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OPEN LETTER TO THE CHILEAN CHANCELLOR

29 November 1998

Jose Miguel Insulza
Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
Republica de Chile

Dear Jose Miguel,

I hope you do not object if I write to you in a more personal capacity. In the summer of 1974, whilst I was escaping persecution from the military, I stayed at your home in Las Condes. You were spending your summer holidays elsewhere, so I did not have the pleasure of meeting you. I was told by a common friend that, although you knew you were harbouring a fugitive, you did not want to know my name.

I never had the opportunity to thank you, and I would like to express my gratitude now. You demonstrated, in the most difficult circumstances, courage and generosity of spirit. Your help, and that of many others, meant that I was able to survive to rebuild my life in the UK. Many of my friends did not have the same fortune and have now 'disappeared' and are presumed dead.

It is because I think of you as a person of integrity, that I find it sad to hear you arguing that Pinochet should be returned to Chile to face a judicial process. It is naive or disingenuous to suggest that he will ever be tried in our country. Indeed on 14 November 1998, the Chilean Supreme Court rejected - by 13 votes against 3 - the plea emanating from your Ministry to investigate the 11 'new charges' that you so emphatically argued have been opened against Pinochet. It is my unavoidable conclusion that your announcement in the UK was made in the full knowledge of the Chilean Supreme Court decision.

You are also aware that the Army has made it clear that they will use 'whatever means to achieve the return of their commander'. Today, the newspaper El Mercurio clarifies that when the army refer to 'the use of force' to prevent Pinochet's extradition to Spain 'it does so in a military sense'. This may be an empty threat, but it clearly indicates the army will not allow any legal process against their former Commander-in-Chief.

I would like to think you agree with me that the Lords' ruling is an enlighted decision. Not only because it sets a precedent in international law, but also because it contributes decisively to the future of democracy in Chile. The goal of a return to full democracy cannot be achieved as long as the armed forces place themselves over and above the law and democratically elected civilian power and institutions. In order to achieve this it is essential to bring Pinochet to court; whether this happens in Spain, France or Switzerland, is immaterial. What matters is that all Chileans confront the fact that justice is, wherever it takes place, a sine qua non condition for recouping true democracy in our country.

Dear Jose Miguel, it is wrong to suggest Pinochet will ever be tried in Chile. I look forward to the British Home Secretary's decision to allow the extradition process, and thus enable all Chileans to begin to face the overriding task of submitting the armed forces to the rule of law. For this vital purpose, I am hopeful I will be able to join forces with you and rekindle the links of solidarity which brought me to your home twenty five years ago.

Thank you again,

Fernando Javier Ruz
fernando.ruz@btinternet.com

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