Valerie Arnould’s field research in Chile
5th August 2015
The interviews brought forward a number of salient points regarding the relationship between transitional justice and democratic institution-building. Firstly, overcoming polarisation between supporters and victims of the military regime has been a central challenge to transitional justice, and only limited success has been achieved at this level, in particular by truth commissions. Second, despite truth commissions and domestic trials exposing and punishing abuses committed by the security forces, the security sector remains largely unreformed and continue to operate as a “state within a state”. The army continues to weigh on democracy in Chile and remains largely uninterested in engaging in a critical reflection on the army’s past role. Thirdly, while transitional justice efforts in Chile have been broad-ranging, they have tended to focus primarily on political violence. Thus, it was suggested, these transitional justice efforts are not fully reflective of the nature of the violence experienced in the country, as it underplays the violence constructed along class and ethnic lines which have in particular affected rural populations and indigenous communities.