José Antonio Kast, a right-wing contender for the forthcoming Chilean presidential elections, has been generating outrage in Chile as a result of statements lauding the dictatorship and which signal additional impunity for perpetrators in the event of electoral victory.
In August 2017, Kast addressed an audience at Teatro Caupolicán, during which he pledged, if elected, to “defend, with honour, the military government.” He also vowed that, if elected president, he would terminate”judicial persecution of former military officers,” with reference to the ongoing efforts to bring former torturers and murderers to justice.
Kast also challenged former president Sebastian Piñera over the 2013 closing of the luxury prison Penal Cordillera and subsequent transfer of prisoners to the military prison of Punta Peuco. The closing of the prison led to the suicide of former DINA agent and CNI director Odlainer Mena. Mena was convicted for three murders in the Caravana de la Muerte operation.
Another item on Kast’s manifesto is the removal of Salvador Allende’s statue from La Cuidadania square, as well as all other forms of tribute, including those inside the presidential palace of La Moneda.
In his latest attack on Chilean memory, Kast declared that the years of the Unidad Popular government were a dictatorship and that “the people brought down Allende, not the military.”
Kast’s presidential campaign is financed, among others, by former DINA and military officers.