Chile

Tens of thousands of students protested in Chile on May 8. It was the first march demanding education reform since President Michelle Bachelet took power on promises of deep changes.

Marchers passed through the streets of central Santiago towards the La Moneda presidential palace. The mostly peaceful protest that turned violent at the end as hooded rioters clashed with police, throwing rocks and petrol bombs.

About 1800 police officers flanked the march that student leaders estimated at 100,000-strong, but police said was closer to 40,000.

Newly re-elected President Michelle Bachelet has reaffirmed her election promise to introduce free tertiary education in Chile — one of the demands of the country’s powerful student movement.

In elections in December, the New Majority coalition of centre-left parties won a majority in both the Chilean Congress and Senate. Bachelet, the New Majority candidate, was elected president.

On March 11, Bachelet began her second term as president, having served as president from 2006-2010. She replaced right-wing president Sebastian Pinera.

In recent years, a powerful student movement has erupted in Chile against right-wing neoliberal attacks on education, and fighting for a fundamentally different, pro-people education system. The mass movement has developed in the face of often brutal state repression.

The Chilean Supreme Court issued a request on January 15 that the Australian government extradite a former agent of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s notorious secret police back to Chile to face charges of kidnapping and forced disappearances.

The move comes after the revelation made public last September by SBS journalist Florencia Melgar that former National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) agent Adriana Rivas had been in Australia since 2010, despite bail conditions imposed following Rivas’s 2006 arrest prohibiting her from leaving Chile.

Peter Boyle interviewed Florencia Melgar, a former SBS journalist about her research into Australia's involvement in the 1973 military coup against the progressive government of Salvador Allende in Chile.

Watch the full interview here.

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 at The Hague in the Netherlands to prosecute individuals alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.

From the ICC’s inception, the US objected to the possibility that its nationals could be subject to the court’s jurisdiction.

Members of the Chilean community and other Latin American supporters rallied outside NSW parliament on October 23 to protest against Liberal Upper House whip Peter Phelps, who has praised Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet as a "hero."

Protesters are demanding an apology from Phelps and disciplinary action against him from Premier Barry O'Farrell.

Phelps made a speech to parliament on September 11, the 40th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew elected socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973. Phelps described Pinochet as a "morally courageous man”.

How could a former agent of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s notorious secret police, who is facing charges of kidnapping and forced disappearances and whose bail conditions prohibited them from leaving Chile, now be living in Australia?

This is the question many have asked after the recent broadcast on SBS Radio of an interview with former National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) agent Adriana Rivas.

In the interview, Rivas says she began working at DINA in 1974.

A new investigation has shed light on Australia’s role in the overthrow of Chilean leftist president Salvador Allende and exposed the continued veil of secrecy surrounding the precise activities of Australian intelligence agents, 40 years on.

Allende was elected president in 1970, but was deposed on September 11, 1973 by a US-backed military coup that put General Augusto Pinochet in power. Pinochet remained in power for 17 years, presiding over a regime of terror that left thousands dead or disappeared.

NSW parliament narrowly voted down a September 17 motion to discipline Liberal MLC Peter Phelps over comments he made in parliament defending General Augusto Pinochet’s violent military coup against Chile’s president Salvador Allende in 1973.

Members of the Chilean community have vowed to continue the campaign to hold Phelps to account for his outrageous comments.

On September 11, 40 years to the day of the coup, Phelps praised Pinochet as “a reluctant hero, a morally courageous man” and said he supported a military coup that deposed a democratically elected government.

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