CARACAS: Just last year, General Romeo Lucas García's quiet death in exile here caught the attention of few people outside Guatemala, where he had presided over a ruthless period of civil war in which 37 people were burned to death during a siege at Spain's embassy. Spain tried to extradite him in 2005 on human rights charges, but had gotten nowhere.
A tranquil death in a foreign land, at the age of 81: such a bookend to a life of brutality or corruption was long guaranteed for Latin America's exiled strongmen.
The tradition of guaranteed asylum for fallen leaders is, in fact, coming under siege throughout the region, and the surprising extradition of Alberto Fujimori last month to Peru from Chile could turn out to be a turning point.
Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti and Venezuela are all discussing ways of bringing former leaders out of exile to face human rights or corruption charges, and legal experts expect these various efforts to be energized by a ruling by Chile's Supreme Court ordering that Fujimori be sent to a jail cell in Peru to await trial.
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