Over the past few decades, the process of national reconciliation has played a pivotal role in the recovery, and healing of those affected by civil wars and human rights violations within many countries. As such, countries ran by military/authoritarian governments have developed truth, justice, and reconciliation commissions to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the atrocities and sufferings endured by the masses. Between 1973 and 1990, Chileans suffered greatly under their military government. This paper shall highlight the human rights violations experienced during that period, as well as the actions taken by Chile in response to those violations. Similarly, the major tensions underlying Chile’s reconciliation efforts, and whether those efforts have been successful in balancing the need for justice and peace shall also be discussed.
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The Human Right Violations Experienced in Chile between 1973 and 1990
According to Loveman and Lira, the 1973 military coup was the worst political unrest experienced in Chile in the twentieth century (60). After the death of the president, the military took office and a state of civil unrest engulfed the country (Loveman & Lira 61). To maintain control, the military occupied national territories and declared a state of siege referred to as “The State of War”, which subjected civilians to military Tribunals. Similarly, during this period of military rule, thousands of people were detained, subjected to torture and an unknown number of people disappeared (Loveman & Lira 66). As such, torture, detention, unfair prosecutions, and disappearances were the most heinous human rights violations experienced by Chileans between 1973 and 1990.
Actions Taken by Chile in Response to the Human Right Violations
After years of suffering under a dictatorial rule, Chile got a civil government in 1990. Since then, the government has been actively involved in the politics of reconciliation. This political process seeks to establish the truth, develop reparation policies, offer justice, and resistance to impunity (Loveman & Lira 63). Regarding the establishment of the truth, the Rettig Commission (1990-91) was formed to shed some light on the violations, status of the victims, compensation procedures, and to propose preventive measures against future human rights violations (Loveman & Lira 61).
On the same note, the Valech Commissions (2003-2005, and Valech Commission II, 2010-2011) were also created to investigate and offer viable solutions to the violations (Loveman & Lira 66). Similarly, constitutional accusations, investigative journalism reports, and activities from human rights organizations carried out over the years indicate Chile’s resistance to impunity (Loveman & Lira 68). These are among the actions taken to address the human rights violations incurred by Chileans.
Major Tensions Underlying Chile’s Reconciliation Efforts
Currently, there is a lot of anger and frustration among Chileans due to the number of unresolved issues in terms of prosecutions, reparation, and resistance to impunity. The fact that the issues leading to the coup have not been resolved is a source of concern because reconciliation cannot happen without conciliation. If the root issues are not resolved, there is fear that Chile may never heal, or fall into another political rapture.
While the efforts towards reconciliation remain visible, their success in balancing the need for peace and justice greatly depends on an aggressive stance against the perpetrators of heinous crimes. Some people have not been prosecuted for their crimes. This is indicative of a flawed justice system. As such justice and peace cannot prevail unless they answer for their crimes.
Human rights violations experienced in Chile have been highlighted and the actions are taken to address them discussed. Without an effective justice system, the country may never fully experience the reconciliation it seeks.
Loveman, Brian, and Elizabeth Lira. “Truth, Justice, Reconciliation, and Impunity as Historical Themes: Chile, 1814 – 2006.” Radical History Review 97 (2007): 43 – 76. Print.