Blurb: Augusto Pinochet, general, former dictator of Chile, devout Catholic; had time to receive extreme unction before his death and hopes to reconcile himself with God. He never did, and never wanted to reconcile himself with the people, for the majority of his own nation, for whom he was their executioner. [kat - carries connotations of torture and criminality]
Three weeks ago General Pinochet wasted his last opportunity not to go down in history as an unrepentant criminal, guilty of the death of thousands, the exile of hundreds of thousands. On his birthday he ceremoniously stated that although he takes personal responsibility for what happened under his rule from 1973-1990, but neither called the crimes for what they were, nor did he express any repentance. To say nothing of actually asking the families and descendants of the victims for forgiveness.
On the contrary, he generously forgave his accusers for "all the insults, persecutions, and injustices suffered by me and my family. At the end of my days I harbor no resentment to anyone, I love my country above all."
The healthy self esteem of the man who fulfilled his soldierly and patriotic duty in overthrowing the socialist president Salvador Allende and violently seizing power in the name of a military junta, made Pinochet an increasingly lonely man in recent years. To the end he was surrounded by his numerous family, a fistful of his most faithful retired generals, and a group of radical right wing politicians and businessmen from the UDI party, founded by his chief ideological advisor, Jaime Guzman. However, and ever growing number of his former followers distanced themselves from him.
When a week ago Pinochet lay critically ill in Santiago's military hospital, his most rabid followers changed "UDI, where are you!"
An annoyed UDI deputy, Alberto Cardemil, a well known devotee of the dictator, responded in sentence that until recently would have been unthinkable "We are not in Cuba where the Communist Party has to constantly pay homage to Fidel Castro."
This was because ever since the sensational arrest of the general in London in 1998, and his subsequent deportation to Chile eighteen months later, the unwritten pact of the invulnerability of the general was shattered. When Augusto Pinochet returned home, the floodgates opened on the charges of the crimes of the military and the DINA, the secret police. In the following years the families of the murdered, the disappeared, and the tortured initiated hundreds of criminal cases [...] None of the crimes of the dictatorship was taboo any more, the testimonies multiplied, every new mass graves of the victims were uncovered.
But a talented and very generously paid staff of tireless lawyers did all it could to keep the general from standing trial.
During those years following the return of the English patient from his London arrest, no one even tried any longer to deny the crimes, nor to claim that they occurred, but committed by overly enthusiastic subordinates without his knowledge or permission. His followers limited themselves to a defense of his political and economic legacy. Pinochet, they claimed, guaranteed his country political stability and a healthy market economy; true he did it trampling over corpses, but what can you do - communism was on the march, civil war was raging. As they say - you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
It was probably that same respect for the warrior in the struggle against communism that inclined Margaret Thatcher to have him as her personal guest and to visit him in his London house arrest. The same adulation motivated a delegation of the Polish right who traveled to London in 1999 to present Pinochet with knightly arms.
Somehow none of them bothered to ask themselves, if the only proper response to the excessive revolutionary zeal of the Chilean socialists was the overthrow of democracy, the destruction of the state, and mass murder.
But even the ranks of defenders of the dictator whose most devoted followers called him `daddy' were crumbling. Two years ago the commander of the army, Juan Emilio Cheyre, finally declared: "The army is responsible for systematic crimes against humanity, which cannot be justified by any ideology or policy." Fifteen years after the end of the dictatorship, the army, the institution which had overthrown the legal authorities and created a regime of bestial violence, was once and for all cutting its ties with the man who for years had been its greatest hero.
In the summer of 1973, when the country was boiling over in a left wing fever of strikes, occupation of landed estates, spontaneous expropriations, and street demonstrations, and Santiago de Chile was filled with coup rumors, Pinochet seemed like the least likely rebel. He had just become commander of the army, the remaining generals couldn't get him to promise his support for the conspiracy until the last moment.
As a cadet, and then as a steadily advancing officer, Pinochet distinguished himself only by his obedience and discipline. [...] His military colleagues did not have a high opinion of him, but he probably didn't agree, as he gave his sons Roman names .... Augusto, Marco Antonio... and he presumably dreamed of greatness. But even President Allende, warned of coup rumors by his terrified advisors, calmed them saying he could always count on the loyal Gen. Pinochet.
Pinochet betrayed Allende and was the last to join the conspiracy when everything was set in stone. And as the head of the most powerful military force, he quickly too command. From that moment the model graduate of the Prussian inspired Santiago military academy was unwavering, obsessed with an anti-communism grown in American academies.
To hunt down his real and imagined opponents, Pinochet personally created the DINA - the secret police, whose chief, Manuel Contreras personally reported on his progress every morning at 10 AM. Its harvest were at least three thousand killed, tortured to death, or disappeared without a trace. Hundreds of thousands fled the country. [...] At the height of his power the dictator boasted "Not even a leaf trembles in this country without my knowledge"
Pinochet was a man of greater horizons than his fellow military dictators in Latin America, whose gaze didn't extend beyond the ends of their rifles. When the main resistance of the left was broken, the general decided to take care of the economy. He named a government of graduates of the ultraliberal University of Chicago. Under the protection of the draconian junta, which banned trade unions and abolished the modern labor law, they took care of the economic oligarchy of the country - the owners of businesses and landed estates.
This radical reform therapy of protecting private property at all costs created an enormous economic crash in 1982. The great liberal experiment was saved by the all-powerful military state. Many private bankers and hundreds of companies were saved from economic ruin by the quite unliberal intervention of the state treasury.
Today the dictator's legacy lies in ruins, and dictator in his grave. [...] But Pinochet has not said his final word. He is to make a declaration from beyond the grave. Supposedly he left his notary his political will, which is to be opened and published after his death.
It is the last chance for the repentance of the man who crushed his nation.
I expected something hostile from GW, but the stuff on the economy was surprisingly left wing given their general Blairite/Friedmanesque line. Rz was what you could have expected from them. The first brief comment in Nasz Dziennik which has a long lead time (not translated here) is also what you'd expect - not a dictator, didn't overthrow a democratic government, wasn't repressive, but rather carried out the urgent surgery needed to save Chile from the deadly communist disease that was in the midst of destroying the country. Those who were killed deserved it. Spent the last years of his life bravely withstanding the persecution by the Spanish, British, and Chilean socialists who couldn't forgive him for destroying their communist experiment. All reports to the contrary are just godless commie lies propagated by the left wing media and their lackeys.