The Chilean government and American businessmen here said they were pleased with the U.S. Senate vote to end a five-year ban on military aid to Chile. Opponents of the right-wing regime were disappointed.
Foreign Minister Rene Rojas hailed the vote as "an indication of the good level that relations between Chile and the United States are reaching." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce here had lobbied for an end to the ban, imposed by Congress in 1976 after investigations found torture and other gross human-rights abuses by the military rulers.
"We've always felt the ban was more damaging to the United States and its trade relations that it was to Chile, which turned to other sources of supply. I hope the House will agree as well," said chamber president Ralph N. Gassman.
The Senate, in passing a $5.8 billion foreign aid bill on a 40-33 vote Thursday, also voted unanimously to allow aid to resume to Chile if the Reagan administration finds the government has made "significant progress" in complying with international standards of human rights.
"The only thing constructive that came out of this ban and from other sanctions against Chile was that it made the dissatisfaction of the United States with Chile and some of its activities clear," said Gassman, who is president of Esso Chile. But he said he thought "that dissatisfaction perhaps could have been better expressed in another manner."
A spokesman for Chile's Human Rights Commission, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said Reagan administration support for removal of the embargo cast doubt on the sincerity of the administration's announced plans to bring quiet diplomatic pressure to bear on regimes that violate human rights.