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Date: Tue, 9 Feb 1999 15:07:57 -0600 (CST)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: RIGHTS-CHILE: Prominent Academics Protest Distortion of History
Article: 54371
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.26695.19990210181541@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 481.0 **/
** Topic: RIGHTS-CHILE: Prominent Academics Protest Distortion of History **
** Written 3:09 PM Feb 6, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1999 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

Prominent Academics Protest Distortion of History

By Alicia Sanchez, IPS
3 February 1999

SANTIAGO, Feb 3 (IPS) - The Chilean government has ignored the demands for justice put forth at home and abroad by defending former dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-90), a group of prominent local academics complained.

An article signed by 11 historians says the government of Eduardo Frei has contributed to the manipulation of national history carried out for years by the Chilean right, with its argument that by defending Pinochet it is defending national sovereignty.

Among those who signed the document published this week by the Santiago daily 'La Segunda' figured reknowned local historians Gabriel Salazar, Maria Eugenia Horvitz and Armando de Ramon Folch.

The text states that since Pinochet's Oct 16 arrest in London, the campaign to rewrite history, undertaken by the Chilean right since the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in 1973, has intensified.

According to the document, the most recent examples of that campaign were an open letter to the Chilean people written by the elderly retired general in London, a series of articles by right- leaning historian Gonzalo Vial, published in La Segunda, and "explanations" by politicians and military officers of the human rights violations committed in the 1970s and 1980s.

The 11 historians stated that contrary to the claims of Pinochet's followers, "the armed forces did not intervene (in 1973) to promote national reunification, but to destroy the political power of the left, and even of the centre.

"To that end, they committed a mass killing and a violation of human and civil rights without comparison in the history of Chile.

"The ruling classes are 'deducing' the sovereignty of the constitutional text of 1980, without caring whether 'that' sovereignty is used to do justice by those who were murdered and tortured, or to protect those who defended such crimes," they added.

But attempts to rewrite history have not only been seen at home, the authors protested.

In an effort to justify the military coup and the use of torture, Pinochet's advisers got an article by right-wing historian Lucia Santa Cruz, a friend of England's Prince Charles, published in 'The Sunday Telegraph' in Britain.

In her article, Santa Cruz maintained that her husband, Juan Luis Ossa, had been "tortured during the Allende government (1970- 73)."

Santa Cruz' claims drew a heated reaction in Chile. The assistant director of investigations under the Allende administration, Carlos Toro, in whose presence Ossa was interrogated after being arrested for carrying arms, said her husband was never tortured.

"It is infamy to try to seek comparisons with the human rights violations committed during the dictatorship," said Toro. "Torture was never committed under the government of Allende."

Pinochet was arrested on a Spanish warrant on Oct. 16 as he recuperated from back surgery at a London hospital. As a senator- for-life, the former dictator cannot be tried at home.

He is now in the middle of the second trial against him in the House of Lords, Britain's highest court, which is to decide whether he enjoys immunity.

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon is seeking Pinochet's extradition to Spain, where he would stand trial on charges of genocide, terrorism, torture and the "selective disappearance" of around 3,000 Chileans and citizens of countries like Spain, Argentina and Brazil.

A report by the Chilean government concluded that 3,197 people had been killed by Pinochet's security forces in the wake of the 1973 coup. As long ago as 1975 the United Nations recognised a deliberate policy of torture, and in 1976 resolved that such cases should be prosecuted as crimes against humanity.

The Chilean left and groups of relatives of victims of the military dictatorship criticise the Frei administration for its decision to take part in the trial.

They argue that it is disgraceful for the government to have mounted a defence that legitimates human rights violations.

A sector of the Socialist Party (PS) - which forms part of the governing centre-left Coalition for Democracy - asked its Supreme Court to kick Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza out of the party. The group also plans to ask the Constitutional Court to disqualify Pinochet as a senator, because according to the constitution a senator cannot carry out special missions.

Pinochet claims he was sent to London as a special ambassador for Chile. If the PS request is heard by the courts, Insulza will have to explain why he entrusted the retired general with a special mission. (END/IPS/tra-so/as/dg/sw/99)

Origin: Montevideo/RIGHTS-CHILE/ ----

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