ON THE STATUS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHILE
of “on the spot” Observations in
RIGHTS, “POLITICAL TRUCE” AND
OF THE ELECTORAL ROLLS
After having declared on October 8, 1973, that the mission of the new
Government is to “extirpate Marxism from Chile” and that any act of
dissemination of that doctrine constitutes a crime (Decree-Law Nº 77), the
Government instituted on October 11 the “political truce” declaring “in
recess” all parties still in existence, that is, non-Marxist parties
(Decree-Law Nº 78).
There has thus been created, at least in the letter of the provisions
issued by the new Government, a kind of vacuum, a gap in the social life,
because of the death of the parties with a Marxist orientation and because of
the paralysis or weakness of the other parties.
It is clear that such paralysis or weakness is not produced in the field
of ideas, in the minds of individuals, and therefore there will continue to be
conservatives and reformers, and people on the right, center, and left. The
vacuum, the gap, is produced in the field of the capable and lawful means to
channel and permit expression and implementation of those diverse political
But the process has gone even further. In view of the fact that
investigations conducted “by public and university agencies have shown the
existence of serious and extensive electoral frauds,” Decree-Law 130, of
November 13, 1973, declares, in an act of tremendous gravity, that all of the
electoral rolls in the country are invalid. So that no doubts might remain, it
adds that this means the inapplicability of “all legal provisions and
regulations requiring verification of registration on the electoral rolls.”
In other words, it will not be possible to hold elections or plebiscites
for some time to come.
This measure is supplemented by a decree of June 17, 1974, authorizing
the Director of the Electoral Rolls to sell all the paper of the rolls to a
paper factory, to “recover the raw material.”
The Santiago newspapers of July 7, published photographs documenting the
physical destruction of the rolls, without which it will be impossible to
exercise political rights.
What are the studies that have been made on the defects of the rolls and
what would be the import of those defects?
The Catholic University of Chile conducted a study after the 1970
elections, which is included in the “Libro Blanco”, published by the present
Government of Chile (Page 220 on). The study shows that some irregularities
occurred in the elections, as usually happens in all elections. By way of
conjecture, the study concludes that, at the time of the election, the rolls
must have contained some 250.000 fraudulent registrations.
Since, the registered voters in Chile would have reached some 5.000.000
in 1970 as a result of natural growth, the number of fraudulent
registration—even calculated by that conjectural method—would not exceed 5%
of the total rolls.
It is inconceivable that, in these times, with the technical means
available, when there is a choice between purging electoral rolls in which 5%
fraudulent registrations are detected and destroying them totally, the decision
is to destroy them.
The “Libro Blanco”, on page 7 establishes that the electoral frauds
discovered were of four types:
Dual registration of one person, as both literate and illiterate.
Simple replacement of the voter (another person voting for him, taking
advantage of the fact that the registered voter is out of the country, does not
wish to vote, etc.).
Dual registration in different communities (it is calculated that there
are between 50 and 80.000 voters with dual registration).
Voting for deceased voters whose names were not removed from the record.
Strictly speaking case “b” shows no irregularity at all in the
registration. This is a misuse of identification document by a person other than
The work needed to identify and clean up the defects in the rolls caused
by “a”, “c” and “d”, by applying present techniques, need not take
But the total reconstruction of the electoral rolls in a country with
10.000.000 inhabitants and the geographic characteristics of Chile would take a
great deal of time. It will be “a job that will take years”, as the
Government Press Secretary, Mr. Willoughby, indicated to the newspaper “El