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Chile’s First Opposition Daily Hits the Streets

March 19, 1987

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ The first opposition newspaper the government has allowed since 1973 appeared on the newstands Wednesday, declaring itself ″against any dictatorship.″

The morning daily La Epoca, published in Santiago with a national circulation, gave prominent front-page play in its inaugural edition to a campaign for open presidential elections.

″This newspaper will back democracy as the best system to assure the peaceful, stable and just coexistence of Chileans,″ the newspaper proclaimed in its main editorial. ″We are and will be against any dictatorship, of whatever color or denomination.″

President Augusto Pinochet, commander of the army, seized power in 1973 after toppling an elected Marxist government. The regime has allowed some opposition magazines.

La Epoca is owned by a company whose chief officers include prominent members of the opposition Christian Democratic Party. But its director, Emilio Filippi, said those officers will have no say in a ″totally independent″ editorial line.

″We do not want to be managed by the government. Nor do we want to be managed by the (political) opposition,″ Filippi said in an interview. He said he prefers to call the newspaper independent rather than opposition.

The newspaper avoided the strident language found in many opposition magazines. Filippi said he had received some complaints that the newspaper was not adopting a sufficiently hard line against the regime.

″We did not spend years creating La Epoca just to turn out a pamphlet, a guerrilla newpaper,″ he said.

The owners’ request for government authorization took two years to be approved, and another nine months were spent establishing a plant, buying equipment and hiring a staff.

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