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Four Communists Jailed On Charges Of Promoting Violence

January 3, 1989

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ Four leading members of the outlawed Communist Party were jailed Monday, and President Augusto Pinochet’s military government charged them with promoting political violence.

Those ordered to jail by civilian Judge Domingo Kockish of Santiago were Mireya Baltra, Americo Zorrilla, Jose Sanfuentes and Guillermo Scherping. Ms. Baltra and Zorrilla served in the elected government of the late President Salvador Allende, an avowed Marxist ousted by Pinochet in a 1973 coup.

The Communists and two other radical leftist groups were made illegal by the 1980 constitution, which the military wrote. The indictments and jailings coincided with the party’s 67th anniversary.

As the defendants arrived at the court building Monday, other party members presented them with anniversary cakes. They smiled and ate the cakes while court guards watched without intefering.

Charges of promoting political violence stem from a document they issued Dec. 6th announcing the party’s first national congress in two decades. It document urged a ″popular rebellion″ and supported ″all forms of struggle,″ including violence, against the government.

Party officials said the congress, expected to last months, began later in December at clandestine locations.

Attorney General Ambrosio Rodriguez said the Communist document violated the internal security law, which makes promoting political violence a crime.

According to the indictments, the party proclamation amounted to ″an apologia for political violence, urging the overthrow of the goverment and the formation of armed popular militias.″

Carlos Caceres, the interior minister, said action was taken against the Communists ″to demonstrate the government’s determination to have a peaceful transition to democracy.″

Sanfuentes, one of the defendants, said the government wants to ″prevent the Communist Party’s presence in the country’s political life.″

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