Chile: Retired Admiral Sees an “Internal Menace”

Admiral Miguel Angel Vergara (l) and the current Commander in Chief Juan Andres de la Maza. Photo: Pantallazo

The retired officer alluded to the “internal threat”, that ominous concept of the Cold War that forms part of Chile’s National Security Doctrine.

By El Mostrador

HAVANA TIMES – On May 20, Retired Admiral Miguel Angel Vergara* gave an unusual speech before the Chilean Navy’s high command, presided over by Commander in Chief Juan Andres de la Maza. The Admiral spoke at an event organized every year by the Chilean Maritime League, a group of retired officers, to commemorate May 21, the Day of Naval Glory. Vergara, in his role as ex-Commander in Chief of the Navy and president of the Maritime League, declared that given the “climate of insecurity that Chile is experiencing and the growing loss of patriotic values,” those in the Navy should be ready and willing to be called upon, due to what he termed “the internal threat”.

“We believe that in the situation our country is going through, where certain ideologies are bent on erasing our traditions and rewriting history, it’s advisable to recall the spirit of sacrifice and love of country of our heroes,” were among the retired Admiral’s opening words. The speech was broadcast by the Oceano Company, a media outlet that specializes in reporting events concerning the ports.

In the presence of Admiral de la Maza, Vice Admiral Alberto Soto, and other members of the high command, Vergara continued: “More than ever, we need heroism to win over ourselves, and then go out to decisively confront the challenges that the current atmosphere imposes on us. The times we’re living in, where it would seem that all our values and principles are being disrupted. There’s an outcry for men and women who are true to their convictions.”

From there, Vergara’s speech grew still harsher, alluding to the “internal menace” – that ominous concept of the Cold War that forms part of the Chilean National Security Doctrine.

“The homeland can face threats not only from outside forces, but also – and perhaps more serious – from within, in a devious way. Hence, if it were to become necessary, those of us sailors whose hearts are in the right place should be prepared to jump aboard, leaving behind our comforts, like many others who preceded us,” he concluded.

Admiral Vergara’s words were also heard by some leaders of businesses related to the ocean, such as Daniel Fernandez Koprich, head of the board of The Maritime and Port Chamber of Chile A.G.

Vergara’s fiery speech came during a period when the Navy has been frequently in the news. Just a few days previously, the government of Chilean President Gabriel Boric had relieved the head of National Defense, Rear Admiral Jorge Parga, of his position due to the support he expressed for Corporal Leonardo Medina, a former Navy officer found guilty of manslaughter in the 2019 death of a man run over by a navy vehicle in the context of the Chilean protests. Rear Admiral Jorge Parga, had been named to head the National Defense Department just two days before.

The Navy has had an active presence in the Constitutional debates, and several Constitutional Articles pertaining to them have been approved in the draft document. According to the draft, their role is to defend “the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic, against outside aggression, according to that established in the United Nations Charter. They will collaborate with the peace and international security, according to the National Defense Policy”.

Further, its specifies that they should “incorporate a gender perspective in the realization of their functions, promote equity in decision-making, and act with full respect for international law and the fundamental rights guaranteed in this Constitution”. It also notes that all the branches are: “professional institutions under a chain of command, disciplined and in their essence obedient and not deliberative bodies.”

*Editor’s note: The language used by the former Admiral who headed the Navy from 2001 to 2005 is especially disquieting when taking into account the nation’s past with the 1973 coup against the Allende government that was headed by Augusto Pinochet who then became the dictator from 1973-1990. Veraga served as a high-ranking Naval officer under Pinochet as well as under his successors. He retired voluntarily in 2005. 

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