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Human
Rights:
Chilean
Perspectives


 
 
 
 
 

By Leah Cassidy and Joshua Lease


In cooperation with the Centro de Estudios de Derechos Humanos
of the Universidad Central de Chile
Preface
 

With 2010 just around the corner it is hard to believe it is now over sixty years since the
drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to this day the debate over what
human rights are still rages on. Every nation in the world faces unique human rights issues.
Chile is no different with its complex history and current inequalities. Despite having a violent
past in common with many of its South American neighbors, Chile faces distinct human rights
challenges.
In the fall (southern hemisphere) of 2009 the director of the CEDH, the Honorable Juan
Guzmán Tapia realized the need to publish a straight-forward manual about human rights in
Chile for English speakers. The result of this idea you are now holding in your hands. Over a
two and a half month period the sections of this manual were researched and interviews collected
in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Human Rights (CEDH) at the Universidad
Central de Chile, various human rights activists and other organizations including Abuelas de
Plaza de Mayo and students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. This manual
was produced in hopes that it may serve as a primer for those interested in Chile and in the
current situations facing many different members of Chilean society. Of course we also hope
this inspires some to get involved with a cause that they are passionate about so that real change
may be made.
Thank you to everyone who assisted us with this project everyone including Sergio
Laurenti, Jimmy Parra Farías, Ignacio Velasco, Rosa de Roisinblit, Paola Arriola, Andrés Rivera
Duarte and Hiram Villagra, and everyone at the Centro de Estudios de Derechos Humanos.
Special thanks to Juan Guzmán Tapia and Maria Paz Narea Biscupovich.

Kind Regards,

Leah Cassidy
Joshua Lease


   
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Human Rights: Chilean Perspectives


 

Contents
What are Human Rights? 1
A Brief History of Human Rights 2
Interview: Amnesty International and Chile 3
Securing Human Rights
Protections Under the Law 10
Enforcement of International Law 11
Alternatives to the Law
Naming and Shaming 12
Truth & Reconciliation Commissions 13
Protest 13
Advocacy and Policy-making 13
Interview: A New Chilean Constitution 14
Non-State Actors 16
Interview: Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo 16
Violations and Current
Torture 19
Terrorism & State Sponsored Terrorism 20
Genocide 22
Transitional Justice & Chile 24
Interview: Juan Guzmán Tapia 24
Environment 28
Interview: Transnational Corporations and Rights 30
Woman’s Rights 31
Interview: Women’s Rights in Chile 32
Human Trafficking 34
Migrant’s Rights 35
Interview: Migrant’s Rights in Chile 36
LGBT Rights 38
Notes 40
Appendix 42

Figures
Figure 1: Human Rights Categorized 2
Figure 2: Ratification Status of Human Rights Treaties 11

Photos
Photo 1: Police Presence in the Auraucanía 6
Photo 2: Torture Tower, Villa Grimaldi 19
Photo 3: Villa Grimaldi Concentration Camp 21
Photo 4: Auschwitz II Birkenau 22
Photo 5: Stupa at Choeung Ek 22
Photo 6: Tuol Sleng Prison 23
Photo 7: Mural on Mehuin Coast 28
Photo 8: Swiss Logging Operation 29 
                         
 


   
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What are Human Rights?

The fundamental problem with human rights is that there is no fully agreed upon
definition of what our rights are. People and society have very different visions of what human
rights are, based on a number of factors such as culture, religion, and economic status. The ever-
widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ indicates that this world is full of inequality.
Rights, in the same manner as wealth, are not bestowed upon everyone equally in spite of hard
and often cruel endeavors to earn them.
Some of the first texts to outline fundamental rights of people are “The Declaration of the
Rights of Man and the Citizen” and “The Declaration of Independence” of the United States of
America. Despite being groundbreaking for their time, they are generally criticized for having
one fundamental flaw. Namely that they only outline and define rights for men and more
specifically—even although not explicitly said—the rights of white men. These texts generally
speak of the same concepts, such as the right to life, liberty and no tax without representation.
The “Declaration of Independence” introduced the interesting concept of the right to the
“pursuit of happiness.” The idea that everyone is entitled to the “pursuit of happiness” raises
some interesting questions about what people’s rights are. Jan Knippers Black points out,
pursuing happiness may take on many different forms, such as chocolate and for many people
alcohol is included in the recipe for happiness. So, if alcohol and chocolate make people happy,
why not marijuana? What about the right to choosing a mate that makes you happy? It should
be allowed, but Black goes on to ask, what if that partner is of the same sex?1
With the absence of a clear narrative, the UN, various governments, NGOs and other
organizations have strived to define human rights. A definition that comes from government is
in all probability, self-serving. Without a clear, unbiased definition is it possible to offer
protection? International treaties have attempted to define our human rights and safeguard
populations from threat but treaties require ratification from states. Even post-ratification
violations persist and new violations not covered by the law continue to emerge.
Not all rights are afforded the same importance as others despite the recognition that “All human
rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated.”2 It is not easy to categorize
human rights, however due to the two international covenants, human rights are usually
classified as, political & civil rights, or economic, social & cultural rights. The difficulty here is
that assigning categories to rights challenges the idea that rights are indivisible and there is also
significant overlap between the two categories. Historically nations have tended to favor one
category over the other which is detrimental to the universality of human rights, but without food
how can someone begin to think about political freedoms? Without political liberties how can
economic, social and cultural rights be guaranteed?

 
 
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Political
&
Civil
Rights
Issues
 Economic,
Social
&
Cultural
Rights
Issues


Arbitrary
Arrest,
Detention
or
Deprivation
of
 Right
to
Food
and
Water

Life

Right
to
a
Fair
Trial
 Right
to
Shelter

Right
to
Fair
Conditions
of
Imprisonment
 Freedom
from
Poverty

Equality
Regardless
of
Race,
Gender
and
 Right
to
Education

Religion

Freedom
of
Expression
and
Association
 Right
to
Health

Right
to
Political
Participation
 Right
to
Cultural
Participation

Right
to
Assemble
 Freedom
from
Discrimination


 Protection
of
Ethnic,
Religious,
Linguistic
and

Sexual
Minorities

Figure 1 

A Brief History of Human Rights


The birth of the modern human rights movement is largely recognized as the post-World
War II period. However the origins of human rights can be traced throughout history with roots
in religion, philosophy and culture. Moral creeds have long dictated behavioral norms in respect
to others, from Christianity’s Ten Commandments, which express ‘thou shalt not kill’ to
Hinduism’s—the world’s oldest religion—stress on the importance of individual duty towards
others, known as dharma.3 Human rights discourse has developed over time in response to
these religious beliefs, philosophical schools of thought, cultural norms, natural law and ethical
persuasions. The expansion of human rights has also been a consequence of atrocities
committed against humankind including torture, genocide, discrimination, persecution and
exploitation. The history of human rights helps the reader to understand the present human
rights movement and its successes and failures that have contributed to what it really means to be
human. By looking at the past we can understand how easily the right to life can be taken away
by an uneven balance of power. Reflection on the past prepares us for the present and enables us
to look to the future.

“Man
is
born
free,
but
everywhere
he
is
in
chains.”4

Jean‐Jacques
Rousseau,
Contrat Social 

The first human rights revolution occurred during the Enlightenment era in the
eighteenth century. The Enlightenment movement consisted of intellectuals and philosophers
who proposed that liberty and equality are natural part of humanity. Denis Diderot wrote in
“Natural Law” that laws of nature define what is just in society despite “human” law.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau went further and proposed the existence of a social contract
between the citizen and the State whereby the government would protect the rights, freedom and
equality of it’s people. Breaking this contract diminished the political authority of the State.
These theories inspired French and American revolutions because States broke these
hypothetical contracts. Thomas Jefferson went on to pen the Declaration of Independence,
referencing the importance of the laws of nature:

 
 
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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”5

Despite the radical thought that emerged from the first human rights revolution, slavery
remained prevalent and women were still denied basic rights such as the right to vote.
In the 19th century socialist thinkers joined the fight for human rights. The industrial
revolution exposed the widening gap between the rich and the poor and the limited rights of the
working class. Socialists fought for labor, political, educational and children’s rights. As slavery
was abolished, the fight for women’s and children’s rights intensified. The 20th century ushered
in universal suffrage however human rights violations persisted.
The second human rights revolution in the globalization era is characterized by the
importance of non-state actors, increasing economic turmoil and political struggle. Globalization
has made human rights problems even more complex; for example human trafficking has
become more prevalent and further facilitated by advances in technology and the dissolution of
borders. The economic woes of the United States have caused a worldwide credit crunch,
consequently deepening poverty worldwide. Conflict extends beyond borders as refugees spill
into other countries while blood diamonds continue to make it to pricey jewellery stores in
affluent markets.
Since 11 September 2001, human rights have often taken a backseat in favour of national
security concerns. Human rights violations are now being justified in the name of national
security. One of the primary challenges for human rights in this current climate, Ball and
Gready assert, is the “nexus between the war on terrorism and terrorism itself.”6
The economic crisis has magnified the gulf between the rich and the poor. The poor
remain entrenched in poverty as investment companies revel in waves of profits once again. A
history has illustrated without real change and putting human interest first, the world’s most
vulnerable and marginalized will continue to suffer.

Amnesty International and Chile


For a perspective on the human rights situation in Chile overall we sat down with Sergio
Laurenti, the Director of Amnistía Internacional Chile.

What can you tell us about the state of human rights in Chile today?
19 years have passed since the return to democracy and now we have, a country feeling
the effect of a very long dictatorship and the birth pains of democracy. It is a fact that
democracy was not complete after the return to democratic rule because of the restraints on the
constitution of 1985, which was reformed under Pinochet. Probably among the largest
challenges that we face are the remnants of the grave abuses of human rights under the military
government, including the amnesty law, which is a particularly serious piece of legislation,
engineered by Pinochet and the military administration in order to protect themselves from any
action of justice after the return to democracy in 1990. We have had four governments of the
Concertación, which is a center-left leaning coalition. Two of the governments have been
Christian-Democrat and the other two the Socialist Party. We are scarred by the remnants of
the abuse of human rights under the military, police brutality, the non-resolution of the
indigenous people’s struggle, the growth of the destructive industries’ impact on communities in
Chile, the persistence of poverty, which affects between 18-22% of the population, the effect of
violence on women, children, students, and LGBT people who are subject to significant

 
 
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discrimination. I would say that challenges are connected in Chile more with economic, social
and cultural rights than anything else. Continuous economic development gives freedom of to
private companies. Chile is the country with the largest number of free trade agreements in the
world, which affects the working class directly, and the development of small companies. Now
we can go one by one through these issues so we can understand better what I have referred to.
Justice has been slow and very ineffective with dealing with the consequences of the grave
offenses during the military rule. There are about 30 or so convictions out of 850 or so cases that
are still open after more than 15 years. Keeping in mind that most of these crimes happened 35
or more years ago, it is difficult to prosecute those who are responsible and also to apply justice
because witnesses are dying, documents are disappearing and as time goes by it is more and more
difficult to produce results. This is particularly true with the cases of petty officers, people who
did not directly give orders to actually violate human rights and also in the case of civilians whose
cooperation with the military resulted in human rights abuses. In addition, the military
institutions and the armed forces have been very reluctant to cooperate and offer names and
documentation necessary to open, reopen or follow up on some cases. Furthermore, there have
been some cases of military officers’ inaction, which resulted in human rights violations, and it is
only recently that their identities have been uncovered as in the case of General Saint-Elyses, for
instance. He was a member of the Santiago Garrison and a top general who was accused of
serious violations of human rights and expelled from the army.
The fate of the disappeared, something like 3,800 people of which no trace has been found
and the effect on the lives of those related to them, their family and friends is quite a difficult
issue. In cases where remains have been found, the bodies have been difficult to identify. This
has had a lasting effect on society because it affects a huge number of people. There are people
who have not been able to inherit the property of the disappeared. Some have not been able to
remarry because it is not certain that a person has actually died because according to the law if
there are no remains there has been no death. Also consider the socio-economic effects on the
lives of families. Often the main breadwinner disappeared and the spouse would not been able
to provide economically for the children, or students would not be able to continue their studies.
Also connected with this is, the issue of those who have suffered torture or political oppression or
exile. This is a very large number of people and there are all kinds of estimates; some refer to a
number as high as half a million people but the actual number of people recognized to have been
tortured or to have been political prisoners is about 28,000 as identified under the Badich
Commission, one of the last truth commissions that was opened to look into this issue.
Now the systematic use of torture under the military has been confirmed and it is an
official truth. We have reports that cover much of the situation but many people who were
tortured or detained for political reasons have been left out of the reports. Officially about 7,000
people’s cases have not been accepted and there are many others, either by personal choice,
because they did not want to go through the ordeal of reliving their experiences or they did not
know how to go about presenting their cases or because they lived in foreign countries. This is
an open sore actually because some of these people are receiving pensions or help at different
levels which include payments, university grants and health care. There is disproportion in the
compensation because there are a great number of people who have been affected and not all are
receiving the same benefits. It is point of contention with people who have been affected over
many years. Remember we are talking about victims that were relatively young when they were
actually affected. They are getting old and they are suffering the physical consequences and
psychological effects of torture or long prison sentences. This cannot be solved by a pension
program or scheme. I imagine we have another fifty years because many victims are still alive.
When these people pass away their family members still remember and continue to fight because
the families inherit this fight for rights.

 
 
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There is a long sequence of events starting with indigenous people being pushed off their
ancestral lands and losing rights of access to resources, particularly forests and such for hunting
and fishing. This has been going on for 250 years or so but I would say in the last 50 years or so,
the situation has been radicalized by the fact that the indigenous people have wanted to regain
their rights and reaffirm their identity connected with the land that used to be theirs. This has
been dealt with by different governments in the past with police presence, harsh practices,
persecution of leadership, imprisonment, the discrediting of the reputations of people, the
creation of reservations and in recent years with buying land and returning it to some families in
order to make them happy. This has been resisted, but violence only generates more violence
and in the case of the indigenous people this has meant occupation, attacks, resisting authority,
use of aggressive discourse and attempts to push the rights, ideas and ideology of the white
settlers or colonists on the indigenous. The buying and giving of lands has also created an
imbalance and problems between the indigenous communities themselves because when one
community particularly benefits from a good piece of land others say, “well, why them and not
us?”
The presence of the forestry industry and fishery companies, which concentrate on
salmon particularly, has affected the coastal communities. The indigenous people also resent this
because this has not been done under consultation with the traditional authorities and it also
affects ancestral areas where there may be graves or worship centers. These events have been
used by certain groups with the goal of generating unrest. It has been the case that some
indigenous communities have received practical or logistical support from other organizations
both inside and outside the country. There are some suspicions of the involvement of ETA
(Euskadi Ta Askatasuna)—the Basque separatist group—and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas
Revolucionarias de Colombia) from Colombia, as well. This is still unproven but it is something
that needs to be, and will be explored by the authorities because there is some evidence to
support these claims.
Human rights defenders that identify themselves with the indigenous causes are often
labeled as terrorists and the anti-terrorism legislation has been used to prosecute both indigenous
and non-indigenous people who work for their rights. This has resulted in significant unrest. It
has no easy solution and different governments have improperly handled it. There has also been
a lot of international pressure to try to build solidarity with the indigenous people in the country.
Police violence is another issue that I signaled as a problem in the country. The
Carabineros, which is the uniformed police force, is one of the most well-known and highly reputed
police forces in the region. They have the reputation of being very well trained, very well
equipped and of being un-corruptible. There are various problems; firstly, it is a military force
that has been assigned the work of civil law enforcement; second the Carabineros are under the
authority of two different ministers, the Home Minister and the Defense Minister, which creates
a problem of jurisdiction and disagreement as to who is politically responsible for police actions.
The police are subject to a special system of justice. The military justice system is responsible for
dealing with any acts of violence committed by police. This creates a situation where about 95%
of cases of police violence are dismissed or declared innocent and it creates a cycle of impunity.
In addition to this, the heavy presence of police in the south, in the Araucanía, where many
indigenous people are, is in itself is another problem because it creates the feeling that the region
is under military rule. Police are everywhere and the communities are infiltrated by police
officers.
By the power of one of Pinochet’s decrees, social protest is controlled in the country and
you are supposed to request permission to have any form of demonstration so police are quickly
deployed to diffuse any form of protest. This has resulted in the use of profiling, which means
that people are identified by some particular conduct or clothing or actions and they are
promptly arrested without reason. So if you fall within particular criteria you will normally be at

 
 
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risk of police action and arrest. This is the case of many indigenous people, union leaders and
some other groups such as students who are usually targeted by the police. Finally, the lack of
internal affairs units or systems in the police force means that within the police forces, and I
include Policia de Investigaciones (PDI) as well—the detective units—there are no internal
procedures in place to improve performance. We have put this in reports and have brought this
up with the police authorities and they do not really see the need to correct themselves and to
improve their procedures.
Chile is a country that is very attractive for destructive industries: mining, forestry,
fisheries, and geothermic energy. All of these industries have a different impact in the
communities. Unfortunately destructive industries are in areas again where indigenous people
are the main landowners and settlers and there is growing unrest about the impact that these
industries are having on communities. The use of geothermic energy is mainly affecting
communities in the north, in places that have usually been associated with the tourism industry
where people go to
see geysers and to
visit the countryside.
In these areas we
are seeing more and
more big industrial
plants, which are
using geothermal
energy and steam to
produce electricity.
Local residents
resent this because it
affects the water
supply and water is
a very scarce
resource in the
north, in the desert.
These industries use
the water, which
gets contaminated
Photo 1  Carbineros protecting a forestry operation in the Araucanía,  IX region, Chile.         for other purposes
Photo: Leah Cassidy  such as irrigation
and cultivation is
heavily affected. So it has a direct impact on the welfare and economic opportunities of the
people. In the case of mining, Pascual Lama is a very well known case. It is a coalmine that is on
the border between Argentina and Chile, so it is a bi-national project. On one hand this project
provides a lot of job opportunities for people. On the other hand the air, the water and the
access to land is being affected and the community is starting to protest because people are
getting sick and poisoned by air and water contamination. It also means that the government is
expropriating land in order to make it available to the project. Beyond this, the process of
mining coal is one of the most dangerous for the environment because it uses chemicals such as
arsenic, which is very poisonous.
The forestry industry is a very destructive industry due to the continued planting and
exportation of certain types of pine, eucalyptus and some other forestry products, which, are
affecting the strength of the land. These are species that grow very fast and can be cut in a very
rapid cycle but when you use land in this way it affects the quality of land and then it cannot be
used, for instance for purposes such as agriculture. In addition, local people see most of the

 
 
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resources being produced by the land being taken from them and they resist the idea that their
land is being misused in such a way. They also feel that the land should be bought by the
government and returned to them because it belonged to their families in the past.
The fishing industry in the country is under threat particularly because the salmon
industry—meaning salmon farms—has been affected by a bacteria that is making the fish unfit
for human consumption. This has left many communities heavily affected by unemployment
particularly the coastal indigenous. There is also a campaign to stop the installation of some high
volume power plants that will use dams in the south. There is a struggle between development
and the rights of people and access to resources. There is the issue of public policies that are
affecting people in a very negative way. This is a consequence of the growth of the country,
globalization and Chile’s desire to produce its own electricity but it has been difficult for people
to accept these things without being properly informed or consulted.
Finally Chile is a country that has been growing both economically and maturing
politically relatively fast however the country is still pending the ratification of some international
human rights instruments. Some are very basic, such as the Convention on the Disappearance of
People, which is an instrument that Chile actually helped to originate but it is still pending
ratification. It is only recently, after 18 years that Chile ratified the recognition of the
International Criminal Court (ICC), which shows that any changes in terms of human rights is
also a transaction between the political powers in the country. A country that grows very fast in
economic terms and in political maturity is incomplete when human rights issues are left out or
used as a negotiation tool by the powers that be. This is the case in Chile and that is why Chile is
‘in arrears’ in terms of human rights.

In your opinion what are the most pressing human rights issues in Chile?
The pressing issues are the issues of the past; still there is still a long way to go in terms of
truth and justice.
One: Discrimination because discrimination is what is underlying indigenous peoples’
and LGBT rights.
Two: The significant difference between the wealthy and the 20% that is living in
poverty.
Three: Human rights education, which involves participation and the understanding and
inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights as part of the human rights system. This is
particularly serious because for many people in the public eye, when they speak about human
rights they tend to only refer to the issues of the past and they do not see for instance the
perversion of the pension system in the country or that a woman pays more for health insurance
because of the chance she could get pregnant; these things are also human rights. So economic,
social and cultural rights are the new frontier, the new challenges to human rights education.
Four: Democratic participation. Chile has a very closed and tight political system and it
is quite difficult to enter and participate and to actually have access to political power. There are
several issues connected with this. One being that Chileans living abroad have no vote. The
country has a very strange system called the binomial system, which means that power is always
balanced between the two big sides of politics. Even if you have a larger constituency and voters
you will never have more power than the other. The system is engineered so that there is never
any significant imbalance of power. There is also no citizen initiative in legislation meaning that
if you have any particular interest or cause you are not able to actually initiate a law, you have to
go to a representative. The representative goes to the government to see if there will be an
impact on the budget but only the government has the authority to write laws.
Five: Chile’s international responsibilities. There is a double standard in Chile. Chile is
part of the United Nations Force’s missions abroad, the president of UNASUR, which is the
South American coalition of nations. Chile has initiated some significant human rights

 
 
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instruments but on the internal front it is not coherent. There are some serious difficulties that
have been going on for many decades without resolution by the different governments.

How would you characterize the international human rights’ movement’s support
of human rights in Chile?
Cooperation has been very reduced in recent years because Chile was the focus of
international solidarity for 17 or 18 years during military rule. More recently Chile has evolved
into one of the ‘jaguars’ in the south in terms of economics, it is considered that the support of
the international community is less necessary.
Amnesty has been in the country for more than 25 years now and it is a national
organization working in an international environment. In fact this branch of Amnesty was
initially formed by locals and it is of course supported by the international movement but I would
say some other human rights NGOs that were supported in the past by the international
community are quite less supported now and in fact they suffer as the attention of the human
rights community abroad is focused more and more on Eastern Europe, South East Asia and
Africa. In addition to that Chile has gone from not being involved in the international arena of
human rights to being involved with the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Security
Council. Therefore the country has gained status, which seems to send a message that external
support is no longer necessary. This is not the case.
In the past Chile had a sense of solidarity that has not returned which is a very bad thing.
I would say that the Chilean community is inward looking which makes it difficult for us, for
Amnesty, to promote international solidarity in the country.

What has been the effect of Amnesty International in Chile?


Amnesty has been in Chile for more than 25 years. The office has been open for 25 years
but we were among the first organizations to come to the country after the coup. A month after
the coup, in September 1973, a delegation from Amnesty came with the Red Cross to visit the
country. That actually meant that the first list of detained people and disappeared people was
compiled and many people that were in detention in the early days of the coup were saved
because their names appeared in an Amnesty International report. Throughout the years we
have been following and monitoring the situation in Chile and have presented an annual report
on the state of human rights in the world, which unfortunately includes Chile in a very
prominent way. Amnesty has also been instrumental in keeping the pressure of the international
community on Chile before the return to democracy and has helped to build up a stronger
democracy in the country. We have been working over the past 15 years with indigenous
peoples’ rights and helping to introduce international human rights dialogue into the indigenous
leaders discourse because it is needed in order to create a stronger defense for human rights in
the community. Probably one of the most significant contributions has been the abolishment of
the death penalty—now being revisited with a discussion about possibility reinstating it. Also
Chile has ratified some very important international instruments like the ILO Convention 169
relating to indigenous peoples rights, the ICC and The Convention Against Torture (CAT)
including its optional protocols. Amnesty has also helped in creating an arena to introduce the
new concept of economic, social and cultural rights in the country. For the last 5 years we have
been publishing the “Agenda for the Bicentennial” and this has created a new standard. We
have raised the standards higher on human rights issues and in so doing we have been able to
introduce into the public discussion and on the legislative agenda, new issues in human rights,
such as the vote for Chileans living abroad, or the issue of small arms and weapons in the
community or the issue of LGBT rights.

 
 
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What do you think needs to happen to strengthen the human rights movement and
human rights overall in Chile?
One: Human rights education at all levels including the training of police and military
officers as well as prison wardens because the situation for gays in detention centers is a very
difficult issue. We need to promote the understanding that human rights are far and away the
most important and central lesson for anyone to learn.
Two: Finishing the ratification of the international instruments that are still pending,
there are about 10 to 15 significant instruments that are still pending.
Three: Investment by the government and initiative on the part of legislators to create a
situation whereby indigenous peoples can gain rights to their lands, water and resources. That is
done with money, with time and energy.
Four: Giving the parliament or Congress the ambition to incorporate into legislation
some basic rights and actions against discrimination that is so ingrained in the country like,
xenophobia, homophobia and racism which are very much part of life in Chile. Even if people
are not open about it, it is visible such as in the way cities are segregated. That is a long-term
challenge.

What have been the obstacles to Amnesty’s work in Chile?


Amnesty was loved and hated by big numbers in Chile because of our involvement in the
resistance against the military rule and particularly our role in the detention of Pinochet in
London, and the fact that we have been perceived by the right in the country as a leftist group.
These are the issues that have impaired our work.
The international solidarity dimension of Amnesty’s work has been hard to introduce and
to communicate to local culture. After all we are looking at a country, which considers itself to
be ‘very good for the neighborhood.’ Many Chileans think that they have a very good country in
a very bad neighborhood surrounded by countries that are not worthy enough. Amnesty has
taken a position while working on international lines that try to show people that you must not
only look at your own needs but at other people’s needs. This is a human rights organization
that is different from many others in Chile because it is not formed by the victims, the lawyers of
victims or the families of victims of the dictatorship. Amnesty is an organization of plain people
that come together who contribute their time energy and money to human rights. That has been
difficult to explain to Chileans. In recent years we have been growing a lot and we now have
about 6,000 members. Even though Amnesty has become very well respected recently we have
gained a more protagonistic and central role as we push with new issues like violence against
women and the fight against poverty as one of the most serious threats against human rights.

How do you see the future of Amnesty Chile?


We work everyday in order to one day not be necessary, however there is still a long way
ahead in terms of building a human rights culture in Chile. There is a broad need for an
awareness of human rights and therefore movements like Amnesty will be necessary for some
time, particularly in terms of developing international solidarity and an understanding of the
importance of international rights because it is lacking even in highest offices of parliament.
The fact that there are some representatives trying to bring back the death penalty shows
that there is ignorance about the commitment that Chile has made in the international
community. Because Chile has ratified some international instruments that means that the
return of the death penalty is an impossibility here and in spite of certain representatives continue
to try to push it through. This reflects the importance of education. We continue to appeal to a
lot of people, particularly young people, and we are growing in terms of promoting this idea of
international security.7

 
 
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Securing Human Rights
 
Protections Under the Law
‘Human
rights
are
inscribed
in
the
hearts
of
people;
they
were
there
long
before
lawmakers

drafted
their
first
proclamation’.

Mary
Robinson,

Former
UN
High
Commissioner
for
Human
Rights


International Law is a necessary tool in the globalized world. The dissolution of borders
and the ripple effect of human rights violations make it necessary to have some form of
international protection. Law is a tool that is limited in scope and can be easily manipulated into
a weapon used against those it is intended to protect. Despite being an imperfect a system,
international law is often the only method of recourse for addressing human rights violations
International human rights law is a combination of customary international law,
conventions, treaties and protocols. Customary law is law that has developed through custom or
tradition and has since been accepted as the legal norm. Customary law is among the primary
sources of international law and often accepted in principle long before being codified in
conventions or treaties. Non-binding agreements such as declarations are often adopted as
customary international law. The most prolific of these agreements is the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. The UDHR has no official signatories however it has become accepted as law
in principle if not in statute. The UDHR is the basis for international human rights law with the
majority of rights bestowed in UN treaties originating from this document.
The UDHR along with International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two optional protocols form
what is known as the International Bill of Human Rights. All UN members must abide by the
UN Charter and the International Bill of Human Rights.
The following table illustrates the principle UN conventions and covenants. The UN
General Assembly adopts treaties but in actuality it may take several years for a convention to
take on legal standing. A majority of states must ratify the treaty before it can serve any legal
purpose. However, post-ratification states may make a formal ‘reservation’ stating they will not
be bound by a specific provision.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
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Ratification
Status
of
the
Principal
International
Human
Rights
Treaties

Year
Adopted
 Principal
Treaties:
Title
and
Acronym
 Number
of
Countries

bound
by
the
Treaty


1948
 Convention
on
the
Prevention
and
 140

Punishment
of
the
Crime
of
Genocide

1966
 International
Covenant
on
Economic,
Social
 153
(160)

and
Cultural
Rights
(ICESCR)

1966
 International
Covenant
on
Civil
and
Political
 156
(164)

Rights
(ICCPR)

1966
 International
Convention
on
the
Elimination
 170
(173)

of
All
Forms
of
Racial
Discrimination
(CERD)

1979
 Convention
on
the
Elimination
of
All
Forms
of
 182
(186)

Discrimination
Against
Women
(CEDAW)

1984
 Convention
Against
Torture
and
other
Cruel,
 141
(146)

Inhuman
or
Degrading
Treatment
or

Punishment
(CAT)

1989
 Convention
on
the
Rights
of
the
Child
(CRC)
 192
(193)

1990
 International
Convention
on
the
Protection
of
 34
(41)

the
Rights
of
All
Migrant
Workers
and

Member
of
their
Families
(ICRMW)

2006
 Convention
of
the
Rights
of
Persons
with
 58

Disabilities

2006
 International
Convention
for
the
Protection
of
 (10)‐
not
yet
in
force

All
Persons
from
Enforced
Disappearance

Figure 2   Office
of
the
High
Commissioner
for
Human
Rights:
ohchr.org.

As
of
June
24,
2009 


Enforcement of International Law
Enforcing international law is a difficult process despite the binding nature of treaties.
The legal process is often slow, arduous and expensive and frequently results in outcomes that
are unenforceable. For many, the legal process is a luxury; rarely open to the most vulnerable
and marginalized in society.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in The Hague for the trial of
international war crimes under the 1998 Rome Statute. To date 109 states are party to the
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.8 Certain countries do not recognize the
authority of the Court including the United States. The ICC has the authority to hear cases
pertaining to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Cases involving crimes
committed prior to 1 July 2002 may not be heard, as the court does not hold retroactive powers.
The ICC does not intervene in a country’s domestic affairs and therefore should not be
perceived as a threat to state sovereignty. The ICC Prosecutor, at the request of a state party or
the United Nations Security Council can initiate an investigation. To date, four referrals have
been made to the ICC; three by state parties, the Central African Republic, the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Uganda. The UN Security Council also referred the case of Darfur,
Sudan (a non-state party) to the court. The majority of proceedings remain in pre-trial stage,
confirming the protracted nature of conducting international investigations.
 
 
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In addition to the ICC, several groups of countries have established regional human
rights structures with their own treaties and court systems. These include the African Union,
OAS and the Council of Europe. These regional human rights systems of Europe, Africa and
the American states have offered a way for people to address human rights violations.
The European Court of Human Rights is one of the most overwhelmed courts
worldwide. As of January 1, 2009, the Court has approximately 97,300 pending applications.
The majority of these applications have been lodged against Russia, Turkey or Romania. The
aim of the Court is to ensure European states uphold the 1953 European Convention on Human
Rights and to investigate alleged violations. Any individual, NGO or state has the right to
present an application to the Court. The court also accepts inter-state applications in the event
that a state wishes to lodge a complaint against another.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica is the legal body concerned
with the application of the American Convention of Human Rights. The Organization of
American States (OAS) based in Washington DC, directs the administration of the court
including investigations and oversees the human rights situation in each member state. The
United States has yet to ratify the treaty despite OAS operations being based in Washington DC.

Alternatives to the Law


Naming and Shaming
Naming and shaming has been a powerful alternative as many of those responsible for
violations enjoy liberty from prosecution for their actions. Historically when perpetrators are
named and shamed it has been difficult for them to play an active role in society. This has lead
to self imposed exile or reclusion from everyday life, and has brought about a semblance of
justice from the social stigma surrounding those people or corporations. Amnesty International
and Human Rights Watch, two prominent NGOs, have gained immense international
recognition partly by using this tool.

¡Si no hay justicia hay la funa! 
 
Naming and shaming has been a popular method of exerting justice outside of the law in
certain Latin American countries due to the amnesty laws that were instituted by several
dictatorships. In Chile Naming and Shaming is called La Funa. Pinochet and the military junta
enacted laws which, made it difficult to prosecute state agents for crimes committed during the
dictatorship.
Given the limitations of the Chilean judicial system which was unable to try and punish
the majority of agents of the repressive government, certain groups in Chile established a
campaign of publicly exposing those who worked for the dictatorship, responsible for crimes such
as arbitrary detentions, kidnappings, torture and the murder of their fellow countrymen and
women. The first Funa was held on 1 October 1999 at the workplace of Dr. Alejandro Forero, a
cardiologist and ex-member of the Comando Conjunto, a group that kidnapped, tortured and killed
under the dictatorship. Not long after various social and political groups got together and
formed the Funa Commission, which continues to work today. The Funa Commission’s slogan is
“NO A LA IMPUNIDAD” (no to impunity) and they invite everyone to join them to work against
the amnesty set in place by the military junta in an effort to bring about a better system of justice
and to aid in recuperating a “historical memory.”

 
 
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Truth & Reconciliation Commissions
The objective of Truth Commissions is to reveal the ‘official truth’ of what happened
under a specific regime rather than ‘name and shame’ particulars. The truth and reconciliation
committee’s job is to gather the truth or as much of the truth as possible to give people a realistic
view of what occurred in order for the nation to start the difficult process of finding national
reconciliation. Immediately after Pinochet lost the referendum to continue his presidency and
Patricio Aylwin was consequently elected, the Rettig Commission was formed. With a staff of
sixty this truth commission worked for nine months to construct as complete a picture as possible
of what happened under the Pinochet military government. Its objectives were to gather
information to identify victims, to make recommendations for reparations and to make
recommendations on steps to be taken to prevent such events from happening again. The report
was released in February 1991 and could only determine that there had been 2,279 politically
motivated killings during the dictatorship.
Truth and reconciliation commissions have been set up to investigate and report on issues
other than dictatorships such as indigenous affairs and treatment or as in the case of the United
States there has recently been discussion of a commission to investigate US foreign policy actions.
To date there have been other truth and reconciliation commissions set up in Argentina,
Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Liberia, Morocco, Panama, Peru, Sierra
Leone, the Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, East Timor and the United States.

Protest
Protesting and acts of civil disobedience have been some of the most effective alternatives
to the law to ever be employed. Protest may take on many different forms, from marches, like
the marches that took place all across the world in 2002 to protest the Iraq war, to hunger strikes,
which have been carried out by numerous activists throughout history, such as Ghandi, prisoners
in the Northern Irish prison The Maze in the 1970’s and more recently by Evo Morales, the
president of Bolivia. The type of protest or act of civil disobedience that a person or group will
employ generally depends on the cause they are fighting for or the social situation they wish to
change. For example if a group is fighting for environmental rights and want to stop the clear
cutting of old growth forests, tree sitting is generally employed. A well-known example of tree
sitting took place between 1997 and 1999 when Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a 180ft (55m) tall
redwood tree for 738 days to prevent a logging operation from cutting down the tree. In the
United States, possibly the most famous case of civil disobedience that is credited with jump-
starting the civil rights movement, happened on 1 December 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to
give up her seat on the bus for a white passenger.
Despite the obvious consequences of protest and civil disobedience, which may include a
certain physical danger, arrest and in some cases jail time, these tools are extremely effective.

Advocacy and Policy-making


Advocacy and policy-making can be a slow and arduous process and as with anything
political, the bureaucracy can be difficult to navigate. Policy making not only the reserve of
elected officials. In many cases the policies that are put forward by elected officials are designed
by NGOs, think-tanks, corporate lobbyists and other advocacy groups. Naming & Shaming,
Economic Alternatives, Protest & Civil Disobedience or Advocacy and Policy-making are rarely

 
 
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used alone. Change almost exclusively comes from a campaign that employs all of these tools
and pushes those in power to pay attention to certain issues.
Today Chile is still governed under the constitution put in place by General Augusto,
Pinochet the unelected military ruler. Some believe that the Pinochet constitution works only to
protect the interests of the wealthy and of big business. Consequently there is a growing group in
Chile that believes that the time has come to institute a new constitution and it is the right of all
Chileans to do so.

We interviewed Hiram Villagra a lawyer who has been a member of the Corporación
Derechos del Pueblo (CODEPU) since 1987 working on the defense of political prisoners and the
fight against torture. He has taught classes in political law and constitutional law at the
Universidad de la Republica, the Universidad de Atacama, the Universidad Central and the Universidad
Bolivariana.

Why do you believe Chile needs a new constitution?


Formally it is an extremely burdensome subject that the constitutional text, which serves
as a basis for the institutionalism of the Chilean Republic, has the imprint of the military
dictatorship. The constitution from the 1980’s, with all of its modifications that is in place to this
day is the constitution created by a dictatorship. This raises questions of legitimacy.
When examining the content, the constitution from the 1980’s puts forth a very distinct
ideology from a determined conservative group. It is not a neutral constitution that could serve
within a common framework, nor is it a social contract that includes us all. It is legally a platform
for a part of society that has a long history in our politics and that took advantage of the moment,
to cement their position in society. In Chile there is a very marked tradition of conservative
catholic authoritarianism, but it is always in the minority.
It is clearly visible that the constitution is heavily influenced by the neoliberal model. The
constitution is written only to allow the economy to function according to the neoliberal model
and this is a really serious problem. It provides extremely strong limitations to economic, social
and cultural rights and changes them into liberties to which one has access, but not into rights,
which may be demanded. It restricts civil politics and public spending stating that the State may
not invest in a series of areas. It established a series of principles like the ‘subsidiary state’ making
the subject of solidarity ambiguous. All of this makes it so the emerging economic model and
other forms of development are not compatible with the constitution. The constitution is
partnered with a strong executive branch, making it authoritarian, presidential and exclusive.
These elements make us conclude that the constitution is not a general framework, not a social
pact and it is not an expression of the grand consensus of society. On the contrary, it is the
imposition of a program of a determined political power that is attached to the whole of Chilean
society like a straitjacket.
It is necessary to rebuild the constitutional base of the country through norms that express
the grand consensus and that effectively serve as a framework for all, that allows alternative
models and unique options or visions of society. Finally it must present an inclusive political
model, which allows for massive civil participation re-establishing the basic order. Overall the
central theme is that we need to re-found the country.

The current constitution perpetuates the political power of the military. It is a


reality to change a system that protects the interests of the military?
Actually the process of change is difficult but not impossible.
This is a society that is conscious that the constitutional model has been exhausted and does not
reflect the true situation of the country. There is awareness that there is a crisis of general

 
 
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representativeness and the only way to change it is to combine legal norms with citizenship
through a legitimate act, which is a new constitution.
The armed forces, from a republican standpoint, should have nothing to say, they should
not be part of the process, they should be obedient and not express their opinion. Right now the
Armed Forces have influence in politics and even though it should not be this way,
subconsciously it seems the citizenry thinks this is the way it should be. The totalitarian concept
and neoliberalism still lingers and should be corrected.

What impact has the Pinochet Constitution had on human rights?


The Pinochet constitution from a doctrine standpoint, overprotects the right to property
and those economic rights associated with the right to property; business rights and economic
protections while the rest of the economic, social and cultural rights are limited to the point that
they are only principles. It establishes an extremely authoritarian order; it permits a number of
phenomena to happen such as the militarization of the Carabineros and serves as a pivot to sub-
constitutional norms, which in many cases violates the first generation of human rights. In itself
it represents a violation by being a transgression against the right to self-determination of the
people.

How could a new Constitution better guarantee the human and civil rights of
Chileans?
First, by bettering and amplifying the catalogue of human rights. This the most basic
idea. Secondly, it would permit civil participation in the Chilean institution, meaning that the
Chilean State would be democratized from its very roots, which would mean significant
structural transformations and the appearance of new institutions. There would be a normative
reform of institutionalism detached from the constitution. Thirdly, it would reestablish the
equilibrium of the powers of the State. This unbalance between the state powers consists of a
very strong executive, a parliament that legislates little but was conceived to block the political
actions of the executive. However it does not achieve this in practice and judicial power is still
not up to the required level. We must reestablish this equilibrium.

What other benefits would a new constitution achieve for the Chilean people?
Fundamentally it will bring back legitimacy to our political institutions. Today we have a
constitution that came about despite resistance by the people. It is an opportunity to mould a
series of initiatives like the idea of judicial reform and the idea to use constitutional change to
take notice of and try to resolve problems. Problems like, restricted information systems, a
system of press that is completely biased and unilateral, a education system that is quite behind
the times, but these are also phenomena of sociological, political and economic character that
have ties to the institutional legal system. When the constitution changes this will enable us to
put in place ideas such as a ‘teaching state’ and relations between civil society and the State. It is
necessary to install a political system that will act as a forum for political debate and not like
today where the political debate is one-sided and consecrated through pacts between the
dominant forces. Today laws are not discussed in the parliament, they are discussed between
parties and parliament which either sanctions them or does not sanction them. Much of the time
this leaves out those who are directly affected.
In order to make these changes a constitutional reform is necessary involving a grand
political debate on the big public topics and a general consensus.

What is the process to obtain a new constitution?


The ideal would be a process with the most participation possible. We believe the
most democratic method would be a Asamblea Consistuyente (Constitutional Assembly). But if this

 
 
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does not happen there are other alternatives, the important thing is that a new constitution
emerges from an open and participatory process. It is also important that these debates are not
just a rebranding of what already exists. Chile needs to be a country that is not born from the
least bad but from the best that can be achieved.9

Non-State Actors
Advances in human rights have traditionally been bottom-up processes. The grassroots
to human rights have been evident since the social movements of the Enlightenment period. The
validity of the law cannot be underestimated however in the past few decades we have been
witness to the rise of NGOs and the engagement of civil society in securing human rights. NGOs
have been gaining momentum and must be given credit for pushing the human rights agenda
globally. Without NGOs the human rights movement would undoubtedly be less organized.
According to Thomas Risse, “In the absence of sustained campaigns and lobbying efforts by
NGOs and particular individuals, probably not a single human rights would have been written
into international law.”10
NGOs work at local, national and international levels. NGOs are represented worldwide;
at the frontline in the field providing services and aid; reporting and acting as advisors and
lobbying in the political arena. In the era of globalization NGOs have been notable for their
relationships with government and other state institutions, corporations and other NGOs. Some
of these relationships have been positive in their ability to engage and build meaningful
partnerships however others have tumultuous, leading to accusations of civil disobedience.
NGOs often form to meet a specialized need in society. After the coup d’état on 24
March 1976, the military government of Argentina began the ‘Process of National
Reorganization,’ which saw the disappearance of upwards of 30,000 people of all ages and social
status who consequently lost their liberty and some were subjected to torture. Those disappeared
included children and pregnant women, which resulted in clandestine births in torture centers.
As a result a list grew of military families ‘expecting’ a child from one of these secret centers.
These stolen children considered ‘spoils of war’ were either adopted into these military families
where they were raised as their own children, abandoned, sold or left in orphanages.
The Asociación Civil Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo is an Argentinean NGO with offices
worldwide. Abuelas’ goal it is to find all the children that were taken under this system and
reunite them with their legitimate families as well as to create a climate known as ‘nunca más’
meaning a climate where such atrocities can never take place again and to bring those
responsible for these crimes to justice. Since their founding the Abuelas have been able to locate
97 disappeared children and reunite them with their biological families.
For this manual we met with Rosa de Roisinblit, the vice president of Asociación Civil
Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, who herself was able to locate her grandson who was born in the Escuela
de Mechanica de la Armada (ESMA), a torture center run by the Argentine military government, to
gain an insight into their work and the effect they have had as an organization on Argentinean
identity.

How did the military government affect the sense of Argentinean identity?
In general terms, I can say during the dictatorship our country’s identity was censored
and poorly treated. Specifically we deal with the identity of our grandchildren, which is the
objective of this institution. But I also always speak of Argentinean identity and the Latin
American identity, which was also censored and damaged because while there was a dictatorship
in Argentina there were others in Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay and in many other
Latin American countries, because the instructions coming from the United States were to

 
 
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suspend democracy and to suspend the identity of the people to implant the “National Security
Doctrine.”

How has your work helped Argentina and Argentineans to recover their identities?
We have helped and collaborated with the large human rights organizations in our fight
against the dictatorship. We have protested all over our country, in other countries and we have
travelled the world over trying to cultivate solidarity among all people of the world so that they
can internalize what happened in Argentina and in South America in general. We have had the
satisfaction to count on the solidarity of foreign countries as well as their support and
understanding and we have been able to tell our truth because at first when we arrived in other
countries we realized that the people had not internalized what had happened in Argentina. So
we go as spokespeople, as informers, as propagators of the truth of what happened in Argentina.

Could you explain the philosophy of the ‘nunca más’ movement?


When speaking of nunca más, the struggle was a joint one because when you are doing
work such as ours, which we have been doing for over 30 years, we have always worked with
other human rights organizations; so we were able to consolidate something that seemed
impossible. From 1930 in Argentina we had a series of coups d’états with such frequency that we
had very few constitutionally elected presidents. Argentineans were so accustomed to this that it
became almost normal. We would wake up in the morning, turn on the radio and there would
be an announcement saying that the government had been disbanded and a new president, a de
facto president but a president nonetheless had been appointed.
We became so accustomed to this that it seemed natural. But what happened no one
could ever have imagined. The last coup d’état in 1976 led to state terrorism. That is when
things changed because the situation became impossible with kidnappings, disappearances,
assassinations, with the abduction of babies even, which of course is what our work is about.
Today we celebrate more than 25 years of constitutional governments.

What has been the biggest obstacle to your work?


There have been several obstacles, I cannot say there has been one bigger than another,
but we have had many.
First, the cover up of what was happening in the country and the hiding of our
grandchildren who were taken along with their parents. The children and parents were
separated and the adults were then killed and the children given to other families. So of course
we went looking for the children. Also the cover up of the children who were born in these
clandestine camps, since they would kidnap pregnant women, wait until she carried the
pregnancy to term, had the child then they would kill the mother and again give the baby to
someone else.
Next, we found out there had been some judges who knew of the situation, who saw some
of our grandchildren, children who were abandoned or saw them with other families and knew
where these kids came from but didn’t tell the people who adopted the children the truth. There
were people who honestly just wanted to adopt and they were offered a child. But the adopters
did not know where these children came from and that they had family actively looking for them;
that they were children of the disappeared.
There was another obstacle in that some judges were appointed by the dictatorship. That
meant that they agreed with it’s ideology. So even though we were presenting evidence and
everything that was needed to identify a child, they actively opposed our mission. In contrast,
there were others, who worked with us, who defended us and who helped us to find our
grandchildren also during the dictatorship.

 
 
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I want to emphasize that it was the Argentinean people who helped us enormously in
finding our grandchildren. I’ll give you an example to help show you what I mean. If a police
officer’s wife who had never been pregnant, one day had a baby and it looked like a newborn,
the neighbors would notice. They would call here, send an anonymous letter or they would
come in person to tell us where we could find the child. This was the great help that we received
and continue to receive. Actually just a few days ago I got a call at home, which was strange
because I do not know who gave them my home number, from someone in a province here
called Tucumán, which is very far north. He called me saying that he lives in Tucumán but a long
time ago he used to live in Buenos Aires, in the outskirts. For many years he had been holding
something inside that he needed to get out. He told me of a girl who is the granddaughter of a
disappeared person. After 30 years he could not hold it in and he had to tell what he knew.
Similar things have happened with other people who had information but during the
dictatorship they were afraid to say anything because they could be ‘disappeared’ too. Others
told themselves, “well it didn’t happen to me, I am not going to get involved” and still others
said, “maybe there was some good reason that people were taken.” Everyone’s situation is
different. As time goes by, with luck we can say that the immense majority of Argentinean
society is in agreement with us, they help us. They support us, moreover, admire us for all the
work we did and that we are still doing today because our strategies vary and continue to vary
today along with the age of our grandchildren. These days we are no longer looking for recently
born babies, or children up to two or three years old, our grandchildren are now men and
women over 30 years old. So there are other strategies to find them. We had strategies for
babies, another for 8 or 9 year olds, another for adolescents and now for adults some of whom
are married and have children of their own. As time goes by we have to continuously change our
gameplan.

What do you see as the most important human rights issue today in Argentina and
the rest of Latin America?
The issue that is most important today is democracy. Unfortunately democracy is not
something that you can have overnight. It is something that is under constant construction and
every one of us, every day, brings something to the table so that we can speak of democracy; for
democracy is not a perfect system but it is the best one we that we have in the world. It does not
seem to me like there is something better. Democracy is something that you and I and all
Argentineans need to continue to build every day. The day that we have true democracy to the
fullest extent of the word will be the ideal for human rights.

How do you see the future of your organization?


I see a promising future for our organization. We are quite old and we are very aware
that no one lives forever, but while we are alive and while we can still work we will continue to
fight and continue our work, always creating new strategies to move ahead. But the day that we
are no longer around we have young people here in our organization who work with us and who
will continue to work after we are no longer here to give the true identity to all of the
grandchildren who were kidnapped whatever their age happens to be.11
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Violations
of
Human
Rights

 
Torture
On 10 December 1984 the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights put forth the “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment” (CAT), which was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and
accession by the General Assembly resolution 39/46.

The CAT defines torture as:


“any act by which severe pain or suffering,
whether physical or mental, is intentionally
inflicted on a person for such purposes as
obtaining from him or a third person
information or a confession, punishing him for
an act he or a third person committed or is
suspected of having committed or intimidating
or coercing him or a third person, or for any
reason based on discrimination of any kind,
when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at
the instigation of or with the consent or
acquiescence of a public official or other
person acting in an official capacity. It does
not include pain or suffering arising only from,
inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”12

According to this definition, when someone acts on


the behalf of a government to cause pain or suffering
for anyone, whether it is physical or mental, and as
long as it is not a side effect of legal punishment, it is
torture. This definition specifically mentions
governments simply because governments have
historically been responsible for the grossest violations
of human rights. The UN’s primary goal is to set
Photo 2  Torture facility at Villa Grimaldi concentration 
standards for states and governments, so effectively
camp run by the DINA secret police during the Pinochet  this is the definition of what is termed “state
dictatorship.  Santiago, Chile.                     sponsored torture.”
Photo: Leah Cassidy 
There are many historical examples of “state
sponsored torture” such as in Chile and Argentina
during their respective military dictatorships, during World War II in the Nazi concentration
camps and in the Toel Sleng prison in Cambodia during the Kmer Rouge regime, among many
others. Unfortunately, numerous cases of state-sponsored torture have been disclosed in our
more recent history. The legacy of the Bush administration is marred by instances of state-
sponsored torture, namely the torture associated with the controversial rendition program and
the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
                     

 
 
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Terrorism & State Sponsored Terrorism

“A
terrorist
attack
on
one
country
is
an
attack
on
humanity
as
a
whole.”

Kofi
Annan,
 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate



To understand state sponsored terrorism we must first establish what terrorism is. Many
have heard the phrase “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Although it is an
interesting saying but it does nothing to describe what terrorism is or what a terrorist is. It only
highlights that the concepts of a terrorist and terrorism are highly subjective and there is no
universally agreed upon definition. So for the purposes of this manual we will use the definition
of Dr. Jeffery Bale:

"Terrorism is the use or threatened use of violence, directed against victims selected for
their symbolic or representative value, as a means of instilling anxiety in, transmitting one
or more messages to, and thereby manipulating the perceptions and behavior of a wider
target audience or audiences."13

An important characteristic of this definition is that it acknowledges that an act of terrorism can
be carried out by anyone against anyone therefore governments can be both perpetrator and/or
victim.
The important factor to note about the difference between a simple act of violence and an
act of terrorism is that the objective of the latter is always to manipulate a third party or target
audience. Therefore terrorism is a form of violent psychological manipulation and the victim of
the violence is merely the instrument used to transmit the message meant to manipulate the
wider target audience. Many groups throughout history, including states, groups affiliated with
states, groups from the left, center, and right including both the religious and irreligious, have
used terrorism.14
Today and throughout history violent acts have been very quickly labeled and perhaps
incorrectly, as terrorism. The question that we must ask before we accept a violent act as an act
of terrorism is: “Is there an intended wider audience whose perceptions the act of violence is
meant to manipulate or who the act is meant to instill anxiety in or who the act is meant to
transmit a message to?”
The effect on a wider audience must be intentional. If it is not intentional then the act
cannot be considered terrorism. It is very easy to label an event as terrorism because it made a
wider audience scared or anxious but if that was not the primary goal of the violent act then by
definition the act or event cannot be terrorism.
To understand this idea of intentionally affecting a wider audience lets analyze a well-
known violent act. The jetliners crashing into the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001 is
perhaps the most renowned violent act to date and it is fair to say that it caused a large amount of
fear and anxiety in a wider audience, namely the inhabitants of the United States and some
others around the world. Was the anxiety experienced by the wider audience an intended goal
of the hijackers and the group that supported them or was the anxiety merely an unintentional
byproduct of the act and the people onboard the planes and in the towers the primary targets?
As admitted by the Al Qaeda group the primary goal of the act was to scare or cause
anxiety for of all who were witness and that the final quantity of victims was an unintentional
byproduct of causing that anxiety. In fact, it was believed before the attacks that a jetliner

 
 
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Human Rights: Chilean Perspectives


 

crashing into the towers would not have caused the structural damage required to bring the
towers down. It had been published as early as 1993 that if a jetliner crashed into the towers “the
biggest problem would be the fact that all the fuel (from the airplane) would dump into the
building causing a horrendous fire. Many people would be killed," but "the building structure
would still be there."15 Taking these facts into account the collapse of the towers was also a
coincidental byproduct of the primary goal of causing anxiety for a wider audience and the
violent act may be labeled as an act of terrorism.
The other type of terrorism that is commonly discussed is state sponsored terrorism. If
terrorism carried out by independent groups were categorized as “retail” terrorism, state
sponsored terrorism would be “wholesale” terrorism. Throughout history states, groups
supported by states and state-affiliated groups have been more likely to use terrorism or the idea
of terrorism to control or influence populations than have groups working independently.
Examples of groups that worked directly for states or were supported by governments that used
terrorism in its various
forms include the Stazi in
Germany and the DINA
in Chile.
At its very core
terrorism involves the use
of violence or the
threatened use of
violence, which violates
the most basic of human
rights, the right to life
and security of person.16
It is the anxiety or terror
that a larger target
population feels which
gives terrorism it’s name
and it may be argued
that an act of terrorism
calls into question the
Photo 3  Villa Grimaldi, a concentration camp operated by the DINA secret police  right to security of
during the Pinochet dictatorship that used terrorism as a tool to control the population.     person of the target
Santiago, Chile                            audience. So while it
Photo: Leah Cassidy     
directly violates the
rights under Article 3 of the UDHR only for the actual victims, a larger audience feels victimized.
Kofi Annan iterated this concept on 12 September 2001 when he addressed the attacks of the
previous day, “a terrorist attack on one country is an attack on humanity as a whole.”17
Unfortunately the reactions of many countries to terrorist attacks have violated more
human rights than the attacks themselves. Since the United States declared the War on Terror
the US government, in collaboration with many other governments, began rendering increasing
numbers of terror suspects than ever before. People have been rendered from various locations
to undisclosed and secret prisons called “black sites” and the detention center at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba to be detained without charge, trial or the right to habeas corpus. These are violations
of Articles 6, 9, 10 & 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantee
recognition under the law, protection against arbitrary arrest, full equality to a fair public hearing
before an impartial tribunal and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.18
Terrorism has always been an effective tool for groups wishing to manipulate others but is
it just for governments to violate human rights in the name of national security? Michael Ignatieff

 
 
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questions events post-September 11th 2001, have signaled an end to human rights arguing that
human rights may be ‘permanently demoted in favor of policy priorities.19 The challenge now
for the human rights movement is to combat the “claim that national security trumps human
rights.”20
     
             
Genocide
In the last century human rights has gained much recognition however the human rights
violations have never been so prevalent or as shocking. Genocide is an old tool that many
governments and groups have used to control populations of people and like terrorism it is a
violation of the most basic human right, the right to life, liberty and the security of person.21
In 1948, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
was enacted following the systematic extermination of the Jewish race and other Nazi targets.
According to the Convention, genocide is defined as: “any of the following acts committed with
intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group such as:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical
destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”22
 

 
 
Despite the weight of
international law the 20th century
has witnessed more genocide
since the Holocaust. The 1994
genocide of the Tutsi population
in Rwanda was made even more
deplorable as the international
community failed to intervene.
The world stood by and watched
the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of more
than 200,000 Bosnian Muslims,
a horrible consequence of the
1990-1995 wars in the former-
Yugoslavia. Richard Holbrooke,
US Secretary of State, described
Photo 4   Auschwitz II Birkenau concentration camp operated by the Nazis  the late intervention of the
during WWII.  Oświęcim, Poland     
Photo: Joshua Lease 
international community in
  Yugoslavia as “the greatest
failure of the West since the 1930s.” Given the failures of the international community, where
does the responsibility to protect lie? Human security should trump national security yet
humanitarian interventions are less common than military ones.
 

 
 
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During the Kmer
Rouge regime in
Cambodia
approximately
200,000 Kmer
people were
tortured and killed
mainly in the Tuol
Sleng Prison and
Choeung Ek,
normally referred
  to as The Killing
Photo 5  Stupa at Choeung Ek site filled with the skulls of victims.  Fields. Beyond
Photo: Joshua Lease  ‘The Killing
 
Fields’, many more
  Cambodians
    suffered and died
at the hands of
disease and
starvation, as a
result of Kmer
Rouge policies.
 

 
Photo 6      Tuol Sleng Prison, Torture center for the Kmer Rouge.   Phenom Penh, Cambodia.  
Photo: Joshua Lease 
 

 
 
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Transitional Justice & Chile
In the late 1980’s the term ‘transitional justice’ began to be used as political changes took
place in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Several countries in these regions began
transformations to democracy after periods of oppression and widespread human rights abuse.
The call to address human rights abuses without endangering the political transitions was strong.
Today transitional justice is a multidisciplinary field of study of the
“response to systematic or widespread violations of human rights. It seeks recognition for
the victims and to promote possibilities for peace, reconciliation and democracy.
Transitional justice is not a special form of justice but justice adapted to societies
transforming themselves after a period of pervasive human rights abuse.”23

Pre-military rule Chile was known for its vast political discourse and the Chilean people
enjoyed freedom of expression as the norm. The country boasted a diplomat-poet in Pablo
Neruda, and conservatives and liberals alike would congregate to debate their opposing views
without concern for retaliation. Chile was a place where people were civil towards foreigners
and each other alike, where there was almost no street or political violence and where the then
president Jorge Alessandri, walked daily along the same route, unaccompanied from his
apartment to the presidential palace.24
On 11 September 1973, after the recent election of socialist party leader Salvador Allende
to the presidency, the military, lead by General Augusto Pinochet, staged a coup d’état and the
country transformed. For the next 17 years Chile would live under a veil of terror where all
opposing political ideas were censored and where people were kidnapped, imprisoned and
sometimes tortured and/or disappeared. Chilean society became divided; many lived in a state
of fear not only for themselves but also for their loved ones while another section of the
population was largely unaware of what was happening either because of political ties or social
status.
Today remnants of the dictatorship are still visible. The current president Michelle
Bachelet and her family were prisoners and victims of torture during the dictatorship. Villa
Grimaldi, a torture center used by the DINA, Pinochet’s intelligence agency, can be visited in the
Peñalolen district of Santiago. Pinochet lives on through the Pinochistas, his supporters, and
society remains deeply divided.
We spoke with the Honorable Juan Guzmán Tapia about the transition back to
democratic rule in Chile and the process of investigating and trying crimes committed under the
military regime for his insight into the history of human rights in Chile and the issue of
transitional justice.
 
What was the Human Rights atmosphere like before 1973?
At that time the term human rights was not something we heard in normal conversation.
It was assumed that human rights were included in our Constitution and protected through the
actions of the State. We had a social democracy based principally on the obligation of the State
to help the people. We had the right to strike, the right to education -public schools and
universities and a public health system. There was always the possibility of utilizing private
systems as well so it was not totalitarian. The State was in charge of the welfare of the people.
Working people paid social security and at the end of their working life (65 for men, 60 for
women), were able to collect a pension. This was normal and therefore nobody discussed it.

What was your experience under the Pinochet government?


During Pinochet’s regime, I was working as a judge. I had been appointed by President
Allende to be a judge in Panguipulli, near Valdivia and after my life became better than under

 
 
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Allende’s government when I had a very low salary and there was a general shortage of normal
household goods that people needed. Finally I was appointed a judge in Santiago where the
lifestyle was better, salaries were higher and our children were able to go to good schools.
During Pinochet’s regime neither my family nor I realized how harsh life was for many
people and how human rights were being violated by Pinochet’s dictatorship. Formally we knew,
everybody knew, that it was a dictatorship. At the same time, the last years of Allende had been
years of chaos so even though we had a dictatorship we thought it was necessary to achieve a
new form of democracy where there would be greater economic stability. When I started to
work at the Appellate Court I was asked by the President of the Court of Appeals of Santiago to
be a reporter from time to time. There was a great need for reporters, the lawyers that studied
the cases, made a summary of the cases and explained them to the judges on the panel in order
for the judges to make a decision. There were so many petitions of habeas corpus, of bail and
cases in general but so few tribunals that it was necessary to take judges away from their normal
job to act as an aide to the judges at the Court of Appeals.
Through this job I noticed that a huge quantity of habeas corpus petitions were filed at
the Court of Appeals. These petitions were concerned with safeguarding liberty, liberty that had
been deprived illegally by authorities. The authorities would raid the houses of people who
disagreed with the doctrine of the dictatorship. They were detained and taken to secret locations
where they were held for days, weeks, or months and sometimes they disappeared entirely.
That’s when I started to realize that there was an issue of human rights. There were many
people in detention and many disappearances. Neither the victims’ parents nor the Catholic
Church, which was very much interested in these issues, nor their lawyers were able to secure
information about what was really happening to these people.
By examining these cases I learned that there were also people who had been shot during
the night. The great excuse was that many of these people were violating the curfew or that they
were committing crimes, felonies or misdemeanors. Naturally I did not believe that and started
to realize that something very violent was happening. Neither I, nor my fellow colleagues at the
Court of Appeals knew the real nature of the situation or just how horrible it was. It was
concealed and we only knew the little we did because of the work we were doing.

When you were assigned the first cases in the appellate court of Santiago what were
your impressions of the claims?
This was many years after my work as a reporter. In 1998 I received the first of the
complaints against Pinochet, which was filed by The Secretary General of the Communist party,
Gladys Marín for the assassination of her husband who had disappeared in 1976.
I studied the complaint, which was for the assassination, kidnapping, forced
disappearance, genocide and torture. I realized that it was overloaded with terms and that at
most it could only be considered as a forced disappearance or kidnapping. The crime of forced
disappearance did not exist in our criminal code. I accepted the complaint and I started to
investigate the case as I had done with many other cases that had nothing to do with human
rights violations directly. This surprised other lawyers, as it was the first time a case against
Pinochet had been accepted. The lawyers started realizing that if other cases were filed they
would be directed to me because of a principle we have that is called principio de acumulación
whereby a judge that is in charge of a case of a certain person will be in charge of all the cases
against that person should they be filed.
Eventually more than 250 cases were filed. I investigated 99 cases against Pinochet. The
Commission that worked during Patricio Alywin’s government established that more than 3000
people had been killed and more than 1200 remained ‘disappeared’. I started to realize that I
was in the center of a hurricane of all the violations that had been committed throughout the
dictatorship by Pinochet and his state agents. I felt that people deserved the proper investigation

 
 
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Human Rights: Chilean Perspectives


 

of these cases and I took them very seriously. This was a moment in my life where I had to be
extremely involved with a very obscure past.

With these experiences how do you view Transitional Justice?


During my time as a judge I secured various indictments. I indicted a group of generals,
colonels, and commanders that had participated in assassinations, abductions and forced
disappearances. I indicted Pinochet on 3 occasions. All these cases had an enormous political
impact in Chile. They were viewed from a political rather than a jurisdictional or legal
perspective.
I believed that the job I was doing at that time and that of some other judges and
members of the Appellate Court was a necessary step in the transitional justice process towards
full democracy. However at that time I did not realize that this was going to be regarded as a
highly political issue.
When Jack Straw, UK Home Secretary, decided that Pinochet was incompetent both
mentally and physically to stand prosecution, finally I realized that the same excuse was being
used here in Chile. The Supreme Court by this stage had overruled the indictment regarding
Pinochet on two occasions, as had the Chamber of the Court of Appeals.
So despite all our attempts to obtain justice and to make Pinochet accountable for the
crimes he committed, it was not possible. It could be said that a certain justice was achieved by
the discovery of the truth and by the indictments of Pinochet. We were able to show our society
and the world what he was responsible for and we were able to convict at least 300 state agents
that committed the same crimes that Pinochet had been accused of. However the Supreme
Court lost its opportunity to be able to prove to the world and to Chile that Pinochet could be
tried and could be convicted. The pressure was much stronger than the will to convict. We
made steps towards democracy but it was not enough.

What difficulties did you encounter during your investigation?


It had a great cost. It was a personal cost. I was a member of the most important court
of appeals in Chile, the Court of Appeals in Santiago. I had been nominated to be a judge on the
Supreme Court and naturally as I refused to be an accomplice to Pinochet’s impunity, I lost that
opportunity. I was left with the option to continue until the age of 75 working at the Court of
Appeals or I could retire. Secondly my family life was affected. We had around 15 bodyguards
in our home. We lost our privacy. I was constantly accused of abusing my position as a judge
and of being a bad person. For example in one particular instance I was accused of stealing
money. Whenever I travelled, for the cases regarding Pinochet, I was paid expenses for hotels
and meals. On one occasion, I spent time at my own house near Valparaiso studying the case
and I did not file for expenses. I was accused of spending time at my own house on the State’s
money even though I did not ask for or take the money. Everyone was waiting for me to commit
a crime.
It’s difficult to say on how many occasions I was harassed by my superiors, lawyers and by
the media. I resisted for over eight years but finally after the last indictment of Pinochet I
decided to retire to have a better quality of life. As a result of the Pinochet case in particular, I
was routinely harassed and at times the work was almost impossible. However, as impossible as
it seemed I did everything I could within my means and the investigation, despite all the
harassment, continued.

 
 
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What are your conclusions of your investigation of Pinochet?
The indictments of Pinochet, and the conviction of officers, were very important steps in
the process of reconciliation, the truth process and the process of transitional justice. I think
pardoning laws, which we call perdonasas, whereby state agents are given the opportunity to
recognize their mistakes and violations of human rights, is not enough. I do not think that truth
and reconciliation commissions are enough either. I think that in order to have transitional
justice it is necessary to have justice reform. The task is to give to each person what that person
deserves. That’s the definition of justice by Aristotle, to give each person what belongs to
her/him or to give each person what that person deserves. This restitution is a very important
step because a wounded country needs to have its balance re-established and one of the ways to
recompense for the human suffering is through justice.

How do you believe the investigations affected your country?


This country was able to prove partially that transitional justice could be obtained. I say
partially because a Pinochet conviction became impossible. On one hand, transitional justice did
not do its job. In regards to the other cases of the generals, colonels and state agents, justice was
served. Most of them are in jail today serving their sentences. In that respect they were held
accountable and transitional justice was successful.

How do you believe the transitional justice process in Chile affected other countries
in Latin America?
I do not believe it did. You can compare some countries with others, for example in Peru
Fujimori was convicted for life. In other countries like Argentina, amnesty laws have been
applied and also people have been convicted. In Uruguay there were no convictions as
pardoning laws were established. In Guatemala there was absolute impunity. In El Salvador
there was also a law that pardoned people from both sides. In the United States, Bush was able
to do whatever he wanted. So I would say you can only compare but what happened in Chile
did not affect other countries.25
 
 

 
 
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Environment
Development
cannot
be
divorced
from
ecological
and
environmental
concerns.
Indeed,

important
components
of
human
freedoms—and
crucial
ingredients
of
our
quality
of
life—are

thoroughly
dependent
on
the
integrity
of
the
environment.

Amartya Sen, Economics Nobel Laureate 
 
The right to live in a clean environment is a basic human right that so few are actually afforded.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to life,
liberty and security of person.” At the most fundamental level environmental damage affects
living conditions contaminating water supplies and land that provides food, creating sanitation
problems and affecting the health of communities. Judge Weeramantry, ex-Vice-President of the
International Court of Justice in The Hague elaborates that “damage to the environment can
impair and undermine all the human rights spoken of in the Universal Declaration and other
human rights
instruments.”26
Doubtless, life,
liberty and security
of person are
endangered as the
pursuit of
environmental
rights disturbs the
agendas of national
governments and
transnational
corporations whose
encroaching
economic interests
have threatened the
livelihood and
lifestyle of
populations
worldwide.
Photo 7   Mural in opposition of a planned waste pipeline from a cellulose plant                          Neoliberal
to the Mehuin coast near Valdivia, Chile.              
Photo: Joshua Lease 
development
strategies, endorsing
free market
economics, propelled the exploitation of natural resources globally and has failed to alleviate
poverty through the growth it has achieved. To the contrary, investment has benefitted the
bottom-line of corporations and the economic interests of power-wielding governments such as
the US, among others, and economic institutions including the World Bank and the IMF.
Although UN reports would indicate that in certain instances poverty is declining, development
success continues to be measured in terms of Western/Northern philosophies and against the
World Bank/IMF development paradigm. Sustained environmental damage is killing
livelihoods, changing cultures and forcing populations to urbanize as rural life becomes a greater
struggle. Despite progress in social policy and the advances made by certain governments in
reclaiming their autonomy and inducing land reform, namely in Latin America, transnational

 
 
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corporations continue to foster strong relationships with governments worldwide, often in
politically unstable regions where business interests are placed in higher regard than human
interests. When business interests are threatened, human rights abuses often follow suit.





Foreign
Investment

is
offered
many

incentives
by
the

Chilean
government,

often
at
the
expense

of
indigenous

communities.




 

Photo 8  Swiss Logging Operation,Roble Huacho Community, IX Region, Chile.  
  Photo: Leah Cassidy 

   
ExxonMobil, one of the biggest energy companies in the world, has been operating a
natural gas facility in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) province in Indonesia since 1968.
NAD is a politically tumultuous area due to violent confrontations between the armed opposition
group Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian Army. The agreement between ExxonMobil
and the Indonesian Government benefits both parties. ExxonMobil holds exclusive rights to the
gas fields and finances military and police protection of their operations. As a result numerous
human rights abuses have been catalogued by various organizations, which have reported cases
of harassment, torture, rape and the murder of civilians at the hands of the military.27 In August
2001, the Asia edition of Time Magazine reported that ExxonMobil paid the soldiers that protect
its sites and that local people would eagerly "line up to tell stories of abuse and murders
committed by the troops they call Exxon's Army."28 Between January 2000 and May 2003, over
eighteen human rights defenders opposing ExxonMobil’s operations in NAD province have been
killed or disappeared.29
Cases such as this are not isolated. Facing the mighty wrath of multinational or
transnational corporations, often supported by foreign and domestic governments is a real threat
for environmental activists. However, worldwide activists and campaigners continue to defend
their communities despite the very pervasive dangers associated with striving to prevent
environmental degradation.

 
 
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We spoke with Ignacio Velasco, an anthropology professor from the Universidad Bolivariana
in Santiago about his views on the state of political & civil rights and economic, social & cultural
rights in Chile and the effect transnational corporations are having on society.

How do government actions impact on political and civil rights in Chile?


In the long history of a Chilean republic, government actions or omissions have
substantially affected political and civil rights. Women’s right to vote was only achieved in the
1950’s and this was made possible because civil groups working the system introduced various
initiatives. During the military dictatorship political liberties were substantially limited. I would
say that when democracy returned these rights became more profound and the government
played a far from adequate role in improving these rights. For example unionized Chilean
workers are in the minority and the government has not put forth initiatives that would improve
democracy and the rights of people.

How have political and civil rights improved since the dictatorship?
Despite having not changed radically I believe they have improved. Freedom of
association and press, and the existence of political parties that were banned in the past, shows
that there have been profound changes since the dictatorship. There are pending changes like
the move from the binomial system. This has been the ruling system since the return to
democracy. Candidates win political posts seemingly without the necessary support of the
citizenry, which is anathema to democracy.

Does freedom of expression and press exist in Chile?


Freedom of expression and press exist in Chile. During the dictatorship, the few
opposition media outlets that existed were either censored or charges were filed against them.
There were also important editors from the opposition media that were killed. What we are in
Chile are the economic conditions so that different civil groups can mass publish newspapers and
journals. There is limited to no support from the government so various sectors of Chilean
society cannot start alternative media outlets to complement the media that exists today, which is
owned and run almost completely by conservative, economically driven groups.

What has been the impact of the lack of political and civil rights during the
dictatorship on Chilean society?
I think that the principal consequence we see today is that people are apathetic towards
participating in civil organizations that fight for political and social rights. The dictatorship
produced a period of cultural change in the people. The phrase used in Chile to describe the
lack of participations and individualism is “no están ni ahí.”
There are other deplorable consequences for example a vast number of Chileans and
foreigners died or went into exile; a situation that dramatically changed their lives and the lives of
their families and friends.

What impact on rights have transnational corporations had in Chile?


It is hard to speak in black and white terms about the transnational corporations. There
have been, and there are, companies that have created a market for a lot of workers and in this
way lowered unemployment. But on the other hand there has been a series of labor related and
environmental—in the case of mines and fisheries—problems that have embittered Chileans.
Every case is different. I would say that in general the transnationals operate with a very high
profit margin at the expense of thousands and thousands of Chilean laborers.

 
 
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Almost 20% of people in Chile live below the poverty line with most of the wealth in
the country concentrated in the top 20% of the population. How does this widening
gap impact on human rights in Chile?
On of the biggest problems that we have in Chile is precisely this gap. One human rights
issue is inequality, which generates resentment, hate and violence between people. It generates
contempt and a lack of communication. Chile should lessen this gap if it truly wants to enter into
the major league of developed countries.

How has the global economic crisis impacted economic, social and cultural rights?
I believe that the impact that the crisis has had is on unemployment. The statistics today
show that unemployment is greater than 10%. If we count those who are looking for work for
the first time and those very poorly paid, the percent of unemployed Chileans could easily be
40%. Another impact is the feeling of insecurity in the workplace that most Chileans from all
income levels are feeling. It seems like stability in the workplace could be relatively easy to instill,
however many workers work in jobs that are more or less temporary.30
 
 
Women’s Rights
Women have been fighting for their place in society for centuries. Christine de Pizan
argued in the 15th century women should be include in the debate surrounding ‘natural law’31.
In correspondance to her husband, John Adams Abigail Adams urged to “Remember the ladies”
when devising the nation’s new laws. Lest they were forgotten, Abigail Adams warned that
women would, “not hold themselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or
representation.”32 Historically women have been pronounced secondary to men. Human rights
discourse has been evolving to recognize the female perspective and to correct the bias that has
traditionally placed the rights of men above that of women.
The concept of women’s rights has become such a part of the human rights framework
that it is easy to forget that gender inequality is pervasive on a global scale. In fact it was rare
before the 1990s to see a dedicated NGO report on violations specifically against women.33
Since then the women’s rights movement has expanded and gained strength as new NGOs
concerned primarily with women’s rights issues have emerged while established organizations
also began to address problems specifically affecting women. The 1993 UN Conference of
Human Rights in Vienna recognized that “the human rights of women and the girl child are an
alienable, integral and indivisible part of universal rights,”34 vocalizing the international
commitment to women’s issues such as discrimination, feminicide and girl infanticide, human
trafficking, female genital mutilation and violence against women.
Culture propagates gender bias and can eliminate the elevation of a woman’s status in her
home, community and nation. Women are often forced into narrow roles of daughter, wife,
homemaker and dependent. Culture also plays a major role in maintaining conditions of
inequality and endorsing traditional yet harmful practices such as female genital mutilation. The
1995 Beijing Conference on Women quashed the idea that cultural relativism justified human
rights violations of women.35 However conflict between tradition and rights mean that women
continue to experience denial of basic freedoms, inequality and violence. Unfortunately legal
norms in the majority reinforce cultural norms making change in legal and political structures
challenging.
Women have a stronger voice in today’s world however threats to life and liberty exist.
As Amnesty International cites ‘violence against women’ as one of their priorities, millions of

 
 
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women suffer from gender-based violence and today one in three women will likely be abused,
beaten or coerced into sex.36 Rape is used both as weapon of war and a means of social control.
Political turmoil in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti only serves to
exacerbate the problem.
The persistence of poverty, worsened by the recent economic crisis has led to a global
resource shrinkage. In a world of finite resources, exploitation of the most vulnerable.
According to Maggie Black, resource shrinkage has “led to the commodification of women’s and
girl’s nurturing, childbearing and sexual capacities—resources at the bottom of humanity’s barrel
when there is nothing else to scrape.”37
Growing disparities in wealth will result in further marginalization and a deepening of the
‘feminization of poverty’ phenomenon, where women continue to be denied opportunity and
equal access. Unfortunately the sectors of society likely to feel the crushing effects of poverty are
those most in danger of been targeted by human traffickers.
For more insight to the current climate surrounding women’s rights in Chile we
interviewed Paola Arriola, a social worker, working and conducting research at the Universidad
Central de Chile.

What is the place of women in Chilean society?
Women occupy a dynamic and changing place because this is a recovering society; more than
recovering it is really coming into it’s own. Today, with the incorporation of women in the
workplace, women are in a very important position. In Chile the majority of the heads of
households are women but they have a role that still includes the traditional duties such as child
rearing and education but also they have taken on the role of providers. Even when women have
a spouse that also provides economically, they tend to continue with this dual role. This is
happening in different social strata, more commonly in the lower economic strata. Historically
the lower economic social strata, women have traditionally taken care of the home. Today this
multiplicity of roles is more and more valued and there are certain organizations that have
realized the necessity of investing in women. This is because these investments are more likely to
help lift people out of poverty. So this is why a lot of programs are now concentrating on
women.

What has been the role of women in the human rights movement in Chile?
In Chile there are many feminist groups. When these groups appeared around 1900 they
were very different. Both sides were feminist but one side was more radical and worked to
oppose machismo and saw the other side of the movement as something negative. However it
was the other less radical side, those feminists who worked towards gender equality who have had
the most social relevance. The prominence of women has remained unchanged primarily
because women do not have much political power in Chile. Recently women have made it as far
as the presidency and the Senate. In reality there are public women’s rights institutions and often
they have male leadership. There are fewer groups in the social rights movement working for
women’s rights than any other. There are political and public institutions that deal with this topic
but there is not necessarily a women’s movement.

What is the role of women in the transitional justice process in Chile?


In this process I think that the role of women is important. We can recognize an
important social movement, which the wives and family members of disappeared detainees. The
wives of the disappeared detainees make up one of the groups that work with the most
perseverance that I have ever seen in this country. There has been much reporting on this and
foreigners appreciate this movement greatly. These women continue to work today even though

 
 
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many of them are elderly and have neither received responses to their cases nor justice. They
continue to meet and have succeeded in building an important place in society for the ‘collective
memory.’ They have succeeded in giving hate a new significance in Chile and they brought the
discussion of human rights to the table at a national level. These women demonstrate a quality
of the Chilean woman, which is strength and perseverance. Independent of having their
husbands, children, and brothers killed, and being left practically without family, they continue
forward. So from this came a movement that is really important even without having any great
power. It has found a relevance with those who lived through the dictatorship and also the
young who are unaware of the realities of the Pinochet regime but they know these women exist.

Has Chile improved gender equality since the end of the dictatorship?
I believe that gender equality did not change after the dictatorship from what it was
beforehand. It was not an issue that was really affected like human rights in general. Equality is
something that has been discussed for many years in Chile and it has become popular to include
a term called ‘gender perspective’ in public and social policies. On principle this term is
admirable but when put into government policy it is misconstrued. If anything we have a
positive discrimination of women, which has provided certain benefits but it is not necessarily
gender equality. As an example, in family court when you are talking about the custody of
children and who should take on the economic responsibility, the responsibility falls on the man.
So where is the equality if we make a victim out of the woman? What we are doing is giving
women many benefits because she is a victim of something which does not promote equality
because with equality the woman would also be responsible for certain things. She is responsible
economically and otherwise for her children. So I feel that we have not achieved equilibrium
between seeing women as victims or violators of certain rights. There is no justice because
positive discrimination exists. Consequently you can observe why the incorporation of women in
the sphere of political and public power has been so slow. In this same way there is a
requirement in the senate to have a certain number of women as both senators and deputies, but
it is an obligation. There are not a lot of women senators because they ran for office and they
won. They are not necessarily there because they are competent to be there.

What are the biggest issues for women in Chile today?


The issue that I consider to be the most relevant, that also surpasses other issues, is gender
violence. We are in the same position as any other country in the third world. We are a country
that is supposedly ‘in the process of economic development.’ But socially and culturally we are in
the same place as many years ago. The Chilean woman has certain economic achievements but
continues to be victim to interfamilial violence both physical and psychological. I cannot explain
how a woman who is otherwise politically or economically empowered continues to assume that
a man, her man, can hit her. We have a rate of femicide that is really shameful but which has no
explanation in terms of cultural or socio-economic strata. It exists in all social strata and in
urban and rural areas. So how can it be that this empowerment in terms of women’s rights is not
complete? In some areas we have achieved a lot but we continue to allow other things to occur.
I am convinced that women are not always victims but they decide to be victims.

What challenges do women face in Chile today?


Women have been able to combine traditional roles and other roles that were off limits to
them in the past. But still the challenge for women is finding equilibrium between all these roles
so that within these new ones they will be able to emancipate themselves from men who really do
not have the same intrinsic responsibilities in terms of raising children and concern over familial
affairs. So how do women achieve the same rights as a man while still holding on to this

 
 
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motherly role? I think that women have to find the middle ground, avoid over protecting the
family and share these familial responsibilities with men so that men and women can really share
political, economic and social power. But in reality women achieve their middle ground, which is
less equal in power and responsibility than what should be.

Michelle Bachelet is one of the few female leaders in the world. What impact has
she had on women’s rights in Chile and on human rights as a whole?
In terms of women’s rights I think Michelle raised the bar much higher for women’s
expectations and goals for what they can achieve, especially young girls. When Michelle took
office it was incredible to see how for all women it was finally a moment of justice. For younger
women it was seen as an opportunity for them to say that “yes, I too can achieve things at that
level. I too can be president, senator, director and many other important things.” I believe that
Michelle took office in a country with many machismo characteristics and it broadened the
horizons in terms of where women could go and what they could achieve.
Michelle is a very interesting case because she was raped and tortured during the
dictatorship and many people saw her taking office as a sort of justice being served. For the first
time someone who lived through such things was able to achieve such position. The feeling at
the time was also that she was going to fight for human rights but presidential power is not
something that can be exercised alone because we are still bound by a constitution that impedes
achieving justice. We live in a country where the violations took place 20 to 30 years ago and
those responsible are in some cases reaching upwards of 80 years of age. These cases instead of
provoking a sense of hate, really create pity. In reality it causes many to take on a pessimist
attitude because how can a period of such gross human rights violations be dealt with when there
is a constitution that does not give the executive power to do anything or when we have a judicial
system that works so slow? So Michelle’s government has not achieved what people were hoping
for because of the constitution and because of certain powers that be. If there is not an important
political and legislative shift, it does not matter what president takes office, woman or man, things
won’t change. The fact that Michelle is a woman has no particular relevance in terms of making
a change. Changes to be made are honestly cultural, and in terms of the government they need
to change certain laws in order to have a ‘cultural intervention.’ Law is not what changes things,
it is culture.38
   
               
Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking is commonly referred to as modern slavery because it is the
exploitation of people of all ages in many different forms of forced labor and it is happening in
every country around the world. It is also among the least prosecuted crimes globally and for this
reason has become popular among organized criminal groups.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as follows:

“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of


the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception,
of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of
payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another
person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation includes, at a minimum, the
exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced
labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of
organs.”39

 
 
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According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2005 there were 12.3
million people in forced labor worldwide. Of those 12.3 million, 2.5 million people were forced
to work by the State, army or rebel military groups. The remaining 9.8 million people were
exploited by private agents and enterprises. Of these, the ILO calculates that about 1.4 million
were in forced commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) and 7.8 million were in forced economic
exploitation (EE). In addition, more than half a million victims could not be assigned
unambiguously to one category or the other.40
Because of the high profit margins and the low risk of prosecution, human trafficking has
become an extremely popular with organized crime. In 2008, worldwide there were 5,212
human trafficking cases prosecuted, of which 2,983 ended in convictions.41 The majority of
victims if they are rescued or escape are unaware of their rights and the resources available to
them and “fear [of] possible criminal charges or deportation, retaliation by traffickers if they give
information to police, or attacks against family members”42 may further prevent the work by
prosecutors to bring charges against criminals responsible. The potential profits that drive
traffickers are in the billions of dollars. The ILO made a conservative estimate in 2005 that the
total profits from forced labor amount to US$44.3 billion, of which US$31 billion are made by
exploiting trafficked victims.43
Trafficking is so lucrative as the products (people) are reusable. A woman may be sold for
sex any number of times in a single day and in cases of forced labor, a person is a useful
commodity as long as they are alive and fit to work. In fact the ILO estimate of US$44.3 billion
seems miniscule when we consider that the figure equates to less than US$400 per month per
victim. The ILO categorically separates those in forced labor situations from victims of
trafficking however the definition of human trafficking adopted by the UN includes victims of
forced labor as does the US government’s definition which has broken down trafficking into the
major categories of Forced Labor, Bonded Labor, Debt Bondage Among Migrant Laborers,
Involuntary Domestic Servitude, Forced Chile Labor, Child Soldiers, Sex Trafficking, and Chile
Sex Trafficking and Related Abuses.44
To continue combating human trafficking governments need to be encouraged to adopt
new legislation to combat the problem. Measures must also be taken to ensure that the proper
authorities including, but not limited to law enforcement have the tools to identify cases of
human trafficking. Resources must be made available for victims to aid with reintegration into
society repatriation to their home country if so desired, as well as legal, financial and
psychological help.
 
 
Migrants’ Rights
When discussing migration and the rights of migrants it is important to understand the
difference between the three terms used when discussing this topic that are generally used
interchangeably and thus incorrectly: emigration, immigration and migration.
While all of these terms share certain attributes they are not all the same. Immigration
and emigration both specifically indicate leaving a country and entering another while migration
is only the act of moving from one place to another and crossing a international border is not
required. This means that when we discuss migrants’ rights we are discussing the right of all
people who displace themselves generally for economic reasons, such as work. There are of
course other reasons people migrate, such as seasonal migration for nomadic groups or to avoid
violent conflict, an example of which is occurring as this publication is being written, in the Swat
Valley of Pakistan.
There are millions of people every year that migrate somewhere searching for a better
life. In the United States someone may migrate to another state for a new job or a farm worker
may move around within a state to work different harvests. Every year thousands of people cross
 
 
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into the southern United States from Mexico looking for work in order to send money home to
their families. The situation is very similar in Chile.
There are several different groups of migrants in Chile, all distinct from one another in
terms of why they migrate and from where. Today the most prominent migrant group comes
from Argentina, followed by those from Peru and Bolivia, and a third group consisting mostly of
Koreans, Chinese and Turkish immigrants.
Historically, heavy migration to Chile began with the mining and exportation of guano.
Migration continued to increase with the discovery of saltpeter in the late 1800’s, which created
another mining and exportation industry. However with the creation of synthetic saltpeter the
industry crumbled and many of the Peruvian and Bolivian migrants either returned home or
moved further south towards Santiago, while the majority of the original Chinese community
stayed in the north near Iquique. Today the area around Iquique has few if any Chinese
speakers, however the culture of the original migrants has influenced the local culture, which is
especially evident in the food. A classic example is the candy Chumbeque; first created by a
Chinese migrant and is now considered the traditional sweet from Iquique.
In the Auraucanía the Chilean government paid Europeans, especially French and German
to immigrate and gave them large swaths of land after the Pacification of the Auraucanía. As a
result, to this day there still exists German-speaking communities in the south of Chile.
Currently Argentineans compose the most prominent group of migrants who mainly
come to work professional jobs and in construction. Peruvians and Bolivians have been known to
take on the low skilled menial jobs in the cities and have been accused of stealing Chilean jobs, a
phenomenon similar to that in California and the Mexican migrant population. The
rejuvenation of the center of Santiago has been largely attributed to the Peruvian migrants where
we can now find Peruvian bars, restaurants and meeting places. The Plaza de Armas, the square
in the center of town, is often referred to as the ‘Little Lima.’
The Chinese, Korean and Turkish migrants number much fewer than the Argentineans,
Peruvians and Bolivians however they seem to have been welcomed more with open arms than
their South American migrant counterparts. This can be for a number of reasons but the
majority opinion seems to be that these migrant groups bring jobs to the country. Chinese and
Korean migrants have opened stores, which import cheap products from their home countries
that people enjoy and have set up shop on the other side of the Mapocho River from the Center
in the area of Bella Vista. The Turkish community is again smaller than the Chinese and Korean
communities, but in the same way has brought over what people believe to be a specialty of their
country, textile importation.
Like migration in any area of the world it is a complex subject and the decision to migrate
to Chile is taken by thousands of people from many different backgrounds for many different
reasons and it would be impossible to try to quantify all of them.

To complement this brief description of Chilean migration we interviewed Jimmy Parra


Farías, a journalist who received his education in Social Communication from the Universidad
Internacional SEK.

 
 
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What is your experience with migrants’ rights?
My interest in migration began in 2005 while I was a student putting together a report on
the duality of asylum and refuge in Chile for a course designed around human rights and taught
by the judge Juan Guzmán Tapia. The research narrated the presence of a Colombian citizen in
Chile and his continued residence officially as a refugee designated by the High Commissioner
for Human rights of the United Nations. The idea was to compare the international legal
framework in relation with Chilean laws, a relationship that can be described as irregular.
Later, together with the journalist Mauricio Palma Prat, we compiled a report entitled
“Aduana, viajeros en la ciudad” (Customs, Travelers in the City). The report was used as a degree
thesis and the material investigated the symbolic and material contributions that Peruvian,
German and Korean migrants have made in the center of Santiago. This work combined
photography with the story of groups of people who are, or have been key to the development of
emblematic areas of the city.

From where are the majority of migrants coming to Chile?


According to the data collected by the Department of the Exterior, most of the
immigrants come from the areas adjacent to the country with the percentage of Peruvian citizens
growing exponentially in the last ten years. Nevertheless it is rare to encounter people coming
from Colombia who are basically humanitarian refugees due to continuous encounters with
guerilla groups.

What are the current issues with migrants’ rights?


In my opinion the subject of migration in Chile is not treated as it should be. The subject
is spoiled by the lack of exact data and by legalese that only benefits institutions run by unknown
professionals, who do no more than regurgitate the already existing literature. The majority of
work on migration is not groundbreaking and brings little to the social development in the field.
This is unfortunate because there are many foundations that finance investigative groups that do
no more than live off of an important subject without bringing anything new to the table. There
is so much to do, for example the management of the integration of immigrants in public schools
– where there are violent cases of discrimination – with fieldwork and a final objective to
promote a modern community with less judicial boundaries and much more inclusive of the
customs and the origins of those integrating. This is not just a problem within academic theory.
This brings me to the worst danger facing migrants in Chile: the seriousness of which
people regard the issue of migration and the protection of these people because in the end, all of
the pseudo-intellectual dialogue around the subject hurts and does not consider those who are
most affected and who have the least rights, the immigrants.

What could be done to better ensure the rights of migrants?


In general to make both a literal and linguistic distinction between nationals and
foreigners seems perverse to me. In my opinion it is not only about ensuring rights of migrants,
because the debate is based on the idea that there is a difference between people when there
should not be one.
Also it is a matter of understanding local development based on public proposals and
community discussions that look to apply different social and economic models at a local level,
while taking into account new needs, not just material needs but also for example ecological ones,
that are in the best interest of the communities. It must be assumed, without distinguishing one’s
nationality, that rights and duties, in complicated arenas such as workers rights, are the same for
all. The idea is that a modern society is founded on respect.

 
 
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Are there any groups working to improve the working conditions for migrants or to
improve migrants’ rights overall?
I am not aware of voluntary groups who work exclusively with this subject. I do know of
groups of immigrants, more or less organized, that work to better their own living conditions,
legal issues and health. The principle organizer is Victor Paiba, who is also the leader of
Peruvian refugees in Chile. Their meeting place is known as “Little Lima,” which funny enough
is the Plaza de Armas in the center of Santiago. Another meeting place is the Parroquia Italiana, in
the Providencia Comune, where a religious woman known as the Hermana Fresia acts as a go-
between for women who come to Chile looking for work and people looking to hire cleaning
ladies.45
 
                 
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Rights
Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is profound the
world over, even in societies that seem very tolerant of diversity. While discrimination on
account of race, gender and religion is generally considered unacceptable, prejudice based on
sexual orientation is widespread and sadly often tolerated.
LGBT people are often denied freedoms that many people take for granted.
Discrimination takes various forms. Members of the community are routinely denied the right to
marriage, the right to recognition under the law and government, the right to legal benefits
including inheritance rights, the right to raise children, biological or adopted and higher legal
ages for sexual activity are often imposed. Inequity and bigotry also exist in the workplace and
the military. The United States military’s “do not ask, do not tell” policy bans homosexual
military personnel from disclosing their sexual preference or discussing their relationships on
threat of expulsion. A fair policy to homosexuals would apparently “create an unacceptable risk
to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline.”46
No rights to recognition under the law and government means that there is no protection
afforded by the law and no recourse within the legal system. The majority of countries in the
world consider homosexuality to be a crime and actively persecute people based solely on sexual
or gender preference. Punishments vary from a fine, to lengthy prison terms, corporal
punishment, hard labor and in some countries including Sudan, the death penalty. Strangely
some countries have gender-specific policies such as Kenya, which outlaws male homosexuality
but accepts lesbianism.
The law is also used as a weapon. Sodomy laws are habitually invoked in many
countries. In 2007, a Chilean court convicted a 47-year old man of sodomizing a 17-year old
after police caught the two males having sex in a truck. Despite the testimony of the young man,
who professed the sex was consensual, the man was sentenced to 41 days in prison. The legal age
of consent in Chile for heterosexuals is 12 and the legal age for homosexuals is 18. The young
man’s 18th birthday was 12 days away at the time of the incident. The Movement for
Homosexual Integration and Freedom (MOVILH) in Chile, says the case illustrates “one of the
most serious and atrocious legal imbalances.”47
Demands for equality are often met with violent responses. Religion and culture are
invoked to deny rights to many sectors of society and the gay community has suffered from the
ire of conservative and right-wing individuals and organizations who endeavor to limit the
freedoms of this minority.
In some parts of the world, gay rights are slowly making it on to the agenda. South
Africa was the first country in the world to constitutionally ban discrimination of gay people.
Ecuador and Switzerland followed suit. Having gay rights enshrined in constitutions is a triumph

 
 
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for the LGBT community. It does take effort to change a law but it is more difficult to change an
ingrained culture of hate.
The LGBT community in Chile faces systematic discrimination and despite this the
LGBT movement has been making steady progress in its attempts to secure equal rights. For
first hand account on this area of the human rights movement in Chile we spoke with Andrés
Rivera Duarte, the leader of the NGO Oganización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad.
 
Could you please describe the current climate surrounding the rights movement for
the LGBT community?
There is a place in society that the Chilean male transsexual movement has won over,
thanks to a lot of personal effort and cost, without help from the State and thanks to meticulous
work in universities, schools, public offices, public entities, health centers, hospitals and medical
centers. The transsexual men’s movement has gained strength to the detriment of the visibility
and the work of female transsexuals, because actually they are divided and this weakens the fight.
This year Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad created a space for female
transexuals headed up by Victoria Yáñez, a transexual woman, with whom we hope to create
networks with other groups.

Are the rights of the LGBT community currently protected in Chile?


They say that human rights are protected by the government and the State, but this is not
the truth, for if they do not recognize us by the gender we identify with, if we are subjected to
physical mutilation, if they have not created legislation for the changing of both name and sex for
transsexuals, if there are not public policies that treat the inclusion of all, if they do not respect
our sexual identity in universities, if we are not included in policies for preventative health
measures, it is because our rights are not respected.

How would you describe the current attitude of the average Chilean towards the
LGBT community?
The average Chilean has changed his vision and perspective of male transsexuals,
because we have made ourselves visible. Our situation as well as our dreams, ideals, lives, values,
frustrations, and the discrimination against us have been brought into the public eye but this is
not the case for female transsexuals, who continue to be persecuted as sex workers, freaks in
women’s clothing, drug addicts and alcoholics.

What must change in Chile to better ensure the rights of the LGBT community?
First of all, the right to think, to act and to be politically active for everyone of all ages
without external pressure. We need to recognize gender identity through laws; we need to
approve an antidiscrimination-law that has not moved in the Senate for many years. We must
create policies that include all people and interact with those who are sexually diverse in very
specific ways. For transsexuals, we are frequently invisible even within gay and lesbian
organizations that in a way steal our fight because sometimes they are the only medium through
which we can financially support our organizations or be recognized for doing real work in the
community. Beyond that we do not need these other organizations to speak for us because we
are also strong and we have the capacity and promise to fight our own battles.48
                 
 
   
 
 
 
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Notes 
                                                        
1 Jan Knippers Black, Human Rights Impact Assessment (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 

2008), 17. 

World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, 25 June 
2

1993, Point 5. 


Paul Gordon Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights, Visions Seen, 2 ed. 
3

(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 5. 
4 Jean‐Jacques Rousseau, Contrat social, ou Principes du droit politique (Paris: Garnier, 

1900), 236. 
5 U.S. Declaration of Independence, preamble. 
6

Olivia Ball and Paul Gready, The No­Nonsense Guide to Human Rights (London: New 
Internationalist, 2006), 29.

7 Sergio Laurenti, interview by authors, Santiago, Chile, 10 August 2009. 
8 The Netherlands. The International Criminal Court. 2009. http://www.icc‐cpi.int 

(accessed September 1, 2009).  
9 Hiram Villagra, interview by authors, Santiago, Chile, 8 July 2009. 
10 Thomas Risse, ‘The power of norms versus the norms of power: transnational civil 

society and human rights’, in AM Florini (ed.), The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational 
Civil Society (Japan Center for International Exchange, 2000), 184. 
11 Rosa de Roisinblit, interview by authors, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 20 July 2009. 
12 United Nations General Assembly, Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman 

or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. General Assembly resolution 39/46. 10 December 
1984. 
13 “Terrorism” definition of Jeffrey M. Bale Ph.D. as enunciated both in the classroom and in 

several articles. 
14 Jeffrey M. Bale “A Definition of Terrroism” email: 30 June 2009.    
15 Eric Nader, “Twin Towers Engineered to Withstand Jet Collision,” The Seattle Times, 27 

Feb. 1993. 
16 United Nations General Assembly, The Universal Declaration for Human Rights. General 

Assembly resolution 217A (III). 10 December 1948. Article 3. 
17 Kofi Annan, as cited in United Nations, Security Council, S/PV.4370, at www.un.org, 12 

September 2001. 
18 UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration. 1948. Article 6, 9, 10 & 11.  
19 Michael Ignatieff, “Is the Human Rights Era Ending?,” The New York Times, 5 February 

2002.   
20 See note 15 above.   
21 See note 12 above. 
22 UN General Assembly, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of 

Genocide, General Assembly resolution 260 A (III), 9 December 1948. 
23 “What is Transitional Justice,” International Center for Transitional Justice. (Geneva, 

1998), 1. 
24 Jan Knippers Black, Human Rights Impact Assessment, 95. 
25 Juan Guzmán Tapia, interview by authors, Santiago, Chile, 8 July 2009. 
26 2008. The Blood of Bhopal. New Internationalist 408. 

 
 
 40 
Human Rights: Chilean Perspectives


 

                                                        
27 Indonesia – Oil and Mining Projects Threaten Communities in Aceh and Papua. London: 

Amnesty International.  http://www.amnestyusa.org/business‐and‐human‐
rights/environment/indonesia/page.do?id=1101647 (accessed 5 July 2009).

28 See note 20 above.   
29 See note 27 above. 
30 Ignacio Velasco, interview by authors, 5 August 2009. 
31 Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies (1405), Earl Richards (trans.), (New 

York: Persea 1998).   
32 Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March 1776, as cited in Diane Ravitch and Abigail 

Thernstrom (eds.), The Democracy Reader (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), 104. 

Henry J. Steiner and Philip Alston, International Human Rights In Context (New York, 
33

Oxford University Press, 2000), 168. 
34 Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, 1993, Point 8. 
35 Ball and Gready, Guide to Human Rights, 2006, 21.

36

UN urges end to abuses of women, BBC News, 25 November 2008. 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7747601.stm (accessed 31 July , 2009). 
37 Maggie Black, The Non­Nonsense Guide to International Development, London: New 

Internationalist, 2007, 56. 
38 Paola Arriola, interview by authors, Santiago, Chile, 3 August 2009. 
39 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Human Trafficking: Global Patterns,” (April 

2006) 50. 
40 Patrick Belser,  “Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits,” 

International Labour Organization (Geneva, 2005), 4. 
41 US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 (Washington DC, 2009), 47. 
42 US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009, 39. 
43 Belser, “Estimating the Profits,” 17‐18. 
44 US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009, 3. 
45 Jimmy Porras, interview by authors, Santiago, Chile, 13 July 2009. 
46 United States. Center for Military Readiness. Public Law 103­160, Section 654, Title 

10.14.   http://cmrlink.org/HMilitary.asp?docID=29 (accessed 10 August 2009) 
47 Gemma Pritchard, Chilean court delivers controversial sodomy conviction, 21 August 2007. 

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005‐5229.html (accessed 5 August 2009). 
48 Andrés Ignacio Rivera, interview by authors, Rancagua, Chile, 6 August 2009. 

 
 
 41 
Human Rights: Chilean Perspectives


 

Appendix



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Available
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Internet
Links


International
Organizations

Amnesty
International


 http://www.Amnesty.org


Human
Rights
Watch


 http://www.hrw.org


Freedom
House


 http://www.freedomhouse.org/


United
Nations


 http://www.un.org


UNIFEM


 http://www.unifem.org/


Madre


 http://madre.org


UNODC
Human
Trafficking:


http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human‐trafficking/


ILO
Preventing
Human
Trafficking:

http://www.ilo.org/public/english/region/asro/bangkok/child/trafficking/index.htm


Polaris
Project:



http://www.polarisproject.org/


International
Center
for
Transitional
Justice:


http://www.ictj.org


The
International
Journal
of
Transitional
Justice:

http://ijtj.oxfordjournals.org/


International
Lesbian
and
Gay
Association
(ILGA)



 http://www.ilga.org



International
Gay
and
Lesbian
Human
Rights
Commission


 http://www.iglhrc.org


Gender
Freedom
International
(GFI)



 http://www.gendernet.org/gfi


International
Work
Group
for
Indigenous
Rights


 http://www.iwgia.org/


South
America


Amnestía
Internacional
Chile


 http://www.amnestia.cl


La
Comisión
Funa


http://funachile.cl


Consejo
de
todas
las
tierras


 http://www.wallmapuche.cl/


Mapuche
International
Link


 http://www.mapuche‐nation.org/


Organización
de
Transexuales
por
La
Dignidad
de
la
Diversidad

http://www.transexualesdechile.org


Abuelas
de
Plaza
de
Mayo


 http://www.abuelas.org.ar/


Madres
de
Plaza
de
Mayo:
Linea
Fundadora


 http://www.madresfundadoras.org.ar