GLW:Put Pinochet on trial.

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Wed Jan 26 15:33:46 MST 2000

Green Left Parramatta <glparramatta at> said:
> > --
> > Macdonald Stainsby
> >
> Well, Mac there's also a editorial in the same issue that explains it.
> Visit

Yes, you are right (not used to surfing the GLW site). Here it is, and
I still renew my objection. In the case that you put forward, it seems
overlooked that all such trials are crafted in such a way as to
legitimize the process, not expose and undermine it. Even if I were to
believe that the benefits of exposing the CIA/Kissinger connection
outweighed the further DESTRUCTION of already limited sovereignty held
by third world countries, I can promise you that the trial the
Spaniards would put on would never go beyond what is "safe". Witness
Iran-Contra, to those of us on the left, it exposed things about the
war on Nicaragua, yet the scope of the questions was only allowed so
far. It now plays in the history books as something that was part of a
working systems attempt to clean itself up. More importantly, it did
not set a precedent for other countries to have their cronies hi-
jacked. This sort of willingness to go after Pinochet will produce more
Pinochets, and leave their leaders forever untouched. It will
legitimise the capture of a Noriega in the future, it will open the
door for a "trial" against Fidel or Qadaffi. Is this a reasonable price
to pay for the knowledge that, yes, Pinchet ordered the dissappearance
of many innocent families? Is it reasonable to make political points on
this issue, if it will mean institutionalising the crimes of
Imperialism in the name of "human rights"? Not in my book!

Here's the article:

Put Pinochet on trial

British home secretary Jack Straw's January 12 statement that he
is “minded” to release Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, rather than
extradite him to Spain to face charges of torture and crimes against
humanity, should be roundly condemned by all supporters of democracy
and human rights.

Straw's move is both underhanded and politically motivated. He has
refused to release the government's medical assessments which found
that Pinochet is neither physically nor mentally fit to be extradited
to Spain (although, apparently, he is fit to return across the Atlantic
to Chile). International legal experts believe that Pinochet's release
is now all but guaranteed unless his accusers can gain access to
Straw's medical report in order to challenge the findings.

In October 1998, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon filed for Pinochet's
extradition from Britain, where he was seeking medical treatment, to
Spain. Since then, both the British and Chilean governments have sought
a face-saving solution which would return the former dictator to Chile.
The recent switch by Chilean diplomats, from arguing that Pinochet is
immune from prosecution as a former head of state to arguing that he is
medically unfit, now appears to have been contrived with British

What is at stake in bringing Pinochet to trial is not just the public
exposure of the horrific crimes perpetrated by one, now aged and
infirm, but still evil, man, but also the culpability of imperialist
governments who collaborated with him.

The revelation of how Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected
Socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973, and of how he ruled
from then until his retirement in 1990, would expose the extent of
involvement of foreign powers in crimes against humanity.

Following Pinochet's arrest, international pressure forced the Clinton
administration in the US to declassify and release official documents
on the military government in Chile. The Senate select committee
studying US intelligence operations in the mid-1970s (the Church
Committee) confirmed that the Richard Nixon administration and the CIA
had collaborated in a plan to prevent the 1970 election of Allende, and
to destabilise his government thereafter.

But until there is a full trial, we won't know to what extent the CIA
was involved in the execution of the 1973 coup, nor to what degree the
CIA maintained an operational relationship with Chilean intelligence
agencies thereafter. The truth will remain concealed, as the US and
other Western governments obviously intend.

The actions of Western governments in the Pinochet case stand in stark
contrast to their vigorous attempts to arrest, extradite, prosecute and
punish dictators they fall out with. NATO forces are still searching
for Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and the US would love to get
its hands on Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. In 1990, US forces
even levelled Panama City to arrest their former ally Manual Noriega.

Dictators who remain loyal to Western interests don't receive the same
treatment: obviously, murderers have a form of “solidarity” of their

Certainly, if Pinochet is winging it to Chile next week instead of
facing extradition to Spain, despots everywhere will be able to breathe
easier (with or without their oxygen masks and wheelchairs), relying on
their age and infirmity to escape international conventions and

But neither their age nor their infirmity should prevent Pinochet, or
Indonesia's Suharto or Ethiopia's Mengistu or any of the others, from
being brought to justice, just as age and infirmity wasn't a defence
for the Nazis tried at Nuremberg.

There is one complicating factor for Pinochet's supporters, however.
There continues to be protests all around the world demanding that
Pinochet be extradited to Spain to stand trial or, failing that, that
he be tried upon his return to Chile. At the January 16 election
victory rally for the new, moderate Chilean President, Ricardo Lagos,
some 60,000 people began an impromptu and repeated chant, “Put Pinochet
on trial”. We should join them in that demand.


Macdonald Stainsby

check the "ten point platform" of Tao at:

"`Order rules in Berlin.' You stupid lackeys! Your
`order' is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will rear
ahead once more and announce to your horror amid the brass
of trumpets: `I was, I am, I always will be!'"

-Rosa Luxemburg, 1918.

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