49 thoughts on “Pinochet is dead. Hooray!

  1. “Michelle Bachelet’s own father was killed by Pinochet’s military goons, how fitting that she should now be running the country.” Grace Pettigrew

    And he has denied Pinochet a state funeral. Sweet revenge, of sorts.

    “My point is that this sustained utter rejection by society must have been more painful than any other possible punishment!” Jimmythespiv

    Fair point. We shouldn’t underestimate how degrading and destructive a punishment this sort of treatment can be, justified or not. For individuals within a highly social species, such as we humans, the threat of serious social sanction, humiliation, rejection, and isolation is only slightly less powerful than the threat of imminent death.

  2. Btw, I don’t see the equivalence between someone like Pinochet and Markus Wolf at all. Of course there is an equivalence from a purely moral point of view. But the reason Pinochet was important to us is that we live in democracies where the citizen is not only able, but has a duty, to criticize the policies of his/her own government when the latter promotes repression of others. For those of us who actually believe in democracy, it was for the Chilean people to express their satisfaction or otherwise with Allende at the polls. It was not for Pinochet and his foreign allies (our governments) to decide what was best for the Chileans. I find it quite shocking that people who benefit from living in a democracy are ready to support a corrupt and murderous military dicatorship because they think they know best. Those people suffer from the Bush syndrome – ‘we’ll bring democracy to Iraq, but they have to do it our way (correctly)’. Hitler made an ‘economic miracle’ in Germany too – and, for this reason, he was admired in the 1930s by exactly that sort of person.

    If Allende’s policies had been so disastrous as some above make out, the Chileans would have eventually voted him out of office. They didn’t get the chance because our governments (and their ‘technical experts’) helped to make sure they wouldn’t. We were hypocrites: we demanded the aboliton of Markus Wolf’s version of repression, but not Pinochet’s.

  3. Jack, and other apologists:
    Let’s talk economics and accurate history, ok?

    It’s not about being “morally dogmatic” but simply being factual and HONEST: from the day of the coup in 1973 until quite late in the eighties (’88 or so) the whole economy and its productive capacity was in ruins, even if the nominal rates of growth were becoming positive.

    Coming from such a low base those initial growth figures were insignificant for the majority of the population who were still well under the poverty line. We are talking about half of the whole population being under the poverty line!

    Some people were really starving, while he was stashing millions away, privatising public services to foreign corporations for very substantial “commisions”, selling state forests to send cheap woodchip overseas, and of course setting up our own home grown arms industry for foreign exports to those willing to pay the highest prices, and with all the corruption that brings (his own son was well involved in the weapons trade and the “Pino-che-ques” plus the secret foreign bank accounts, etc.

    That is why the dictatorship lasted until the nineties, Pinochet and his regime did not want to call the elections he had promised earlier, because he wanted to have a much better track record to sell himself as a presidential candidate, with all the benefits of the extra powers of “emergency” of the dictatorship and a very loaded “new” constitution.

    Even after he lost that election he had to be “persuaded” by his own advisors with an eye on history, about letting the elected centre-left coalition government take its place, by trying to paint himself as a selfless “father-of-the-nation” figure who only did the best for the country and its people.

    Of course he gave himself and his accomplices a constitutionally enforced amnesty for any crimes remaining the head of the armed forces while also giving himself the title of “senator-for-life” with another 10 hand picked “designated senators” in the 50-seat Senate, virtually holding veto over all legislation during the last 3 previous centre-left coalitions presidents from 1990 to 2006: Alwyn, Frei and Lagos. Only now in 2006 there is a more independent congress with both housees becoming more directly representative of the actual vote (reforms still ongoing…).

    But of course the centre-left coalition gets no credit for any good economic or social performance in these last 16 years they have been in charge from these very biased and dogmatic apologists! Plus they also have had to heal the very deep wounds still scarring all Chileans. At least other developing nations are learning from this experience, eg: Southafrica’s Reconciliation Commissions, etc.

  4. More economics:

    As for the “Chicago Boys”, they were the real dogmatic mercenaries willing to trade and advise with the murderous dictatorship just to “prove” their theories. They also were quite involved in the early eighties and not just in Chile, So let’s not forget the foreign debt crisis of that time.

    The IMF and the World Bank were also intimately involved in all this, add the endemic corruption created with those huge inflows of speculative capital and you have the logical result of many economic crises and terrible suffering for the population, just like in the current economic problems in Argentina, from Menem’s legacy.

    The “Chicago Boys” only got involved for the substantial fees and their own academic arrogance to try to prove their theories, so having a willing patient ready to take the harshest medicine was sinply a means to their ends, eg: forced lowering of the minimum wages without any unemployment benefits or social safety net, record unemployment and through the roof inflation and interest rates; all not so easily forgotten in that part of the world.

    That perhaps helps explain the current wave of social democracy and progressive left governments sweeping the LatinAmerican region at the moment. You reap what you sew.

    Let that be the lesson we all never forget. It may come in handy in the Middle East!

  5. I fancy that Pinochet will be placed in the same very warm corner of Hell , alongside Milton Friedman,who was such a good buddy in the Good Old Days…and a spare seat waiting alongside for Ariel Sharon in the near future…another day for dancing in the streets.!”

  6. 2,278 desaparecidos…

    My first awareness of the Pinochet coup and its aftermath came from watching Costa-Gravas’ superb film Missing. The spectre of the events in the Victor Jara stadium stayed with me for a long time. The perpetrator of the crimes depicted in that fi…

  7. My parents in law are Chilean. Its just amazing how polarising this guy was. Chileans take politics way too seriously. Alot of ordinary Chileans loved the guy so much they put his picture up on the wall at home, even here in Australia. And others hate him. You almost can’t talk about Pinochet with a group of Chileans without starting a fight.

    As my mother in law said on the news of his death, “one uncle will be crying and another playing the coombia” (a happy dance song). What I noticed is that those that liked him thought all the economic problems came from the communists and didn’t really appreciate the sanctions. They just blamed the communists for everything. (Every one refers to them as communists).

    The best way to sum it up was that from what I have been told by people who were there:
    1) Before the coup, there really were economic problems. You could not buy bread in the shops. That created the crisis atmosphere.
    2) everyone has a story about someone that “disappeared”.
    3) You could see bodies floating in the river.
    4) Lots of innocent people were really scared for their lives.

    He was not a nice man.

  8. Chile is such an economic success makes it all the harder for many to bear”

    What planet are you living on ? Argentina matches it and its practially gone through a depression in recent years. Chile is a very poor country, as people who live there will know all too well.

  9. “The only people who are mourning his death today are the wealthy and well connected who were the ones who benefited from his brutal regime.”

    That’s simply not true. Alot of ordinary Chileans still support him very strongly. Its a bit like George Bush’s support from people at the economic bottom in the US. I guess some people are just attracted to very authoritarian leadership.

  10. Factory / Still working it out

    The data you use – PPP estimates from the CIA web site are highly illusory and cannot be compared. Argentina still has a multitude of exchange rates, which date from the decoupling of the US$1=Arg Peso 1 exchange rate. These skew out PPP data massively. For example, the current exchange rate is approximatly US1=AR3.1. But bank deposits were devalued in 2002 at US1=AR1.4. And the Central Bank is maintaining an artificially low currency as a form of industry protection. Look at the massive difference between the PPP GDP and the official exchange rate PPP. In fact, as an economist with a lot of very recent experience in Argentina, I think the CIA are smoking Budda sticks – and have provided a good example of the perils of PPP for ALL GDP per capita estimates.

    The real story is the last 25 years of growth and progress on governance and corruption in both countries -Chile has made impressive strides while Argentina continues to have worsening problems. THe challenge will be the next large external shock experienced by both countries- I suspect Chile will do a lot better.

  11. Pinochet headed up the government of Chile for 17 years and only managed to kill 3,000 commies and other leftist dirtbags?

    Not a very impressive record.

  12. Hi Dave. Better lock the basement door, and tell Mom to keep a sharp lookout. Those commies might be coming after you, just behind the Iraqi refugees.

  13. “Those commies might be coming after you…”

    I hope not. Marxists have shown an amazing propensity for killing folks over the last three or four generations.

  14. If I was a military officer in Chile in the 1970s, and I’d grown up seeing what the communists had done in Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Vietnam and North Korea (and what people with their eyes iopen saw was literally tens of millions of people murdered in cold blood by their own governments), and then I saw communists about to take control of my country, I know what I’d do.

    I’d start killing communists.

  15. Dave so did those ‘leftist dirtbag’ teachers students have it coming to them? What about the torture did they deserve that as well? How did the latest Chilean president get elected, such a person probably deserved to be tortured, obviously not the sort of person suitable for the office!

    Not like our capitalist masters who used to pay for right wing death squads, helped overthrow democratically elected governments and now torture kidnap plus bomb the crap out of those they want to liberate.

    Go figure!

  16. “Not like our capitalist masters…”

    There are certain advantages to working for capitalist masters that probably haven’t occurred to you (this is frequently the case with those who are chronically unemployed).

    1.) You can tell them to ram it up their asses if you don’t like the terms of your employment, and you won’t wind up like the kulaks wound up.

    2.) They tend to pay a lot more wages than commie police states do.

  17. Dave are we to be like suppoters of Pinochet and praise those that kill and torture in our name so we can hold onto our wealth and go on our overseas ski trip?

    That those of the ‘left’ living in poverty and had the gall to want a better deal or their political rights deserve to be killed and tortured?

  18. Ps that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to murder to attain a better deal no more than we should to keep it.

  19. Dave et al,

    This is how the pinochet fans gave their farewell to their beloved leader (front page of Chile’s La Nacion):

    That’s the simple reason we do not want any single repeat of the likes of such murderous dictators as pinochet, marcos, lennin, etc. All extremes are closer than they admit: the ends justify any means

  20. Well, it’s a late, long old time after his death, but I think this site has it spot on: Pinochet is burning in hell, as he deserves to be. Ironically, he seems to have attempted a coup in hell… (though they seem to be less discriminating in many of their other choices http://hotbovine.com/page666.html

  21. Carlos,
    Those guys are just expressing their hate for the left. That’s about the only good thing about the Nazis. Or maybe they are warming up their hands using their Dictator’s early heating by El Diablo.

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