Memory in Times of Cholera: Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-Repetition for the Crimes of the Chilean Dictatorship . Transitional Justice in Chile annual report 2019. Translation of UDP Annual Report DDD en Chile 2019, capitulo 1

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Abstract

In recent years, the transitional justice field has tended to expand both the time horizons and the thematic focus of its concerns. Today, it is more likely than previously to address the mid and long-term impacts of the human, social and environmental catastrophes left behind by political violence, human rights violations, and infractions of international humanitarian law. Post-authoritarian Chile has always tended to downplay its truth and justice concerns, or even attempt to declare them a thing of the past. They nonetheless re-irrupt time and again into national public life. The impact of the 1973-90 dictatorship era and its violence is not, moreover, limited to the generations who most visibly or most directly lived through it: it also explains many of today’s social, political and economic faultlines. This year’s report accordingly focuses on the economic, social and cultural rights legacies of the dictatorship, and on the unfinished business of reparations. It does so at a time when national life is demonstrably under strain, suffering the negative and dangerous consequences of belligerent public discourse that cares little for the truth, and tends toward selective amnesia about the recent past.
In 2017, outgoing UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff published a global report on the state of transitional justice thinking and practice. He signalled achievements including the development of a broad notion of justice, one which adds truth, reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition to the criminal justice agenda. He also celebrated the growing recognition of truth as a social right - not only the preserve of victims, relatives or survivors - and an increased appreciation that participation is not only a moral and ethical imperative but also a prerequisite for successful transitional justice. The report called for interventions that promise to change personal and cultural dispositions. It pointed out the preventive potential of civil society strengthening, while criticising an entrenched tendency on the part of states to establish relations of mistrust or even antagonism with civil society.
All these observations offer a strong challenge to Chile’s current transitional justice trajectory, where measures have been isolated one from another; announced policies or priorities have been reversed or quietly abandoned, and the state-civil society divide has been jealously guarded. These defects have prevented existing measures from delivering on their full promise or potential. Chile has also been stubbornly blind to the need for personal and cultural change, to move beyond sterile antagonisms. Otherwise there is a very real risk that the present regional and international landscape will exacerbate the verbal and symbolic violence that is too often present in discussions and representations of the recent past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInforme Anual Derechos Humanos en Chile 2019
Place of PublicationSantiago Chile
PublisherUniversidad Diego Portales
Chapter1
Pages1-88
Number of pages88
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Chile, transitional justice, human rights, truth, justice, reparations, dictatorship, crimes against humanity, disappearance

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