Post-Transitional Justice in Chile and El Salvador: A Comparison

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During the last quarter of the twentieth century, Latin America was dominated by authoritarian military regimes and immense human rights violations. Especially in Chile and El Salvador, where human rights abuses were rampant during Pinochet’s dictatorship and the Salvadoran civil war. The region is still dealing with the legacy of terror from its authoritarian past. Cath Collins, a professor and researcher in the School of Political Science at the University of Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile, runs a project mapping recent human rights trials in Chile. A recent book by Collins, Post-Transitional Justice: Human Rights Trials in Chile and El Salvador, describes the struggle to obtain justice for human rights violations in two countries that have adopted very different strategies. Accountability for human rights violations will be analyzed during and post-conflict; to determine if a correlation exists between human rights organizations actively participating during conflict and the accountability outcome post-transition. First, Collins outlines the intensity of human rights violations in both Chile and El Salvador. Chile’s greatest human rights violations occurred during Pinochet’s dictatorship. Although most Chileans believed the authoritarian interregnum would be brief, the coup ushered in seventeen years of military rule. During Chile’s 1973 to 1990 military dictatorship, approximately three thousand people were killed or disappeared by Pinochet’s state agents. As well, thousands of Chileans suffered torture, imprisonment, arbitrary arrest, and severe repression. Pinochet’s regime was driven to eliminate political enemies to overcome internal conflict. Chile’s secret police, Direccion de Inteligencia Nacional, ran detention a... ... middle of paper ... ...illiams. 1993. The Military and Democratization in El Salvador. Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami. Collins, Cath. 2008. “State Terror and the Law: The (Re)judicialization of Human Rights Accountability in Chile and El Salvador.” Latin American Perspectives 35, no.5 (September): 20:37. Ekern, S. 2010. “The Modernizing Bias of Human Rights: Stories of Mass Killings and Genocide in Central America.” Journal of Genocide Research 12, no.4: 219-41. Collins, C. 2010. “Human Rights Trials in Chile During and After the Pinochet Years.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 4, no.1: 67-86. Hawkins, Darren. 2002. International Human Rights and Authoritarian Rule in Chile. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Sriram, Chandra. 2004. Confronting Past Human Rights Violations: Justice vs. Peace in Times of Transition. London: Frank Cass.

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