Chile. During the year, the country’s former president and dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973–90) became the subject of much attention both in Chile and internationally. According to Countryaah, the capital of Chile is Santiago. When he became a life senator and leader of the powerful military bloc in Congress in March, some members protested that a man who kept the institution closed for 17 years would be granted legislative status.
At the request of Spanish judges, Pinochet was arrested in October by the British police in London, where he was undergoing medical treatment. He was requested to be extradited to Spain to investigate his responsibility for the disappearance of Spanish nationals in Chile during the 1970s. This created great expectation not only for exile Chilean people around the world that the former dictator should be held responsible for human rights violations, but also that the Pinochet affair would be an important precedent for other dictators. In Chile, however, street unrest and demonstrations also occurred in support of Pinochet. His defender pointed to his legal immunity as a congressman, the limitation period for possible offenses and the applicable amnesty laws, which Pinochet, however, himself established. But on November 25, the arrest of the British Supreme Court Justice Order was approved, which opened the way for further proceedings. The incident also had effects in other Latin American countries, where military junta during the 1970s secretly conducted intelligence cooperation under the name “Operation Condor” to fight leftists. The evidence of the cooperation is a forgotten police archive in Paraguay that was produced following the fall of Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner in a coup d’état in 1989.
1993 Concertación wins the election again
At the 1993 elections, Concertación Democrática won again. Its candidate was Eduardo Frei – the son of the former president. He was elected president with 58% of the vote in the back. Yet he did not get the necessary parliamentary majority to abolish Pinochet’s political remnants. In the Senate, there are still eight “nominated” senators, and the opposition to reforms has therefore still a majority.
Shortly before the presidency was handed over, outgoing President Aylwin pardoned four members of the FPMR who were convicted of the 1986 attack on Pinochet. In May 1995, the minimum wage was raised by 13%. Sales of cigarettes and cars were taxed to finance an increase in the lowest pensions of 10% and an increase of 5% in educational expenses. In June, Chile applied for affiliation to the Mercosur Common Market between Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina. At the same time, the country applied for admission to NAFTA.
Brigadier General Pedro Espinoza and retired General Manuel Contreras were sentenced to prison terms for participating in the assassination of Allende’s Foreign Minister, Orlando Letelier. He was killed by a car bomb in Washington in 1976. Pinochet expressed the military’s solidarity with the convicted, but at the same time declared that he would respect the civilian authorities. At the same time, the authorities filed an investigation into the charges of corruption against the ex-dictator’s son. In submitting an appeal in February 1998, Contreras presented himself as a “subordinate” to Pinochet, declaring that the real leader of DINA – the intelligence service under the military dictatorship – had been the dictator himself. Contreras had been convicted as the chief responsible for DINA, who was behind the bomb attack against Letelier.
The Chamber of Deputies adopted by 76 votes against 26 a trade agreement with the Mercosur member states. The right-wing parties UDI and RN stated against this agreement. The Free Trade Agreement was signed on June 25, 1996, creating a “four plus one” construction between the ancient Mercosur countries and Chile. Chile is an associate, but not an actual member. A report by the National Agricultural Associations (SNA) pointed out that the deal leads to $ 460 million in losses for the Chilean agricultural sector, but at the same time the country is being integrated into a market of 200 million people.
At the municipal elections in October, the government alliance got the majority of votes. The Christians, the Socialists, the PPD and the SDR increased their representation on the municipal councils, but the number of mayors from the Concertación fell compared with the number from 1992. Within the framework of the Concertación, the support for the Christian Democrats decreased while increasing for the socialists and the PPD. This strengthened their position within the coalition.
Various surveys conducted in 1996 indicated that the average economic growth of 11% over the previous 11 years had led to a reduction of the so-called “extreme poverty” – without, however, reducing social differences. Thus, the richest fifth of the population had 57% of the national wealth, while the poorest fifth had only 3.9%.
In the first half of 1996, military and civil courts closed 21 cases involving disappearance and execution of a total of 56 persons without having identified the guilty. In May 1997, demonstrations were carried out by the Miners Union in the center of Santiago violently attacked by the police. The trade union is a bastion of the Chilean labor movement and of the Communist Party.