LATIN AMERICA REVIEW - CHILE: PINOCHET VERSUS THE JUNTA

Created: 7/27/1984

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Chile: Pinocbel Versus Ibe Junta

0 CorutJlulicA, President Pinochet (who is also Army commander in chief) governsilitary junta con- posed of the head* of the Navy. Air Force. National Pease: (Carabsaeroal and the deputy chief of tha Army. On paper, the Juntaariety of legislative powers, including authority to approve treaties, propose and sanction legislation, and call plebiscites. Pinochet, however, generally Las treated it as little moreubbers! amp. With Use onset of massive protest* against the regime last year, the Junta began toore active rota ia governmental dceiatcmaukirag- Tbe tread haa continued through use rim half ofithunta moderating several of tbe President'a hardline legislative proposals pj

We believe thai (he Junta will continue to assert itself, but without challenging Pinochet's authority. Over the neat two years, it probably will work to restrain the President's authoritarian predilections and push forpartial return to civilian nil* before the ttsBttitulrOnal UrielfIhea could contribute to overall stability in Chile by reducing political polarization and the chances for renewed violent protest

The Mlllury't Political Sol, Chile's military government doc* not fit the classic pattern of collegia! decisionmakingighly politicised officer corps. Instead. Pinochet hasersonalis! regime that relies heavily on civilian advisers and draws support from numerous sources-including the business community and rightistaddition to the aimed forces. Direct military participation in the government is largely restricted to the Junta members, JH

The Junta lualf haa been analoua not lo identify the military iBiiitution with Ihe Pinochet regime. For eaampat, earlier this year Defense Ministeretired admiral implied thai some of the adminot ration's political propoaab enyoyed the

support of the armed forces. He was publicly castigated by Admiral Merino, the Navy's Junta member, lor claiming to apeak for the military. Merino reaffirmed the apolitical and purely professional role of the military while averting that Junta members alone were involved in politics jj

Two other factors minimise ihe extent of military participation in pel ties below the Junta level The Chilean armed forces peatrong tradition of discipline and hierarchy tbat aHoun poliiical activity ia the highest echelons, but offers junior officers only the choice of obeying their superiors or Seating the service In addition, the officertoaed, inbred groupeiy narrow range of politicalhich arc readily understood and acted upon by thehe Won* utfliteoce of these factorsisted to by the lack of clamor ia Use military over the past decadeider rose in she (irvirnmeni

TW junta FrtlM It. Mua< lee

This year, the Junta haa continued to question peesidential initiatives. Oneroposal io alter the Constitution to permit Pinochet to call plebiscites without the Junta's approval andnstall aelected

The Junta also hid comiderible impaciajor aniiterrorist bill. Although tha military lodcnhip fullyoagh stance igalnal Icrrortsti, the commanders of tat Navy and the Air Force had serious rescrvalions over Pinochets piojsasal. According to the prcsa. they believed the bill shifted too much responsibility for prosecuting-o military courts and gave too much fraa reign to the National Information Center, the regimc'a accrct

The Junta also disputed an initiative by Pinochetroposed polilical panics law. The original version of this bill0 members toiny. Mrwchet, however, upped the figurend. In ihe process. Incurred condemnation fromolitical

[ told the press lhat hainimum of0 members toegal party. The issue Ij still unreaolvcd, but we stupect Pinochet will have to accept Important attentions

Perhaps the moat sin king illost ration of the Juntaw'n'i irsdeeienekssee bas been Admiral Merinos public mectiag* wiih iisde pen dent ccvitcrvaiire political leader* to discuss their proposal lo hold congressional elaeiionsn Our view, thislear indication of the Juntas determination toajor tola in ihe transition process. Al (he same lime, Ii underscores ihe Chilean right's view that the Junta is an aulonomous branch of tha go-er-iment

.

The Juntas Motl.e*

Wt believe therec nuio rascm* for the Junta* drive toward increased indepeivdcncc. The moat

' i- is an overriding concern roe tbe interests of the armed forcea aad tbe rsucsjrir* of Ihe institatioa. Tha Junta wants lo make certain thai the military doe* not beeornc overly ickntino! with the regime through its tele as the guarantor of order. The Junta rejected Ibe original anlilerronsl belt because it could have involved the military in repression of the regime'so addition, tbe Junta apparently has concluded lhat ihe beat way to avoid having toesurgeni protest movement is ioomewhat faster pace of democrataation ihan envisioned by the President and0 Constitution. W* believe this view sccovals forpen contact* with the esrilisva right mgg

A second ronton for Iberowing as*crn>c'Eiicalrc not to cede any of its power so Pinochet under current circumsuncos. In cat'; view, the top military leaden believe thai the President aad ihe armed forces look power together end should relinquish lli'ir; This explains ihclr rejection of Pinochet's proposal to call plebiscites and replace Ihe

In many reapecta, of course, the rnotivea aad view* of the Junta and Pinochet still coincide. For rumple, both accept the legitimacy of0 Ccmiitution and want io ensure that conservative aali-Mariial forces dominate any future civilian governmeni. Moreover,the Junta hasrcaicr ncxibtlity than the Presidexi regarding eoostitoucnsal reform and ha* defketed some of hi* more authoritarian impulses, it in no sense has attempted io usurp his right to rule. Instead, the service chiefs have responded to initiatives from Pinochet or ihe opposition rather ihan formulating ihcli own proposals concerning the ttansilion. mm

y

Ftartoermore, most Junta otnxaition lo thenitiative* bu emanated from the Navy and Air Force commandm.principalhowever, ia Ibe Army, which consistently has backedivid example occurred laal May when (he Prcaidcni. implicatedrobably involvedand scandal, waa able ioublic declaration of support fromrmy acncrali. Wc believe (hat. as lorti aa the Army remains solidly in Pinochet's camp, tbe President will be able to cope with diseidence from tbe other services.

Outlook

We believe that the Junta will continue to assert itself over (he near term without threatening Pinochets authority. This probably will continue, resultingempering of Pinochet's hardline stances, and may help assure that he docs not rescind (be political liberalisation measures enacted to date. Over the long-term, however, both Pinochet and the Junta may agree to devolve some powers on aelected orbefore

Two events, in our view, could cause the Junta and the armed forces to split with Pinochet and, if he refused tohis policies, lead to his removal from office. Finl. if Pinochet were to forgo change* in the Constitution and crack down on tbe Entire political oppoaltion, the government could become politically isolated. Secondly, tbe same could occur in the event of rnassive and continuing riots andstimulated cither by the crackdownapid economic slide. We believe that, in such circumstances, the armed forces would not allow themselves lo be used by Pinochet to restore order by force. Instead, thethe prospect of eventual Argentine-like trials of top militarypress Pinochet to change his policies. In our view, Pinochet could notirect showdown with Ibe Junta, especially since even his Army support probably would be jeopardised by intransigence toward political reforr

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