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Title:  Chile Human Rights Practices, 1995 
Author:  U.S. Department of State  
Date:  March 1996  
 
 
 
 
                                   CHILE 
 
 
Chile is a multiparty democracy with 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 establishes institutional limits on 
popular rule.  President Eduardo Frei leads the Christian Democratic 
party, which, in coalition with five other parties, won the 1994 
elections.  The National Congress comprises 120 deputies and 46 
senators.  The government coalition holds a majority in the lower house.  
An opposition coalition, together with several independent and eight 
appointed senators, controls the upper chamber.  Appointees of the 
former President, General Augusto Pinochet, continue to influence the 
constitutionally independent judicial branch.  However, turnover in the 
courts has led to a steady diminution of that influence. 
 
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 National Security Council to remove service chiefs.  The 
Carabineros (the uniformed police) have primary responsibility for 
public order and safety and border security.  The civilian 
Investigations Police are responsible for criminal investigations and 
immigration control.  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.  The security 
forces committed a number of instances of human rights abuses.  Some 
alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses during the military regime 
remain on active duty in the army. 
 
The market-based economy experienced its 12th consecutive year of 
expansion.  The most important export was copper; forestry products, 
fresh fruit, fish meal, and manufactured goods were also significant 
sources of foreign exchange.  Gross domestic product grew more than 6 
percent, unemployment declined to 5.4 percent, and inflation fell for 
the fifth consecutive year to under 8 percent.  These factors have 
contributed to an improved standard of living, although the disparity in 
income distribution leaves 28 percent of the population below the 
poverty line.  According to the most recent figures (1994), there were 
over 400,000 fewer people living below the poverty level than in 1992.  
Annual per capita income has risen to $4,500. 
 
During the year there were few new cases of human rights abuse.  The 
Government generally respected its citizens' human rights.  However, 
there continued to be some problem areas.  The most serious cases 
involve instances of police brutality.  Members of the police forces 
have been charged by some local human rights activists with excessive 
use of force leading to extrajudicial killings.  There continue to be 
reports of physical abuse in jails and prisons; military authorities 
continue to resist disclosing abuses from the past.  Discrimination and 
violence against women, and violence against children are problems.  
Many indigenous people remain marginalized. 
 
Almost all other human rights concerns are related to abuses that 
occurred during the former military government, primarily between 1973 
and 1978.  In May the Supreme Court upheld the convictions and sentences 
of retired General Manuel Contreras and Brigadier Pedro Espinoza for 
instigating the 1976 murders in the United States of former Chilean 
Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his U.S. citizen assistant Ronni 
Moffitt.  Contreras was the chief of DINA, the intelligence branch of 
the army during the military regime.  These 2 prisoners were later 
joined by 10 other former officials of the military government convicted 
for a variety of human rights abuses.  Efforts to uphold justice in the 
cases dating back to the early years of the military Government are 
limited by the conflicting requirements for justice and national 
reconciliation.  In particular, the courts continue to struggle with the 
application of the 1978 amnesty law to cases that occurred during the 
first 5 years of military rule.  The judicial system continues to 
investigate, with mixed success, a number of other pending human rights 
cases. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
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. 
 
One individual was killed while in the custody of the police.  The 
Committee for the Defense of the Peoples' Rights (CODEPU) reports that 
at least eight other individuals died as a result of the excessive use 
of force by the Carabineros against criminals or suspects fleeing the 
scene of a crime or resisting arrest.  These deaths received wide media 
coverage, and a majority of the cases are under investigation by the 
courts.  The courts sentenced one police official to 5 years in jail for 
killing a woman in 1992 while under the influence of alcohol. 
 
Several landmark decisions were made during the year on cases which 
occurred under the military regime.  In the most widely recognized case, 
the Supreme Court upheld on May 30 Justice Adolfo Banados' sentencing of 
Retired General Manuel Contreras and Brigadier 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 U.S. citizen assistant, Ronni Moffitt.  
Brigadier Espinoza surrendered in June to the authorities to begin his 
sentence.  After legal attempts to avoid being moved to prison were 
rejected by the courts, Contreras was finally transferred on October 20 
to the high-security Punta Peuco prison (see Section 1.c.), joining 
Brigadier Espinoza as the second military officer to be jailed for 
actions taken during the 17 years of military rule.  Contreras' move to 
a naval hospital attracted international attention and set off a 
vigorous domestic debate concerning the equality of military officers 
under the law. 
 
In December the Supreme Court closed the investigative phase of the 1976 
murder of Carmelo Soria, a Spanish citizen employed by the United 
Nations.  All that remains is for the judge to decide whether or not to 
apply the 1978 Amnesty Law to this case or to convict the two ex-agents 
of the National Intelligence Center (CNI), the successor to DINA, who 
were indicted in June as author and accomplice in this crime.  The 
difficulty in this case lies in the possibility that Soria, as a U.N. 
employee, may have enjoyed international protected person status and, if 
so, the case cannot be covered by the 1978 law. 
 
In October the Supreme Court applied the Amnesty Law to the case of the 
detention and disappearance of two Movement of the Revolutionary Left 
(MIR) members, Barbara Uribe and Edwin van Yurik.  Authorities released 
ex-DINA agent Osvaldo Romo and dismissed charges against him.  The two 
MIR members had been detained by the security forces in July 1974 and 
are now presumed dead.  The sister of Barbara Uribe has requested that 
the case be extended to cover three more officials that were possibly 
involved in this crime.  The appeals court is expected to apply the 
Amnesty Law to the 1974 murder of MIR activist Lumi Videla. 
 
The Supreme Court review of the case involving the 1982 murder of 
Tucapel Jimenez is still in the preliminary hearing stage.  In August 
the appellate court of La Serena (a city to the north of Santiago) ruled 
that retired army Major Carlos Herrera (defendant in the Tucapel Jimenez 
case) and ex-Carabinero noncommissioned officer Armando Cabrera were 
guilty of unnecessary violence in 1984 which resulted in the death of 
the political militant Mario Fernandez.  Fernandez was arrested and 
tortured to death while in the custody of CNI.  The Government will pay 
his family 100 million pesos ($263,000).  The two ex-security agents, 
who are currently under military detention, were sentenced to 10 and 6 
years' imprisonment, respectively.  These men are also facing charges of 
murder in another case dating from the military regime. 
 
After more than 8 years and three previous refusals to consider the 
case, the military courts decided that the June 1987 deaths  from the 
so-called "Operation Albania" were homicides.  In that incident, CNI 
agents killed 12 people connected to the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic 
Front (FPMR).  At the time, the authorities claimed that all 12 died in 
shoot-outs with security officers, and therefore no crime was committed.  
This decision to declare the deaths to be homicides will allow the case 
to be brought before the civilian courts.  The lawyer in the case 
requested a special judge.  Twenty-eight former officers and enlisted 
men are implicated in this case. 
 
The last appeal of army captain Pedro Fernandez was denied by the 
Supreme Court on December 6.  He had been found guilty of the death by 
burning of Rodrigo Rojas and the serious disfigurement of Carmen Gloria 
Quintana in July 1986.  He has been sentenced to 600 days in prison and 
will be sent to Punta Peuco prison in the near future. 
 
In November the Supreme Court sentenced 15 ex-Carabinero officers and 1 
civilian for the abduction and murder of 3 Communists in 1985.  Five 
were sentenced to life imprisonment; the others received sentences 
ranging from 15 years to 41 days.  Eight of the officers have been 
transferred to Punta Peuco prison. 
 
Retired Carabinero captain Hector Diaz was transferred to Punta Peuco 
prison on December 13, where he will serve a sentence of 3 years and 1 
day.  Diaz was convicted by the military courts for the death of the 
Socialist student Carlos Godoy.  The youth had been detained for 
questioning by the Carabineros and subsequently died during 
interrogation. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
The major human rights controversy of 1995 involved past 
"disappearances" and efforts by all political forces and the Government 
to reinterpret the 1978 Amnesty in such a way as to achieve both justice 
and national reconciliation.  As interpreted under the so-called "Aylwin 
Doctrine" (named after former President Patricio Aylwin), the courts 
should not close a case involving a disappearance (those who disappeared 
are considered to have been "kidnaped") until either the bodies are 
found or credible evidence is provided to indicate that an individual is 
dead.  This could affect up to 542 cases which cover about 1,100 persons 
still classified as "detained or missing" from the early years of the 
military regime.  The application of the Aylwin Doctrine, however, has 
been uneven, as some courts (mostly military) continued the previous 
practice of applying the 1978 Amnesty to disappearances without 
conducting an investigation to identify the perpetrators.  Fourteen 
cases were closed this year through application of the amnesty, 186 
cases are active, and an additional 356 cases are temporarily closed but 
subject to being reopened. 
 
In a surprise decision, the Supreme Court decided unanimously on 
December 5 not to apply the Amnesty Law in the case of two Mapuche 
peasants who were detained by security forces in 1974 and never seen 
again.  Two ex-Carabineros and one civilian were given sentences of 4 
and 1/2 years in prison, plus fines of approximately $12,000 (5 million 
pesos) each for the abduction of the 16- and 39-year-old men.  This is 
the first time a disappearance case was declared outside the 1973-78 
limits of the Amnesty Law.  The decision declared that the abductions 
were permanent "criminal offenses that continue after the actions 
themselves," thus beyond the time period covered by the amnesty. 
 
Four disappearance cases that were closed with the fate of the victims 
still unknown have been appealed to the Inter-American Commission on 
Human Rights of the Organization of American States, where they were 
still pending at year's end. 
 
Some progress has been made in locating a number of those who  
disappeared.  By the end of the year, 100 of 125 bodies that had been 
buried in an unmarked grave were identified.  It was determined that 
they died in 1973 during the first months of the military regime.  The 
remains of three bodies were discovered in early December on the grounds 
of a military camp situated 25 miles north of Santiago.  The identities 
of the deceased have yet to be determined, but it is fairly certain that 
they perished about 20 years ago.  It is widely suspected that the 3 are 
part of the 1,100 victims from the 1973-78 period.  The Supreme Court 
denied a request for a special prosecutor to determine the facts of the 
case; therefore, it remains in the hands of the military authorities.  
There are suspicions that a large number of bodies were buried in 
military precincts, but the military authorities refuse access to these 
areas, thus preventing the possible closure of a number of these cases. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution forbids "the use of illegal pressure" on detainees, but 
CODEPU has received reports of 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.  CODEPU alleged that during a 1 1/2 
year period that ended in August, there were 38 cases of torture by 
Carabineros, 11 by members of the Investigations Police, and 2 by 
members of other entities. 
 
The Minister of Interior normally asks the courts to conduct independent 
investigations of credible complaints of police abuse, but such 
investigations rarely result in arrests, due in part to the reluctance 
of judges, 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 on abusive officers 
without waiting for a judicial ruling. 
 
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. 
 
The maximum security prison houses 81 prisoners, most of them charged 
with or convicted of terrorism.  Prisoners continue to complain that 
strict security measures, prohibition on visitors, hidden cameras, and 
the extremely rigid regulations violate their rights. 
 
In June a new prison at Punta Peuco, 25 miles north of Santiago, was 
completed.  At year's end it had 12 inmates including Brigadier Pedro 
Espinoza and recently arrived retired General Manuel Contreras (see 
Section 1.a.).  This prison was constructed specifically for government 
and military officials sentenced to jail and reportedly would allow for 
privileged and exclusive treatment for these prisoners. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The Constitution allows civilian and military courts to order detention 
for up to 5 days without arraignment and to extend the detention for up 
to 10 days of suspected terrorists.  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. 
 
As of February, 9 percent of the general prison population were under 
investigation but not charged with a crime, 50 percent were charged with 
an offense and were awaiting trial or sentencing, and 41 percent were 
serving sentences.  The police have the authority to make arrests based 
on suspicion, particularly of youth in high crime areas late at night.  
In practice, the detainees are not promptly advised of charges against 
them, nor are they granted a speedy hearing before a judge.  The 
Constitution provides for the right to legal counsel, but this is a fact 
only for those who can afford to pay.  The poor, who account for the 
majority of cases, may be represented by law students doing practical 
training (who are often overworked) or, on occasion, by a court 
appointed lawyer.  Arrest procedures do not require police to allow  
detainees to telephone relatives or lawyer.  The Constitution allows 
judges to set bail. 
 
There were no cases of forced exile. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Constitution calls for a judicial system independent of the other 
branches of Government.  Cases decided in the lower courts can be 
referred to the appeals courts, and ultimately to the Supreme Court.  
Although the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, has been 
dominated by appointees of the former military regime, the passage of 
time is changing this legacy.  Criminal court judges are appointed for 
life, and appointments to the Supreme Court and the appeals courts are 
made by the President from lists prepared by the Supreme Court.  The 
Supreme Court continues to work with the other branches of Government on 
broad judicial reform. 
 
The jurisdiction of military tribunals is limited to cases involving 
military officers.  If formal charges are filed in civilian courts 
against a military officer, including Carabineros, the military 
prosecutor asks, and the Supreme Court normally grants, jurisdiction to 
the military.  This is of particular consequence in the human rights 
cases dating from 1973 to 1978, the period covered by the 1978 Amnesty 
Law. 
 
Based on the Napoleonic Code, the judicial system does not provide for 
trial by jury, nor does it assume innocence until proven otherwise.  
Criminal proceedings are inquisitorial rather than adversarial. 
 
On November 7, Sergio Buschmann, an inmate of the high-security prison 
whom the Social Aid Foundation of Christian Churches (FASIC) had counted 
as the one political prisoner, was released on bail.  Buschman, a 
professional actor and ex-leader of the Marxist FPMR, was arrested in 
1986 for his part in smuggling arms into the country.  He subsequently 
escaped, went into exile, and became an international spokesman for the 
Communist cause.  Buschmann returned to his home country to face charges 
in 1994.  Claiming that he was unjustly imprisoned for political, 
instead of criminal offenses, Buschmann continued to be the object of 
much world-wide attention.  CODEPU reports seven political prisoners:  
these individuals have been convicted for crimes related to terrorist 
acts; some have appeals pending. 
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Constitution prohibits such practices, government authorities 
generally respect these prohibitions, and violations are subject to 
effective legal sanctions.  A new  privacy law, promulgated on November 
20, bars obtaining and dissemination of information by undisclosed 
taping, telephone intercepts, and other surreptitious means. 
 
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.  The 
new privacy law will also apply to the media, which are not exempt from 
its provisions (see Section 1.f.)  There is academic freedom. 
 
The print and electronic media are largely independent of government 
control.  The State is majority owner of La Nacion newspaper, but the 
newspaper is editorially independent.  The Television Nacional network 
is state owned but not under direct government control.  It receives no 
government subsidy and is self-financing through the sale of air time.  
It is editorially independent and is governed by a board of directors 
which, although politically appointed, encourages "pluralistic 
expression" through the network. 
 
Military courts have the authority to charge and try civilians for 
defamation of military personnel and for sedition, but their rulings can 
be appealed to the Supreme Court. 
 
A draft press law, building on one proposed by the Aylwin Government in 
1993, would transfer cases involving freedom of speech (including 
charges of defamation and sedition) for nonmilitary personnel from 
military to civilian courts.  As the bill moved from the House to the 
Senate, it remained the subject of considerable controversy, with press 
organs arguing that some of its provisions may undermine aspects of 
freedom of expression (e.g., by mandating right of reply and limiting 
concentration of media ownership). 
 
A former cabinet member was charged with defaming "state institutions" 
after he claimed that unidentified members of Congress used drugs.  A 
Socialist Youth leader was also charged with defamation after publicly 
making derogatory remarks about public officials.  It is a criminal 
offense in Chile to besmirch the honor of state institutions and 
symbols, such as the Congress, the military services, the flag, and the 
President. 
 
The courts rarely issued orders prohibiting media coverage of cases in 
progress, although several instances were reported,  usually in cases of 
violent crime.  The law does not set any limits on a judge's power to 
impose such prohibitions nor does it require the reasons for the ban to 
be cited.  In a widely noted case involving charges against three 
Carabineros for robbery and other crimes, the judge banned the media, 
explaining that coverage might impair the ongoing investigation.  The 
judge also asserted that journalism has become a kind of aid for 
delinquents, stating that it is unpleasant to work with such limited 
resources and to have that work further complicated by a right to 
information. 
 
A celebrated 1993 slander case against Francisco Martorell for his book 
"Diplomatic Impunity" resurfaced when he was sentenced on five counts of 
slander against prominent figures.  Martorell remains in self-imposed 
exile in Argentina. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The Constitution provides for these rights, and there have been no 
reports of violations. 
 
   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.  A recent municipal ordinance made it 
illegal to cause disturbances in the streets, which has been interpreted 
by some evangelical groups as an attempt to prevent them from 
proselytizing and preaching in public.  Although church and state are 
officially separate, the Roman Catholic Church receives official 
preferential treatment. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally 
respects them in practice.  For minor children to leave the country, 
either alone or with one of their parents, they must have notarized 
permission from both parents. 
 
The Government cooperates with the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.  
There were no reports of forced expulsion of anyone having a valid claim 
to refugee status. 
 
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 and over.  The current Government 
still operates under some political restraints that were imposed by the 
previous regime.   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 (beyond those elected) to 8-year terms prior to the transition 
to democracy.  In effect, these senators were hand-picked by General 
Pinochet, and they join with the opposition on most matters.  The 
legislative branch, with the exception of the nine institutional 
senators, is freely elected and independent from the executive branch. 
 
The former military government wrote the 1980 Constitution and amended 
it slightly in 1989 after losing a referendum on whether President 
Pinochet should stay in office.  It provides for a strong presidency and 
a legislative branch with limited powers.  In addition, the Constitution 
includes provisions designed to protect the interests of the military 
and the rightwing political opposition.  These provisions, according to 
their defenders and even some critics, assured stability in the 
political process during the transition.  Some of these provisions are 
characterized by the government coalition as "authoritarian enclaves" 
left over from the previous regime; while the right of center opposition 
describes them as integral to the system of checks and balances.  They 
include limitations on the President's right to remove service chiefs, 
including chief of the army (the position which General Pinochet can 
hold until 1998), an electoral system that gives a minority party (or 
coalition) disproportionate representation in Congress, and the 
provision for 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 political life 
at the grassroots level.  Women make up a majority of 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 women among the 21 cabinet ministers. 
 
Chile's over 1 million 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, there is only one member of Congress of 
indigenous descent.  In 1994 the Government created the National 
Corporation for Indigenous Development and placed it under the Planning 
Ministry; in 1995, indigenous people elected their representatives to 
this body. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
The Chilean Human Rights Commission is affiliated with the International 
League of Human Rights and continues to gather  evidence of police 
abuses.  The Committee for the Defense of the People's 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.  Many 
international NGO's also continue to follow closely human rights issues. 
 
The National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation issued a report in 
1991 which helped many Chileans 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.  In December its mandate was again extended to the 
end of 1996 to allow it to complete investigations of the last of 2,188 
individual cases of human rights abuses on which it has information.  
The corporation also provides compensation to family members of human 
rights victims. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution provides for 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.  In practice, however, homosexuality 
is widely rejected by almost all segments of society. 
 
   Women 
 
The public is only beginning to appreciate the extent of abuses such as 
wife beating.  The National Women's Service (SERNAM), created in 1991 to 
combat discrimination against women, found that 26.2 percent of women it 
surveyed said that they had been subjected to some form of physical 
violence by their husband or partner while another 33.5 percent reported 
some form of psychological abuse.  However, 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. 
 
Counseling is ordered by the courts for those involved in intrafamily 
violence.  There were 3,297 cases reported to the Carabineros Family 
Affairs Unit in Santiago.  In 151 of those cases, men claimed that they 
were abused by their spouses.  Carabineros also reported that the Family 
Affairs Unit received more than 2,700 complaints of rape or sexual abuse 
during the year. 
 
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 to give human rights treaties to which 
Chile is a party precedence over local laws.  The law permits legal 
separation, but not divorce, so those who wish to remarry need to seek 
annulments.  Since annulment implies that a marriage never existed under 
the law, former wives are left with little recourse for financial 
support.  Although a recent law created conjugal property as an option 
in a marriage, some women actually saw this as a step backward, since 
the law on separate property (which still exists) gives women the right 
to one-half their husbands' assets but gives husbands no rights to 
theirs. 
 
Another SERNAM study found that the average earnings of female heads of 
household are only 71 percent of those of male heads of household.  
Women with no schooling received a salary that was 87 percent of that of 
their male counterparts without schooling, while women heads of 
household with university training earned only 57 percent as much as 
their male contemporaries.  SERNAM has a pilot program providing 
occupational training and child care in an effort to alleviate this form 
of discrimination. 
 
   Children 
 
The Congress enacted a law that segregates juvenile offenders from adult 
prisoners.  Although juvenile offenders (i.e. those under age 18) had 
long received special treatment in the courts, some of them had been 
incarcerated with adults.  A survey by the National Minors Service 
(SENAME) indicated that sexual abuse of minors occurred but that few 
cases were reported.  A United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report 
shows that 34 percent of children under 12 experience serious physical 
violence, though only 3.2 percent of the victims of intrafamily violence 
reported to the Carabineros Family Affairs Unit were minors below the 
age of 18.  The new Law on Intrafamily Violence was designed in part to 
deal with this problem.  UNICEF estimates that 107,616 children between 
12 and 19 years of age were in the work force.  The majority of these 
were males from single parent families who worked more than 40 hours per 
week and did not attend school. 
 
   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 that they had some form of disability, but FONDIS 
estimates that the actual number is closer to 1 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 provides no facilitated access 
for the disabled.  Reserved parking for the disabled is becoming more 
common. 
 
   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 the country.  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 indigenous people 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 1 million, according to the 1992 census), about half remain 
separated from the rest of society, largely because of historical, 
cultural, educational, and geographical factors.  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 and Croatian migration in the early 
part of this century.  Smaller racial and ethnic minority groups 
experience some intolerance. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
Workers have a right to form unions without prior authorization and to 
join existing unions; 13.7 percent of the work force is organized.  A 
recently enacted law provides government employee associations with the 
same rights as trade unions, and the associations' committees have 
drafted implementing regulations.  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 of them 
legalized its status in April 1992.  CUT and many other labor 
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 
maintain ties to their parties. 
 
Reforms to the Labor Code in 1990 removed some significant restrictions 
on the right to strike, although others remain.  For example, employers 
may no longer fire striking workers without paying severance benefits.  
Employers must 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.  There are no statistics on the 
number of cases in which needs of the company have been invoked by 
employers to fire workers for prounion activities.  However, such acts 
and antiunion discrimination in general are illegal under the law. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
Although the climate for collective bargaining has improved since the 
return to democratic government in 1990, most workers continue to 
negotiate individual contracts.  Employers say that 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.  
Employers may also include a clause in individual employment contracts 
that some classes of employees are not allowed to participate in 
collective bargaining, although this supposedly applies only to 
supervisory personnel.  Employees may object to the inclusion of such 
clauses in their contracts and may appeal to the Ministry of Labor for 
their excision. 
 
The Ministry is able to arbitrate about half of the complaints it 
receives.  Workers are free to take unarbitrated cases before the courts 
and, if they succeed in proving they were fired unjustly, the employer 
must pay the discharged employees twice their normal severance payment.  
There are no statistics available concerning the disposition of 
complaints of antiunion behavior.  There are allegations that employers 
fire workers for prounion activity and attempt to avoid a complaint by 
immediately paying them twice the normal severance pay. 
 
Temporary workers--defined in the Labor Code as agriculture, 
construction, port workers, and entertainers--may now form unions, but 
their right to collective bargaining remains dependent on employers 
agreeing to negotiate with unions of temporary workers.  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 company clause to fire workers 
after a union has signed a new contract, particularly when negotiations 
result in a prolonged strike. 
 
The same labor laws apply in the 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 allows children between the ages of 15 and 18 to work with the 
express permission of their parents or guardians.  Children 14 years old 
may also work legally with such permission, but in addition they must 
have completed their elementary education, and the work involved may not 
be physically strenuous or unhealthy.  Additional provisions in the law 
protect workers under 18 years by restricting the types of work open to 
them (for example, they may not work in nightclubs) and by establishing 
special conditions of work (they may not work more than 8 hours in one 
day).  Labor inspectors enforce these regulations and compliance is good 
in the formal economy.  Many children are employed in the informal 
economy, however, which is difficult to regulate. 
 
   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 and domestic servants are exempted.  All 
workers enjoy at least one 24-hour rest period during the workweek save 
for workers at high altitudes who voluntarily exchange a workfree day 
each week for a number of consecutive workfree days every 2 weeks. 
 
A tripartite committee comprising government, employer, and labor 
representatives normally suggests a minimum wage based on projected 
future inflation and increases in productivity.  Congress approved the 
Government's proposal with little dissent, setting the minimum monthly 
wage at about $149 (58,600 pesos), which came into effect in April.  The 
minimum wage is adjusted annually.  This wage is designed to serve as 
the starting wage for an unskilled laborer entering the labor force for 
the first time.  About 8 percent of the work force earn the minimum 
wage. 
 
Ministry of Labor inspectors enforce laws covering working conditions.  
The Government has increased resources for inspections and targeted 
industries guilty of the worst abuses.  As a result, enforcement is 
improving, and voluntary compliance is fairly good.  Insurance mutuals 
provide workmen's compensation and occupational safety training for the 
private and public sectors.  They reported a 24-percent decline in 
occupational injuries over the past 5 years, although 11 percent of the 
work force still submitted claims.  Workers  who remove themselves from 
situations that endanger their health and safety have their employment 
protected, provided they ask a workers' delegate to bring the problem to 
the attention of labor inspectors. 
 
(###)

[end of document]

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