Tuesday, March 25, 2008
General's Resignation Underscores Old Rifts
The commander of the Santiago army garrison, Gen. Gonzalo Santelices, resigned in February, yielding to calls for him to step down. The case highlights the difficulties the army still faces in extricating itself from the human rights accusations dating back to the 1973 coup. Santelices was part of a military group that allegedly executed some 75 political foes. The general was at the time a lieutenant, and says he was given orders to transfer 14 prisoners from a jail to a desert area where they were killed. Santelices has not been charged. Current army chief Gen. Oscar Izurieta praised Santelices' decision. But former army head Emilio Cheyre wasn't so diplomatic. In an editorial, he basically accused Chilean leaders of going too far. While he was in charge, Cheyre played a key role in securing Chile's new democracy, pledging that the armed forces would "never again" repeat the 1973 overthrow.