Sunday, December 10, 2006

Augusto Pinochet - el Diablo

Augusto Pinochet, Chilean dictator and the Reagan Administration's second favorite dictator after Saddam Hussein died today at the age of 91. There really is nothing else to say. The man was a son of a bitch and we tolerated him because he was our son of a bitch.

He is dead and an ignominious chapter in both US and Chilean history comes to an end. It is a chapter full of deceit, hypocrisy and murder. America and specifically the CIA's hands are bloody in this.

One does not want to judge the actors in this tragedy too harshly because the geopolitics of the world in 1973 was very different. The Soviet Union was a real and credible threat. The US viewed any incursion of socialism into its sphere of influence as a direct attack and since Chile was in the US's backyard it was therefore off limits to socialism.

To thwart the spread of the Soviet influence the CIA engineered a coup against Salvador Allende the democratically elected left leaning President. It was ordered by Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. In addition, the Chilean Army chief Rene Schneider was kidnapped and shot by people friendly to the US (and perhaps even acting on their orders)

This is one of the reasons why a Paris court much, much later issued an arrest warrant for Kissinger. Kissinger evaded arrest because the US embassy received a tip and he was able to leave Paris with the gendarmie hot on his trail.

Ironically Pinochet was himself put under house arrest in London based on a warrant issued by a Spanish court. Dame Thatcher and other Reagan acolytes famously came to his defence calling him one of the best friends the west had during the long fight with the evil empire. In the end furious lobbying by the Chilean govt and western allies friendly to Pinochet suceeded in getting him released and sent back home where he lived out his last years protected and safe from his many enemies.


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