country from Marxist chaos, and second because his free-market reforms have made Chile the continent’s most consistent economic success. The other half still wants Pinochet tried for his alleged crimes on Chilean soil, despite a 1978 amnesty.” (Padgett, 16)

Pinochet on an interview urged Spain to “drop the lawsuits”, he argue that Chile in the 1970’s was locked in a civil war that saw human rights abuses on both sides. British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher “argued that it will be disgraceful to have Pinochet who aided Britain during its 1982 war with Argentina, under arrest”. (Padgett, 15) Pinochet has created a lot of passion and had worked hard to achieve what he did, and part of his agony is to be put on trial by Spain a country in which General Francisco Franco (who Pinochet admired). (Padgett, 16) On a letter that Pinochet wrote he said ” I’m absolutely innocent of all the crimes and deed of which they irrationally accuse me, 1/3 of the deaths were the result of left-wing terrorism.” (Larmer, 34) He vows to fight extraction attempts with all his spirit and refuses to recognize the right to be judged outside Chile. He already won on a legal challenge saying his arrest was unlawful, and he will fight till the end. (BBC News, 17 Dec. 1998)

Pinochet may end up take to Spain to face charges on torture and mass murder but at the same time he could be judged in London in case his extradition to Spain is denied. Most Chileans insist that he is sent home but there he has immunity so nobody thinks he will be putt on trial in Chile even if he had no immunity at all. What most people don’t see is the good side of Pinochet, they didn’t live the regime so they are manipulated for what they hear in the news or from left-wing Chilean democrats. Only people who lived Pinochet’s regime and saw the good he made to Chile are the once who can tell what really happen. I think Pinochet’s action are justified because on a war there is deaths, and what happen in Chile in the 1970’s was a war in which not just Pinochet killed, but his soldiers were killed too. Many dictator had done worse things than Pinochet and had violated human rights but nobody cares, Why does Pinochet do care? is a question many people should be asking themselves at this moment. General Augusto Pinochet created a war against communism during his regime. He made many mistakes like killing, torturing and so on, but a the same time he did an excellent job saving Chile from Marxist ideas and laid the formation of for the strongest economy in Latin America. There are many dictators like Fidel Castro for example that has killed and done worse things than Pinochet and they don’t do anything to him and look at Cuba, and Chile and take your own conclusions. If Pinochet is to be judged because of his accused crimes, do it in Chile, not outside his country.


1. BBC News. The Pinochet case: Timeline. URLhttp://www.news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/special_report/1998/17/98/the_pinochet_file/newsid_198000/198145.stm. (17 Dec. 1998)

2. Larmer, Brook. “Undying Memory”. Time. 28 Dec. 1998: 32-34

3. Nelan, Bruce W. “The Pinochet Problem”. Time. 14 Dec. 1998: 12,14.

4. Padgett, Tim. “The Fight over Pinochet”. Time. 2 Nov. 1998: 13-16