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On the effects of the affair
"The main goal has already been accomplished"
 real 28k

On dealing with the past
"For Chile itself this has been a reckoning"
 real 28k

On a possible trial
"It would be best if he were tried in Chile"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 12:27 GMT
Pinochet affair 'already a victory'

Ariel Dorfman says Chile is already facing up to its difficult past
Exiled Chilean author Ariel Dorfman says that even if former dictator General Augusto Pinochet is not punished for human rights abuses, the extradition affair and his detention in the United Kingdom have been a "very strong step forward".

Dorfman fled Chile in 1973 after a coup led by the general toppled President Salvador Allende's socialist government.

In exile, his writings highlighted the plight of General Pinochet's opponents. His acclaimed play about torture victims, Death and the Maiden, was made into a film starring Sigourney Weaver.

"I survived the way Pinochet shattered my life," he told BBC News Online in an interview at the end of last year.

General Pinochet in 1998
General Pinochet "shattered my life"
"But when he does not repent, when he creates a country which does not allow democracy to be a full democracy, he is continuing to determine my life."

The writer feels the mere fact that the 83-year-old general was detained in the UK and faced extradition to Spain [and faces a detention order n Chile] are important victories for his regime's victims.

"The major goal of the extradition trial has already been accomplished, no matter what happens - whether Pinochet goes free or not.

"For Chile itself this has been a reckoning. Many Chileans had hoped the human rights abuses of the past, the past itself, would simply disappear.

"I think the Pinochet trial has forced us look one another in the face ... to speak to one another, to understand the past and understand that time is not going to solve the problem.

"In a way it has been a victory for the dead of Chile."

Pro-Pinochet protesters in Chile
"I don't think there are the conditions for him to be tried in Chile"
Dorfman said he welcomed the precedent set by the extradition proceedings.

"[They mark] the end of impunity for heads of state when they have directed secret police to torture.

"It may also have been healthy for England to have been a champion of this, to say 'Dictators cannot hide on this island, they cannot come and retire here, they will be held accountable for crimes they commit elsewhere'.

"I really think it would be best if he were tried in Chile. What I really wish is that he should stand in front of his accusers, in front of the women of the disappeared, the women whose husbands he tortured, the women who he ordered tortured ... simply see them.

"I'm not interested in his being imprisoned. I think the most important thing has already been done.

"A grievous wrong has been done to many, many people - they believed there was no hope. There is some hope because someone who was a horrible tyrant is now under house arrest.

"That restores some balance to a horrible century, a century which I think will go down as the most terrible century in the history of humanity."

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22 Oct 98 | The Pinochet file
Exiled writer urges Pinochet to repent
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