LATIN AMERICA REVIEW - CHILE: PINOCHET THE NEXT CIVILIAN PRESIDENT?

Created: 2/15/1979

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Latin America Review !

A key element-in Chilean politics as that country moves toward civilian rule lis the role President Pinochet intends to play, jIn the face of persisting contrary predictions by his numerous detractors and theefforts of his domestic and internationalPinochet has riddeneries of heavystorms without serious damage to himself or to his regime. He has presided, in addition,ational economic recovery and an improvement in human rights conditions and, in so doing, has established himself, arguably, as South America's foremost military Pinochet has not only shown himself skillful and durable,the discontent that long political tenure usuallyPolls' and other indicators suggest that he enjoys; wideH

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Ascendancy of the Civilian Team 1

Recent reports that Pinochet is giving thepolicymaking voiceet of advisers who favor accelerating the return to civilian government have prompted speculation about Pinochet's own views'on This cohesive1 group includes top! businessmen, Foreign Minister Cubillos, political strategists, and the well-known economic team consisting of sophisticated administrators and theoreticians who have shaped the government's [successful free market economic pdlicy. Their influence has(extended not only to the nomination of Cabinet appointees but also to; the handling]of Chile's relations with international labor organizations. As their influence haslexpanded, so has opposition from within the military;and other elite groups.

Membersjof the!team aspire to do more than give technical advice; they also have strong views about the pace of return to civilian government. Their belief that elections should be held in theas put them in conflict with many Chilean Army officers and with Pinochet's own previously stated position that

elections should not take place Theirtheir strong political views, and theirto Pinochet obviously invite the question .of whether Pinochet may!uickerolicy he may find favorable to his own political ambitions."1

umber of reasons, many Chilean Armyould like to see the longest possible delay inng power to civilians. They fear the potential disrup-!paramilitary, andthe groups and individuals displaced by the coupnd the brutal repression that followed it shouldgovernment be restored too early. They areconcerned that these groups and individuals will seek violent revenge arainst individual officers and the military in general.

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The Chilean Tactical Pattern

The conflict between Army officers and theteam over the pace of return to civilian rulethat must be resolved. The vigor, power, andof the civilian team mean that the issuegoust as the Army officers see safetythe economic;team, whichestedthe preservation of the free market system, seesa quicker and more adroit handling of theproblem, In this they are consistentcome toattern of tactical response bygovernment;to domestic and internationalj: Totrong challenges from its opponents,answers'by;offeringjto negotiate ortoo 'much in theseeks to avoid head-on collisions. j k" : Tk^

: These tactics have characterized the Chileanresponseseries ofj i In the Beagle dispute, Chile's rhetoricthe Argentines became more bellicose. is now in Papal mediation withhaving retreated veryoriginal'

n the dispute with ORXT, an inter-American

labor organizat'on, Chilean concessionsoycott, although major substantive issues are still to be negotiated.

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n; the UN human rights sphere, the Pinochet

regime hasN investigatoryenter the country without great;

In the Peruvian espionage case, the Chilean Government has studiously avoided retaliatory measures and heated lfnguage even after the Chilean Ambassador in Lima was declared persona non grata. |

In the Letelier case, the Pinochet regime from the start has labeledjudicial" matter, "us bypassing official political polemics.

This approach may emanate from the civilian team, but it is supported by Pinochet despite his temperamental inclination to take verbal swipes at his enemies. This responsiveness apparently is now beingay to manage the return to civilian government: The economic team probably reasons that after five! years of militaryatent political forces within Chileremain unchanneled5 without risking an explosion. Moreover, if by positioning themselvesregime itacticians can win the first election, political power may reside with supporters of the present regime for a'good many years.

An important factor in this thinking is theof the;next President. The new constitutionwill providetrong president electederm of six or eight years. The civilian team understands thatopularity will be an important resource in any future^election. Thus it !would enhance their own interests;jto suggest to him that he convert| his mass support into! a'.long-term asse^by running for president, and the sooner the

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At present, it is doubtful that any oppositioncould defeatunder electoral

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rules that require winningajority. If the civilian advisers succeed in convincing Pinochet to accelerate the process of restoring civilian government, he may urgejthe speedy surrender of military power to ensure, among other things, his continued leadershipivilian president.

Original document.

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