Monday, December 11, 2006

Pinochet escapes justice

Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet is dead. I can't say I'm unhappy about it. He was a torturer and a murderer, responsible for the disappearance, torture and murder of over 3,000 Chileans - including the father of Chile's current President. The only thing that annoys me is that he died before he could be convicted for his crimes.

Update: Forme British PM Margaret Thatcher is "greatly saddened". I guess that tells us everything we need to know about her.


The same Thatcher worshipped by Farrar and others? I'm sickened.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/11/2006 10:27:00 AM

She maybe remembers him for the fact he was only the south american country that supported the english during the falklands after the peace loving military from Argentina invaded. Or are you now saying that unilateral military is justified and shoudlnut be punished so long as it doesnt involve American forces?

Posted by Anonymous : 12/11/2006 11:04:00 AM

About as much as Keith Locke's past worshipping of Soviet nuclear energy and the Khmer Rouge tells you about him, or Helen Clark's picking coffee beans for the then murderous (genocidal) Sandinistas.

Indeed she is wrong, but Pinochet's regime did provide intelligence to the UK against Argentina's military junta in the Falkland's War which no doubt saved British lives. That's the context. More than the Reagan Administration provided the UK in fact.

and no, the ends do not justify the means. I look forward to you not weeping about the forthcoming demise of Castro, who has a similar human rights record.

Posted by Libertyscott : 12/11/2006 11:08:00 AM

May he rot in hell and be tortured by the thousands of innocent lives he took!

Posted by Bomber : 12/11/2006 12:00:00 PM

I am "greatly saddened" that Thatcher is not pushing up the daisies herself, unlike her partners in crime Reagan and Pinochet. Throwing his corpse to the wolves is too good for him.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/11/2006 12:33:00 PM

Still, she is senile nowadays, so what can you expect?

And I'm sure she'll be dead soon. I'd wait for three days and brandish garlic, a wooden stake and copy of Giddens' The Third Way at her if she does try to become undead, though...

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/11/2006 01:17:00 PM

Those murderous, genocidal Sandinistas! Hiding across the border and making incursions to murder, rape and pillage, all to satisfy the regional ambitions of a corrupt foreign govt! Oh, wait, hang on, that was the Contras wasn't it...

Thatcher's support for Pinochet shouldn't be a surprise - he helped the British, and that's what counts. All the people he tortured and murdered were after all Third World degos, not Englishmen.

Posted by Psycho Milt : 12/11/2006 03:29:00 PM

my dad always told me it anyone's death was a saddening thing.
This is a bit like seeing a group of prison officials gloating after an execution.

My first thought regarding the fact he was never found guilty is that it is a bit like Milososevic. It would not have helped if he had been brought infront of an international court - there would have been basicaly no chance of them finding him guilty before he died of old age.

Posted by Genius : 12/11/2006 06:30:00 PM

Actually Psycho Milt, the Sandinistas were no angels, with their part in the forcible relocation of the Miskito people and destruction of their villages.

The plain facts are that Marxist and anti-Marxists in Latin America were by and large murderous bullies who had no respect for individual rights. The Cold War saw the West and the USSR give carte blanche support for both sides, sadly - if only because the only opponents to Marxist bullies were militarist ones.

Posted by Libertyscott : 12/11/2006 11:02:00 PM

It would be interesting to hear what Roger Douglas, Roger Kerr, Richard Prebble and the other champions of the market turn would have to say about the General's death, since they copied many of his economic policies almost to the letter: witness the fact that labor market reforms instituted after 1985, culminating in the Employment Contracts Act, were (trying to say this diplomatically) "heavily influenced" by the 1979 Chilean Labour Plan. In fact, the architect of that Plan, Jose "Pepe" Pineda (Pinochet's Labor Ministert at the time) was a regular visitor to NZ as a guest of the Round Table and some of the above-mentioned names throughout the 1980s and 1990s. There is evidence to strongly suggest that the deregulation of the banking industry in NZ followed the Chilean model instituted under Pinochet.

The irony is that at the same time NZ was copying Pinochet's macroeconomic policies, it was condemning Chile for its human rights abuses in international fora and accepting Chilean political refugees (a fair amount of whom still live here).

Lets be clear: the drive to NZ's market-oriented reforms was as much influenced by the Chilean "example" as it was by Hayek, Friedman (who coincidentally died two weeks ago)and the Reagan/Thatcher policy prescriptions of the time.

As for Pinochet: he may be dead but his legacy will be polarising in Chile for many years to come. There may be some parallels to be made with Castro, but most are spurious. Castro led a popular revolution against an unelected dictator that led to income redistribution and some of the highest per capita health, education and welfare standards in the Western hemisphere. His Stalinist regime uses propaganda, public good provision and selected repression to garner majority support. Pinochet led a military coup against a democratically elected (albeit unpopular)government, ushering in a state-terrorist regime that subsequently concentrated wealth in the hands of a foreign-supported elite, leading to rising income disparities and overall decreases in health, education and medical services for the majority. It was not until the return of democracy in 1990 that the latter statistics began to be reversed.

Bottom line (as I have said elsewhere): no amount of ideological justification can disguise the fact that, whatever their cause, dictators suck. But if one has to pick an authoritarian regime to live under, better rule by the few for the many than rule by the few for the few.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/12/2006 05:04:00 AM

did Pinochet actually decreases health, education and medical services for the majority?

Maybe he did (and I expect Castro isn't too bad on that measure - pissing off the americans aside).
I wonder of we have any statistics.

Posted by Genius : 12/12/2006 07:51:00 AM

Genius: Check out the statistic tables avaliable from ECLA (Economic Commission on Latin America), WHO (World Health Organization), ILO (International Labour Organisation) and OAS (Organization of American States). These can be balanced against those of the World Bank and Interamerican Development Bank (IADB), which concentrate more on financial indixes rather than social welfare indicators and which tend to be more positive in their assessment of the dictatorial interlude.

Having lived in Chile before, during and after the Pincohet regime, and having been there earlier this year, I can simply say that the Pinochet approach to capitalist reconstruction in Chile was akin to the US approach to Japan after WW2: he essentially annihilated what existed before and from the ashes (or better said, authoritarian vacuum) re-created a market-driven capitalist wet dream unfettered by unions, political parties or concerns for basic civil liberties and rights of expression and redress. As one whose family circles navigated amongst them, I can say that for the top ten percent of Chilean income earners, the general was a savior. For the next 20 percent of Chilean income earners, his rule and his legacy meant more immediate consumption based upon two fulltime incomes (in a society where the concept of family often precluded wimin's fulltime participation in the labour market), but no savings for the kids. For the remainder, it meant a slide towards impoverishment. No wonder Chileans like to call themselves "the anxious society."

The years since Don Agusto stepped down have seen lots of whittling around the margins of the economic project, but as Gramsci wrote, "touching the essential" of the market project is off-limits to this day.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/12/2006 10:22:00 AM

"some of the highest per capita health, education and welfare standards in the Western hemisphere."

I suspect until Cuba is free none of us will know whether to trust the regime's own statistics. Ceausescu claimed much the same for eastern europe. Never trust stats from undemocratic regimes as a rule. I'd include Israeli stats on the occupied territories (and indeed PLO stats!) on that too.

However again, if there is any success in Cuba doesn't excuse executing, torturing and imprisoning political opponents. Otherwise you are playing the same card Thatcher plays.

Posted by Libertyscott : 12/12/2006 11:50:00 AM

Pinochet did more to raise the living standards of Chileans than any other Latin American in history.

He also provided the perfect foil to Castro, and stability to the region when it sorely needed it. He provided strong, stable government and a degree of economic freedom unparalleled South of the US.

If the Latin Americas still had a Pinochet, we wouldn't be seeing the rise of that new shit-stirring demagogue, Chavez.

Castro has done far worse to Latin America for the sake of ideology and personal ambition. I expect you to crow about Castro's death, and about how he has escaped international punishment for his crimes against humanity as well.

Oh, but that's right. Castro's a communist. So is Chavez. You don't want to know about their atrocities.

Posted by Insolent Prick : 12/12/2006 02:15:00 PM

Pinochet did more to raise the living standards of Chileans than any other Latin American in history.

I hear those concentration camps he built in the Atacama Desert are lovely in the spring time.

Posted by danyl : 12/12/2006 02:25:00 PM

LibertyScott: Check out the independent stat sources I cited. I agree that Cuban govt sources are suspect, but do not let your ideological predilections blind you to the differences between Pinochet and Castro. The truth is that ideological support is the key to the Castro regime's endurance in the face of the US embargo etc. Not a nice guy, to be sure, but he plays his cards very well (albeit recognziing that he now may well be down for the count). His appeal is more Cuban nationalist rather than Socialist at this point (especially since more than half of the Cuban economy is now privatised), which he uses to cling to one party rule using the Chinese model of transition to capitalism as opposed to the Soviet model of breakdown. That, and his ability to give the finger to the US, has a lot to do why "El Viejo" endures in the LATAM consciousness.

Insolent Prick: you would be dangerous if you had a brain. It is clear you have no clue about the realities of the Chilean experience or Latin America in general. What you claim about Pinochet is laughable to the point of absurdity. But as they say, do not let reality get in the way of your beliefs. For the moment better that you make your moniker "dull knob."

Posted by Anonymous : 12/12/2006 02:39:00 PM

Southern Cross, I would compare Pinochet to Franco, more than Castro. He overthrew an elected government, with the support of vested interests (landowners, the Church) and his regime still divides Spain to the extent that the crimes of the regime are still off limits in most of polite society.

Don't be too hard on dear old Insolent Prick. he is still recovering from the demise of Gentleman Don. To have Friedman & Pinochet kick the bucket within a month, and someone insult the dear Iron Lady must have been very tough for him

Posted by Anonymous : 12/14/2006 11:10:00 AM