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Long and narrow, Chile clings to the western edge of South America's South­ern Cone. Hugging - page 31 / 46

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Chile                                   467

polity, arousing strong passions on either side: Conservatives who felt the violence was justified and Leftists and reformists who suffered it. The Con­certacion built its approach on three principles: truth, justice, and repara­tion. Truth involved the investigation and full public disclosure of the ex­tent of human rights violations with respect to victims and methods. Justice referred to the military: making the perpetrators accountable. Reparation en­tailed compensating victims and their families.

By these definitions, justice was not done. The Concertacion did not have the political power to bring human rights violators to trial. Given the nature of Chile's transition to democracy, the armed forces remained politically strong, and there was no question of overturning the amnesty the military government had decreed for itself in 1978. Thus, the principle of justice gave way to that of reconciliation. To that end, the Aylwin administration estab­lished the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, also known as the Retting Commission. The commission investigated human rights violations that in­volved deaths and disappearances. It gave a full accounting of victims, the methods used by the security branches of the armed forces and the police, and the judiciary's condoning of state terror. It was hoped that this public accounting, and an amnesty for most of the remaining political prisoners in Chile, would begin the process of reconciliation.

In addition to the truth component of its human rights policy, the Aylwin government also addressed reparations and, in a small measure, justice. With respect to reparations, the state compensated the families of victims who had died or disappeared. It also helped persons and families that had suf­fered through exile or loss of employment with relocation programs and with payments for former state employees who had been fired by the mili­tary government. With respect to justice, the Concertacion pushed through pardons for most of the remaining political prisoners. It also managed a slight reorientation of military justice: Some cases would be tried by civil­ian rather than military courts.

Combatting poverty was another high priority for the Concertacion, es­pecially during the Aylwin administration. Although the Concertacion took a proactive stance, it achieved only mixed success in addressing the sharp increase in social inequality that was one of the darker legacies of the dic­tatorship's free-market economic and social reforms. Reducing poverty and indigence was a major priority. In the late 1960s, the percentage of Chileans living in poverty and indigence stood at 22 and 6 percent respectively. To­wards the end of the military government those rates soared to 38 and 17 percent. Social policy under Aylwin reduced those numbers to 24 and 7 per­cent in 1994. The fact that the figure was still higher than those of the late 1960s highlights the problems Chile faces in becoming a more egalitarian society. Moreover, successive Concertacion governments failed to alter Chile's highly skewed distribution of national income, which became one of the most unequal in Latin America during the military government.

Still, the fall in poverty and indigence rates was a welcome improvement and was made possible through several policy instruments. For the most part, the Concertacion relied on the expansion of the labor market (higher

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