Monday, December 11, 2006

Augusto Pinochet and the other 9/11

Because I've been traveling to Chile for research for the last few years, I've naturally taken an interest in their history, culture, and politics.

Yesterday Augusto Pinochet, 91, died. Pinochet led a military coup that ousted democratically-elected president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. The U.S. secretly backed this coup as part of their 'anti-communism' program of that era.

Pinochet ruled Chile as a right-wing military dictator until 1990. Thousands of people (there's debate about how many) were rounded up, tortured, and killed for their known or inferred dissent of his politics (if you weren't with him, you were against him). There were detention and torture centers, concentration camps essentially...all that good stuff military dictatorships are made of.

He has a long list of human rights violations against him and has evaded justice over the last decade with the excuse of failing health.

Many Chileans view him as a brutal fascist dictator that ended democracy, while others view him as someone who brought economic growth to Chile with fierce free market policies (which is why the U.S. gov't backed him).

You can learn more about this subject here, here, or here.

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