Vía el Referente de Pato Navia los obituarios del ex dictador publicados ayer en The Economist, el New York Times y el Financial Times. Here we go!
Chile and Pinochet
Dec 10th 2006 | SANTIAGO
Augusto Pinochet has died. Few in Chile will mourn his passing
WHEN Augusto Pinochet had what looked like a
fatal heart attack early in December, many
Chileans, even those who had supported his long
dictatorship, thought it might be for the best.
“It’s high time that God calls him,” suggested
one pious, elderly lady. When, on December 10th,
a week after the first heart attack, his doctors
announced that he had finally died, relatively
few in Chile were expected to lament his passing.
After the first heart attack the doctors at the
closely-controlled military hospital in Santiago,
the capital, had suggested that Mr Pinochet was
recovering well. They suggested that was because
he had been getting excellent medical attention
and because the incident was detected in good
time. Nonetheless his opponents claimed the
incident may have been little more than the
latest ploy by the 91-year-old to ensure that he
was never brought to trial for his regime’s crimes.
In recent weeks the former dictator had faced a
flurry of new charges. He was officially under
house arrest at his home in eastern Santiago’s
prosperous La Dehesa neighbourhood when he was
first rushed to hospital. But General
Pinochet—who ruled from 1973 until 1990—managed
to avoid ever answering to a court for the
disappearances, torture and other abuses suffered by his regime’s opponents.
However, he did live long enough to see his
reputation crumble even among those Chileans who
once revered him for saving their country from
the chaos of Salvador Allende’s socialist
government. Among some, at least, this may be
less because of his dictatorship’s ill-treatment
of opponents, which many saw as the price of
re-establishing order. Rather it is because, in
the past few years, it has been revealed that he
had secretly stuffed $27m in a number of foreign
bank accounts. Those supporters who donated
family jewels to the reconstruction effort of the
mid-1970s, or who helped to finance his legal
defence after he was arrested in London on
human-rights charges in 1998, consider they have been betrayed.
General Pinochet had become an anachronism, and
was gradually fading out of public life. In 1990
the old general was forced to step down as
president after losing a national referendum,
although the constitution written by his own
regime ensured that he would stay on as army
commander for another eight years and,
thereafter, that he would have a life Senate
seat. He lost the latter in 2002 when he was declared unfit for trial.
Today even the army, which he commanded for a
quarter of a century, has mixed feelings about
his old regime. Many officers are concerned that
the armed forces are still isolated from the rest
of society. Similarly conservative opposition
parties which largely supported his dictatorship
realised soon after his arrest in London that he
had become an electoral liability. Neither they
nor the centre-left Concertación coalition, which
has governed Chile since 1990, have any intention
of changing the free-market policies which have
underpinned Chile’s economic growth for the past
16 years. But nor do they wish to remember that
the policies had their origin in his regime’s structural reforms.
After more than a decade of basking in praise for
running South America’s most successful economy,
Chileans resent having a dark chapter of their
past raked over yet again. It proves embarrassing
for those who supported or tolerated his regime
and painful for those who suffered at its hands.
For both sides, they will welcome the chance to
bury that part of their country’s past along with General Pinochet.
Copyright The Economist 2006
New York Times
December 10, 2006
Augusto Pinochet, 91, Ex-Dictator of Chile, Dies
By JONATHAN KANDELL
Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator
who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two
decades and became a notorious symbol of human
rights abuse and corruption, died today at the
Military Hospital of Santiago. He was 91.
Dr. Juan Ignacio Vergara, head of the medical
team that had been treating him, said his
condition degenerated sharply a week after he
underwent an angioplasty after an acute heart attack.
General Pinochet seized power on Sept. 11, 1973,
in a bloody military coup that toppled the
Marxist government of President Salvador Allende.
He then led the country into an era of robust
economic growth. But during his rule, more than
3,200 people were executed or disappeared, and
scores of thousands more were detained and tortured or exiled.
General Pinochet gave up the presidency in 1990
after promulgating a Constitution that empowered
a right-wing minority in the Senate well into the
new century. He held on to his post of commander
in chief of the army until 1998. With that power
base, he exerted considerable influence over the
democratically elected governments that replaced his iron-fisted rule.
He set limits, for example, on economic policy
debates with frequent warnings that he would not
tolerate a return to statist measures, and he
blocked virtually all attempts to prosecute
members of his security forces for human rights
abuses. Through intimidation and legal obstacles,
General Pinochet sought to ensure his own
immunity from accountability and in fact was
never brought to trial.But in an astonishing turn
of events nearly a decade after he stepped down,
he was detained in Britain and then, on his
return to Chile, forced to spend his retirement
years fighting a battery of legal charges
relating to human rights violations and personal corruption.
During those last years he lived in near
seclusion, mostly at his home in Bucalemu, about
80 miles southwest of Santiago, scorned even by
many of his former military colleagues and
right-wing civilian ideologues. Many were
disillusioned by revelations that he held, at the
least, $28 million in secret bank accounts abroad.
“The humiliation Pinochet has gone through is
probably a better outcome than any trial could
have achieved,” said José Zalaquett, Chile’s foremost human rights lawyer.
General Pinochet won grudging international
praise for some of the free-market policies he
instituted, transforming a bankrupt economy into
the most prosperous in Latin America. They
included removing trade barriers, encouraging
export growth, privatizing state-owned
industries, creating a central bank able to
control interest and exchange rates without
government interference, cutting wages sharply,
and privatizing the social security system. Many
elements of the so-called Chilean model were widely emulated in the region.
But by the time of his death, even some of those
economic victories had been called into question.
The privatizing of Chile’s social security
system, in particular, has come under attack as
being unjust and is undergoing revision. And
across Latin America, many of the countries that
had adopted similar changes are reversing some of
them, responding to a growing wave of popular,
leftist revolt over foreign competition and unequal distribution of wealth.
General Pinochet initially led a four-man junta
in the 1973 military revolt that brought him to
power. President Allende, a democratically
elected Socialist, was found dead after shooting
himself during an assault on the presidential
palace in Santiago. The coup followed many months
of political unrest and economic chaos.
Hyperinflation, recession, labor strife and
middle-class protests had all sapped the Allende
government of popular support.
General Pinochet (pronounced PEE-noh-shay) soon
made it clear that he had little use for
political parties, banning all of them, and he
also dissolved congress and scrapped the
constitution. He blamed the democratic political
system for allowing a coalition of Socialists and
Communists to take control of the government. In
a 1973 news conference, he asserted that Chile
would require “an authoritarian government that
has the capacity to act decisively” and would not
return to the traditional political party system
for a generation. It was a vow he kept.
In 1974, General Pinochet elevated himself to
president, reducing the rest of the junta to a
consultative role. He appointed military officers
as mayors of towns and cities throughout Chile.
Retired military personnel were named rectors of
universities, and they carried out vast purges of
faculty members suspected of left-wing or liberal sympathies.
The press was censored, and labor strikes and
unions were banned. A fearsome security apparatus
known as the National Intelligence Directorate,
known as DINA, persecuted, tortured and killed
Pinochet opponents within Chile and sometimes
beyond its borders. A government-commissioned
report issued in 2004 concluded that almost
28,000 people had been tortured during the general’s reign.
Military regimes were the rule rather than the
exception in Latin America in the 1970s. Whether
right wing, as in Argentina and Brazil, or left
wing, as in Peru, military dictators came to
power promising to impose economic discipline but
departed, after some initial success, with the economy in disarray.
General Pinochet proved to be the exception.
Though no economic expert, he had at his service
a team of technocrats, who, months before the
coup, put together a radical plan to overhaul the
country’s battered economy. Some had studied with
the Nobel Prize-winner Milton Friedman at the
University of Chicago and embraced his notions of
free-market forces and monetarism.
But economic transformation was slow and painful.
Mistakes by the general’s economic team provoked
a deep recession in the early 1980s that left
more than a third of the work force without jobs.
The poor survived with the help of soup lines and
temporary employment in public works projects
that paid less than the minimum wage.
Attempts at strikes or other forms of protest
were ruthlessly put down by General Pinochet’s
secret police. That repression gave the
free-market policies time to take hold. Since the
mid-1980s, Chile’s gross domestic product has
grown an average of more than 6 percent a year,
the most impressive performance in Latin America.
There were few hints in General Pinochet’s early
life that he harbored either political ambitions
or ideological convictions. The son of a customs
inspector, he was born into lower middle-class
circumstances on Nov. 25, 1915, in the Pacific
port city of Valparaíso. He graduated from the
military academy in Santiago in 1937 and rose
steadily in the officer corps. He was already a
general, and only 55, when he was given the
important post of commander of the Santiago army garrison in 1971.
It was a crucial moment in President Allende’s
term. Elected the year before with only 36
percent of the vote, Dr. Allende, a physician,
had pressed ahead with a socialist program to
nationalize mines, banks and strategic
industries, split up large rural estates into
communal farms, and impose price controls. The
measures soon resulted in steep declines in
production, shortages of consumer goods and
explosive inflation. A general strike paralyzed
Santiago in late 1972, and General Pinochet, as
garrison commander, was called on by Dr. Allende
to impose a state of emergency in the capital.
This was the first time most Chileans became
aware of the tall, broad-shouldered army officer
with a brush mustache on his unsmiling face.
General Pinochet imposed a curfew, ordered the
arrest of several hundred demonstrators on both
the left and the right and announced, “I will not
tolerate agents of chaos no matter what their political ideology.”
His seemingly neutral stance convinced Dr.
Allende that he was an officer who could be
relied on to observe the Chilean military’s
century-long tradition of loyalty to civilian
government. In August 1973, he appointed General
Pinochet commander in chief of the army.
Less than three weeks later, the armed forces
overthrew the government. The presidential
palace, known as La Moneda, was bombed and
strafed by the air force. Dr. Allende shot
himself rather than surrender, according to his personal physician.
Aside from battles at some factories in the
Santiago suburbs, there was little resistance to
the overwhelming firepower of the military units
that fanned out across the country. Tens of
thousands of Allende sympathizers were rounded up
and brutally interrogated. A majority of the
killings took place in the three months, long after resistance had ended.
In most cases, prisoners from a slum or agrarian
community would be executed as a means of
terrorizing their neighborhoods into accepting
military rule. The killings were often cynically,
and falsely, justified as cases in which
prisoners were shot while trying to escape.
The images that most shaped the outside world’s
low opinion of the military regime were scenes of
Santiago’s main sports stadium filled with
prisoners, and by the public appearances of
General Pinochet, his eyes hidden behind dark
glasses, his face set in a scowl, his arms folded
defiantly across his chest. Although a majority
of executions, jailings and cases of torture took
place shortly after the 1973 coup, serious human
rights abuses waxed and waned over the next 17 years.
By the late 1980s, the economic prosperity
General Pinochet created had lulled him into
assuming that in free elections he or his chosen
candidate would receive the grateful support of a
majority of Chileans. But by then most were
either too young to remember the Allende years or
too confident about the strength of the economy
to believe that only an authoritarian government
could insure growth and stability.
In 1980, a new constitution backed by the
Pinochet government made the armed forces
“guarantors of institutionality,” giving them a
nebulous role as political arbiters. It included
several other limitations to full-fledged
democracy. But in a 1988 plebiscite, an ample
majority of Chileans voted against an attempt by
General Pinochet to stay on as president for eight more years.
In presidential elections a year later, the
former dictator’s candidate was handily defeated
by Patricio Aylwin, a centrist Christian Democrat
supported by parties of the left. In 1993,
another Christian Democrat, Eduardo Frei
Ruiz-Tagle, was elected president by an even greater margin.
To the delight of the Chilean business community,
foreign investment, which had been stunted during
the years the government was regarded with
international opprobrium, poured back into the
country, and Chilean products were welcomed
everywhere abroad. Officials of the new Christian
Democratic administration were not inclined to
tinker with the roaring economic machine they
inherited from the Pinochet administration.
“We may not like the government that came before
us,” Alejandro Foxley, who was finance minister
under Mr. Aylwin and is foreign minister today,
said in a 1991 interview. “But they did many
things right. We have inherited an economy that is an asset.”
With the transition to a democracy going so well,
even admirers of General Pinochet hoped he would
settle into a quieter period. Instead, he staged
unannounced military maneuvers or placed his
troops on sudden alert and gave notice that he
would not tolerate attempts to prosecute his
era’s human rights violators. “The day they touch
one of my men, the rule of law ends,” he warned in 1991.
In a rare exception, he stood by as two
subordinates were convicted of ordering the
murder of Orlando Letelier, foreign minister in
the Allende government. Mr. Letelier was killed
by a car bomb in Washington in September 1976,
along with an American colleague, Ronni Moffitt.
The incident, considered the worst act of
state-sponsored terrorism on American soil,
strained relations between Chile and the United States for almost two decades.
The two subordinates went to prison in 1995. They
were Gen. Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda, the head of
DINA, the notorious secret police, who was
sentenced to seven years; and his second in
command, Col. Pedro Espinoza, who was sentenced to six years.
Stories of corruption began swirling around
members of General Pinochet’s family as well as
military personnel, and he used his power as army
chief to protect them. He quashed judicial and
congressional investigations into the financial
dealings of his elder son and of army officers
who were accused of running an illegal investment
banking operation. Until revelations emerged in
late 2004 that he had accumulated secret accounts
totaling as much as $8 million at Riggs Bank in
Washington, the general himself was rarely
accused of corruption and lived in Spartan style.
Later, Chilean investigators found that he had as
much as $28 million in secret bank accounts in a number of countries.
Through his strong-arm tactics against the
democratic governments that succeeded him,
General Pinochet was making the point to Chileans
that if they wanted to enjoy the capitalist
virtues of his former dictatorship, they had
better overlook his human rights violations.
Those violations were well documented by the
National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation,
a nonpartisan group appointed by Mr. Aylwin to
investigate the killings and disappearances
carried out under the general’s 17-year
dictatorship. The commission’s report cited
victims by name and described the ghastly
circumstances of their deaths by firing squads,
beatings, mutilations, drownings and
electrocutions. In all, the report attributed at
least 3,200 killings and disappearances to the Pinochet security forces.
Retired as dictator but still in command of the
army, General Pinochet scoffed at his human
rights critics. Asked about the discovery of a
mass grave of his government’s victims, he was
quoted in the Chilean press as joking that it was
an “efficient” way of burial.
Protected by personal security squads, the
general also continued an active social life. He
was feted by wealthy admirers on his birthday and
on the anniversary of his coup. He was often
invited to speak at luncheons given by political
supporters and leading businessmen. When he
finally stepped down as army chief, he joined the
Senate as an unelected, permanent member,
apparently intending to grant himself further immunity from prosecution.
But the general did not count on the
determination of some jurists abroad to bring him
to justice. In October 1998, while recuperating
in a London clinic from a back operation, he was
arrested by the British police in response to an
application from a Spanish judge, seeking the
general’s extradition to Madrid to stand trial on
charges of genocide, torture and kidnapping.
A 16-month legal battle ensued, ending with a
decision to send him back to Chile in March 2000
because his physical and mental ailments made him
unfit to stand trial. Days after his return,
Ricardo Lagos, the first Socialist to be elected
president since the 1973 overthrow of Mr. Allende, assumed office.
For the rest of his life, the general had to
fight off lawsuits and accept the humiliation of
constant news reports about widespread brutality
under his rule. President Lagos allowed the
hundreds of criminal complaints filed against
General Pinochet to run their course in the
courts. He was succeeded in March 2006 by another
Socialist, Michelle Bachelet, a former political
prisoner and exile. Her father, an air force
general loyal to Dr. Allende, was jailed by his
colleagues and died in prison after being tortured.
General Pinochet spent his final years in near
seclusion, with his wife, the former María Lucía
Hiriart Rodríguez, 84, with whom he had two sons,
Augusto and Marco Antonio, and three daughters,
Lucía, Verónica and Jacqueline. They all survive him.
In rare public remarks, he continued to insist
that he enjoyed the gratitude and wide support of
Chileans. But polls indicated that well over half
of his compatriots believed he should have been
prosecuted for his human rights crimes.
Larry Rohter and Pascale Bonnefoy contributed reporting.
Copyright The New York Times 2006
Obituary: Augusto Pinochet 1915-2006
By Robert Graham, David Pilling and Richard Lapper
General Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s former military
dictator who has died at the age of 91, was one
of the most controversial figures in twentieth-century Latin America.
In his latter years, sustained efforts first by
Britain and Spain and then by a string of Chilean
judges to bring him to trial for human rights
abuses made headlines around the world and
highlighted the two sides of his legacy: on the
one hand he presided over what was undoubtedly a
murderous regime; on the other he was the man who
paved the way for Chile’s economic prosperity.
Outside Chile he was seen by many as the
archetypal South American tyrant – part
caricature with his sinister dark glasses and
Prussian-style military uniform, part terrifying
as the creator of a police state that thrived on
torture and repression. Inside Chile, opinions
about the man who in 1973 overthrew the socialist
government of Salvador Allende have been more complex.
For Pinochet was instrumental in modernising the
Chilean state and laying the foundations for
sustained economic growth. He was also one of the
few dictators voluntarily, if reluctantly, to
relinquish power. He himself believed his
historic role had been to show the world that communism was reversible.
Yet repeated attempts to bring him to trial – he
was indicted for the murder of two of Allende’s
bodyguards only last month and faced prosecution
on tax evasion and fraud charges – helped to
tarnish his reputation among even his most fervent supporters.
Born into a lower-middle class family in 1915 in
Valparaiso, the eldest of six children of a dock
clerk, he was encouraged by his ambitious mother
to enter officer cadet school. The puny
16-year-old was only accepted at the third
attempt, a humiliation that gave him a lifelong
obsession with physical fitness.
Pinochet began to climb the military ladder and
had risen to garrison commander in Santiago by
the time Allende embarked on the Chilean road to
socialism in the early 1970s. It was just 19 days
before the coup that led to his death that
Allende appointed Pinochet – who had earned a
reputation as an obedient, if unremarkable,
constitutionalist – as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Pinochet’s part in Allende’s overthrow is
ambiguous. He claimed to have masterminded the
coup. Fellow conspirators maintain he was only
persuaded to take part at the 11th hour. Whatever
the truth, Pinochet quickly became undisputed
leader of the four-man junta – declaring himself
president in 1974 – and set about the task of stamping out opposition.
The ferocity and surgical precision of that
repression repulsed the world and made Chile an
international pariah for nearly two decades. In
the years that followed, the bodies of suspected
left-wing sympathisers were regularly washed up
in Santiago’s sludgy Mapocho river or were unearthed from mass graves.
Strict censorship, the banning of all political
parties and the desire of many Chileans to turn a
blind eye meant that it was not until the
publication of the Rettig report in 1991 that the
full horror of what had happened became public.
Some 3,000 people had been killed or
“disappeared” (a verb that became synonymous with
Chile), tens of thousands were subjected to
routine torture and still more were forced into exile.
Pinochet regarded institutional terror, meted out
by his feared secret police, as a legitimate
weapon. His supporters argue that more people
would have died had Chile been allowed to drift into civil war.
Yet absolute political control was combined with
a gradual reduction in the state’s economic role.
Pinochet was persuaded by his business allies,
many of them influenced by the “Chicago Boys” –
followers of the Chicago school of free market
economics. They believed that free-market
policies would be the most effective bulwark against Marxism.
Although Pinochet had leaned towards more
nationalistic economic policies, he allowed his
civilian advisers to open up the economy and
dismantle Chile’s import-substitution model.
Subsidies and price controls were scrapped,
tariffs reduced and a liberal foreign investment
regime established. Inflation – which had reached
Weimar proportions under Allende – was sharply
reduced, the public payroll was slashed and
government spending cut. Nationalised businesses
were returned to the private sector and union power was curbed.
The economy was battered by this shock therapy,
shrinking 13 per cent in 1975, but recovered
strongly in the five years to 1981. However,
over-reliance on foreign borrowing meant that
Chile was harder-hit than any other Latin
American country by the debt crisis of the early
1980s. Nearly a third of Chile’s labour force was
unemployed and the economy withered by a further 14 per cent.
More pragmatic policies restored economic health
in the years that followed but the 1982 slump
marked a watershed in Pinochet’s career. Santiago
echoed to the beating of empty casserole tins (a
protest symbolising hunger) and a political
opposition began to organise. Pinochet had been
deserted by the middle classes. When he submitted
himself to a plebiscite in October 1988, the
majority of Chileans – 66 per cent – felt the
country no longer needed an ageing military
leadership. Pinochet found he had misjudged the
mood of the nation and the ability of the opposition to unify.
Pinochet had many different personas. The man who
barked orders to his inferiors, took to wearing
flamboyant capes and scoffed at assassination
attempts was transformed during the 1988 campaign
into a grandfatherly figure, dressed in civilian
clothes and frequently seen kissing babies. In
private he was a teetotal non-smoker who was
deeply influenced by the wishes of his formidable wife, Lucia Rodriguez.
After the handover of power, Pinochet remained
head of the armed forces and tried to cast
himself in the role of “protector of democracy”.
That ambiguous role came to a dramatic end in the
London Clinic in 1998, where he had gone for
surgery on his back. There he was arrested after
a Spanish request that he be extradited to Madrid
to face charges of crimes against humanity.
The case caused considerable controversy in
Britain. Jack Straw, the then Labour home
secretary, was known to have demonstrated against
Pinochet as a young man. Margaret Thatcher, the
former Conservative prime minister, stoutly
defended the General, saying he had been a
staunch friend of Britain during the Falklands
war and that his arrest was the result of a political vendetta.
In March 2000, Pinochet was allowed to fly home
on the grounds that he was too old and ill to be
mentally fit to stand trial. But in the years
that followed, Chilean judges stripped Pinochet
of the legal immunity he once enjoyed and he
faced a string of human rights charges, evading
trial only by virtue of ill-health and old-age. A
separate set of charges related to tax evasion,
fraud and other financial impropriety further
discredited Pinochet and led Chile’s right-wing
parties to distance themselves from his legacy.
Pinochet himself has continued to defend his
record, arguing in a letter read out by his wife
just over a week ago that his only motive in
governing Chile had been to “make the country
great and avoid its disintegration”. But for
many, particularly those who suffered repression, the price was far too high.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006