First Responder: No Justice for Chile

What happens to a dictator or members of their regime when it is overthrown? For those of you thinking about the Nuremberg trials, it may surprise you that the same type of outcome does not always happen for different regimes. In this weeks readings, both Teresa Meade and Temma Kaplan outline Chile’s fascinating political historical past– and how their former dictatorship walked away “scot free.”

Teresa Meade’s article, Holding the Junta Accountable: Chile’s ‘Sitios de Memoria’ and the History of Torture, Disappearance, and Death, discusses the interesting dilemma Chile found itself post-Pinochet (their former dictator). The new government lead by President Lagos failed to properly prosecute members of the former regime, many of who were still in positions of power. This lead to a lack of recognitions for the atrocities which were committed by the former government.

Temma Kaplan’s article, Reversing the Shame and Gendering the Memory gives a more chilling look into the realities of living under Pinochet’s rule, and the many atrocities women such as Nieves Ayress experienced. While many passages are difficult to digest due to their upsetting content, it is important to not only look at the experiences many had, but how the victims were often ostracized, ultimately giving the government more power in the end.

Finchelstein provides us with a background between the ideologies of both fascism and populism that can help us analyze what has happened in the past, both globally and in Chile. He discuses how both hold authoritarian notions, however fascism rejects the democratic process while populism works with it in order to establish power.

Politics are constantly in a state of change, Finchelstein poses the idea that populism is an evolved version of fascism, could this be true? Would you argue that Pinochet was a fascist or a populist? What were the benefits that the new government had to not punish the former government? How does this impact its people? What is the importance of properly acknowledging the past? How would you have acted in President Lagos’s place? What are the implications of not holding authoritarian powers accountable for their actions? Will this effect Chile in the future?

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