(El Mercurio, January 10, 2012.)

Dear Sir,

A few days ago I was mentioned in a letter sent to your newspaper, regarding the presidential referendum of October 5, 1988. 

I consider it my duty to clarify, for the first time in a written text, my position on this issue, which has given rise to certain versions that do not conform to the historical truth. 

I will reiterate here and now the five key points that define my position and that I expressed in the same terms on March 4, 1991 in the official statement of the Air Force of Chile regarding the Report of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

First, I shared, and I fully share today, the ideals that led to the military ‘pronunciamiento’ of September 11, 1973, that was an inevitable consequence of a civil conflict intensified to the extreme, in whose inception and development the Armed Forces and the Police had neither involvement nor responsibility.

Second, I deeply regret, as I have always regretted, all loss of human life.  The civilian and military victims of this unfortunate era represented a testimony of extreme sentiment on our conscience, with the sorrowful consequence it brings to a nation.

Third, I feel honored to have participated in the military government as a minister and as a member of the Governing Junta.  The legacy of this government will be judged by history and I am convinced it will be positive.

Fourth, I strongly believe we modernized our nation from its roots, and gave it a pride and grandeur that opened to Chile bright prospects.

Fifth, we scrupulously fulfilled our promise to return to full democracy and to restore political, economic and social freedom.

This last commitment was sealed on August 8, 1980, when we signed - the President of the Republic, members of the Governing Junta and all Cabinet Members - the project of a new Constitution. 

This Constitution contained, in its transitory articles, a mandate for the construction, through a set of constitutional organic laws, of the institutions that would ensure a democracy in the service of liberty.  It also established an itinerary, precise and unchangeable by our will, for a gradual transition, legal and peaceful, toward full democracy.  This schedule included a plebiscite to determine who would serve as President of the Republic in a later period.  That plebiscite was conducted in a fair, transparent and impeccable manner.  And evidently the result was strictly accepted by President Pinochet and the Governing Junta.

I have pointed out that, on the night of the plebiscite, we had among us different views on how to best ensure public order, always within the Constitution and the law. Those differences were natural at such a crucial moment and among people who had lived and acted in the exceptional circumstances that marked those times.  As we know, that night prevailed the moderation and reasonableness of the Chilean people. 

I can assure to my countrymen that there was never the slightest hesitation from President Pinochet or any member of the Governing Junta to respect the results of the plebiscite and thus to comply strictly with what was commanded by the Constitution that we had proposed to the country.

I respect, regard and appreciate all different opinions about such complex years, difficult and fraught with destiny for our country.  But facts are facts, and I cannot but be true to my conscience and speak my truth.  I owe this to the country that I love, which has given so much to my family.  I do it to be faithful to the historical truth, that is the foundation of reconciliation and national unity that we need to make Chile a great nation.

Fernando Matthei Aubel
Air Force General (retired)
Former Member of the Governing Junta of Chile


Note: Here is the text of the original letter in Spanish as published in El Mercurio.

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