Human Rights and the "Politics of Agreement"

Chile During President Aylwin’s First Year

When Patricio Aylwin became President of Chile, on March 11, 1990, he had promised to resolve the human rights legacy of over sixteen years of military dictatorship, through a process of exposing the truth about past abuses and seeking justice. President Aylwin's efforts have been hampered by the Constitution of 1980 that defines a form of government that falls short of full democracy. Various limitations have forced the government to adopt a style it calls the “politics of agreements,” a search for consensus and compromise. A National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, appointed by President Aylwin, produced an incomplete but nonetheless impressive accounting of the repression during the Pinochet years, and in this way the President offered the country an important part of the truth it requires. Demands for justice go unmet, however, and the Chilean justice system does not foster confidence.

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