Sample Critical Thinking Paper on the Judge and the General

Question 1: Response

Chile, one of the countries in Latin America, suffered greatly during the Pinochet regime, and this was because of various crimes against humanity. The regime can be remembered for staging a coup in 1973, which was backed by the American CIA, and this saw the unceremonious ousting of Socialist President Salvador Allende’s democratic government. The Pinochet regime is also remembered for numerous systematic murders of individuals or persons that were strongly in support of President Salvador Allende. It also enforced the disappearance of Pinochet’s opponents (Traverso 182) including Manuel Donoso and Cecelia Castro. Judge Guzmán progressed from being an admirer of General Pinochet to one of the strongest opponents of his regime. The film highlights that Guzmán was among the young men in Chile who looked up to General Pinochet. When he became a member of the Chilean upper-middle-class, Guzmán was at the forefront in ignoring the threats that Pinochet’s regime posed to the people. However, later on, when he became a judge, Guzmán saw the democratic transition of the legal system of Chile, and this included bringing General Pinochet, a man he once admired to justice. The film highlights that in 1998, Guzmán, one of the most famous judges in Chile, indicted Pinochet (Roht-Arriaza 164). Moreover, he exhibited courage when he found a solution to the immunity, which was granted to the military personnel of Chile by the amnesty of 1978. His argument was that the several detentions, disappearances, as well as execution of individuals whose bodies were never recovered contributed to crimes against humanity, and thus, were not in any way covered or protected by the general amnesty of 1978. With this argument, Judge Guzmán successfully indicted General Pinochet and several other generals including the head of secret police of Pinochet. Guzmán indicted Pinochet for coming up with an October 1973 order that caused the execution of the opponents of the military governments such as Donoso.

Until the time of his demise, Manuel Donoso was a professor of a renowned university and was a strong opponent of the Pinochet regime. Donoso was against the polarization of the Chilean society, an ideology that was shared by Judge Guzmán. The fact that he opposed the regime led to his untimely death when he was shot in the head by the side of the road. Similarly, Cecelia Castro, a mother and a young student of law, was a strong opponent of General Pinochet, and this led to her disappearance. The film highlights that Cecelia Castro and Manuel Donoso were some of the courageous Chilean citizens who worked to hold officials from the Pinochet regime criminally accountable for their crimes.

In the efforts to hold officials from the Pinochet regime criminally accountable for their past crimes, the shortcomings of Judge Guzmán are highlighted. First, he hailed from a prominent family in Chile that strongly supported Pinochet, who was Salvador Allende’s opponent in the Chilean elections of 1970 (Bizzarro 334). Together with his family, Guzmán supported and toasted to the coup staged by Pinochet notwithstanding the fact that it led to the death of several people. Another shortcoming of Judge Guzmán is that he was at the centre-stage of the legal system that carried out Pinochet dictatorship’s orders besides denying myriads of habeas corpus requests, some of which were penned by Judge Guzmán.

Works Cited

Bizzarro, Salvatore. Historical Dictionary of Chile. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Group, 2005. Internet resource.

Roht-Arriaza, Naomi. The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. Internet resource.

Traverso, Antonio. “Dictatorship memories: Working through trauma in Chilean post-dictatorship documentary.” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 24.1 (2010): 179-191.