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Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
    << Back to Chile National Security

    The 1980 constitution, prepared and enacted by the military government, states that the armed forces "exist for the defense of the fatherland, are essential for national security, and guarantee the institutional order of the Republic" (Article 90). The military is capable of carrying out its responsibility to deter any probable enemy or group of enemies. As in most other Latin American countries, the role as guarantor of national security and institutional order is deemed to extend to the defense of national institutions against internal as well as external threats. These have been controversial notions, but the Aylwin government was unable to clarify the role of the military or to assert the principle of presidential control over the military.

    The 1980 constitution and the Organic Constitutional Law of the Armed Forces (Law 18,948 of February 1990) that was enacted at the end of the military government expanded the military's autonomy from the president and gave it a voice over national affairs through its participation in the newly created National Security Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nacional--Cosena). Presided over by the president of the republic, Cosena includes the presidents of the Senate and the Supreme Court, the commanders in chief of the armed forces, and the director general of the Carabineros of Chile (Carabineros de Chile), a national police force with a paramilitary organization (see The Security Forces , this ch.). The constitutional reforms approved in July 1989 added the comptroller general (contralorĂ­a general) to Cosena, bringing the total number of voting members on it to eight. Also participating as members, but without the right to vote, are the ministers of defense; economy, development, and reconstruction; finance; foreign relations; and interior. Cosena also selects four former military commanders in chief (one from each service) as designated senators and two of seven judges of the powerful Constitutional Tribunal (Tribunal Constitucional). After the 1989 constitutional reform, Cosena was given the power to represent (representar) its views on any matter that it deemed appropriate to the president, Congress, or the Constitutional Tribunal; to give its consent to the president to remove a top military commander (and thus a member of Cosena); and to ask any government agency for information on security matters.

    In 1992 and early 1993, the Aylwin government presented constitutional reform legislation to Congress in order to reinstitute the president's right to remove military officers, including the heads of the services, at the chief executive's discretion (only Cosena has that right). Another set of proposed reforms presented in 1993 also would have eliminated the designated senators and revamped the composition of Cosena by adding the president of the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Congress) to it (thereby creating a civilian majority on it), and it would have changed the Constitutional Tribunal by composing it of members chosen mainly by the president and the Senate. However, the Aylwin government lacked the congressional majorities needed to enact these reforms. As a result, these changes were not instituted (see The Autonomous Powers , ch. 4).

    Data as of March 1994

    NOTE: The information regarding Chile on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Chile MISSION AND ORGANIZATION OF THE ARMED FORCES information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Chile MISSION AND ORGANIZATION OF THE ARMED FORCES should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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