Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Piñera's first "uh oh" on Human Rights

Greg over at Two Weeks Notice reports that the Valech report, an important document on torture during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, has gone missing from the Ministry of Interior's website. It's not immediately clear why the new Piñera administration decided to remove such an important document from the Ministry's website but it has certainly angered the Association of the Families of the Disappeared, who referred to the removal as an "unacceptable aggression" and a "step backwards on human rights."

This type of insensitivy concerning human rights isn't exactly a shocker. As some might recall, last year during the presidential campaign Piñera was caught assuring retired army generals that human rights trials would come to an end under his government. In his words (my translation):
"In our government we're going to make sure that justice is applied to all our citizens, including those who are in active service or have retired, promptly and fairly, without perpetuating processes ad aeternum that never end."
Yes, that was a bit redundant. But more to the point, this speech behind closed doors to a room full of retired generals was met with outrage in Chile, prompting one senator to accuse Piñera of facilitating impunity in the country.

To be fair, and I'm no Piñera fan, this statement and the removal of the Valech report fits neatly into the right's discourse of moving forward and leaving the past alone. And yes, that has it's merits but, nevertheless, moving forward and pursuing reconciliation is different from forgetting and any government that is serious about human rights should be able to openly talk about them, especially when its members are perceived to have ties to a history of abuses.

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