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Chilean History Examined in ‘The Judge and the General’

Decades after Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship claimed the lives of thousands of Chileans, a new documentary by Elizabeth Farnsworth and Patricio Lanfranco sheds light on Chile's troubled past. Jeffrey Brown speaks with Farnsworth, a former NewsHour correspondent, about the film.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Finally tonight, a new documentary on Chile, and to Jeffrey Brown.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    On Sept. 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet led a coup against Chile's democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. Allende died that day, and thousands of Chileans were killed, tortured, exiled, and disappeared in the aftermath.

    GEN. AUGUSTO PINOCHET, Former Leader of Chile (through translator): Congress will remain in recess until otherwise ordered. That is all.

  • JUAN GUZMAN, Chilean Judge (through translator):

    I myself believe that, if I would have been a young lieutenant or young captain and I was ordered to shoot one or more people, I would have shot.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Those last words were spoken by Juan Guzman, the judge appointed in 1998 to investigate the crimes of the Pinochet regime. His quest is the subject of the film "The Judge and the General."

    One of its co-producers is someone well-known to the NewsHour audience, our long-time correspondent and colleague — and I should say friend — Elizabeth Farnsworth.

  • ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH, Former NewsHour Correspondent:

    Good to see you, Jeff.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Nice to have you here. What drew you to the story of Juan Guzman?

  • ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH:

    I worked on a film in Chile in 1970. I was an assistant producer on a feature film that had documentary footage in it, too. And I was there for four months when Allende was elected, the democratically elected socialist that worried President Nixon and Henry Kissinger and also the conservative people who didn't support socialism in Chile.

    And I got know a lot of people on both sides of the political divide when I did that. One of our cameramen was killed when the crew came. He had been very pro-Allende. I knew people who died. I knew people who supported Pinochet.

    And you might say I became obsessed with this, because I wanted to know, why did so many Chileans support a military coup, which included quite a lot of violence, torture, secret prisons? And why, on the other side, did people dare and how did they dare resist that coup?

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