Latin America in Pain: The Similarities between Pinochet and Fujimori

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Source:  teleSUR / The Dawn News / January 5, 2017

Photo Credit: teleSUR

One is Chilean, the other is Peruvian, but both of them brought days of horror and impunity to their respective countries, which last even to this day. What the dictatorship failed to kill, was extended by the current democracy by allowing the first to die in freedom and a privileged life for the second.

Chile and Peru are neighboring countries. And, besides sharing a history of border narrowness, territorial conflicts, the controversy over the origin of the pisco beverage, or certain elements of the folklore (traditions of the people), the most fateful similarities are the ones that exist between their contemporary dictators and the protection that each government gave to those that attacked their own people: Augusto Pinochet, of Chile; and Alberto Fujimori, of Perú.

Pinochet

Born in 1915. Pursued a military career, becoming Commander in Chief of the Army of Chile during the government of socialist president Salvador Allende. Pinochet carried on a coup d’etat against Allende that ended with the governmental palace totally destroyed and the death under strange circumstances of the leader democratically chosen by the people. He led the civil-military dictatorship in the country for 17 years (1973-1990).

Fujimori

Child of Japanese parents, he was born in 1938 in Peru. He obtained his degree in agricultural engineering and arrived to the presidency through the democratic election of 1990. However, in 1992, he dissolved the Congress and committed an internal coup. In 1993 he was elected as president for a second term, after the “de facto government” that he created. In 1996, he realized illegal maneuvers that allowed him to present himself for a third term in the presidency, despite that the Constitution does not allow this. In 2000, during his third term, he fled to Japan leaving office due to the increasing popular protests against him.

Human rights violations

Pinochet

Pinochet has on his record 40.000 victims of the Chilean dictatorship, counting the exonerated, exiled, tortured, violated, disappeared and murdered. More than 3.000 people were executed, including pregnant women and children. To this day, two thousand men and women are considered disappeared detainees. Due to the denouncements of witnesses and the information provided by some members of the military, it has been revealed that most of the bodies were thrown into the sea tied to heavy objects to guarantee the complete disintegration of their bodies in the ocean floor.

Fujimori

In 1991, 15 people were murdered by agents of the State, among them a child of 8 years, during a party where the involvement of members of the leftist organization Sendero Luminoso (Luminous Path) was suspected; this was subsequently discarded. At the same time in 1992, 8 university students and a professor were gunned down and buried in mass graves. In the same year, he was found responsible for the murder of 6 individuals and of the forced sterilization of 331.600 indigenous women during his terms.

Thieves.

Pinochet

The military misused public funds during his regime, money which he kept in numerous secret and foreign banking accounts totalled more than $21 million dollars.

Fujimori

He appropriated $15 million dollars of national funds, and also diverted funds of the Armed Forces and the National Intelligence Service to finance one of his reelections. He also used wire-tapping to spy on people’s phones, paid media and bought congress members.

Interrupted imprisonment

Pinochet

He was never sentenced for his crimes against humanity in Chile. He even remained in the power circles as Commander in Chief of the Army and, later on, as life senator once the dictatorship ended. In 1998 he took a personal trip to England and was detained by the orders of a Spanish judge due to the murders and disappearances of citizens of said nation. He remained imprisoned in a clinic for 509 days, when he was freed for having an allegedly critical health status.

Fujimori

The dictator unsuccessfully tried to settle in other countries, but he was extradited to Peru. Once there, in 2010, he was sentenced to 25 years of prison for the mentioned crimes, a sentence he served for 7 years in the Diroes prison, a private and luxurious prison in which, in addition, he was given additional amenities. He was freed in 2017 after a pardon granted by Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PKK) under the excuse of humanitarian pardon due to his old age and presumed poor health status.

From Pardon to Mockery

Pinochet

After months of showing himself in a wheelchair asking for extradition to Chile on media, the mass murderer achieved his objective and in March of the year 2000 he lands on his country. Despite the fact the he descended off the plane in a wheelchair, once on the ground and for the amaze of everybody present and every viewer, he stood up; this was considered as a mockery for the victims of his crimes. He never went back to the wheelchair.

Fujimori

He was hospitalized in the Centario clinic on December, 2017. Keiko Fujimori, his daughter and former presidential candidate, requested the pardon several times in previous occasions. It wasn’t until December 24 that this pardon of a “humanitarian” character was granted by PKK, only a day after senators loyal to Fujimori rejected the destitution of the president in Congress. This extreme coincidence has been listed as an exchange between both families. In January 2018, he abandoned the hospital and moved to a luxurious house in an exclusive sector of Lima, where he was photographed celebrating the situation with his family.

Impunity in democracy

The victims of the crimes of both Fujimori and Pinochet were repressed by the State while demanding for justice during the subsequent years to their regimes. Subjected not only to the lack of justice, but also to the impotence of watching how their governments continued to protect mass murderers and thieves that have attacked the society, while granting them protection and security.

What will happen now?

Pinochet died due to acute myocardial infarction. He died lying on a bed, surrounded by his family in the exclusive Military Hospital. He avoided charges for tax evasion after alleging senile dementia in 2004. He was never, never judged. The day he passed away, December 10, 2006, the Chilean people went out to the streets of the capital in a spontaneous way, generating one of the biggest citizen concentrations remembered in Chile to this day and overwhelmed with emotions between laugh, cry and chants. Maybe this, his death, will remain as the only aftertaste of justice.

Fujimori’s destiny is becoming less uncertain every moment. The government has confirmed that the pardon will not be reversed even if the Inter American Commission of Human Rights asks to do so. The people remain in the streets, angry and in pain. Most of the citizens agree that PKK’s decision had more political reasons than humanitarian. The situation is harsh. The only thing clear is that this morning, Fujimori woke up with a view to the pool. This is democracy and the justice that imperialist governments give to their people.

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