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THE THWARTING OF DEMOCRACY IN CHILE THE US PINOCHET AND THE TRANSITION BACK INTRODUCTION On March 11th of this year Ricardo Lagos was sworn in as Chiles third democratically elected president since the military coup that unseated democracy in 1973 Lagos a center socialist ironically was one of the untold numbers of people jailed by order of the coup leader Augusto Pinochet and of the same party as the overthrown president Salvador Allende Beginning in 1998 Spain and several other European countries have sought extradition of Pinochet from Britain where he was seeking medical care to stand trial for crimes against their citizens who resided in Chile during the regime 1973 - 1990 Presumably because of health reasons and confusion as to pertinent international law Pinochet returned to Chile on March 3rd after 17 months of detention to a full dress welcome prepared and almost solely attended by the military leftover from his rule Lagos did not show neither did Pinochet attend Lagos inauguration Chiles Supreme Court is presently reviewing whether Pinochets Senator for Life status and his self granted amnesty from war crimes in his 1989 constitution preclude charges in Chile for human rights violations against its citizens as well as international criminal charges under the auspices of the World Court Lagos has stated that constitutionally the decision is a judicial rather than an executive one1Such a stand is telling Ten years of democratic leadership has prepared Chile to address the Pinochet issue respective of its constitution While Lagos and the people of Chile attempt to focus on constitutional economic and social reform the legacy of Pinochet remains 1925 - 1970 Chiles 1925 constitution with little amendment lasted until 1973 It codified significant changes including the official separation of church and state The constitution also provided legal recognition of workers right to organize a promise to care for the social welfare of all citizens an assertion of the right of the
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