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Weaving Impunity for Dictatorship Crimes in Chile

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | July 25, 2020

In 1968, the U.S. backed a covert intelligence surveillance campaign in which Latin American right-wing governments conspired to annihilate socialist and communist influence in the region. The plan, known as Operation Condor, was formally implemented in 1975, two years after dictator Augusto Pinochet took power in Chile through a military coup supported by the U.S. Up to 80,000 left wing opponents are estimated to have been killed; 30,000 of them disappeared by right-wing governments in Latin America by 1989, when Operation Condor was officially terminated. Over 400,000 people were detained as political prisoners.

This month marks 44 years since the kidnapping and murder of Spanish-Chilean diplomat Carmelo Soria; also a victim of Operation Condor. Soria, who worked as a UN civil servant and became advisor to the Unidad Popular between 1971 and 1973 when Chile was ruled by socialist President Salvador Allende, became a target for Chile’s National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) during the Pinochet dictatorship. Through his diplomatic immunity as a UN official, Soria aided individuals to seek refuge in embassies until plans for exile could be made.

Soria was kidnapped by DINA agents pertaining to the Brigada Mulchen under the command of Captain Guillermo Salinas at the time, on July 14, tortured at Via Naranja and Villa Grimaldi, and murdered. His body was discovered in Santiago de Chile, dumped in a car that was pushed into a ditch, to cover up the murder as an apparent drunk driving accident.

Little is known about Brigada Mulchen – a secret operatives network with direct links to DINA’s chief Manuel Contreras. The agents comprising Brigada Mulchen have been described by Chilean researcher and author Javier Rebolledo as being part of Pinochet’s inner circle. Michael Townley, a CIA and DINA agent who was tasked with the production and experimentation of sarin gas, together with the biochemist Eugenio Berrios, was involved in Soria’s murder. Townley, who is under the Witness Protection Program in the U.S., was one of the agents requested for extradition by Chile’s Supreme Court for involvement in Soria’s murder. Soria’s remains were exhumed and identified in 2002 by Chile’s Servicio Medico Legal (SML). In 2015, 15 former DINA agents were indicted for Soria’s murder.

In 2019, 43 years after the murder, Chile’s Supreme Court sentenced Pedro Espinoza Bravo, Raul Iturriaga Neumann, Jaime Lele Orellana and Juan Morales Salgado, to a mere six years in prison for Soria’s murder – a travesty of justice which does not even reflect the crime. However, the impunity built through Pinochet’s dictatorship legacy still has a stronghold on Chile. Earlier this year, the Santiago Court of Appeals reduced the prison sentences of 17 former DINA agents who were involved in the murder and disappearances of Communist party members; the latter including Luis Emilio Recabarren.

Espinoza Bravo, sentenced for his involvement in Soria’s murder, is one of the DINA agents whose prison sentences have been reduced. The decision indicates the absence of separation between law and politics in Chile. In his presidential campaign, Chile’s right-wing President Sebastian Pinera had publicly spoken of amnesties for former DINA agents incarcerated for crimes against humanity. The suggestion was well received by the military and right-wing dictatorship supporters, while victims of the dictatorship and their relatives, in a struggle for reclaiming memory and justice since the dictatorship era, had to contend with yet another political impediment – the political manoeuvring at a legal level.

Chile is governed by silence and complicity – the Pinochet legacy, together with the military’s “pact of silence” – remain perpetual obstacles. What has changed since Soria’s murder was passed off as a drunk driving accident at a time when dictatorship opponents were being tortured and disappeared? While the Chilean military has not been averse to such tactics as seen in last year’s protests, it must be said that since Chile’s transition to democracy, subsequent governments have thoroughly failed the cause of human rights and collective memory in the country.

July 25, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Chile Senate approves resolution to adopt law boycotting settlement goods

MEMO | July 10, 2020

The Chilean Senate last week approved a resolution calling on President Sebastian Pinera Echenique to adopt a law boycotting settlement goods and banning commercial activity with companies that operate in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The motion passed on 30 June with 29 votes in favour and six abstentions, no votes were cast against the move.

The resolution also called on the government to promote legislation that would ban all Israeli settlement products; prohibit any company involved in the Israeli occupation from benefiting from any agreement or bid signed by Chile; apply tourism guidelines for Israel and Palestine that would not allow the promotion of trips to Israel using pictures of East Jerusalem or Bethlehem “among other Palestinian cities”; forbid any kind of cooperation, including monetary, with the Israeli colonisation of occupied Palestine; and ensure that no tax benefits will be afforded to any organisation operating in Chile if it is involved in the occupation of Palestine.

Yesterday, President of the Palestinian National Council Salim Al-Zanoun thanked the Senate for its decision which he said constitutes a victory for the right of “our people to establish an independent state with its capital, Jerusalem, on the borders of June 4, 1967”, and affirming the international consensus regarding the application of international law and the terms of reference of the peace process.

On 2 July, Chile, the country with the largest population of Palestinians in Latin America, lit up its Telephone Tower with the Palestinian kufiyeh in support of the Palestinian people and rejection of Israel’s plans to annex some 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 2 Comments

The Dramatic Fall of Chile as Latin America’s Neoliberal Role Model

By Ariela Ruiz Caro | CounterPunch | February 5, 2020

After the outbreak of the most intense and massive social protests ever recorded in the history of Chile, on November 16 the government and most political parties signed an agreement to restore peace and public order and initiate a process to draft a new constitution.

The protests, triggered by the rise in subway fares on Oct. 18, called into question the supposed Chilean success story of the neoliberal economic model implemented in the country during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1989). Developed by the so-called Chicago Boys, successive administrations since the 1990 return to democracy in 1990 sustained the model as state policy.

Economic and especially financial liberalization; privatization of public services, including water; the subsidiary role of the State; unlimited protection for foreign investments; and insertion in the international economy that serves US policies designed for the region were the fundamental elements of the economic model that Chile pioneered globally.

Chile’s achievements in macroeconomic stability, sustained economic growth and significant reduction in poverty levels solidified its image–promoted by the international system–as a role model in Latin America. For many years, Chilean citizens also believed it. However, behind the stable statistics and the high growth rates per capita, lurked growing inequality and concentration of wealth that eventually revealed the deep cracks in the system and sparked the recent protests. Chile is currently the 12th most unequal economy in the world. [1]

The Chilean Government’s Declining Legitimacy

Most analisis of Chile’s surprising social uprising have focused on economic aspects and less on Chile’s deep political crisis, characterized by the loss of citizen representation in political parties and government. An important part of the protest movement’s demands include greater citizen participation.

According to the October Social Thermometer Survey, 85% of citizens support the grassroots protests, and 80% demand a new constitution. The current constitution, written during the military dictatorship, dates from August 1980. The decline in the legitimacy of the Piñera government in the eyes of the popularion has been intensified by the serious criticisms of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Commission of Chile and the OAS General Secretary for violation of human rights by the government to suppress protests.

Loss of Leadership in the International Sphere

All this has resulted in an unquestionable loss of leadership of Chile in the international arena. The Piñera government had to suspend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) Summit that should have taken place in Santiago. Likewise, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP25) was forced to make a last-minute move to Madrid. Chile today cannot offer basic guarantees even as the venue for international sporting events. The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) decided to move the venue of the 2019 Copa Libertadores final that will be played by the Flamengo (Brazil) and River Plate (Argentina) teams from Santiago to Lima.

Chile has lost leadership in regional bodies. It no longer can play its leading role in the Lima Group, an ad hoc body created by 13 Latin American countries and the United States in August 2017 to press for regime change in Venezuela; in the creation of the Forum for the Progress and Development of South America (Prosur) [2] launched March 22 to replace the Union of South American Nations (Unasur); or in the aborted U.S. plot to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela across the border with Colombia that had the region in suspense in February. The grassroots explosion, has not only knocked Chile off  the pedestal on which the success of its neo-liberal model was erected, but also removed its articulating role with the United States and allied countries in the region.

The demonstrations have also had an impact on the country’s economy. The volume of sales and consumption has dropped, along with imports and exports. The stock market has gone down, and the national currency has been devalued. The limited operation of many domestic activities and the suspension of the aforementioned international events will have an impact on economic growth. In this scenario, the opposition presented the departure of President Piñera and the call to a Constituent Assembly as the key pieces to achieve a solution.

The Hidden Face of Chilean Economic Success

Although Chile sustained per capita economic growth above the Latin American average and poverty levels fell from above 40% of the population to less than 10% in the last three decades, those who came out of poverty generally did not reach the levels of consumption that are usually associated with middle class status.

Fifty percent of the economically active population earns less than 550 dollars per month, with the minimum wage equivalent to 414 dollars. Overwhelmed by the narrow strip that separates it from the poverty, an important part of the population lives in fear of seeing their income fall. [3] In Chile, downward social mobility is greater than upward social mobility, and downward mobility is more highly correlated to political protest than poverty itself. [4]

The biggest factor that exacerbates inequality is probably the nation’s pension system, in force since 1982. Designed during the military government [5], the pension mechanism has not met Chileans’ expectations. According to the group No + AFP (No More Pension Fund Managers), which in 2016 organized a march of 600,000 people, these are “undercover banks of the richest entrepreneurs in our country who use the pension funds to expand their investments and further concentrate capital in a few hands.” [6] The average pension for retirees is $286 per month, and 80% receive pensions below the minimum wage. The amount of pensions is on average close to 40% of people’s income at the time of retirement.

Education is the second major source of inequality. In 2006 and 2011, student s organized massive demonstrations calling for profound reforms in the education system. Chilean education is characterized by the huge gap between public and private education. The withdrawal of the State from its functions as generator, regulator and supervisor of the education sector led to the gap as part of neoliberal reforms beginning in the 1980s.

Former Chilean rulers unanimously recognize that the situation of inequality generated social unrest and led directly to current protests in this country. Rolf Luders, Pînochet’s former minister of economics and now a professor at the Institute of Economics of the Catholic University of Chile, admits that “the income of the vast majority of Chileans is still low in absolute terms and the income differences are very significant.” Luders adds that “there have been abuses not duly sanctioned by the State.” Former president Ricardo Lagos points out that “citizens feel that although poverty has decreased substantially, there is a very high concentration of income, and a level of inequality that has not been adequately addressed.”

Lagos told local press that “Chile needs to increase taxes, especially for the rich because more public services are needed” and warns that people demand a new social contract so that the fruits of growth reach everyone.“ [7] President Piñera himself, after denying and ignoring the protests, said that “It is true that problems had accumulated for many decades and that different governments were not able to recognize this situation in all its magnitude.” In the early days of the demonstrations Piñera sought to disqualify the protests, stating that they were “at war against a powerful, relentless enemy, that respects nothing and no one and is willing to use violence and crime without any limits, even when it means the loss of human lives, with the sole purpose of producing as much damage as possible.” [8]

But the punitive approach of declaring a state of emergency in the country and giving control of citizen security to military commanders only served to fuel the fire and increase violence. Now that the protests have produced some two dozen deaths, thousands of wounded and detained, and complaints of torture, Piñera has been forced to make changes in his Cabinet, to suspend the state of emergency and curfew in force in some cities, and to announce economic measures that favor popular demands.

Politics for the Elite

The uprising has revealed cracks not only in the Chilean economic model, but also in the political and social spheres. The neoliberal economic system requires an exclusionary and limited democracy, which Chile successfully built in the three decades of democracy since the end of the military dictatorship in 1990. For many years, a binomial electoral system designed during the dictatorship encouraged the participation of only two political blocs that alternated in government. [9] That system resulted in the concentration of power among a narrow elite.

One of those two blocks was the Concertation of Forces for Democracy (since 2011, New Majority) while the other, is the center right Alliance for Chile (since 2009, Coalition for Change). Except for the previous period of the government of Sebastián Piñera of the National Renewal Party (2010-2014) and the current one, (2018-2022), the government has been in the hands of the Concertación parties. The Socialist Party ruled three times: first, with Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006), and then Michel Bachelet twice: (2008-2010) and (2014-2018). But in essence, they never moved away from the model, which resulted in political and economic stability that governed for market needs, but not for the citizenry. [10] In La violence des riches, Michel and Monique Pinçon describe a similar phenomenon in Europe, particularly in England and Germany, in which socialist leaders joined neoliberalism and capitulated to the neoliberal model. [11]

The authors point out that neoliberalism creates a social class that mobilizes based on its interests on all fronts (politics, finances, the media, art, music, among others). It leaves nothing to chance. Ideological and linguistic manipulation prevails that causes a loss of critical thinking, also neutralized by the voracity of consumption that paralyzes the claims of citizenship against inequality. In this neoliberal phase, they point out, the financial system imposes policy.

Economic power, they argue, acts to preserve order and the middle and popular classes rarely question it. That is why the model is presented as natural and eternal, like the sun that heats the earth or the moon that shines. However, they warn, this situation could change “when respect for that hierarchy is lost, when citizens recognize themselves as human beings and wonder ‘If I didn’t work, what would they do? They could not achieve anything.’ It is then that, through questioning this type of aristocracy of money, chaos and rebellion ensue.”

This is what is happening in Chile. The WhatsApp audio leaked at the beginning of the protests Chile’s first lady, Cecilia Morel and a friend where she describes the Chilean protesters as “a foreign invasion, alien” [12], evokes Marie Antoinette and the gaping distance between her spouse, Louis XIV, and the French people.

Chile has a deeply elitist society. “People’s capacity for development is limited by their last name, by where they live, by the school they can pay for or not pay for for their children”, in a scenario in which citizens have the perception that 80% of the state administration is corrupt or very corrupt. [13]

Although Chile does not hold the prize for the highest rate of corruption in Latin America, it is not exempt from it. [14] Illegal financing to political parties, embezzlement of public funds in the army, fraud in the police, and collusion between large companies to increase the price of medicines (especially for chronic diseases) and some essential products, have discredited politics and institutions. In addition to economic inequality, a sense of impunity and loss of citizen representation among their elected officials prevail. That also explains why abstention has increased.

Those who refuse to admit the failure of Chile’s development model describe the recent grassroots protests as revolts of the First World, similar to the “indignados” in Spain or the “yellow vests” of France. They argue that the popular demands reflect a crisis of unfulfilled expectations in developed countries. These countries have a margin of negotiation to overcome the conflicts arising from their demands. That is not the case of Chile, whose government is against the ropes because there is no room to negotiate if no profound changes are made in the model.

Others, such as President Trump, have denounced “the interference of other nations in Chile, with the aim of” undermining “Chilean institutions, democracy and society.” [15] Officials from the U.S. State Department have reported that “false accounts that emanate from Russia have been identified, pretending to be Chilean and trying to undermine Chilean institutions and society.” [16] But the Minister of Interior and Public Security of Chile, Gonzalo Blumel, did not corroborate the U.S. claim and instead stated “I prefer to be prudent, to check out the antecedents and, if they are indeed true, to investigate them in the corresponding instances.”

The OAS General Secretariat, on the other hand, stated that the protests in Chile follow the pattern of those that occurred previously in Ecuador and Colombia and noted that “the breezes of the Bolivarian regime driven by madurismo and the Cuban regime bring violence, looting , destruction and a political purpose of directly attacking the democratic system and trying to force disruptions to constitutional mandates.” [18]

The newspaper La Tercera de Chile reported that foreigners of Cuban and Venezuelan origin were behind the attacks on subway stations. However, the prosecutors in charge of the investigation concluded that “there is no evidence regarding specific identities or nationalities”. [19]

Some analysts conclude that the government itself could be behind some violence and destruction of public and private property throughout the country, noting “there are serious suspicions, testimonies and eloquent visual records that, while indicating that they were organized, could have been carried out by Chilean intelligence services”. [22]

The accusations against the protesters sought to justify the declaration of a state of emergency and the consequent control of public security by the military forces after President Piñera pointed out, at the outset, that the country was in a war against a powerful enemy. But it was a serious mistake to criminalize social protest instead of responding politically. Days later, he had to withdraw the measures after apologizing to the citizens for not having listened to their demands.

Piñera Backed in a Corner

Although the president withdrew the price hikes in public transportation and electricity and approved a set of social measures including an increase in minimum wages and pensions of retirees, a plan to support small and medium-sized companies affected by the protests, and higher taxes for the rich, protesters continue to organize  throughout the country. Although they lacked a central leadership, their organization began to take shape in the barrios and in neighborhood associations and social groups convened in open councils, in which the common demand was to change the constitution. They view the text of the current constitution as the major limitation to satisfying many of their demands, in particular, that referring to the subsidiary role of the State.

To gain the upper hand and more time, on Nov. 6 Piñera announced his intention to open up a 60-day period of  “citizen dialogues” to collect proposals on the public’s main demands. It is a mechanism similar to the one used by Macron when he confronted the yellow vests movement. But Chile is not France. The discontent and social frustration in the Andean country has been incubating for more than three decades and its level of unionization is low. France, on the other hand, has strong civil society organizations and a much more consolidated democratic tradition.

The intensification of the protests reached a level that forced Piñera to announce on November 9 that his government was preparing a project to update the Constitution promulgated in 1980, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. He stated that it should be discussed with other proposals that had already been presented in Congress. His announcement represented a shift with respect to his initial positions, since when he assumed the presidency in March 2018 he affirmed that he would shelve a bill that his predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, sent to Congress to modify the Constitution. Bachelet’s initiative sought to consecrate the inviolability of human rights, the right to health and education, and guarantee for equal pay for men and women.

Although the government and citizens technically agreed to change the Constitution, there was no agreement on how to do it. Citizens did not agree to modify the Constitution through a Constituent Congress as proposed by President Piñera, since this implied that the current Congress would designate a group among its own members to modify the Constitution for a period of twelve months. The problem was that civic and social organizations wanted to participate directly in the new Constitution so they proposed to draft it through the election of a Constituent Assembly, a group of people directly elected by the population who cannot be members of the current Congress and whose specific function is to design a new Constitution and present it for ratification by plebiscite.

The central point of contention in the text of the Constitution is the principle of state subsidiarity, which mandates that the state can only intervene when basic needs cannot be met by private agents. As historian Nicole Schwabe of the Center for Inter-American Studies at the University of Bielefeld points out, the State left a great void when it withdrew from provision of social services since many basic rights, such as education, health and pensions, were left to private individuals, who applied strictly commercial criteria.

“This has caused the major problems of recent years and the emergence of movements and a series of social protests,” she noted, adding that while there were improvements, “the political system has not been able to respond to the demands of the social movements that have been coming for years. There is no way out of this conflict if there is no constitutional change. If the necessary measures are not taken, the violence could escalate further.” [23]

In this same line of thought, the Catholic Church spoke through the apostolic administrator of Santiago, Celestino Aos, who expressed the imperative need to change the Constitution, arguing that “if no profound changes are made, we will be talking about cosmetic changes and we will go back to repeating the same story.” [24]

Piñera is backed into a corner. His current approval rating stands at 13%, and is in free fall. The massive protests continue. While Chilean citizens have demonstrated peacefully, there is so much discontent and frustration accumulated over the years that, in the midst of these, groups of anarchists and others have lit fires, erected barricades and looted to create chaos.

The high military commanders have pressured the government to respond. At the same time that Piñera extended a hand to citizens by satisfying certain demands, such as proposing French-style citizen dialogues and offering to draft a new constitution, military commanders urged him to exercise a heavy hand against citizen ingovernability and lack of control. This would explain why on Nov. 8, Piñera chose to harden his speech again and criminalize grassroots demonstrations. He announced several measures such as the Anti-hood Law, convening of the National Security Council and initiatives to support the work of Carabineros (militarized police) and the Chilean Investigative Police. This would only contribute to worsening violence.

Meanwhile, complaints of violation of human rights in this country continue to accumulate. The UN denounced the arbitrary and indiscriminate use of tear gas and rubber bullets to contain the protests and asked the country’s security forces to stop using these projectiles immediately. It also drew attention to “the large number of dead and wounded” and made an appeal to “align violence control actions to existing international standards, ratified by the Chilean State.” [25]

The OAS General Secretariat also deplored the deaths, both those caused by the use of force by the State, and those that have occurred in the context of the looting. The regional organization announced it would endorse the investigations and conclusions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on human rights violations in Chile. [26] Representatives of the IACHR traveled to Chile “to respond to the requests of dozens of organizations of Human Rights, Social Movements and Indigenous Peoples, representatives of Political Parties, legislators and legislators, intellectuals, artists, in addition to the Ombudsman’s Office Rights of the Child.” [27]

According to the November report of the National Institute of Human Rights of Chile, 2,365 people have been injured in demonstrations, more than 6,000 have been arrested and the agency has filed 335 complaints of torture, sexual violence, homicide and attempted homicide, among other crimes. It reported that since the beginning of the demonstrations on October 18, a total of 217 people have suffered eye injuries. The current figure is closer to 300. The Chilean Society of Ophthalmology warned of a health emergency in these cases, and the vice president of the Medical College of Chile, Patricio Meza, said that government security forces have not respected the safe distance for firing projectiles, has aimed above the waist and on occasion fired in the presence of children, pregnant women or people with reduced mobility. Both the BBC and the New York Times have reported on the attacks, the latter in an article entitled “It’s Mutilation”: The Police in Chile are Blinding Protesters”. [28]

The Chilean opposition signed a constitutional accusation in Parliament to remove Piñera, who has racked up  multiple complaints for human rights violations. At least one of them has been accepted by a Chilean court of justice. This lawsuit filed by a group of human rights lawyers cites “the responsibility that falls (to the president) in his capacity as author, as head of state and of all those responsible as perpetrators, enablers and/or accomplices of these crimes against humanity.” [29]

Can a Peace Agreement and the Promise of a New Constitution Deactivate Protest?

In this context, on Nov. 16 most Chilean political forces represented in Congress reached an agreement to restore peace and public order and convene, in April 2020, a plebiscite for a new Constitution that replace the current one. [30] The popular consultation will contain two questions: Do you agree to change the Constitution, and what should be the mechanism for drafting it. This may be through a mixed constitutional convention – composed of one half of active parliamentarians and the other half new delegates, or with a totally new convention, similar to a constituent assembly.

If citizens choose a constitutional convention, their members must be elected in the same electoral process that will elect regional mayors and governors in October 2020, with universal suffrage. Once the new Constitution has been drafted, within a maximum period of one year, the text will be submitted to a ratifying plebiscite, carried out through mandatory universal suffrage. Finally, Congress will vote again.

Although the agreement has long deadlines given the urgency of citizen demands, the decision to draft a new Constitution and get rid of the current one represents a historical moment for Chile and the world. It demonstrates that it is possible, through citizen protest, for a government to relinquish the primary legal instrument that guarantees political and economic control of society to powerful elites. However, it will be necessary to see how much political parties truly represent the people and how much tolerance economic and media power groups will have with the measure, which threatens their stability. Both factors will depend on whether the measure can deactivate grassroots protest, the citizen councils and the acts of violence.

The popular uprising in Chile has unmasked the image of well-being in Chilean society that the international establishment has been selling. It has affected the government’s regional leadership and its projections of economic growth and has revealed an injured society, which has added issues pending solution such as trials for violations of human rights, reparation for victims of violence and freedom for political prisoners.

Ariela Ruiz Caro obtained her degree in  Economics from Humboldt University of Berlin and holds a master’s degree in Economic Integration Processes from the University of Buenos Aires. She has been an international consultant on trade, integration and natural resources issues at ECLAC, Latin American Economic System (SELA), Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL), among others. She worked in the Andean Community between 1985 and 1994, and as an advisor to the Commission of Permanent Representatives of MERCOSUR between 2006 and 2008, and Economic Attaché of the Embassy of Peru in Argentina between 2010 and 2015. She is an analyst for the Americas Program for the Andean/Southern Cone region.

FOOTNOTES

[1] According to the latest edition of the Social Panorama of Latin America report prepared by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the wealthiest 1% of the country accumulated in 2017 26.5% of wealth, while that 50% of lower income households accessed only 2.1% of the country’s net wealth.

[2] According to the host of Prosur’s first presidential summit, Sebastián Piñera, it was about “creating a new reference in South America for better coordination, cooperation and regional integration, free of ideologies, open to all and 100% committed to the democracy and human rights.” The problem is that there are no ideology-free forums. Prosur is closely allied with the U.S. government and is an ideological response to the failure of Unasur in its attempt to autonomously solve the problems of the region.

[3] While a Chilean citizen has a 9% chance of seeing their income grow until they join 20% of the population with the highest income, they have a 16% chance of seeing their income decrease and fall into the 20% of the population in the lower income bracket.

[4] Kahhat Farid, “The eternal return, the radical right in the contemporary world”. https://elcomercio.pe/mundo/latinoamerica/la-paradoja-chilena-por-farid-kahhat-noticia/

[5] The pension system in Chile is provided by the Pension Fund Administrators (AFP), which are private financial institutions that are responsible for managing individual pension savings account funds.

[6] https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-50124583

[7] “The protests in Chile are from the First World”, Andrés Oppenheimer https://www.elnuevoherald.com/opinion-es/opin-col-blogs/andres-oppenheimer-es/article236564373.html

“The Chilean enigma”, Mario Vargas Llosa, https://www.losandes.com.ar/article/view?slug=el-enigma-chileno-por-mario-vargas-llosa-2

[8] https://www.dw.com/es/pi%C3%B1era-estamos-en-guerra-contra-un-enemigo-poderoso/a-50910426

[9] In January 2015, the binomial electoral system created by the Pinochet dictatorship was eliminated, which, in practice, favored the political right, which under this system controlled half of the Congress with one third of the votes .

[10] The Broad Front founded in 2017 is the exception. It is a Chilean political coalition made up of left-wing political parties and movements, egalitarian liberals and citizens who seek to overcome the dichotomy of Chilean bipartisanship, formed by the New Majority and Chile Vamos

[11] La violance des Riches, Michel Pinçon & Monique Pinçon-Charlot, Paris, 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys3cjJlTcDE

[12] “We are absolutely overwhelmed, it is like a foreign invasion, alien (…) Please, keep calm, call people of good will, take advantage of rationing meals and we will have to decrease our privileges and share with others. (…) Friend, I think that the most important thing is to try to keep our heads cool, not to get overexcited, because what is coming is very, very, very serious.” “They moved up the curfew because it was known that the strategy is to break the entire food supply chain, even in some areas water, pharmacies. They tried to burn a hospital and tried to take the airport.”

[13] https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-50208871

[14] Between 2014 and 2017, both the right-wing political coalition (with the Penta Case and SQM) and Michelle Bachelet’s government (with the Caval case) were tainted by issues related to illegal financing of political campaigns and false ballots

[15] Days earlier, in an interview with Efe, the head of Latin America in the State Department, Michael Kozak, said that the United States had identified in the social networks “false accounts” from Russia that are trying to sow discord in the network. At the moment he has not mentioned a possible interference of Cuba or Venezuela in this country.

[16] https://www.cnnchile.com/pais/diplomacia-eeuu-cuentas-falsas-rusia-agitando-manifestaciones-chile_20191025/

[17] https://www.t13.cl/noticia/politica/prefiero-ser-prudente-ministro-blumel-se-desmarca-supuesta-intervencion-extranjera-chile

[18] https://www.bnamericas.com/es/noticias/comunicado-de-la-secretaria-general-de-la-oea-sobre-la-situacion-en-chile

[19] Statements by the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Prosecutor, Omar Mérida, said that the investigation he heads “has no precedents regarding specific identities or specific nationalities.”

[20] Héctor Barros, South Metropolitan Regional Prosecutor https://www.t13.cl/noticia/politica/prefiero-ser-prudente-ministro-blumel-se-desmarca-supuesta-intervencion-extranjera-chile

[21] Rubén Alvarado, general manager of the Metro de Santiago https://www.t13.cl/noticia/politica/prefiero-ser-prudente-ministro-blumel-se-desmarca-supuesta-intervencion-extranjera-chile

[22] http://www.noticiasser.pe/opinion/la-nacion-insurrecta-y-el-fin-de-los-tiempos

[23] https://www.dw.com/es/chile-es-el-cambio-de-la-constituci%C3%B3n-la-soluci%C3%B3n-a-la-crisis/a-51144077

[24] https://www.cnnchile.com/pais/celestino-aos-pidio-cambio-de-constitucion_20191108/

[25] https://www.theclinic.cl/2019/11/08/violacion-grave-a-los-derechos-humanos-onu-demanda-el-cese-inmediato-del-uso-de-balines-y-perdigones-en-chile/

[26] https://www.bnamericas.com/es/noticias/comunicado-de-la-secretaria-general-de-la-oea-sobre-la-situacion-en-chile

[27] https://www.cnnchile.com/pais/cidh-visita-chile-derechos-humanos_20191106/

[28] https://www.t13.cl/noticia/nacional/the-new-york-times-publica-reportaje-sobre-manifestantes-que-quedaran-ciegos-por-traumas-oculares

[29] https://rpp.pe/mundo/latinoamerica/crisis-en-chile-sebastian-pinera-es-denunciado-por-presuntos-crimenes-de-lesa-humanidad-en-protestas-sociales-noticia-1228713?ref=rpp

[30] The Communist Party did not participate and the Broad Front split.

February 7, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

State Department Accuses ‘Russian Trolls’ of Meddling in Chile Protests

Sputnik – November 1, 2019

The US State Department claims it has seen evidence of Russian attempts to “influence” the recent unrest in Chile.

The South American country has been rocked by massive anti-government protests for over three weeks now, with demonstrations and violence leading to a temporary curfew, soldiers in the streets and the cancellation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, expected to have taken place in Santiago in mid-November.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Thursday, a senior State Department official told reporters that Russia was trying to ‘take advantage’ of the unrest in the country “and skewing it through the use and abuse of social media trolling and seeking –rather than allowing the citizens of Chile to have their own debate about how their country and the courses their country should take… to exacerbate divisions, foment conflict, and all around act as a spoiler to responsible democratic debate.”

The official pointed to alleged “Russian activity supporting this negative course of the debate,” but did not elaborate on what this entailed.

Pressed on the claims, and whether the alleged Chile meddling also included efforts by Venezuela or Cuba, the official said they were “not a digital analytical wizard,” but that they “saw organisations such as [Latin American news agency] Telesur exacerbating those debates.”

The official did not expand on his claims of Russia’s alleged meddling, noting only that “in recent years we’ve seen an increase of Russian engagement in the Americas, in South America in particular – very little of it positive.”

Commenting on the claims on Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov dismissed the State Department’s allegations outright.

“The US administration is using the difficult internal situation in Chile to continue its efforts to blacken our country’s foreign policy. This isn’t news,” Ryabkov said in a statement.

The official added that Russia “has never meddled, does not meddle and will not meddle in any electoral or other internal political processes in any country.”

Chilean officials did not comment on the State Department’s claims.

Arguably the best-known case of confirmed meddling in Chile’s internal affairs took place on September 11, 1973, when the CIA-backed Chilean armed forces led by General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in a coup.

Violent protests erupted in Chile last month over authorities’ decision to increase subway fares. The protests have spread to violent clashes between protesters, police and the military, with over 2,400 people reported injured and 21 people killed, and over 5,400 others detained. Last week, over a million people marched in the streets, demanding the resignation of President Sebastian Pinera.

November 1, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

The Russians are meddling again, this time in Chile, warns US diplomat

RT | October 26, 2019

Guess who’s stirring mass anti-government protests in Chile? Anybody? That’s right, it’s the Russians, at least according to Washington’s chief Latin American diplomat.

Speaking before a congressional committee hearing on Wednesday, State Department diplomat Michael Kozak suggested that “foreign actors” were stoking protests in Chile. Pressed on the statement by Latin-American news agency EFE on Friday, Kozak elaborated further.

“We have identified on social networks false accounts that emanate from Russia, which are people who pretend to be Chilean, but in reality all the message they are doing is trying to undermine all Chilean institutions and society,” he was quoted on Friday by Chilean media.

Kozak didn’t provide evidence, but if he did, it likely wouldn’t prove anything. Accusations of Russia’s social media meddling have been chucked around Washington for nearly three years now, and the best that social media ‘bot hunters’ have managed to come up with is lists of meme posting accounts that they “believe” are “potentially” Kremlin-backed, based on the claims of NATO-backed think tanks, professional ‘Russiagaters’ and Democrat intelligence officials.

In Chile, the protests were not sparked by Moscow-based trolls, but by a planned public transport fare hike. They have since evolved into a nationwide show of rage against the neoliberal policies of President Sebastian Pinera, whose proposed reforms have failed to tamp down public anger. At least 19 people have died over the last eight days, and more than 6,000 have been arrested, as protests descended into riots and clashes with police.

“Chile has a constitutional problem in terms of laws in terms of assigning a budget to the social sector and the non-social sector,” political analyst Francisco Coloane told RT. “There is a very strong pressure from the private sector not to make structural change.”

As the country’s first right-wing president since the end of US-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet’s government in 1990, Pinera has previously attempted to privatize Chile’s education system, resulting in student demonstrations in 2011. The country’s pension system, water supply, and healthcare system are all fully or almost fully privatized.

The result is a country that enjoys Latin America’s highest per-capita income, yet the highest inequality in the OECD.

But why dig into systemic factors and risk undermining the neoliberal consensus? Better to dust off the tinfoil hat and blame Russia instead.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , | 6 Comments

Expensive Climate Policies Sparked the Chile Riots, Just Like the Yellow Vest Protests in France

By James Taylor | The Epoch Times | October 25, 2019

Climate activists and the United Nations are suffering a major black eye this week as protests and riots resulting from high energy prices have erupted in Santiago, Chile.

Chile, which is hosting a major U.N. climate conference in December, earned praise from climate activists for recently imposing a carbon dioxide tax on conventional energy sources and switching the Santiago Metro system to renewable power. Now, the people of Chile are rising up and firing a shot across the bow of other nations considering similar energy taxes and expensive renewable energy programs.

On Friday, protestors took to the streets throughout Santiago in response to Metro fare hikes. The protests soon spread to other cities and led to rioting and at least five reported deaths. The Chilean government and the legacy media blamed the fare hikes on rising oil prices. But that is not true.

Oil prices are not rising. Global oil prices are currently 25 percent lower than they were a year ago and 37 percent lower than they were five years ago.

In Chile, gasoline prices reflect the lower oil prices. Chilean gasoline prices were $1.12 U.S. per liter in August 2019 (the last month for which data are available), compared to $1.28 a year ago. Five years ago, Chilean gasoline sold at $1.50 U.S.

Santiago Metro fares are rising, despite falling oil and gasoline prices, because government officials in 2018 traded out most of the Metro’s energy sources from conventional power to wind and solar power. The Chilean government also hit the portion of conventional power that remains with new carbon dioxide taxes.

As a result, Chileans are now burdened by higher Metro fares reflecting unnecessary energy price hikes. As Chileans protest in the streets, climate activists and their media allies want people to believe oil is to blame rather than government climate programs that raise energy prices and impoverish people.

Unlike speculative climate change harms that never seem to really happen, carbon dioxide taxes and renewable energy mandates immediately and measurably raise living costs and reduce living standards. … continue reading

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

The Neoliberal Ghost of Pinochet Is Finally Being Exorcised From Chile

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 25, 2019

More than 46 years of initially military imposed neoliberalism has finally exploded into widespread frustration, protest and violence. This neoliberalism culminated in 2017 with twelve businessmen, among them Chilean President Sebatián Piñera, monopolizing at least 17% of the national GDP, demonstrating the huge gap in wealth equity. There is little doubt why the latest protests have exploded violently, with 18 dead so far – Piñera had declared war on his own people to protect his lucrative monopoly racket.

It is without surprise he had declared war. The aggressive neoliberalism that has dominated Chile since the 1973 Chilean coup d’état when socialist President Salvador Allende was killed and eventually replaced by neoliberal Augusto Pinochet, with the backing and blessing of U.S. President Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, the CIA and the so-called “Chicago Boys” neoliberal economic team.

Although the so-called communist threat was defeated in Chile, it was not until 1990 for the kinder face of neoliberalism to return to the country, with the first democratic election taking place since the coup. The return to democracy had not meant any differences to the economic system.

The appearance of GDP growth in the South American country created the mythology of the Chilean miracle, ‘thanks’ to the Chicago Boys, the group of young Chilean economists who studied at the University of Chicago under the adviser to U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, professor Milton Friedman. They were the so-called economic liberators and advised Pinochet on applying complete free-market policies, essentially to privatize state-owned industries and companies, and to open the economy.

The pernicious globalist model was applied and deemed a miracle because of significant GDP growth. However, this is only to the benefit of shareholders and private companies and does not reflect on the average Chilean experience. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Gini coefficient value, a method to measure wealth distribution, stood at a record 0.50 in 2017, one of the highest inequality coefficients in the world.

This is because the incomes of the richest 10 percent of Chile are 26 times higher than the incomes of the poorest 10 percent of the population. This is partly also due because the of an unfair taxation system that creates a massive tax burden on the poor as Chile’s government earns less from income taxes than any other country in the 35-member OECD. Despite praises of the supposed fantastic economic performance, almost a third of Chilean workers are employed in part-time jobs, with one in two Chileans having low literacy skills, according to the OECD.

And now as Chile literally burns and 18 people are dead, we cannot forget that former president Michelle Bachelet grotesquely dedicated lessons on “human rights” against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Although Piñera apologized, it was not for his declaration of war against the people, but rather for the decades of unresolved problems, followed by an announcement for a new social and economic program.

A reversal of the crippling neoliberal economic system? Highly doubtful and probably more a Band-Aid option.

Neoliberal propagandist Enrique Krauze Kleinbort – accused of the coup attempt to overthrow Mexican President López Obrador – proclaimed that Chile was ‘the role model’ for Latin American economic growth. If the inequality is considered a ‘role model,’ it shows that the oligarchs of Latin America have not realized a growing trend of violent opposition to neoliberalism, as the recent case in Ecuador demonstrates.

The very fact that Piñera attempted to increase transportation and energy costs in Chile demonstrates his lack of knowledge on international outrage to neoliberalism. The French Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) in France began their actions 12 months ago, which also spread across Europe, when neoliberal President Emmanuel Macron attempted to increase gasoline taxes. In 2018, Brazilian truck drivers blocked roads in a demand for a decrease in diesel prices. Mexico in 2017 saw a 20% rise in fuel prices that exploded into riots.

However, the attempted increase in transportation and energy costs was only the spark that lit the fire. As Piñera, the male part of a monopoly over the Chilean economy, was forced to admit this is an explosion after decades worth of frustration, neglect and abuse. Candida Cecilia Morel, the wife of the billionaire Piñera, sent a WhatsApp message that was leaked in the media, in which she comments on the violence and the protests shaking her country – and it certainly does show the disconnect that the elite of Chile have with the common Chilean. The message said that “we are absolutely overwhelmed, it is like a foreign invasion, alien,” and that “we will have to decrease our privileges and share with others.” Her suggestion to decrease “privileges and shares” is a stark reminder of Charles Dickens 1800’s Britain.

With such elitist comments and referring to Chileans as aliens, there is little wonder that there has been little calm despite Piñera’s half-done apology and promises of more neoliberalism with a softer punch.  Although circles close to the Chilean Presidency affirm that the disturbances and destabilization are orchestrated from abroad, it is unlikely to be true. We can of course expect that Venezuela will be the scape goat by some Chilean oligarchs, just as the oligarchs in Ecuador and Colombia do, but there remains little evidence that this is the case.

Rather, as Piñera has had to attest, decades of neoliberalism is the cause of this. However, perhaps inspired by events in Ecuador, it appears that the Chilean people are finally exorcising the neoliberal ghost of Pinochet from its country. It appears that the violence will not end unless the Chilean president makes drastic changes to the Chilean economy. Whether he does this or not remains to be seen.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

In Chile, Dictatorship-Era Legacy of Impunity Is Still Endorsed by Governments

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 13, 2019

“It does not matter whether the government is right or left-wing; impunity is maintained. Even with the previous governments it was discovered that the Armed forces burnt the archives with information and no steps were taken.” Former Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) member and torture survivor Erika Hennings has experienced the trauma of state-enforced oblivion – she is still seeking the details about the extermination and disappearance of her husband, Alfonso Chanfreau.

Forty-six years since the US-backed military coup overthrew the democratically-elected, socialist government led by Salvador Allende, Chilean society remains fragmented and burdened with a legacy which all governments since the transition back to democracy have failed to challenge.

The neoliberal experiment unleashed upon Chile was violent – in 2011, the Chilean state recognised 40,018 people as victims of the Pinochet dictatorship, among them 3,065 who were killed and disappeared. The Chilean military’s pact of silence has hampered efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, as well as forced Chileans to contend with gaps in their personal and collective memory.

Human rights lawyer and Communist Party deputy Carmen Hertz, whose husband Carlos Berger was one of the victims of the Calama Massacre in October 1973 – the last stop of the dictatorship operation known as the Caravan of Death, has also blamed the governments from the transition onwards for cultivating state impunity. Fragments of her husband’s remains were identified – together with the other Calama victims, Berger was mutilated, buried clandestinely and later exhumed for disposal into the ocean. The Chilean state, Hertz asserted, “has debt in truth, in justice, in reparation.”

The Chilean state, however, has no intention of facilitating the Chilean quest for justice and memory. Upholding impunity remains a prime concern for the government and the military. Oblivion, the act of forgetting which Pinochet insisted upon as the only means to move on from dictatorship crimes against humanity, is never far from Chileans’ consciousness. As a mechanism endorsed and implemented at state level, Chileans involved in memory and resistance activity are perpetually fighting against government efforts to erase remembrance.

Last Sunday, a march led by various human rights and memory group commemorating the victims of the Pinochet dictatorship in Santiago was violently disrupted by the Chilean police.

A recent cruel taunt by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro directed at former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, whose father was murdered by the dictatorship, was mildly reprimanded by Chilean President Sebastian Piñera who, while denouncing the comment as regards subject matter, downplayed its significance by describing Bolsonaro’s dictatorship admiration as “different opinions”.

Bachelet, herself a torture victim, failed to maintain her promise to close the luxury prison of Punta Peuco, where former dictatorship agents serving multiple sentences lead privileged lives in incarceration. During her presidential terms, Bachelet made use of the Pinochet-era anti-terror law to target Mapuche communities and individuals involved in resistance. Although by no means an exception in resorting to the legislation, its use was most widespread during her tenure.

As part of his electoral campaign, Piñera had vowed changes to make the legislation easier to implement against the Mapuche. In November 2018, Mapuche youth Camilo Catrillanca was murdered by the Comando Jungla – a special force trained by the US and Colombia. Evidence related to the killing was destroyed and the witness, a minor, was beaten by the police.

In August this year, it was revealed that the Chilean military was spying on the Chilean investigative journalist and author Mauricio Weibel in 2016.

In another bizarre case, a former DINA agent pressed criminal charges against Javier Rebolledo, a Chilean investigative writer. Rebolledo’s research revealed detailed accounts of torture and sexual abuse perpetrated by DINA agents, among them Raul Quintana Salazar, who sued the author for purported defamation.

State-endorsed oblivion in Chile has made a travesty out of justice. Yet it has also ensured a strengthening of memory. The latter, however, faces one main hurdle in the form of governments normalising dictatorship violence. If governments in Chile continue to uphold the dictatorship pacts of silence, Chile’s memory will, with time, remain tethered to narrations which do not make it beyond diluted versions of history.

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Delaying publication of the settlement blacklist exposes the UN’s false narratives on human rights

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | March 7, 2019

The UN is openly flaunting its priorities and, sadly, human rights are far from a major concern for the international organisation. Since its creation post-World War Two, and having established itself as the platform which determines what constitutes a human rights violation and which countries can be considered as perpetrators, several trends have emerged within the UN which reduces the seriousness of people being deprived of their legitimate rights.

This has been achieved by creating ample space for reports on human rights violations to be disseminated, while refusing to insist upon accountability and justice. Ironically, the increasing awareness regarding human rights violations is actually creating widespread impunity, as the UN promotes itself as a platform for reporting about violations while intentionally failing to take action.

Last month, for example, a UN report said that Israel “may have” committed war crimes against Palestinians participating in the Great March of Return demonstrations; it was publicised heavily, despite a predictable outcome. Israel will not be held accountable and those celebrating the UN’s recognition of Israel having possibly committed war crimes will not be vindicated by a thorough follow-up and prosecution. Another wave of silence will descend until the UN issues another report that reaches the same conclusion. We will never see an international court having the opportunity to test the evidence from both sides to judge whether “may have” is to become “has”, and appropriate action is to be taken.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has delayed the publication of a report exposing companies and institutions that do business with Israeli settlements due to “factual complexity”. According to Bachelet, “Further consideration is necessary to fully respond to the [human rights] council’s request.”

In response to Bachelet’s decision, PLO Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi noted, “The issue of corporate responsibility to respect human rights is neither a novelty nor an anomaly in the rules-based international system.”

Publishing the UN blacklist of companies had already been delayed by Bachelet’s predecessor in 2017. Israel has lobbied extensively for the report to remain unpublished, fearing the repercussions if firms listed in the report were to be targeted by boycotts.

The Times of Israel described the report as “highly controversial”, yet neither Israel nor its apologists deem colonialism and its nefarious activities to be controversial, which is the least that can be said about the shocking level of violence unleashed by the Israelis on Palestine and the Palestinians. The truth is that there is nothing at all “controversial” about publishing a report detailing how companies and colonialism thrive upon human rights violations, unless you have something to hide.

What is controversial, though, is Bachelet’s decision to delay publication. The former President of Chile is no stranger to controversy when it comes to her country’s human rights record, despite her own suffering at the hands of the Pinochet dictatorship. The application of the anti-terror laws to the indigenous Mapuche communities was most widespread during her two terms of office. As UN High Commissioner, she also failed to voice any substantive statement over the murder of Mapuche youth Camilo Catrillanca, killed on his own land by a special force known as the Comando Jungla.

Israel might find it has an ally at the UN in Bachelet, who is clearly no novice when it comes to the targeting of indigenous populations. Her expression of “regret” at Israel’s dismissal of the UN report documenting Israel’s use of violence at the Great March of Return protests is meaningless.

When it comes to human rights violations, rhetoric stands alone, especially when it comes to premeditated violence. There is no other institution like the UN that can create a spectacle out of violence and human rights rhetoric which fuels international attention, knowing full well that any reactions — any expressions of “regret” — will be temporary and have no effect.

The blacklist is another matter altogether. Bachelet is contributing to the impunity desired by Israel in order to retain its economic benefits from the occupation of Palestine. Settlements and human rights violations are an acceptable rhetorical subject, whereas settlements and the profits for the state therefrom as collaborators in violations are a red line for Israel and the UN. By delaying publication of this report, Bachelet is sending a clear message to the Palestinians: Israel and its business links are to be protected at all costs, even if that means sacrificing more of the indigenous Palestinian population.

March 7, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

While Israel Lobby Blocks BDS in Chile at the Local Level, National-Level BDS Looms

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | December 7, 2018

SANTIAGO, CHILE — After the Chilean city of Valdivia became the first municipality in Latin America to support the non-violent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement this past June, the Chilean government has now ruled that it is illegal to boycott Israel at the municipal level throughout the entire country.

The decision was made by Chilean Comptroller Jorge Bermudez Soto on Wednesday after a long legal battle initiated by the Jewish Community of Chile (Comunidad Judía de Chile) over Valdivia’s decision to boycott Israel.

In June, Valdivia unanimously adopted a measure that specifically declared the municipality as an “Apartheid Free Zone” and prohibited the city from working with any business that benefits or is linked to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and/or Israel’s apartheid policy that targets Palestinians.

According to the text of the declaration, the ban on working with such businesses would remain in effect until Israel ends its occupation of Palestine and dismantles the border wall; until Palestinians are granted fundamental human rights by the Israeli state and are treated as equals under Israeli law; and until the right of return of Palestinian refugees is granted, as stipulated by UN Resolution 194. The initiative had been personally introduced by the city’s mayor, Omar Sabat, who is of Palestinian descent.

However, Bermudez Soto – in representing Chile’s national government – determined on Wednesday that, though the Chilean Constitution gives local governments independence on some matters, the head of the Chilean state has the exclusive right to conduct relations with foreign powers. As a result, Valdivia’s boycott of Israel was determined to be illegal.

Bermudez Soto also went on to state that Valdivia’s boycott violated Chilean law for failing to treat anyone participating in a government bidding process in an “equal and non-discriminatory” fashion. Most importantly, Bermudez Soto noted that this decision applies not only to Valdivia but to all Chilean municipalities, making it illegal to support BDS at the municipal level in Chile. As a result, the decision has made Chile the first country in Latin America to ban support for BDS at the local level.

Bermudez Soto’s language in his decision echoes the four legal complaints filed against Valdivia in June by various Zionist organizations in Chile and abroad. The Jewish Community of Chile, which filed three out of the four complaints, argued that Valdivia’s ban on services linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestine or illegal Israeli settlements violated Chilean laws on equality as well as discrimination in economic matters.

Powerful Zionist forces made Valdivia a target

Unsurprisingly, the Jewish Community of Chile has praised the move, claiming that it is the first step in creating a “Chile free from BDS.” Zionist organizations in the U.S. — including StandWithUs, whose controversial behavior was detailed in a recently leaked Al Jazeera documentary — have praised the Chilean government’s edict as “an example for the rest of the world.”

The Jewish Community of Chile is one of the most powerful organizations of the Zionist lobby in Chile, as it is the Chilean branch of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), an influential international Zionist organization that regularly hosts events with the Israeli government and supports illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The group’s current chairman is David de Rothschild and one of its vice presidents is Argentinian real estate magnate Eduardo Elsztain, who is very close to controversial Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros.

WJC, as evidenced by the presence of several billionaires on its leadership board, is extremely well-funded, with its U.S. offices alone reporting an annual revenue in excess of $22 million. Given the Jewish Community of Chile’s direct association with WJC, it is safe to assume that WJC helped foot the bill for the nearly six-month legal battle aimed at derailing Valdivia’s decision to support BDS in June.

Notably, without this legal action taken by the Jewish Community of Chile and other Zionist lobby organizations in Chile, the June decision to support BDS by Valdivia – a city whose population is under 150,000 – would have likely gone unchallenged.

Prospects good for national BDS action

While the declaration of the illegality of BDS support at the municipal level is being treated by Zionist groups within Chile and beyond as a “BDS fail,” other recent actions at the national level in Chile suggest that Chile could soon follow Ireland and become the next country to support BDS as a nation.

On November 27, the Chilean Congress approved a resolution demanding that the Chilean government “forbid the entry of products manufactured and coming from Israeli colonies in occupied Palestinian territory,” in a vote with 99 in favor and seven against. The resolution mandated that the government explore how a boycott could be implemented nationwide, an important step towards the future passage of a nationwide boycott of Israel. It also recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and accused Israel of being an apartheid state.

Given that the recent decision by Chile’s comptroller to make municipal support for BDS illegal relied on the lack of authority Chilean cities have in regards to foreign relations, the nationwide BDS law – which has a good chance of passing Chile’s Congress – could soon deliver a much larger victory for Palestinian rights activists — and one that could not be challenged on the same grounds that were used to nullify Valdivia’s support for the BDS movement.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

December 8, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Chile: Mapuche Leaders Meet, Call For Demilitarization

teleSUR | December 2, 2018

A group of Mapuche leaders Saturday met in Temucuicui to decide next possible steps after the assassination of Camilo Catrillanca on Nov. 14 by Chilean Carabineros (police).

The leaders decided on four demands they will put forward to the Chilean state.

“We demand the current government to urgently dismantle and remove said police unit (Jungle Command) considering that this constitutes a permanent threat, violating our right to live in peace, violating the rights of our children, women and the elderly,” they said in a statement.

The other three demands of the community are; self-determination for the Mapuche people, establishing a commission of historical truth ‘to clarify the crimes against humanity’ against the Mapuche people, and territorial restitution.

Marcelo Catrillanca, father of Camilo was in charge of the meeting. He urged the Mapuche people to continue their mobilizations and civil disobedience in the country.

Jorge Huenchullan, a community leader said that the participants of the meeting expressed “their pain and outrage at how the State has been carrying out policies regarding the Mapuche people”,  adding that “if the authorities agree to carry out the demands, we are willing to talk. If they are not, there will be a call to rebellion.”

Additionally, they added that “we remind the Chilean State that the lands and territory (of Mapuche) were taken over and occupied by military violence,” so those who are not Mapuche lack legitimacy and legality in that land.

The four carabineros who took part in the operation which killed Camilo were ordered into preventive detention on Nov. 30. They are charged with homicide and obstruction of justice for destroying evidence. A period of two months for the investigation was established by the prosecutor’s office.

RELATED:

Mexico’s EZLN Expresses Solidarity With Chile Mapuche Struggle

December 3, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

George H.W. Bush, the CIA and a Case of State-Sponsored Terrorism

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 23, 2000

In early fall of 1976, after a Chilean government assassin had killed a Chilean dissident and an American woman with a car bomb in Washington, D.C., George H.W. Bush’s CIA leaked a false report clearing Chile’s military dictatorship and pointing the FBI in the wrong direction.

The bogus CIA assessment, spread through Newsweek magazine and other U.S. media outlets, was planted despite CIA’s now admitted awareness at the time that Chile was participating in Operation Condor, a cross-border campaign targeting political dissidents, and the CIA’s own suspicions that the Chilean junta was behind the terrorist bombing in Washington.

In a 21-page report to Congress on Sept. 18, 2000, the CIA officially acknowledged for the first time that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, Chilean intelligence chief Manuel Contreras, was a paid asset of the CIA.

The CIA report was issued almost 24 years to the day after the murders of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and American co-worker Ronni Moffitt, who died on Sept. 21, 1976, when a remote-controlled bomb ripped apart Letelier’s car as they drove down Massachusetts Avenue, a stately section of Washington known as Embassy Row.

In the report, the CIA also acknowledged publicly for the first time that it consulted Contreras in October 1976 about the Letelier assassination. The report added that the CIA was aware of the alleged Chilean government role in the murders and included that suspicion in an internal cable the same month.

“CIA’s first intelligence report containing this allegation was dated 6 October 1976,” a little more than two weeks after the bombing, the CIA disclosed.

Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier (Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, the CIA – then under CIA Director George H.W. Bush – leaked for public consumption an assessment clearing the Chilean government’s feared intelligence service, DINA, which was then run by Contreras.

Relying on the word of Bush’s CIA, Newsweek reported that “the Chilean secret police were not involved” in the Letelier assassination. “The [Central Intelligence] agency reached its decision because the bomb was too crude to be the work of experts and because the murder, coming while Chile’s rulers were wooing U.S. support, could only damage the Santiago regime.” [Newsweek, Oct. 11, 1976]

Bush, who later became the 41st president of the United States (and is the father of the 43rd president), has never explained his role in putting out the false cover story that diverted attention away from the real terrorists. Nor has Bush explained what he knew about the Chilean intelligence operation in the weeks before Letelier and Moffitt were killed.

Dodging Disclosure

As a Newsweek correspondent in 1988, a dozen years after the Letelier bombing, when the elder Bush was running for president, I prepared a detailed story about Bush’s handling of the Letelier case.

The draft story included the first account from U.S. intelligence sources that Contreras was a CIA asset in the mid-1970s. I also learned that the CIA had consulted Contreras about the Letelier assassination, information that the CIA then would not confirm.

The sources told me that the CIA sent its Santiago station chief, Wiley Gilstrap, to talk with Contreras after the bombing. Gilstrap then cabled back to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Contreras’s assurances that the Chilean government was not involved. Contreras told Gilstrap that the most likely killers were communists who wanted to make a martyr out of Letelier.

My story draft also described how Bush’s CIA had been forewarned in 1976 about DINA’s secret plans to send agents, including the assassin Michael Townley, into the United States on false passports.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush at the White House on Feb. 12, 1981. (Reagan Library)

Upon learning of this strange mission, the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, George Landau, cabled Bush about Chile’s claim that Townley and another agent were traveling to CIA headquarters for a meeting with Bush’s deputy, Vernon Walters. Landau also forwarded copies of the false passports to the CIA.

Walters cabled back that he was unaware of any scheduled appointment with these Chilean agents. Landau immediately canceled the visas, but Townley simply altered his plans and continued on his way to the United States. After arriving, he enlisted some right-wing Cuban-Americans in the Letelier plot and went to Washington to plant the bomb under Letelier’s car.

The CIA has never explained what action it took, if any, after receiving Landau’s warning. A natural follow-up would have been to contact DINA and ask what was afoot or whether a message about the trip had been misdirected. The CIA report in 2000 made no mention of these aspects of the case.

After the assassination, Bush promised the CIA’s full cooperation in tracking down the Letelier-Moffitt killers. But instead the CIA took contrary actions, such as planting the false exoneration and withholding evidence that would have implicated the Chilean junta.

“Nothing the agency gave us helped us to break this case,” said federal prosecutor Eugene Propper in a 1988 interview for the story I was drafting for Newsweek. The CIA never volunteered Ambassador Landau’s cable about the suspicious DINA mission nor copies of the fake passports that included a photo of Townley, the chief assassin. Nor did Bush’s CIA divulge its knowledge of the existence of Operation Condor.

FBI agents in Washington and Latin America broke the case two years later. They discovered Operation Condor on their own and tracked the assassination back to Townley and his accomplices in the United States.

In 1988, as then-Vice President Bush was citing his CIA work as an important part of his government experience, I submitted questions to him asking about his actions in the days before and after the Letelier bombing. Bush’s chief of staff, Craig Fuller, wrote back, saying Bush “will have no comment on the specific issues raised in your letter.”

As it turned out, the Bush campaign had little to fear from my discoveries. When I submitted my story draft – with its exclusive account of Contreras’s role as a CIA asset – Newsweek’s editors refused to run the story. Washington bureau chief Evan Thomas told me that Editor Maynard Parker even had accused me of being “out to get Bush.”

The CIA’s Admission

Twenty-four years after the Letelier assassination and 12 years after Newsweek killed the first account of the Contreras-CIA relationship, the CIA admitted that it had paid Contreras as an intelligence asset and consulted with him about the Letelier assassination.

Still, in the sketchy report in 2000, the spy agency sought to portray itself as more victim than accomplice. According to the report, the CIA was internally critical of Contreras’s human rights abuses and skeptical about his credibility. The CIA said its skepticism predates the spy agency’s contact with him about the Letelier-Moffitt murders.

“The relationship, while correct, was not cordial and smooth, particularly as evidence of Contreras’ role in human rights abuses emerged,” the CIA reported. “In December 1974, the CIA concluded that Contreras was not going to improve his human rights performance. …

“By April 1975, intelligence reporting showed that Contreras was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the Junta, but an interagency committee [within the Ford administration] directed the CIA to continue its relationship with Contreras.”

The CIA report added that “a one-time payment was given to Contreras” in 1975, a time frame when the CIA was first hearing about Operation Condor, a cross-border program run by South America’s military dictatorships to hunt down dissidents living in other countries.

“CIA sought from Contreras information regarding evidence that emerged in 1975 of a formal Southern Cone cooperative intelligence effort – ‘Operation Condor’ – building on informal cooperation in tracking and, in at least a few cases, killing political opponents. By October 1976, there was sufficient information that the CIA decided to approach Contreras on the matter. Contreras confirmed Condor’s existence as an intelligence-sharing network but denied that it had a role in extra-judicial killings.”

Also, in October 1976, the CIA said it “worked out” how it would assist the FBI in its investigation of the Letelier assassination, which had occurred the previous month. The spy agency’s report offered no details of what it did, however. The report added only that Contreras was already a murder suspect by fall 1976.

“At that time, Contreras’ possible role in the Letelier assassination became an issue,” the CIA’s report said. “By the end of 1976, contacts with Contreras were very infrequent.”

Even though the CIA came to recognize the likelihood that DINA was behind the Letelier assassination, there never was any indication that Bush’s CIA sought to correct the false impression created by its leaks to the news media asserting DINA’s innocence.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey, Feb. 11, 1981. (Reagan Library)

After Bush left the CIA with Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977, the spy agency distanced itself from Contreras, the new report said. “During 1977, CIA met with Contreras about half a dozen times; three of those contacts were to request information on the Letelier assassination,” the CIA report said.

“On 3 November 1977, Contreras was transferred to a function unrelated to intelligence so the CIA severed all contact with him,” the report added. “After a short struggle to retain power, Contreras resigned from the Army in 1978. In the interim, CIA gathered specific, detailed intelligence reporting concerning Contreras’ involvement in ordering the Letelier assassination.”

Remaining Mysteries

Though the CIA report in 2000 contained the first official admission of a relationship with Contreras, it shed no light on the actions of Bush and his deputy, Walters, in the days before and after the Letelier assassination. It also offered no explanation why Bush’s CIA planted false information in the American press clearing Chile’s military dictatorship.

While providing the 21-page summary on its relationship with Chile’s military dictatorship, the CIA refused to release documents from a quarter century earlier on the grounds that the disclosures might jeopardize the CIA’s “sources and methods.” The refusal came in the face of President Bill Clinton’s specific order to release as much information as possible.

Perhaps the CIA was playing for time. With CIA headquarters officially named the George Bush Center for Intelligence and with veterans of the Reagan-Bush years still dominating the CIA’s hierarchy, the spy agency might have hoped that the election of Texas Gov. George W. Bush would free it from demands to open up records to the American people.

For his part, former President George H.W. Bush declared his intent to take a more active role in campaigning for his son’s election. In Florida on Sept. 22, 2000, Bush said he was “absolutely convinced” that if his son is elected president, “we will restore the respect, honor and decency that the White House deserves.”


The late investigative reporter Robert Parry, the founding editor of Consortium News, broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. His last book, America’s Stolen Narrative, can be obtained in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment