Information on a political group called "Democracia Cristiana" - Chile [CHL5080]

Please find attached some documents which provide information on the Democracia Cristiana party of Chile (Christian Democracy party, known by its acronyms PDC or DC). As indicated in the attachments and other sources, the DC formed in August 1983 the Alianza Democrática (Democratic Alliance), reportedly conceiving and being the leading party of the coalition. Later, the Democracia Cristiana was one of the largest parties forming the political alliance known as the "Comando para el No" (Command for the No) for the 1988 plebiscite.

The Comando para el No was a coalition comprising most (16) opposition political parties, formed to promote a negative vote in the October 5, 1988 plebiscite on the continuation of general Pinochet's rule. Access to the media was gradually eased as the plebiscite date approached, although attacks on opposition supporters, including beatings and arrests during some street demonstrations, were reported to have continued. [ Chile: Human Rights & The Plebiscite, (Washington: Americas Watch, July 1988), pp. 125-143.] Regarding the DC, Americas Watch reported in its July 1988 book Chile: Human Rights and the Plebiscite the following under "examples of official harassment of political parties" (page 100):

"February 2 or 3, 1988: The president of the Christian Democratic (DC) Youth, Felipe Sandoval, charged that party members "are being persecuted and threatened." Sandoval pointed to raids on the headquarters of the DC Youth; the detention, in Salamanca, of young DC members for putting up a poster; the recent arrest of Alfonso Maturana in Choapa; in Puente Alto, the painting of offensive slogans attributed to the DC Youth; and an attack on the youth organization by a pro-government newspaper "which encourages ultra groups to prepare attacks against us." Another DC youth leader, Eliana Caraball, complained that police and municipal authorities had been visiting various DC headquarters in towns and provinces and demanding that posters alluding to the party be removed. (La Epoca, February 3 or 4)"

In August 1988, most restrictions on publications were lifted, and non-government television channels covered the campaign of the opposition coalition, though reportedly to a lesser extent than for the pro-Pinochet campaign. [ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1989), p. 492.] The official political campaign for the plebiscite, as stipulated by law, lasted 28 days. [ Human Rights in Chile, (Toronto: Inter-Church Committee for Human Rights in Latin America, January 1989), p. 3.] According to the Chilean government, the Comando para el No raised US$100 million from foreign sources for its campaign. [ Latin American Weekly Report, (London: Latin American Newsletters), 2 March 1989, backcover.] One of the major components of the "No" campaign was the access to free 15-minute daily television spots for the opposition. [ Country Reports, p. 492.] A video recording of a judge who denounced cases of torture, by Chilean authorities, however, was banned by the government. [ Human Rights in Chile, p. 14.] Apart from this ban and a reported degree of self-censorship, no other cases of overt censorship during the campaign are reported among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.

In the days following the plebiscite, which resulted in the defeat of President Pinochet's attempt to extend his term in office, some of the rallies of the supporters of the "No" campaign were reportedly attacked and arrests took place during victory celebrations. [ Human Rights in Chile, p. 6.] Later, the Comando para el No was dissolved as parties canvassed individually for the upcoming general elections. Some parties which were brought together in the coalition have continued their alliance. Patricio Aylwin, who was the official speaker of the Comando para el No and the head of the Christian Democrat party, headed the major opposition party coalition as presidential candidate for the December 1989 general elections. [ Facts on File, (New York, Facts on File, Inc.), 24 February 1989, pp. 133-134. ]Patricio Aylwin was eventually elected and is now the President of Chile.

Pages 40-41 of the attached Mission to Chile indicate that in the August 1988 reorganization of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT, translated by the publication as United Workers Central, although it can be translated to Unitarian Central of Workers or Workers' Unitarian Central, the largest trade union confederation of Chile), the new national directorate included 16 members affiliated to the DC representing 37 percent of the delegates. Manuel Bustos was reportedly affiliated with the DC and elected president of the CUT.

Of the attached documents, Latin American Political Movements provides information on the DC until 1985, while Political Parties of the World provides information up to 1988. The attached documents include:
-Mission to Chile, (Washington, D.C.: Freedom House Inc., 1988), pp. 22-23, 26, 40-41 and chart of the political parties of Chile;
-Political Parties of the World, (London/Chicago: St. James Press, 1988), p. 97;
-Latin American Political Movements, (London: Longman Publishing Group, 1986), pp. 51-52;
-World Encyclopedia of Political Systems & Parties, (New York: Facts on File Publications, 1987), pp. 193-194.