SANTIAGO – Just days before Chile commemorates the coup d’état known as ‘El Golpe’, the grave of Jaime Guzmán, one of Augusto Pinochet’s closest advisors and founder of the UDI, has been vandalized. Unknown persons wrote insults such as ‘traitor’ and ´murderer´ on his tomb. The attack happened just hours after a ceremony to commemorate victims of the dictatorship took place in the cemetery.
Jaime Guzmán, founder and senator for the political party UDI and close advisor to Augusto Pinochet during the dictatorship, was murdered in 1991 by a communist movement. His grave in the General Cemetery in Santiago had been attacked before, in 2015 and 2016, both times after a ceremony had taken place to commemorate the victims of the dictatorship. This year it happened again, when on Sunday afternoon unknown vandals covered his grave with graffiti, calling Guzmán a ‘traitor‘ and a ‘murderer‘.
Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, senator and president of the UDI, was quick to condemn the attack. “This type of violence cannot continue in the country, it is the kind of violence that, if validated, deteriorates democracy,” van Rysselberghe said. She called on the leftist parties of the country to condemn the attack too.
The president of the Renovación Nacional (RN), Mario Desbordes, condemned the attack by saying that it was “perpetrated against the grave of former senator Jaime Guzmán, by attackers protected by the march for human rights. We are in solidarity with the UDI and we call on those responsible to condemn what happened. ”
Eduardo Salas, president of the Partido Regionalista Independiente Demócrata (PRI) was quick to point at the left wing, by stating that “this adds to the belligerent intolerance of a leftist, who still doesn´t understand that political violence is incompatible with democracy.” Both RN and PRI are part of the political coalition Chile Vamos, together with UDI.
Condenamos enérgicamente los desmanes y actos de odio que sufrió la tumba de nuestro fundador #JaimeGuzmán, la bajeza y delincuencia hoy demostrada sólo nos empujan con más fuerza a seguir trabajando por nuestros valores y principios. pic.twitter.com/Mz0EAl2FXL
— UDI (@udipopular) September 9, 2018
Who was Jaime Guzmán?
After finishing his studies of Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, where he graduated with the highest notes of his class, Guzmán became politically active through the Movimiento Gremial Universitario, a rightwing student movement that got to be highly influential throughout universities in Chile.
When Pinochet rose into power, Guzmán came to be a close advisor to the dictator. His influence went as far as taking part in drafting a new constitution in 1980, with laws still being used to this very day in Chile. His ideology was influenced by the neo-liberalism and the Chicago Boys, a group of Chilean economists educated in the United States by Milton Freedman.
During Chile’s transition to democracy, Guzmán participated as presidential candidate, but wasn’t elected. Still he remained active in politics, as senator for the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), a political party he had founded back in 1983. His political career didn’t last long though, as on the 1st of April 1991 Guzmán was shot in front of the Pontifical Catholic University, where he taught Law. He died on his way to the hospital. The attack was later claimed by members of the far-left guerrilla movement Frente Patriotico Manuel Rodriguez (FPMR). As not all assassins got convicted, the murder of Guzmán remains a controversial topic in Chile, and the attack on his grave affirm that.