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Date: Wed, 11 Mar 98 00:41:49 CST
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #423, 3/8/98
Article: 29699
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.22642.19980312121706@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** reg.nicaragua: 52.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #423, 3/8/98 **
** Written 9:42 PM Mar 8, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **
ISSUE #423, MARCH 8, 1998
339 LAFAYETTE ST., NEW YORK, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499

Chilean Women March Against Pinochet

Weekly News Update on the Americas, #423
8 March 1998

Between 3,000 and 5,000 women marched on Mar. 7 in Santiago, Chile, to commemorate International Women's Day and to voice their objection to former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet and his plans to take a lifetime seat in the Senate. "What horror, what horror, Pinochet as senator!" chanted the women as they marched along the Alameda, the principal avenue in central Santiago. The demonstration, called by more than 70 organizations, culminated with a performance by the popular musical group Inti Illimani. Similar protests were held in other cities. The women's protests came at the end of a week of different demonstrations against Pinochet as the general prepares to leave his post as army chief on Mar. 10 to take up the lifetime senate seat. Another mass protest, called by a broad range of organizations, was scheduled for Mar. 8. [CNN en Espanol 3/7/98 from Reuter; Notimex 3/7/98; Clarin 3/8/98; La Tercera (Santiago) 3/8/98] More rallies, demonstrations and civil disobedience actions are scheduled for Mar. 10 and 11, promoted by the Chilean Communist Party (PCCh) and other groups, including political parties from the ruling Concertacion coalition. [Notimex 3/7/98]

On Mar. 6 the 45 generals of the Chilean army issued a unanimous declaration naming Pinochet as the "distinguished army commander in chief." A high-level military source told CNN that the unprecedented proclamation is "a pact of blood and loyalty" with Pinochet, who the generals support as the "natural leader of the [military] institution." The statement has no practical impact, but clearly constitutes a warning that the army will continue to support Pinochet after his retirement. [CNN en Espanol 3/6/98; Clarin 3/7/98] PCCh general secretary Gladys Marin called the proclamation "an act intended to intimidate" the government, the Congress and civil society. [Notimex 3/7/98]

Pinochet was to have been sworn in as lifetime senator one day after his retirement as army chief, but in a controversial move on Mar. 4 the Senate voted to shift the swearing in up one day so that Pinochet is not left without immunity from prosecution. The former dictator is facing several legal and political trials for human rights violations [see Update #416]. [Clarin 3/5/98]

President Eduardo Frei reiterated on Mar. 5 that he opposes the existence of senators who are not elected by popular vote, but acknowledged that the military lifetime senate seats are established under the 1980 Constitution--written during Pinochet's dictatorship. Frei noted that efforts to change the Constitution have failed. [CNN en Espanol 3/5/98 from AP]

Retired general Ernesto Videla claims that the rebel group Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FMPR) is preparing an assassination attempt against Pinochet. [CNN en Espanol 3/6/98 from Reuter] The FPMR denied Videla's charges and called them part of a "campaign of terror" against those protesting Pinochet's lifetime senate seat. In September 1986 the FPMR attempted to kill then-dictator Pinochet but failed; five bodyguards died in the attack. [Notimex 3/7/98]

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