THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, CHILE, AND URUGUAY

Created: 12/17/1976

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Soccirfcer II,

HEMORANDUW

SUBJECT i

Summary

The vigorous actions of military governments in the southern cone against real or perceived threats from subversive groups has led to numerous human rights violations. The abrogation of constitutional guarantees protecting individual freedoms has alsothe attention of church groups, international agencies, and the international press on human rights practices in that region.

Chile has been the main target of this criticism. The heavy handed, anti-subversive tactics of the Chilean military government have prompted world-wide condemnation. The bloody struggle between the left and right in Argentina, resulting ineaths this year alone, is causing Increasing criticism to ba directed at the Videla government. The Uruguayan government, has also been widely criticized for its .mistreatment of political prisoners. Loss attention .has been paid to Brazil in recent months even though human rights violations occur there.

hole, however, wo believe that there haserceptible Improvement in the human righta practices of the governments in each of theountries.

I

Human righta violationsorlous problam in Argentina, but the. frequency and scjiIq of abuses by the security forces and extra-legal rightisthas diminished noticeably in the past fow months. Tho military government, moreover, has boen somewhat mora forthcoming in listing the names of thoae it da-tains and has announced its intention to freeolitical prlaoners. It is difficult to judge what*proportion of prisoners have now been released or at leant accounted for, sinco the total number of those arrested is not known. International criticism and investigations of the human rights situation In Argentina have generated considerable Irritation among the officials charged with putting an end to leftist guerrilla warfare. Though the armed forces have had marked success against the terrorists, the job is still far from complete. Zf tha guerrillas stageprovocations, those in charge of counter-terrorist activities will probably pusheturn to the brutal roundups of suspected leftist that worecommon some months ago.

Brasll

Brazilian military security and-police forces have operated with virtual autonomy since thetook power The Constitution7 and various extra-constitutional decrees havesuch rights as habeas corpus for persons accused of "political crimes" and given the security forces the authority to detain suspects arbitrarily forweeks. This latitude in enforcement haslad to individual abusee In human righta. Early this year, however. President Gelseltrong public stand against torture by removing cwo military security officials from command positions after two civilians died in military jails. Bincehere have been no reports of death by torture. .

There are no reliable figures on the current number of political prisoners in Brasil. Inmnesty International reported that

Wo believe that the human rights situation in Brazilmproved noticeably during the past year, primarily because of President Geiael's actions, tha atrong interest shown by the Brazilian Catholic Church, and the attention given to the subject in thepress.

) Chile

The Pinochet government haa demonstrated progress in its human rights practices over the past several months. This judgment is supported by the evidence of some of the junta's most persistent critics and supporters of human rights in Chile, particularly the Catholic Church's vicariate of Solidarity and tho International Committee of the Red Cross. Tha number of prisoners held without charge has declined sharply* only several remain imprisoned under this authority, so far as we can determine. Most of those being tried or serving sentences are now out on bail, on parole, or under house arrest. The government is lso taking steps to commute the sentences of many persona already convicted.

I*v

There are no recent cases of knownentions, torture, or killings. umber of disappearances remain unsolved, security forces evidently are using greater restraint and adopting more humane practices. As long ae internalltiona remain calm, the junta will probably continue the trend toward gradual normalization. Under the broad state-of-siege powers exercised by thegovernment, however, backsliding isistinct possibility. _

Uruguay

Since the inception of the military dominated Mendez'goveonmont' in September, Uruguay has grown

increasingly conscious of its human rights imago. Soma positive measures have been takon since*then but the military's grip on the government hasand several civilians have been deprived of political rights. This ambiguous situation is the result of the government'sis trying to guaranteo human rights and at the sama tlmo maintain internal securityransition poriod.

Montevideo has moved to ease severesubversion penalties and to .limit tha application of emergency security measures. ersons ware being detained on charges of crimes against the state as of late Septecber. reat many of those individuals could be released under the proposed changes in the subversion laws.

The creationew civilian court, as woll as the restoration of habeas corpus guarantees, is under way. New legislation that would provide -greater protection for persons charged withnational security also has received theof military leaders. Nevertheless, at least one former political leader ia being hold without formal charges, and allegedly he has been tortured.

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