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Chilean Political Prisoners End Hungerstrike

On November 13, 1991, four Chilean political prisoners ended a 44-day hungerstrike. 24 hours after a street demonstration supporting them had culminated with the detention of 252 people by police. The announcement was formulated by the hungerstrikers themselves in the hospital where they were interned over the weekend due to the seriousness of their health needs.

"From it's first day the strike was defined as an action of protest and denunciation without pretending to obtain our liberty with this action" they said in a declaration.

They questioned " a government that preferred to use the same laws with which the dictatorship tried us and which has refused to consider a law of procedural nullity which would take into account the fact that all of our trials and processes are tainted because they originated under torture." The communiqué also strongly criticized the parliament and the judiciary and remarked that "the struggle for the liberty of the political prisoners is now in the hand of the people."

The prisoners who suspended the strike are being processed for actions taken against the military regime headed by Augusto Pinochet between Sept. 11, 1973 and March 11, 1990.

The strike was to demand that trials which affected 79 leftists imprisoned by the military regime be accelerated.

The minister of the interior, Enrique Krauss, maintained that the quickening pace of legal projects that favor the prisoners, solicited from the parliament, were not adopted because of "pressure" by the hungerstrikers nor because of Tuesdays street demonstration. He claimed that the government has effected a "consistent and permanent effort" to solve the problem of prisoners inherited from the previous regime and "to suppose that at the root of Tuesdays deeds are obtaining results, is an unfounded speculation."

"Brecha, " Montevideo, Uruguay

[Editors Note: The CIA supported a military coup in 1973 which led to the bloody overthrow of the elected government of Salavor Allende, a Marxist. In the 17 years of military dictatorship that followed, tens of thousands of Chileans were murdered by the regime, thousands "disappeared" or were imprisoned and large numbers fled the country as refugees. At this point Chile is nominally a democracy but the military continues to hold the real political power in the country. Prior to formally handing over the trappings of government the military stacked the courts and parliament with its own appointees thus effectively continuing it's own policies. Several hundred activists and leftists imprisoned by the military dictatorship are still in prison today, many still without trial, for having opposed the dictatorship. Today they will likely be tried before the judges appointed by the dictatorship, under the dictatorship laws for opposing that dictatorship. The facade of bourgeois democracy is wearing thin in Chile and the plight of Chilean political prisoners exposes the political and moral bankruptcy of the current regime nominally in power. Paul Wright]

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