This article examines how the Chilean military dictatorship utilized its constitutional process to defend itself against international criticism of its very legitimacy and stark human rights violations. By bringing to the fore the discussions held at highest echelons of the regime, the article indicates how the Constitution of 1980 was mobilized by the regime at different times as part of an effort to neutralize threats of international isolation and economic embargo. Moving chronologically, my analysis focuses on the distinctive strategies applied by Augusto Pinochet’s regime, evolving from denying human rights violations entirely to tactically admitting “excesses,” and then gradually turning the constitutional process—which was to secure Chile’s return to being a normative parliamentary democracy—into the centerpiece of Chile’s diplomatic strategy. Furthermore, the article clarifies that despite the ratification of the constitution in a national plebiscite in 1980, international campaigns against the regime did not stop. Thus, against the background of Chile’s economic crisis in 1982, Chile saw a renewed effort to propagate on the international scene its so-called process of “institutionalization” abroad.
Copyright © 2012-2013 Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe.
Editores: Ori Preuss; Nahuel Ribke
Instituto Sverdlin de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, Escuela de Historia
Universidad de Tel Aviv, Ramat Aviv,
P.O.B. 39040 (69978), Israel.
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