Chile's top diplomat lambastes US press reports on human rights
Chile's top diplomat charges that the United States and the American press are not giving his country's military government a fair shake - particularly on the issue of human rights.Skip to next paragraph
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In the course of a lengthy interview here, Foreign Minister Walters Miguel Alex Schweitzer criticized what he called ''the antigovernment tone'' of reporting on Chile in the Western press. And he was particularly angry about reports on the human-rights situation in Chile.
''This country is not guilty of human-rights violations,'' he said.
Foreign Minister Schweitzer took the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal , and the New York Times to task for their reporting on Chile. By implication, but not by name, he also criticized stories in The Christian Science Monitor.
He did not mention specific stories to which he objected - but he did single out reporters with whom he had a quarrel.
The foreign minister said that much of the criticism of Chile's human-rights record was vague. ''Where is the proof?'' he said, when he was asked about recent alleged police attacks on Christian Democratic leaders Gabriel Valdes Subercaseaux, a former foreign minister, and Patricio Aylwin Azocar. But when Mr. Schweitzer was questioned about specific allegations, he changed the subject.
The session seemed part of the ''diplomatic offensive'' that the foreign minister launched with much fanfare two weeks ago. He called home many of Chilean ambassadors for a two-day meeting, then sent them back to their posts with orders to explain ''the national reality'' and the political ''opening'' under way in this country.
The ambassadors were also told to counter the ''international Marxist campaign'' which adversely ''affects the image of Chile abroad.''
Asked about Chilean-US relations, he said, ''They are not normal,'' and ''they can be better than they are today.''
Mr. Schweitzer repeatedly said he was disappointed by the failure of the US to more fully support the Chilean military government.
Noting that Chile has a free-market economic policy, ''which is the goal of the United States,'' he suggested that the US has a ''crucial role to play'' in Chile and that if the US fails to fully support the government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, it is ''being politically shortsighted.''
But Mr. Schweitzer was quick to say the United States under Ronald Reagan ''has not abandoned a friend,'' implying that Jimmy Carter's government had done so.
The foreign minister also made clear his views that Chile's military leaders have constructed ''a new democracy'' during the past 10 years. And he said, ''Those who marched in support of the government (at the anniversary of military rule) are the ones that the United States press ought to be observing, and not the minority of malcontents.''
Mr. Schweitzer, who spoke in a smooth English conditioned perhaps by his three years as ambassador in London, complained repeatedly that Chile is misunderstood in the US and throughout the world.
He suggested that some of the criticism heaped on Chile's military government and its human-rights record is due to a perception that Chile is not all that important a country.
''We are a poor, little, old, expendable country,'' he said. ''We are not an oil-producing, grain-producing nation of importance.''
But this view, he added, is ''a shortsightedness on the part of the Western world.''
He dismissed the notion that the US press was merely reporting what it saw which included heavy-handed treatment of Chileans by the carabineros,m Chile's national police.
He said: ''There has been no such mistreatment.''