Quayle: Pinochet Pledges To Obey New Government With AM-Chile Bjt
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ Vice President Dan Quayle, after receiving an unfriendly welcome from supporters of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, said Sunday the outgoing military ruler assured him he would obey Chile’s new civilian government.
Quayle, meeting with Pinochet on the last day of his 16 1/2 -year presidency, quoted Pinochet as saying ″there would be no problems between himself and President (Patricio) Aylwin - when President Aylwin gave an order, that order would be complied with.″
Quayle was jeered by a throng of Pinochet supporters when he arrived for a 35-minute meeting at the general’s walled residence.
″Go Away 3/8″ they shouted. ″Son of a Whore 3/8″ and ″Pinochet, Pinochet 3/8″
Quayle waved to them as he got out of his limousine, apparently unaware that their shouts were unfriendly.
There was no violence, but Secret Service agents canceled plans for Quayle to hold a sidewalk news conference near the demonstrators. Following the Pinochet meeting, the agents spirited him away in his limousine as the crowd booed and made thumbs-down gestures.
Meanwhile, Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who arrived in Santiago Sunday night, said he would like to meet with Quayle while here. ’I think it will be a good opportunity to talk with Vice President Quayle,″ he said at a news conference when asked his reaction to Quayle’s previous statements that he was willing to hold such a meeting.
Until Ortega was voted out of office Feb. 25 and agreed to turn over power to his successor, Quayle and other Bush administration officials had avoided direct high-level talks with the Ortega government although the two maintained formal diplomatic relations.
Quayle’s chief of staff, Bill Cristol, attended the Ortega news conference and said: ″I suspect they’ll (Quayle and Ortega) have a chance to talk one way or the other. We’ll what happens tomorrow.″
Both men are scheduled to attend a luncheon Monday being hosted by Aylwin for all the visiting government officials.
Pinochet still heads the Chilean military, and Quayle aides said the vice president told Pinochet the United States expected him to respect the new civilian authority. Pinochet has said he would honor Aylwin’s authority but has indicated he would not necessarily consider other government officials his superiors.
″There was no debate. He knew who the people elected. He was willing to abide by the wishes of the people. I found that most encouraging,″ Quayle told reporters later.
The vice president traveled to Valparaiso for Aylwin’s inauguration later in the day on the third day of his South American trip.
Quayle said he emphasized to Pinochet that ″his role in history is just beginning to be recorded.″
How he complies with the peaceful transition of government is as important to Pinochet’s historical legacy, Quayle said, as the years of his presidency when widespread right-wing terror prevailed.
Pinochet’s regime came under increasing U.S. pressure to respect human rights and was subjected to a U.S. embargo on military aid and sales.
U.S. officials traveling with Quayle said that, unlike most of the foreign representatives who came for Aylwin’s inauguration, Quayle and the Bush administration had no qualms about a face-to-face meeting with Pinochet.
Several other heads of state arranged go directly to the inaugural ceremony so they would not have to greet Pinochet. That included Venezuela’s President Carlos Andres Perez and Spanish Prime Minister Philipe Gonzalez, both of whom Quayle met Friday in Venezuela en route to Santiago.
But Quayle said Sunday morning that ″the right thing is to pay respects to the current president.″
U.S. officials who participated in Sunday’s meeting described Pinochet as proud and unapologetic about the past but accepting of the election that brought his 16-year rule to an end.
Pinochet wore a white military jacket and waved briefly from his balcony to his cheering fans.
″He was a very proud man. He’s proud of what he’s done for the people of Chile,″ Quayle said.
Pinochet began the meeting by comparing himself to the reformers who are bringing democratic-style government to in Eastern Europe. ″Sixteen years ago, we did what is happening in Europe now. We weren’t understood. What is happening with the Berlin Wall - that happened to us 16 years ago,″ Pinochet said while posing for photographers prior to the Quayle meeting.
Pinochet overthrew the elected government of Marxist President Salvador Allende in 1973. Thousands of Allende’s supporters were rounded up and many were tortured or killed. Victims of the human rights abuses have vowed to press charges against the military once Aylwin takes office.
A senior official traveling with Quayle said the disposition of those matters would be up to Chilean authorities.
The Bush administration has emphasized human rights issues abroad, but ″we didn’t come here to debate the last 17 years,″ the official said.
However, Quayle and the other U.S. officials with him said the administration hopes to see progress under Aylwin on the prosecution in the 1976 assassination in Washington of Orlando Letelier, a former Allende cabinet minister. The U.S. government has pressed unsuccessfully for the prosecution of two Chilean military officers in that bombing.
Quayle said, however, that issue did not arise in his meeting with Pinochet.