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The failed attempt to close Punta Peuco: The dark chapter of the government of Michelle Bachelet

In an episode that sheds light on the fight for justice and human rights in Chile, former President Michelle Bachelet recently revealed that during her second term she tried to close the infamous Punta Peuco prison, where retired soldiers and former state agents are detained. convicted of crimes against humanity. However, this action was sabotaged by the refusal of the then Minister of Justice, Jaime Campos. This story highlights the tensions and challenges faced by the government in its search for justice for the victims of the military dictatorship.

Bachelet’s Effort to Close Punta Peuco

During her second term, former President Michelle Bachelet faced the difficult task of dealing with the legacy of the military dictatorship in Chile. One of the significant steps that she tried to take was to close the Punta Peuco prison, where numerous former uniformed officers convicted of crimes against humanity were serving their sentences. Bachelet stated in an interview that she personally gave the order to close the prison, but her instructions were not obeyed.

Speaking to CNN Chile, Bachelet expressed her frustration at the lack of action: “I closed, I gave the order. It could not. They didn’t listen to me, but well (…) whoever had to do it didn’t listen to me ». These words point to the then Minister of Justice, Jaime Campos, as the figure who did not follow the instruction to close the prison.

The Refusal of Jaime Campos

Jaime Campos, former Minister of Justice at the time, recounted in 2018 how he refused to follow the order to close Punta Peuco. According to Campos, the instruction was delivered between the night of March 10, 2018 and the morning of March 11, the day the presidential change of command took place. Given the context and the time in which the order was received, Campos believed that it would have no effect.

In a Masonic meeting cited by La Tercera, Campos explained: “Until Friday, March 8, which is when in practice he stopped acting as Minister of Justice and Human Rights, the government never gave me information or instructions or resolutions in this regard. ». He added that, surprisingly, on the weekend of the change of command, he was raised with the need to execute an administrative act that, although it did not imply the explicit closure of Punta Peuco, was related to the prison.

The Context and Tensions

The decision to close Punta Peuco, a prison known for housing military personnel and former agents convicted of crimes against humanity during the Pinochet dictatorship, generated polarization in Chilean society. Part of the position against the closure centered on arguments of biological impunity, suggesting that some detainees were terminally ill and that justice would not be served if they died without being tried or sentenced.

The story of Bachelet and Campos reflects the tensions between seeking justice for the victims and dealing with a painful past in a nation still recovering from the traumas of the military dictatorship. Furthermore, it sheds light on how the government struggled internally to meet this challenge and how some key players resisted going ahead with certain decisions.

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