The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal




Chile is a multiparty democracy based upon a Constitution which 
provides for a strong executive, a bicameral legislature, and 
an independent judiciary.  Approved by referendum in 1980, the 
Constitution was written under the former military government 
and contains limits on popular rule.  Chile's second 
consecutive democratically elected president, Eduardo Frei, 
began a 6-year term on March 11.  A new Congress comprising 120 
Deputies and 46 Senators was sworn in the same day.  Appointees 
of former dictator General Pinochet continued to dominate the 
constitutionally independent judicial branch.

The armed forces are constitutionally subordinate to the 
President through an appointed Minister of Defense, but enjoy a 
large degree of legal autonomy.  Most notably, the President 
must have the concurrence of the multi-institutional National 
Security Council to remove service chiefs.  President Frei 
asked Gen. Stange, Commander of Carabineros (the uniformed 
police), to resign in April following a judicial charge of 
covering up evidence in a 1985 murder case, but he refused, the 
charges were dropped, and he remains in place.  The Carabineros 
have primary responsibility for public order and safety, and 
border security.  The civilian Investigations Police is 
responsible for criminal investigations.  Both organizations, 
although formally under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of 
Defense--which determines their budget--are under operational 
control of the Minister of Interior.  Elements of both forces 
continued to be accused of human rights abuses, including 
police brutality.  Some notorious alleged perpetrators of human 
rights abuses during the previous regime remain on active duty 
in the army.

The export-oriented economy experienced its eleventh 
consecutive year of expansion in 1994.  The most important 
export was copper, with fresh fruit, fish meal, and 
manufactured goods also important sources of foreign exchange.  
Gross domestic product grew more than 4 percent, unemployment 
increased to about 6 percent, and inflation fell for the fourth 
consecutive year, to 8.9 percent.

Five years after the transition to democracy, the principal 
human rights issues in Chile relate to abuses that occurred 
during the former military government.  Efforts to do justice 
in those cases are limited by sometimes conflicting 
requirements for justice and national reconciliation.  In 
particular, the courts continue to struggle with the 
application of the 1978 amnesty to cases that occurred during 
the first 5 years of military rule.  However, in March a 
civilian court convicted 15 Carabineros of the 1985 murder of 3 
Communist leaders and sentenced 6 to life terms.  The judicial 
system continued to investigate, with mixed success, a number 
of other pending human rights cases, but human rights monitors 
criticized the preferential treatment given some human rights 
abusers.  Continuing human rights abuses include instances of 
police brutality and torture, prior restraint of the press, 
social discrimination against ethnic minorities and indigenous 
people, and individual acts of violence against women and 


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political killings.

No terrorists died in confrontations with police in 1994, but 
the Defense Committee of the Peoples' Rights (CODEPU) claimed 
that two criminals died in shootouts because the police used 
excessive force.  The circumstances remain unclear.

The police arrested several leaders of Chile's two main 
terrorist groups, the Dissident Wing of the Manuel Rodriguez 
Patriotic Front (FPMR/D) and the Lautaro Youth Movement, 
responsible for most of the political violence since the return 
of democratic government in 1990.  The arrests included 
Guillermo Ossandon, the most wanted terrorist, and founder and 
leader of the Lautaro Youth, who was arraigned for 600 crimes, 
including 25 homicides, the Lautaro committed under his 

The courts succeeded in bringing to justice some government 
agents who used political violence in the past.  Special 
investigating Judge Milton Juica convicted 15 former police 
agents from the former Carabinero Intelligence Unit, Dicomcar, 
and their civilian informant for kidnaping and murder in the 
1985 death of 3 Communist Party members.  He sentenced them to 
prison terms, including some life sentences.  The Court of 
Appeals confirmed life sentences for six agents, one of them 
the former head of operations of Dicomcar.  The case remains 
under appeal.  A military court investigated Carabinero 
Commanding General Stange and five retired Carabinero generals 
for obstruction of justice in covering up the crime, but 
determined they had committed no illegal acts, a ruling that 
was confirmed by the Supreme Court.

The Fourth Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled in November that 
another former Carabinero captain in Dicomcar should serve his 
3-year sentence for the 1985 death of socialist Carlos Godoy 
Echegoyen in the penitentiary, reversing a ruling by the 
military court of appeals that granted him probation.  The 
Supreme Court also ruled that army Captain Pedro Fernandez 
Dittus should serve 600 days in prison for his responsibility 
in the burning death of Rodrigo Rojas Denegri and the serious 
burns sustained by Carmen Gloria Quintana in July 1986.  The 
case was the first in which a military court had ruled in favor 
of human rights victims, but the military court of appeals in 
1991 reduced Fernandez's sentence to 300 days and allowed his 
release on probation.  The Supreme Court did not determine who 
was responsible for the injuries, but ruled that the captain 
had been negligent for not attending to the victims.

The Supreme Court is still reviewing Justice Adolfo Banados' 
sentencing of Gen. Manuel Contreras and Colonel Pedro Espinoza 
to 7- and 6-year prison terms, respectively, as the 
intellectual authors of the 1976 murder in Washington, D.C. of 
former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his 
American assistant, Ronni Moffitt.  The two defendants remained 
free on bail in the only case involving DINA--the Pinochet-era 
secret police--that was specifically excluded from the 1978 
amnesty law covering most political crimes before that date.

The courts have not issued findings in the investigations 
requested by the Minister of Interior into the 1993 deaths of 
two prisoners in police custody.  Police commanders who 
conducted their own internal investigations were rumored to 
have punished those involved, but this has not been announced 
publicly.  The Supreme Court ruled that a civilian judge should 
continue to investigate the two deaths that occurred during 
demonstrations sponsored by leftist and human rights groups on 
September 11, 1993, the twentieth anniversary of the 1973 coup.

The Supreme Court maintained jurisdiction over the 
investigation into the 1976 murder of Carmelo Soria, a Spanish 
citizen employed by the United Nations.  A military court 
applied the amnesty to the case in December 1993, but in April 
the First Chamber of the Supreme Court ordered that the case be 
reopened to investigate several issues before a decision could 
be made on applying the amnesty.  Supreme Court Justice 
Eleodoro Ortiz changed procedures and began interviewing 
military witnesses on military bases, rather than in court, so 
the press could not subject them to scrutiny.

The Third Court of Appeals reopened the investigation into 
possible involvement of several active duty and retired 
military officers in the 1974 murder of Movement of the 
Revolutionary Left (MIR) activist Lumi Videla, and the Eighth 
Court of Appeals overruled a military court's application of 
the amnesty to the 1974 disappearances of MIR members Barbara 
Uribe and Edwin Van Jurick, on the grounds that the amnesty 
could not apply because the cases involved a violation of the 
Geneva Convention.  Constitutional specialist Humberto Nogueira 
wrote both opinions.  The cases are being appealed to the 
Supreme Court but the ruling, if upheld, would set an important 
precedent for other human rights cases.

In other cases, military courts continued their long standing 
practice of applying the 1978 amnesty law to crimes involving 
members of the armed forces, without conducting an 
investigation to identify the perpetrators.  In December the 
Supreme Court upheld a military court's decision to apply the 
amnesty to the disappearances of 78 persons who had been 
detained by DINA.  Human rights lawyers had initiated the case 
before the amnesty was enacted in 1978, and only one of the 
victims' bodies was located.  Under the military government, 
the military courts had closed such investigations without 
applying the amnesty, but after the 1988 plebiscite paved the 
way for a return to democracy (see Section 3), the military 
courts began to apply the amnesty.  About 100 cases have now 
been closed through the amnesty, 300 cases are active, and an 
additional 800 cases remain temporarily closed.

In a case where the amnesty does not apply, the authorities 
extradited retired Army Major Carlos Herrera from Argentina for 
the 1982 murder of Tucapel Jimenez, but the Supreme Court 
transferred him from the custody of prison wardens to 
confinement on a military base.  Human rights advocates claimed 
that former DINA agents are among his guards, making it 
difficult for Herrera to cooperate with the courts.  Retired 
Army Major Alvaro Corbalan, the commander of an intelligence 
unit accused of committing a related murder, remains under 
detention on a military base, but there were newspaper reports 
that he held several political meetings while confined.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

A number of pre-1978 disappearance cases are still in the 
courts.  The Aylwin Government argued that under the amnesty 
law, these kidnaping cases cannot be closed and the alleged 
perpetrator amnestied unless a court determines that the victim 
died while the amnesty was in effect.  That argument requires 
that the courts locate the remains of the deceased or determine 
the circumstances of their death before applying the amnesty.  
However, military courts ignore this view and apply the amnesty 
to pre-1978 cases of "illegal arrest" when they presume the 
victim is dead.  For example, on September 5, the Santiago 
military court applied the amnesty to the 1974 kidnaping of the 
Andronico brothers without serving an arrest warrant on Army 
Lt. Colonel Fernando Laureani (see Section 1.e.).

In November the First Chamber of the Supreme Court allowed 
civilian courts to continue to investigate three disappearance 
cases.  Human rights lawyer Nelson Caucoto said the Supreme 
Court had denied military jurisdiction only twice before in 
such appeals.  Caucoto was one of the lawyers representing the 
families of the 78 people who disappeared after detention by 
DINA (see Section 1.a.).  When the Supreme Court upheld the 
military court's application of the amnesty in that case, he 
announced his intention to appeal the case to the 
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the grounds that 
all legal means had been exhausted to bring the guilty parties 
to justice under the Chilean judicial system.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution forbids "the use of illegal pressure" on 
detainees but the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture 
found instances of mistreatment and abuse by some Carabinero 
and Investigations police units.  CODEPU lawyers visit 
detainees during their interrogation (see Section 1.d.) and 
represent many suspected terrorists in court.  During a 1-year 
period that ended October 1, CODEPU alleged there were 16 cases 
of torture by Carabineros, 6 by Investigations police, and 2 by 
prison guards which it brought to the attention of the U.N. 
Special Rapporteur.  Lawyers on a commission studying judicial 
reform believe the inquisitorial approach used in Chile 
encourages the use of torture.  Since the judge uses written 
records, a confession appears to be important evidence, even if 
it was obtained under duress.  In October the Santiago Court of 
appeals threw out the convictions of 11 members of the FPMR 
because the investigating judge relied on confessions that 
police had obtained with torture.  Human rights lawyers hailed 
the ruling.  CODEPU also reports that its complaints of police 
abuses for a 1-year period ending October 1 resulted in 30 
administrative reviews by Carabineros and 11 by Investigations 
Police.  The Investigations Police created an ethics squad to 
investigate reports of police abuse, including allegations of 

The Minister of Interior normally asks the courts to conduct 
independent investigations of credible complaints of police 
abuse, but such investigations rarely resulted in arrests, due 
in part to the reluctance of members of the judiciary, many of 
them appointed by the military regime, to pursue the issue 
vigorously.  However, as indicated in the CODEPU report, police 
authorities often impose administrative sanctions without 
waiting for a judicial ruling.

Under intense pressure from Brazil in late 1993, the Supreme 
Court appointed Judge Alejandro Solis to investigate 
allegations by a Brazilian psychologist, Tania Maria Cordeiro, 
that Investigations Police tortured and raped her in March 1993 
when they arrested her boarder for possession of arms used by 
Lautaro terrorists in bank robberies.  Judge Solis ordered the 
arrest of eight policemen including Zvonco Farias, the head of 
an Investigations Police station, for procedural irregularities 
in the case and for detaining Cordeiro's 13-year-old daughter 
as psychological pressure to obtain a confession, but he did 
not find proof of torture.  The policemen appealed the charges 
and are free on bail.

Chilean prisons are overcrowded and antiquated, but the
conditions are not life threatening.  Food meets minimal
nutritional needs, and prisoners may supplement the diet by
buying food.  Those with sufficient funds can often rent space 
in a better wing of the prison.  Although prison guards have 
been accused of using excessive force to stop attempted prison 
breaks, the guards generally behave responsibly and do not 
mistreat prisoners.

A new maximum security prison houses about 80 prisoners, most 
of them charged with or convicted of terrorism.  Some of the 
prisoners claimed that security measures that prevent them from 
meeting as a group violated their rights.  They refused to 
leave their cells to appear in court and went on a hunger 
strike demanding the conditions be relaxed.  The courts have 
repeatedly investigated the complaints, and the Human Rights 
Committee of Congress, journalists, and the International 
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited the prison.  The 
Chilean Human Rights Commission and the congressional committee 
criticized wardens for not giving these prisoners the 
opportunity to perform prison labor or engage in group 
exercise.  The ICRC closed its Santiago office in 1993, saying 
that there was no longer a need for prison visits, but it sent 
delegates from Brazil for the visit.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution allows civilian and military courts to order 
detention for up to 5 days without arraignment and extend the 
detention for up to 10 days for suspected terrorist acts.  The 
law affords detainees 30 minutes of immediate and daily access 
to a lawyer (in the presence of a prison guard) and to a doctor 
to verify their physical condition.  The law does not permit a 
judge to deny such access; police authorities generally 
observed these requirements.

It is quite common for the police to make arrests based on  
suspicion, particularly of youth in high crime areas late at 
night.  The Chilean Human Rights Commission reported as many as 
a thousand arrests some weeks and said that 80 percent of those 
detained are released without charges after a few hours or a 
few days.  Arrest procedures do not require police to allow 
detainees to telephone their parents or lawyer which causes 
particular anguish for distraught parents.  However, statistics 
show that the number of such arrests is declining.

There were no cases of forced exile in 1994.  Six Chileans 
convicted of politically motivated crimes during the military 
regime opted to go abroad as a condition for their release from 

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution calls for a judicial system independent of the 
other branches of government.  However, the judiciary, and 
particularly the Supreme Court, is dominated by appointees 
named under the former military regime.  Judges are appointed 
for life, and appointments to the appeals and supreme courts 
are made by the President from lists prepared by the Supreme 
Court.  Gen. Pinochet appointed 10 of the 17 sitting Supreme 
Court judges, 7 of them after he lost the 1988 plebiscite.  The 
judicial system is widely criticized for being out of date and 
inefficient, but the Supreme Court in the past year began 
working with the Government on broad judicial reform.  Supreme 
Court justices sit on a blue ribbon reform committee, and in 
November, a judicial academy was established to give further 
training to sitting judges.

The judicial system is based on the inquisitorial system.  The 
judiciary relies on the written record rather than oral 
testimony, and in most cases the judge renders a verdict after 
directing the investigation.  The investigative phase is 
considered secret, with limited access for the accused or his 
attorney to evidence or testimony accumulated by the judge.  
There is a well-developed (but very slow), multistage appeal 
process leading ultimately to the Supreme Court; it is not 
uncommon for cases to linger for several years.

Under the military government a broad interpretation of state 
security laws expanded the jurisdiction of military courts over 
proscribed political activities and crimes committed with 
firearms.  A 1991 legal reform package, the "Cumplido" laws, 
limited the jurisdiction of military tribunals to cases 
involving military officers and transferred most terrorist and 
human rights cases to the civilian courts.  This reopened many 
human rights cases previously closed by the military courts.  
However, when formal charges are filed against a military 
officer, including Carabineros, the military prosecutor asks, 
and the Supreme Court normally grants, jurisdiction to the 
military (see Section 1.a.).

The Auditor General of the Army sits as a visiting justice in 
Supreme Court chambers that hear appeals of rulings from the 
military courts.  The military courts often preempt full 
investigation of human rights cases by seeking jurisdiction and 
then dismissing the cases.  For example, the Supreme Court gave 
a civilian judge jurisdiction over the 1974 disappearance of 
the Andronico brothers, both members of the MIR.  She 
investigated the case for more than 2 years and found enough 
proof to issue an arrest warrant for active-duty Army Lt. Col. 
Fernando Laureani, a former DINA squad leader.  After the 
arrest warrant was issued, the Supreme Court granted a military 
court jurisdiction and the military judge closed the case in 
less than 24 hours, citing lack of evidence.  Although a 
military court of appeals ordered the case reopened in May and 
left standing the original arrest warrant, in September the 
military court applied the amnesty without ever calling Lt. 
Col. Laureani to testify.  Human rights lawyers appealed to the 
Supreme Court and asked that the military judge be reprimanded.
The Supreme Court had not ruled on the request by year's end.

When President Aylwin took office in 1990, the Social Aid 
Foundation of the Christian Churches (FASIC) reported 350 
prisoners in jail charged with violating state security laws 
for politically motivated crimes committed during the military 
regime.  They have all been released.  President Aylwin granted 
presidential pardons to 151 prisoners, 32 of whom agreed to 
remain outside Chile for the remainder of their sentences.  
FASIC now counts one detainee as a political prisoner because 
he was arrested after 1990 for a crime committed during the 
military regime.  CODEPU says there are seven.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The Constitution prohibits searches of the home and  
interception of private communications, unless either a 
civilian or military court issues a search warrant for specific 
locations.  The 1984 antiterrorist law allows court supervised 
surveillance of those suspected of terrorist crimes, and for 
the interception, opening, or recording of private 
communications and documents in such cases.  Privacy laws do 
not permit the release of telephone records nor the use of 
caller identification services.

Since the return to civilian rule, there have been a number of 
incidents involving supposed espionage.  In a 1992 political 
eavesdropping scandal, it was clear that an army unit was 
recording cellular telephone conversations of political leaders 
of all persuasions, including members of Congress.  While it is 
against stated government policy to engage in this kind of 
political espionage, it is not clear whether or not it 

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, 
and the authorities generally respected these rights in 
practice.  The press maintains its independence, criticizes the 
government, and covers issues sensitive to the military, 
including human rights issues.

Military courts still assert their authority to charge and try 
civilians for defamation of military personnel and sedition, 
but their rulings can be appealed to the Supreme Court.  In 
April a military prosecutor charged Hector Salazar, the lawyer 
for victims' families in the 1985 murder of three Communist 
Party members, with sedition.  In an interview after the 
sentencing of the Carabineros, Salazar had questioned whether 
Carabineros would obey Gen. Stange's orders when others under 
his command had just received life sentences.  A military court 
ordered Salazar's arrest and jailed him overnight before he 
could make bail.  On appeal, the two civilian members of the 
military court of appeals voted to drop the charges while the 
three military members upheld them.  In August the Supreme 
Court ruled that Salazar's statement did not constitute 
sedition, and the military court of appeals dismissed charges 
against him.  However, on December 30 the Third Chamber of the 
Supreme Court authorized the military prosecutor to file new 

In November former Navy Captain Humberto Palamara was sentenced 
by a naval court to 6 years' imprisonment for disobedience.  He 
wrote a book, "Ethics and the Intelligence Services," that the 
court had ordered confiscated in 1993.  He appealed the 
sentence and remains free on bail.

The Supreme Court was at the center of another controversy over 
press freedom.  The Communist Party newspaper El Siglo printed 
an article in 1993 critical of the Supreme Court, and the 
court's prosecutor filed charges for offending the judiciary 
under state security laws.  The editor of El Siglo and a 
journalist spent 15 days in jail, and then were released on 
bail.  In January 1994, a court sentenced them to 300 days' 
imprisonment, but freed them on bail while they appeal.  Human 
rights lawyers questioned whether the lower courts could issue 
an impartial ruling in this case.

The Government revised a draft press law that had been proposed 
by the Aylwin Government in 1993, and resubmitted the bill in 
September.  Like the original version, the new bill would 
transfer cases involving freedom of speech for nonmilitary 
personnel from military to civilian courts, including charges 
of defamation and sedition.  Although Congress continues to 
debate the law, it remains the subject of considerable 
controversy with press organs arguing that it may affect 
freedom of expression and the protection of anonymous sources.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Citizens have the right to peaceful assembly and association.  
The law requires official permission to hold rallies and 
demonstrations on streets and public plazas.  The authorities 
normally authorize demonstrations, but may suggest an 
alternative location to minimize inconvenience to the public.  
Prior to September 11, the anniversary of the coup, the Frei 
administration asked Santiago authorities not to authorize 
demonstrations near La Moneda presidential palace, the site 
where most of the fighting took place on the day of the coup 
and where former President Allende died.  The governor of 
greater Santiago had promised the organizers of an anticoup 
demonstration that they would be able to march past the palace, 
and he resigned when he felt his authority to authorize such 
marches was not being respected.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the 
Government respects this right in practice.  All denominations 
practice their faiths without restriction.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Chileans by law are free to move within and to enter and leave 
their country.  The National Office of Returnees--established 
by the Congress in 1990 to facilitate the reincorporation into 
society of the more than 56,000 Chileans who returned from 
exile--closed in August.  It assisted returnees and their 
families by providing special access to customs exemptions, 
health care, housing, and information on job opportunities.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change their Government

Chile is a constitutional democracy, and citizens have the 
right to change their government through periodic elections.  
There is universal suffrage for citizens 18 years of age or 
over, and more than 95 percent of those eligible are registered 
to vote.  Voting is compulsory for those who register.  
National elections for President and Congress were held on 
December 11, 1993, the second since the return to democracy.  
President Frei won the largest majority in modern Chilean
history, capturing 58 percent of the vote in a six-candidate 
race.  The Senate includes 18 members elected in 1993 and 20 
elected in 1989.  Under the 1980 Constitution, various national 
institutions, including the President, the Supreme Court, and 
the Armed Forces-dominated National Security Council, appointed 
an additional nine Senators to 8-year terms prior to the 
transition to democracy.  (One of the appointed Senate 
positions was vacant at year's end.)  While the governing 
coalition has a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the 
opposition has a working majority in the Senate due to the 
eight appointed Senators.

The former military government wrote the 1980 Constitution and 
amended it slightly in 1989 after losing a referendum for 
President Pinochet to stay in office.  It provides for a strong 
presidency and a legislative branch with limited powers.  The 
President has the authority to limit spending and to set time 
limits for Congress to consider bills.  In addition, the 
Constitution includes provisions designed to protect the 
interests of the military and the minority political 
opposition, currently the right.  These provisions, according 
to their defenders (and even some critics) assured stability in 
the political process during the transition.  The center-left 
coalition that has governed Chile since 1990 accepts the 
legitimacy of the 1980 Constitution, but has sought to amend 
elements characterized as "authoritarian enclaves" left over 
from the previous regime.  These include limitations on the 
President's right to remove chiefs of the armed forces, an 
electoral system that gives the political opposition a 
disproportionate representation in Congress, and the existence 
of nonelected "institutional senators."

Women have had the right to vote in municipal elections since 
1934 and in national elections since 1949, and they are active 
in Chilean political life at the grass roots level.  Women make 
up a majority of the registered voters and of those who 
actually cast ballots, but there are few women in leadership 
positions.  There are 9 women among the 120 deputies, 3 women 
among the 46 Senators, and 3 female cabinet ministers.

Chile's indigenous people have the legal right to participate 
freely in the political process, although relatively few are 
politically active.  While their participation has increased 
since the 1990 democratic transition, of the nearly one million 
self-described indigenous people in Chile, there is only one 
representative of Indian descent in the Congress.  Indigenous 
leaders participated in drafting 1993 legislation giving them 
greater influence over decisions affecting their interests.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Social Aid Foundation of the Christian Churches hired many 
of the lawyers and assumed the bulk of the caseload of the 
Catholic Church's former Vicariate of Solidarity.  The Chilean 
Human Rights Commission is affiliated with the International 
League of Human Rights and continues to gather evidence of 
police abuses.  The Defense Committee of the Peoples' Rights 
(CODEPU) provides legal counsel to those accused of politically 
related crimes and to victims of human rights abuses.  
Nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) say that the Government 
has cooperated with their efforts to investigate accusations of 
continued human rights violations in Chile.  Many international 
NGO's also continued to follow closely human rights issues in 

The National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation issued a 
report in 1991 that was a catalytic event in allowing Chilean 
society to come to terms with human rights abuses under the 
military government.  The successor to the Commission, the 
National Corporation for Compensation and Reconciliation 
continues to investigate cases, and the Congress recently 
extended its mandate through the end of 1995 to allow it to 
complete investigations of the last of 3,200 individual cases 
of human rights abuses on which it has information.  The 
corporation also provides more than one million dollars per 
month in compensation to more than 5,000 family members of 
human rights victims.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution guarantees equality before the law, but it 
does not specifically ban discrimination based on race, sex, 
religion, or social status.

There are no laws preventing gays or lesbians from exercising 
freedom of speech or other rights.  However, when the National 
Health Service advertisements on AIDS awareness suggested 
homosexual behavior was one of the situations that put people 
at risk, two local television stations refused to run the 


Legal distinctions between the sexes still exist, despite a 
decision in 1989 to ratify the U.N. Convention to Eliminate All 
Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and give human rights 
treaties precedence over local laws.  A law that classified 
adultery as a criminal offense for women and a civil offense 
for men was changed in 1994.  The law permits legal separation, 
but not divorce, so those who wish to remarry need to seek 
annulments.  Since annulments imply that the marriage legally 
never existed, former wives are left with little legal recourse 
for financial support.  A law was recently enacted that creates 
conjugal property as an option in a marriage but some women 
actually saw this as a step backward since the law on separate 
property (which still exists), gives women the right to half 
their husbands' assets but gives husbands no rights to theirs.

The public is only beginning to become aware of the extent of 
abuses such as wife beating.  The National Women's Service 
(SERNAM), created in 1991 to combat discrimination against 
women, found in a survey that 26.2 percent of women said they 
had been subjected to some form of physical violence by their 
husband or partner and another 33.5 percent reported some form 
of psychological violence, but only 16 percent reported such  
violence to the police.  SERNAM is now conducting courses on 
the legal, medical, and psychological aspects of domestic 
violence for Carabineros, who are usually the first public 
officials to intervene in such incidents, and in January, the 
Carabineros created a Family Affairs Unit.

The Congress recently enacted a law on intrafamily violence 
that provides court-ordered counseling to those involved in 
intrafamily violence.  In the first 5 months it was in effect, 
nearly 1,000 cases were reported to the Carabineros family 
affairs unit in Santiago.  In 57 of those cases, men claimed 
they were abused by their spouses.  Carabineros also reported 
that the family affairs unit received more than 2,400 
complaints of rape or sexual abuse the first 11 months that it 
was in operation.

Another SERNAM study of female heads of household found that on 
average they earn 45 percent as much as male heads of 
households.  Women with no schooling received a salary that was 
82 percent of that of their male counterparts without 
schooling, while women heads of household with university 
training earned only 51.7 percent as much as their male 
contemporaries.  SERNAM has a pilot program providing 
occupational training and child care to attempt to alleviate 
this form of discrimination.


The Congress enacted a law that segregates juvenile offenders 
from adult prisoners.  Although juvenile offenders (i.e. those 
under 18) had long received special treatment in the courts, 
some of the prisoners had been incarcerated with adults.  The 
National Minors Service (SENAME) conducted a survey that 
indicated sexual abuse of minors occurred but that few cases 
were reported.  The new law on intrafamily violence was 
designed in part to deal with this type of problem.  A United 
Nations Children's Fund study of 1,853 young people attempted 
to estimate how many children work.  The study concluded that 7 
percent of children between 6 and 17 years of age were in the 
work force.  The majority of the working minors were males from 
single parent families who work more than 40 hours per week and 
did not attend school.  The Congress is considering a proposed 
law to regulate, rather than ban, work by minors so that there 
would be a better chance of their attending school.

     Indigenous People

The Mapuches from southern Chile comprise over 90 percent of 
the indigenous population, but there are small Aimara, 
Atacameno, Huilliche, Rapa Nui, and Kawaskhar populations in 
other parts of Chile.  A committee composed of representatives 
of indigenous groups participated in drafting the 1993 law that 
recognized the ethnic diversity of the indigenous population 
and gave them a voice in decisions affecting their lands, 
cultures and traditions.  It provides for eventual bilingual 
education in schools with indigenous populations, and replaced 
a statute which emphasized assimilation of indigenous people.  
However, out of the population which identifies itself as 
indigenous (nearly one million, according to the 1992 census), 
about half remain separated from the rest of society, largely 
because of historical, cultural, educational, and geographical 
factors, and in fact the ability of indigenous people to 
participate in decisions affecting their lands, cultures, 
traditions, and the allocation of natural resources is marginal 
at best.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Chile assimilated a major European (mainly German) migration in 
the last century and a major Middle Eastern (mainly Arab) 
migration in the early part of this century.  Smaller racial 
and ethnic minority groups experience a degree of intolerance.  
The wife of a prominent Korean resident filed suit after she 
was banned from a local health club, and the Supreme Court 
ruled in her favor, assessing the maximum fine.

     People with Disabilities

Congress passed a law in 1994 to promote the integration of 
people with disabilities into society, and the National Fund 
for the Handicapped (FONDIS) has a $1.5 million budget.  The 
1992 Census found that 288,000 citizens said they had some form 
of disability, but FONDIS estimates that the actual number is 
closer to one million.  The disabled still suffer some forms of 
legal discrimination, for example, blind people cannot become 
teachers or tutors.  Although the law now requires that new 
public buildings provide access for the disabled, the public 
transportation system does not make provision for wheelchair 
access, and even a new subway line under construction has 
barriers to the disabled.  Reserved parking for the disabled is 
becoming more common.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers have a right to form unions without prior authorization 
and to join existing unions, and about 11.5 percent of the work 
force is organized.  A newly enacted law gives government 
employees' associations the same rights as trade unions, and 
the associations' leaders are on committees to draft the 
implementing regulations.  Public employee associations 
participate in labor centrals, but they had not enjoyed the 
same legal protection as unions.  Only the police and military 
are not allowed to form unions.

The 1992 Labor Code permits nationwide labor centrals, and the 
Unified Workers Central (CUT), the largest and most 
representative central, legalized its status in April 1992.  
CUT and many other confederations and federations maintain ties 
to international labor organizations.  Unions are independent 
of the Government, but union leaders are usually elected from 
lists based on party affiliation and they maintain ties to 
their parties.

Reforms to the Labor Code in 1990 removed significant 
restrictions on the right to strike.  For example, employers 
may no longer fire striking workers without paying severance 
benefits.  But the law continues to require that workers vote 
by secret ballot in the presence of a labor inspector or notary 
whether to accept the company's final offer before they can go 
on strike.  Employers must now show cause to fire workers, but 
"needs of the company" is a permissible cause.  Union leaders 
claim that some employers invoke this clause to fire employees 
who are attempting to form unions or who are active in 
collective bargaining.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Although the climate for collective bargaining improved under 
the democratic government, most workers continue to negotiate 
individual contracts.  Employers say this is due to the 
emphasis that workers put on individual performance, but union 
leaders say that the Labor Code prevents many sectors from 
organizing.  The process for negotiating a formal labor 
contract is carefully regulated, and the Labor Code prescribes 
a detailed set of rules for contract negotiations.  Formal 
negotiations are required for unions to call a strike.  
Nonetheless, the law permits (and the government encourages) 
informal union-management discussions to reach collective 
agreements ("convenios") outside the regulated bargaining 

Employers may include a clause in individual employment 
contracts that some classes of employees are not allowed to 
participate in collective bargaining.  While this supposedly 
applies only to supervisory personnel, in the telephone 
company, for example, technical personnel also have such 

Temporary workers--defined in the Labor Code as agriculture, 
construction, port workers, and entertainers--may now form 
unions, but their right to collective bargaining continued to 
be restricted.  The Labor Code provides sanctions for unfair 
bargaining practices that protect workers from dismissal during 
the bargaining process, but labor leaders claim that companies 
invoke the "needs of the enterprise" clause to fire workers 
after a union has signed a new contract, particularly when 
negotiations result in a prolonged strike.  If a worker proves 
in court that he had been fired unfairly, this will raise his 
severance pay by 20 percent, but he will not get his job back.  
Since workers must wait months or years for the court to rule 
before collecting their severance pay, they seldom resort to 
this remedy.

The same labor laws apply in Chile's duty free zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution and the Labor Code prohibit forced or 
compulsory labor, and there is no indication that it is 
currently practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law permits children as young as 14 years old to be employed
only with permission of parents or guardians, after completing 
their compulsory elementary schooling, and in restricted types 
of labor.  Those aged 15 to 18 may be employed in a larger 
variety of jobs and at expanded hours, but only with their 
parents' or guardians' permission.  Labor inspectors enforce 
these regulations and voluntary compliance is good in the 
formal sector.  Many children are employed in the informal 
economy, however, which is more difficult to regulate (see 
Section 5 on children).  The Carabineros have procedures to 
counsel parents who take their children out of school and put 
them to work.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The law sets minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational 
safety and health standards.  The legal workweek is 48 hours 
which can be worked in either 5 or 6 days.  The maximum workday 
length is 10 hours, but a few positions like caretakers are 
exempted.  A tripartite committee comprised of government, 
employer, and labor representatives normally suggests a minimum 
wage based on projected future inflation and increases in 
productivity, but in 1994 the employers did not participate and 
the labor representatives did not accept the Government's final 
offer.  The Congress passed the Government's proposal with 
little dissent, which set the minimum monthly wage at about 
$125 (51,125 pesos).  Lower paid workers also receive a family 
subsidy to help raise their earnings to an acceptable level.

Ministry of Labor inspectors enforce laws covering working 
conditions.  The Government has increased resources and 
targeted inspections at industries that had been the worst 
abusers.  As a result, enforcement is improving and voluntarily 
compliance is fairly good.  Insurance mutuals have provided 
workmen's compensation and occupational safety training for the 
private sector since the 1960's, and they reported a 24 percent 
decline in occupational injuries over that time, although 11 
percent of the work force still submitted claims.  In November 
the Congress amended the law to allow public sector workers the 
same coverage, a longstanding demand of organized labor.  
Workers who remove themselves from situations that endanger 
their health and safety have their employment protected, 
provided they asked a workers' delegate to bring the problem to 
the attention of labor inspectors.


[end of document]


Department Seal

Return to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.