Ambassador Heraldo Munoz of Chile Discusses his Recent Book
On the 3rd of December 2008, the Columbia Club of New York and the United Nations Association of New York hosted Heraldo Muñoz, the Chilean Ambassador to the UN. In conjunction with the release of his political memoir, The Dictator's Shadow, he gave the audience a candid recollection of his fascinating political story.
From his beginnings as an official in the Salvador Allende government, to his time in hiding after Pinochet's coup d'état, and his tenure as the President of the UN Security Council – the Ambassador recalled the path of Chile's miracle through his extraordinary personal experience.
The emergence of Pinochet's junta in 1973 led to the "systematic repression" of activists, and flagrant human rights violations. Ambassador Muñoz, while in hiding, was sought out several times by the junta - culminating in a moment where luck changed his life. He escaped certain capture when a contingent of military soldiers mistakenly raided his neighbor's house.
He spoke of a "pragmatic" Pinochet; however the dictator's laissez-faire economic vision, perpetuated by the "Chicago Boys" of Chile, began to show cracks in 1982. This paved the way for the plebiscite in 1988, and consequently the democratic elected administration of Patricio Aylwin in 1990. The Ambassador made clear that this was possible through a historic compromise between the center and the left.
Ambassador Muñoz's story is truly one of belief and persistence in the rule of law and the triumph of democracy. His story is indeed one that needed to be told.