Machi Francisca Linconao, an indigenous representative at the Constitutional Convention’s human rights commission, asked Jorge Arancibia to leave the body. Arancibia was navy commander-in-chief during the dictatorship. Linconao is backed by other members and human rights groups.
At a session of the Constitutional Convention’s human rights commission Mapuche representative Machi Francisca Linconao demanded former navy commander-in-chief Jorge Arancibia leave the commission.
The Constitutional Convention is tasked with drafting a new Constitution to replace the current one imposed during the dictatorship but reformed under several presidents.
Linconao told Arancibia to his face “my soul hurts that you are here, [participating] in this new Constitution that we are going to write, and with human rights.” She added, “[Arancibia] was from Pinochet’s party and with Pinochet we have had a lot of pain.”
Arancibia replied, “I was aide to general Pinochet, and forgive me for telling you, but for an officer of the armed forces being aide to a president is an honor. A special distinction.”
He added, “did I do something unthinkable during those 46 years in the navy that with great honor and pride I carry on my back? I was appointed by President Frei and as commander-in-chief of the navy I was the promoter of the so-called dialogue table, which was formed in the country among a group of notable civilians and a group of professionals from the armed forces to try to find an answer to the issue of the disappeared.”
Arancibia claimed human rights have “illuminated” his career.
Navy for life
Representing district 7 at the Convention, Arincibia’s life is intertwined with the armed forces.
He entered the naval academy when he was 15, graduating in 1960. During the 1970s, he served as instructor and taught at the Naval War Academy.
In 1980, Augusto Pinochet appointed him naval aide, a position he held until 1982. Afterwards he served as attaché in Buenos Aires and head of the navy’s logistics department. He was also commander of a destroyer.
Arancibia told CNN Chile that Pinochet did a service to the country. “And when [he] handed over power in 1990, we had a country that was empowered to project itself to the world and the FTAs [free trade agreements] began and Chile became an exceptional country in Latin America.This is the work of the military government under the leadership of general Pinochet.”
In 2001, Arancibia joined the Independent Democratic Union Party (UDI) and was elected senator the same year, a position he held until 2010.
Support for Linconao
Linconao was backed by María Magdalena Rivera and Manuel Woldarsky, elected on the Lista del Pueblo ticket.
Woldarsky said, “I would like to clarify to the Arancibia constituency that we do not accuse him, that we do not seek censorship. We seek to establish a parameter of moral and ethical suitability that moves toward ending a culture deeply rooted in our country, which is the culture of impunity, the culture of denialism, the culture of the relativization of the importance of the dignity of the person.”
Groups representing families of dictatorship victims joined the criticism.
“The presence of Jorge Arancibia in the human rights commission constitutes an act that deserves our total repudiation and we request [his] resignation as a member” for his defense“ of people prosecuted and convicted for the human rights violations during the civil-military dictatorship,” according to a joint letter signed by more than 80 organizations and individuals.
Organizaciones DDHH manifiestan su profunda preocupación e indignación por la participación del exAlmirante y exEdecán del tirano Augusto Pinochet, Jorge Arancibia Reyes @arancibialmte en la Comisión de DDHH de la Convención Constitucional @convencioncl@AFDDChile @CoordinadoraDH pic.twitter.com/3c6L1rn7TW
— AFEP Chile (@AFEPChile) July 29, 2021
Nelson Quiroz is Chile Today´s photographer. He also writes about youth culture and fashion, and often contributes with photo series during marches and protests.