Pablo Sepúlveda Allende: There is Total Impunity in Chile

September 11, 2019

Photo: Joaquín Salguero

Those around him during his visit to Argentina warned us that he is a discreet and reserved man, though his voice gains strength when he talks about politics —perhaps his great passion together with medicine. Pablo Sepulveda Allende, 41, arrived in Argentina to take part in the American Encounter for the Release of Political Prisoners. Interviewed by local newspaper Pagina 12, he talks amidst the 46th anniversary of the brutal coup d’état which ousted his grandfather, Chilean ex-president Salvador Allende. He evaluated the process of memory, truth and justice developed in Argentina, he frankly criticized Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, and referred to the complex situation currently lived in Chile.

A physician like his grandfather, Sepulveda Allende expressed his concern about the recent words said by Jair Bolsonaro, whom he described as a miserable individual when he publicly said, “Mrs. Michelle Bachelet, if it wasn’t because of Pinochet’s people who defeated the left in 1973, among them your father, Chile would be another Cuba today.” In this one statement alone the President of Brazil, showed off his unrestricted defense to dictatorial regimes. According to Allende, Bolsonaro’ speeches like this have a direct precedent in Donald Trump. “They are men who openly and without hesitation express their cruelty in the face of the pain suffered by the peoples,” Later on, he described the Brazilian President straightforwardly as being , “the real face, openly, of the greatest human misery that can exist in one human being.”

There is someone similar to Bolsonaro in Chilean politics, Allende says, who was in fact a presidential candidate during the last elections. It’s Jose Antonio Kast, an influential lawyer and politician who acted as deputy between 2002 and 2018; a historical militant of the Independent Democratic Union and current leader of the Republican Party. “His father was a Nazi officer who fled to Chile and his entire family was linked to the disappearance of about 80 peasants under Pinochet’s dictatorship,” he recalled. “During the (Salvador Allende’s) Popular Union Administration, many of those peasants had started to get ahead thanks to the agricultural reform. When the coup took place, the following day Kast cooperated in handing over these leaders who had been protesting. They were then disappeared,” he added.

“There is much more impunity in Chile”

Pablo Sepulveda Allende has been living in Venezuela for 10 years. He has been giving primary medical attention in indigenous communities and he is currently the coordinator of the Venezuelan chapter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity. According to him, the Venezuelan Government is living a process of destabilization that “worsened after ex-president Hugo Chavez died. It was the beginning of the United States counter offensive to recover its backyard. And we see it today in the strong blockades that it is imposing.”

But Allende never loses sight of the reality of the country where he was born. On a new anniversary of the coup d’état on September 11, 1973 in Chile, he fully appreciates the process of memory, truth and justice undertaken in Argentina, the awareness raised in the society, and the accompaniment —though with some setbacks— of the justice system during the last decades.

Contrary to that model, he remarked that something similar happens in Chile but to a lesser extent.” As in the amount of soldiers, in the amount of people directly or indirectly responsible for these atrocious crimes, it’s proportionally much less compared to Argentina. There is much more impunity in Chile, in the broad sense. There are just a few soldiers in prison and, besides that, those who were imprisoned live in privileged jails,” he asserted.  Most of them are lodged in Punta Peuco, a prison in the Santiago Metropolitan Region. “One of the promises made by Michelle Bachelet when she took office was the closing of Punta Peuco and taking its inmates to a less “comfortable” prison. But she did not do that either. I think she lacked political courage,” he stated.

“There is total impunity. Many of the accomplices of the Chilean dictatorship hold posts in the Senate, or they are ministers of the (Sebastian) Piñera Administration.” In the words of Allende, attitudes and behavior from that terrible era are still present in the Carabineros police or in the military intelligence, which is mainly evident in actions against the Mapuche indigenous people. This year it was disclosed that Operation Hurricane, “a laboratory of the Chilean Carabineros intelligence where they forged conversations in the Whatsapp messaging app, which never existed. They imprisoned Mapuche citizens and prosecuted them based on fake evidence. It has been confirmed that it was all a lie and they had to be released,” he recalled.

Besides, Allende commented that in Chile persists a constant surveillance over social leaders and human rights defenders. “Camilo Catrillanca, for instance, was murdered from behind by a gunshot directly to his head. There were deaths in weird circumstances, alleged suicides as that of Mapuche leader Macarena Valdes, who was fighting against a hydroelectric power plant that they intended to establish on ancestral land,” he stated. “To sum it up, practices from the dark past are being maintained, though in a more concealed way, as well as an implicit understanding that there will be no accountability.”

Source: Pagina 12, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau