By Silvia Borzutzky, Lois Hecht Oppenheim
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Additional info for After Pinochet: The Chilean Road to Democracy and the Market
In August 1999, at the end of Frei’s presidency, Defense Minister Edmundo Pérez Yoma organized the Mesa de Diálogo (Round Table Dialogue) on human rights. The Mesa de Diálogo included representatives of the commanders in chief of the armed forces, civilians, human rights lawyers, and representatives of churches and the Freemasons, presided over by Defense Minister Mario Fernández. The Association of Relatives of the Disappeared, the Communist Party, and some left-wing organizations rejected the Mesa de Diálogo, organizing street protests to denounce what they saw as a new initiative to negotiate impunity.
As part of the initiatives toward reconciliation, the president opened to the public the doors of Morandé 80, the presidential palace, which had been closed by the military regime. The government also restored the image of Salvador Allende. The memories relived after thirty years show that a common history does not exist and that it might never emerge, not even in descriptive terms. Contradictions and discrepancies in interpretation cut across deep loyalties that have given meaning to the lives of different groups over the past thirty years.
For military men, formed and molded in both values, with a total and absolute bond to the institution, this exclusion has a special and unique connotation. 41 Defense Minister Michelle Bachelet42 announced in 2003 that since 2002 the Ministry of Defense had been reviewing all of the cases of officials who had been forced to leave the armed forces for political reasons after September 11, 1973: “Two subsecretaries are in charge of a committee that works on two levels with dismissed military personnel.