Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I have no patience for people who argue that Pinochet was OK after all because of his economic record.

It's the same with Franco: apologists will point out how much Spain progressed in the 1960's, conveniently forgetting

  1. A ravaged Spain had to wait out for 6 years while WWII unfolded before there was any hope that trade would help rebiuld the economy.
  2. Spain was then shunned by the international community for 10 years after WWII - while Western Europe was enjoying the Marshall Plan and Germany had its miracle, Spain languished in "autarchy" and outside the UN.
  3. In 1955 Eisenhower decided Franco was anti-communist enough to be useful as a friendly dictator. Isolation ended. At this point, with a 10-year delay with respect to the rest of Western Europe, Spain's economy started to pick up. Spaniards became Guest workers in Germany, Belgium, France... Spain opened up to tourism and its beaches filled up with Nordic beauties with hard currency.
  4. When the 1970's oil shock hit, the Spanish government simply inflated its way out of it and undertood no other policies (unlike the rest of "The West", with disastrous consequences in the 1970's and 80's in terms of inflation and unemployment. Democratic Spain inherited double-digit inflation and 20% official unemployment rate.
How exactly is, then, Franco better than what a Democratic Spain would have been, economically?

So, yeah, as soon as Pinochet took power the US flooded Chile with economic aid (material, and also the Chicago Boys) to help the economy get back on its feet as quickly as possible. After all, the Allende years had seen a sort of economic civil war as the business owners brought the economy to a halt (in a sort of reverse general strike) in an attempt to topple Allende. Apparently it was OK for Reagan to use the power of the State to bust unions and break worker strikes, but it was evil for Allende to use the power of the state to break an owner strike.

Pinochet ended the longest-running democracy in Latin America. Many other Latin American countries have gone through a succession of dictatorships. So that puts Pinochet in a special category of illiberal dictator.

I have also seen Pinoched praised because, in comparison with Franco, his coup didn't lead to a drawn-out and bloody war. Franco didn't expect to have to wage a war either, and it boggles the mind that anyone would argue that it's the better dictator that gets to power more easily.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 11th, 2006 at 05:20:51 AM EST

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