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Juan Guzmán Tapia, RIP

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We need to note the passing of one of the heroes of modern times:

Juan Guzmán Tapia, a Chilean judge who was the first person to prosecute the country’s onetime military ruler, Augusto Pinochet, using novel legal strategies to hold him and members of his regime accountable for killings and human rights offenses in the 1970s and 1980s, died Jan. 22 at age 81.

Chilean newspapers, including La Tercera, reported his death, which was confirmed by his family to Spanish-language news services. Other details were not disclosed, but Judge Guzmán lived in Santiago and had dementia, said a friend, Peter Kornbluh, the author of “The Pinochet File.”

Judge Guzmán, who was the son of a Chilean diplomat, said he and his conservative family celebrated in 1973 when Pinochet and his military supporters overthrew Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected socialist president, in a coup. It took years before Judge Guzmán understood the full extent of the terror that was then unleashed by Pinochet, his secret police and other henchmen.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Judge Guzmán led an often risky legal campaign to redress rampant human rights abuses that left thousands of Chileans dead.

“He has become the iconic pursuer of justice in Chile — the first judge to indict and began a legal process to bring Augusto Pinochet to justice for crimes against humanity both within Chile and elsewhere,” said Kornbluh, who is director of the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive.

It is worth noting with the rise of fascism in the United States that sometimes people do realize the error of their ways and become determine to make up for the damage they caused and the horrible people they supported. Guzmán did more than any other single person to try and bring Pinochet to justice.

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