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|“||Sometimes democracy must be bathed in blood.||„|
|~ Augusto Pinochet.|
Augusto Jose Ramon Pinochet Ugarte (November 25th, 1915 - December 10th, 2006) was a Chilean general and military dictator who served as the head of state of Chile from 1973 to 1990. He first came to power after a successful coup d'etat on September 11, 1973, and remained in power for nearly two full decades.
Pinochet is considered to be one of the worst of South America's Cold War-era military dictators, as he presided over a totalitarian regime that perpetrated numerous human rights abuses, crimes against humanity, unlawful executions, the internment of as many as 80,000 people and the torture of tens of thousands.
In 1973 he took over as commander in chief of Chile. On 11 September of that year, led a coup that overthrew Chile's democratically-elected president, Salvador Allende, despite being considered a loyal ally by him, a close friend of the defense minister Jose Toha and chief of the armed forces, Calos Prats. The coup was facilitated as apart of Operation Condor, the campaign of state terrorism propagated by various South American military dictatorships to prevent the spread of communism in South America, and supported by the United States (then under the Nixon administration.) Henry Kissinger, who concurrently served as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor at the time, also played a large role in the coup.
Since then, Pinochet became the country's government, first under the office of president of the Military Junta (he held until 1981), to which was added the title of supreme head of the Nation on June 27, 1974, which gave the executive branch.
On 16 December the same year took over as President, to be ratified by the enactment of the 1980 Constitution. His government would end after the defeat in the National Plebiscite of 1988 and its replacement by Patricio Aylwin in 1990. Pinochet would remain as commander in chief until March 10, 1998, and the next day assume the post of senator for life, a fact that exercise for a couple of months. He was later arrested months later in London on the orders of Spain on October 17, 1998, a month from his 83rd birthday.
Pinochet's dictatorship has been widely characterized both at home and in the rest of the world by various egregious human rights violations committed in the period known as the military regime, so Pinochet faced various trials to date of its death. He was never formally charged, however.
The sheer brutality of his crimes are incredible, after his Coup he sent armed troops to search the capital for left wing sympathisers. Students, writers, Catholics, indigenous people, and union workers were rounded up, and sent to torture centers, set up in Santiago. These were sometimes police cells or army barracks, but more often they were converted homes, hotels or offices. His most infamous was that he converted the international soccer stadium into a massive holding centre, the people were split into two lines, ones for death and ones for interrogation. The ones in the death line were taken to a field and shot, while the ones for interrogation were often tortured for weeks before being released. At the height of the repression he had over sixty of these working around the clock. He practically turned the whole capital into one giant concentration camp.
He also ran his secret police (DINA) who were renowned for their cruelty. Among DINA's methods of torture towards prisoners were electrocutions, breaking their bones with hammers, forcing them to play Russian Roulette, crushing their legs under car wheels, melting their flesh with flame throwers, pushing them out of helicopters (known as "death flights") and forcing them to commit cannibalism and eat the flesh of fellow murdered prisoners. Other methods specialized in humiliation and depravity, such as forcing their heads into buckets filled with excrement, having women raped by men with Venereal diseases, and one unit was even notorious for forcing their prisoners to have sex with dogs.
Quite often the methods of death were particularly brutal as well; some victims were tied to railway tracks, others were loaded into helicopters and pushed out into the icy depths of the Pacific Ocean, others were sent to death camps in the Atacama desert. Others were blow to pieces with dynamite or loaded into planes and forced out into the Andes, higher than anyone ever went.
Fearing that his puppet officials outsides the cities, in the towns may not be implementing his policy's Pinochet organised the Caravan of Death, an elite death squad that went from town to town with orders to exterminate any leftists (or anyone who was perceived to have communist or leftist sympathies) who avoided the camp. Armed with machine guns, knives and grenades they would enter round up any of Pinochet's opponents and execute them. Though only active for twenty-two days, they killed almost 100 people, up and down the 2,485 mile spine of Chile.
Pinochet also arranged a terrorist bombing in Washington DC, that killed rising star Orlando Letelier, a former minister in the previous government and Pinochet's greatest critic. The attack also killed 25 year old United States citizen Ronni Moffitt, who was in the car with Orlando when the bomb his forcing placed underneath it, went off.
Role in Operation Condor
Pinochet was one of the leading participants in Operation Condor alongside fellow dictators Alfredo Stroessner, Jorge Rafael Videla, and Hugo Banzer. It was essentially a pact between various South American regimes to hunt down dissidents wherever they were, and murder them. Condor allowed Pinochet to kill opponents as far away as Rome. But it was also the DINA’s expertise that allowed the lesser dictatorships on the continent to murder a phenomenal number of opponents at home. It’s estimated now that 80,000 leftists, students, human rights advocates and intellectuals were “disappeared.”
Pinochet is, somewhat surprisingly, considered a "hero" by some, and he still has many supporters today. His supporters claim that Pinochet "saved" the country from the establishment of a communist regime in the hands of Salvador Allende (a socialist and noted supporter of Fidel Castro and the Soviet Union) and a possible civil war.
In recent years, The Alt-Right has made memes about his “Helicopter rides” and have generally celebrated his actions during his rule, describing him often as the "lesser of two evils" compared to Salvador Allende.
By the time of his death on 10 December 2006, about 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for numerous human rights violations, tax evasion and embezzlement during his 17-year rule and afterwards. Pinochet was accused of having corruptly amassed a wealth of US $28 million or more.
Keep the aggressive domestic policy of Chile with compulsory voting, who continues until 2011, when was declared illegal in the country.
Death and Legacy
Pinochet suffered a heart attack on December 3, 2006 and was given the last rites. He died from complications a week later on December 10, at the age of 91. He was never convicted on any charges brought to him, and by the time of his death about 300 criminal charges were still pressed against him.