Sunday, December 19, 2004

Pinochet - a lesser of two evils?

A reuters article reports that former Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet was in a hospital on Sunday recovering from a stroke. A court ruling is due tomorrow regarding the human rights violation charges against him.

A quote from the article:
"More than 3,000 people died in political violence during the Pinochet era, and more than 27,000 were tortured. Many more were forced into exile after the 1973 coup encouraged by the United States launched Pinochet to power."

I do not dispute these "facts".

Pinochet in my words:

In Chile, the United States helped overthrow a pro-Castro Marxist government headed by Salvador Allende. Allende wanted to install a regime modeled after Castro’s Cuba. After a successful coup, that the U.S. supported, Augustin Pinochet became the new leader (albeit another Dictator). Pinochet was a brutal dictator by all accounts, ruling with an iron fist and suppressing all critics. Yes, Pinochet is one of those brutal Dictators that the U.S. tolerated/supported from time to time that did lead to a happy ending (so to speak). Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan is another example of this.

Pinochet had always justified his military regime to his people and the world as a temporary measure in much the same way that Castro had defended the revolutionary dictatorship. It was necessary to defend the regime, restore stability, and create the economic foundations of a true democracy.

In time, Pinochet introduced free market policies and eventually transformed Chile into a multiparty democracy. After 15 years of Pinochet’s rule, Chile had become one richest in Latin America. Pinochet lost the first free election in Chile. Pinochet stepped down. His dictatorship had indeed been a temporary measure.

At the same time, socialist in Europe wanted to hold a similar election that would create a democracy in Cuba and approached Fidel Castro. Castro refused.

Some quick Q&A with myself: (why not?)
What is Castro's human rights record? Deplorable, far worse then Pinochet.
Why is Castro a hero? Because he is the proverbial David to America's Goliath. Human Right's watchers tend to look the other way to those who act in supposed 'defiance', of America.
What makes Pinochet so different? His affiliation with America.

In your individual 'stack rank' of bad things and bad people, rank the Pinochet regime where you feel appropriate.

Final thoughts:
In a world governing body full of selective enforcement, Pinochet's handling shall remain interesting. Despite political insignificance (the past 15 years) and ambiguity with regards to this relationship with the United States, one must wonder just what is to be done with him.
Posted by mightymerk, 7:46 PM


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