SANTIAGO – Gabriel Boric, leader of the leftist political alliance Frente Amplio, paid Ricardo Palma Salamanca secretly a visit. Salamanca has been convicted in Chile for, among other crimes, the assassination of UDI party founder Jaime Guzmán. Boric said he wanted “to hear his side of the story”.
The meeting caused controversy in Chile, as Salamanca recently was granted political asylum in France. Chile’s government still fights for his extradition, as Salamanca has been sentenced for three lifetimes in prison for crimes committed against military men and loyalists of the military dictatorship during the years of General Augusto Pinochet. The most famous crime is the murder of Pinochet-ideologist Jaime Guzmán, who was killed during the years of the democratic transition.
Salamanca managed to escape prison with a helicopter and ended up in France. He requested and obtained political asylum there, something that sparked outcry among UDI-members in Chile. The UDI party was founded by Jaime Guzmán.
In Paris, where Boric had a stop-over as part of his visit to Palestine for his work for the Chilean-Palestinian Interparliamentary Group, the Frente Amplio-leader met with Salamanca for 30 minutes, according to daily La Tercera.
Boric underlined in an interview that he doesn’t agree with Salamanca’s actions. “The crime against Senator Jaime Guzmán is not justifiable, but the request for asylum […] was based on the fact that the Chilean justice system had been an extension from the dictatorship […] and that at the beginning of the 1990s […] there were no guarantees for a fair trial.”
Anger among UDI-members: “Boric is an anti-patriot”
Far-rightwing senator José Antonio Kast, member of UDI between 1996 and 2016, responded furious on Twitter to the meeting of Boric with Palma Salamanca. “His act is an insult to Chile’s laws and honor”. Kast went on by saying that Boric should be dismissed and called him an anti-patriot.
The fact that the meeting was part of an official trip of Chilean parliamentarians, paid for by taxpayers, made Kast wondering. “Who paid the trip of Gabriel Boric to join the fugitive terrorist? The Chamber of Deputies? All of us? Why would Chileans have to pay for rebellion”.
The feed of Kast on Twitter has been filled with accusations since news about the meeting became public.
Boric responds on Twitter: “Your party visited Pinochet in caravan”
After the accusations and insults that reached Boric from different angles, he responded to a UDI-deputy by saying that UDI-members “went in caravan to visit the dictator Pinochet, to pay him honors while he was being held in London for crimes against humanity. I have condemned murder without nuances, do not talk to me about double standards.”
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and made appearances on BBC World Services and ABC News during major events in Chile.