***Dr. Marc Becker is a visiting scholar in the Global Studies Department here at Gettysburg College. He has earned degrees in History and Peace Studies (B.A., Bethel College), and Modern Latin American History (M.A., Ph.D., University of Kansas). He has been recognized numerous times within the academic community: the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for Peace and Security in a Changing World and the Conference on Latin American History (CLAH) Lewis Hanke Prize, to name just a couple. He has traveled throughout Latin America, including Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Guatemala. His current research focuses on issues of class and ethnicity within Indian and peasant movements in Ecuador during the twentieth century.***
---From recent media coverage, the public learned about the arrest of Augusto Pinochet, former president of Chile who has been accused of acts of genocide, torture, and other crimes against humanity committed during his term from 1973 to 1990. One of the key implementers of the U.S. supported coup against the socialist government of President Salvador Allende, he quickly rose to power using military tactics. His regime was condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1978 for its use of torture on detainees.
Pinochet relinquished the presidency in 1990, when the Chilean government was taken over by a democratically elected executive branch, and immediately became a senator for life. Just recently, on October 16, 1998, the former president was arrested while recovering from back surgery in a London hospital. Spain has requested his extradition on behalf of two Spanish judges who are investigating crimes committed by dictators in both Argentina and Chile in the seventies and eighties. Chilean officials are fighting against this and have sent a barrage of lawyers to defend Pinochet. This incident re-ignited passion among the Chilean people as they remain divided, some remembering the atrocities committed by the former president and others speaking out in support of Pinochet, saying that he dispelled a communist threat and brought Chile to financial and political stability.
Pinochet himself does not seem to be taking allegations of crimes against humanity very seriously, either denying or making light of the past situation. He has requested immunity or 'amnesty' from prosecution, something that was again denied by the British House of Lords on March 24th of this year.---