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Augusto Pinochet

In office
17 December 1974 – 11 March 1990
Preceded by Salvador Allende
Succeeded by Patricio Aylwin

President of the Government Junta of Chile
In office
11 September 1973 – 17 December 1974
Succeeded by José Toribio Merino

Born 25 November 1915(1915-11-25)
Valparaíso, Chile
Died 10 December 2006 (aged 91)
Santiago, Chile
in the Military Hospital
Nationality Chilean
Political party None (Military)
Spouse(s) Lucía Hiriart
Occupation Soldier
Religion Roman Catholicism

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte[note 1] (25 November 1915 – 10 December 2006) was a Chilean army general who was head of state as self-appointed president. Among his titles, he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean army from 1973 to 1998, president of the Government Junta of Chile from 1973 to 1974 and President of the Republic from 1974 until the return of democratic rule in 1990.[1]

At the beginning of 1972, he was appointed General Chief of Staff of the Army. In August 1973, he was appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army by president Salvador Allende.[2] On 11 September 1973, with active support from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),[3][4] Pinochet led a coup d'état which put an end to Allende's democratically-elected government. In December 1974, the military junta appointed Pinochet as President by a joint decree, with which Air Force General Gustavo Leigh disagreed.[5] From the beginning, the government implemented harsh measures against its political opponents.[6] According to the 1993 Rettig Report, over 3,200 people were killed,[7] while (according to the controversial 2004 Valech Report) at least 80,000 were interned and 30,000 subjected to torture under Pinochet.[8] However, The Age newspaper (Melbourne, Australia) has reported that the real number of people killed or reported missing and presumed dead are 1,183 people and that their names appear on a special memorial at the General Cemetery of Santiago.[9] Professor Clive Foss, in The Tyrants: 2500 years of Absolute Power and Corruption (Quercus Publishing 2006), estimates that 1,500 Chileans were killed or disappeared during the Pinochet regime. Another 200,000 people went into exile, particularly to Argentina and Peru, and applied for political asylum or received further guerrilla training in camps in Cuba, East Germany and elsewhere;[10] however, some key individuals were followed in their exile by the DINA secret police, in the framework of Operation Condor, which linked right-wing South American governments together against political opponents.

The new government also implemented economic reforms, including the privatization of several state-controlled industries and the rollback of many state welfare institutions. These policies produced what has been referred to as the "miracle of Chile", but the government policies dramatically increased economic inequality[11] and some attribute the devastating effect of the 1982 monetary crisis in the Chilean economy precisely to these policies.[12] Pinochet's economic policies were continued and strengthened by successive governments after 1990.[13]

Pinochet's presidency was given a legal framework through a highly controversial plebiscite in 1980, which approved a new Constitution drafted by a government-appointed commission. A plebiscite in 1988 led to democratic elections for the Presidency and Parliament. After peacefully stepping down in 1990, Pinochet continued to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army until 10 March 1998, when he retired and became a senator-for-life in accordance with the 1980 Constitution. In 2004, Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán ruled that Pinochet was medically fit to stand trial and placed him under house arrest.[2] At the time of his death in 10 December 2006, around 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for various human rights violations, tax evasion and embezzlement under his rule and afterwards.[14] Pinochet was accused of having corruptly amassed a wealth of US$28 million or more while ruler of Chile.[15]


Early life and career

Pinochet was born in Valparaíso on 25 November 1915 to Augusto Pinochet Vera, descendant of a Breton immigrant from Lamballe, and Avelina Ugarte Martínez. He went to primary and secondary school at the San Rafael Seminary of Valparaíso, the Rafael Ariztía Institute (Marist Brothers) in Quillota, the French Fathers' School of Valparaíso, and then to the Military School in Santiago, which he entered in 1931. After four years of study, in 1935 he graduated with the rank of alférez (Second Lieutenant) in the infantry.

In September 1937, he was assigned to the "Chacabuco" Regiment, in Concepción. Two years later, in 1939, then with the rank of Sub-lieutenant, he moved to the "Maipo" Regiment, garrisoned in Valparaíso. He returned to Infantry School in 1940. On January 30, 1943, he married Lucía Hiriart Rodríguez, with whom he had five children: three daughters (Inés Lucía, María Verónica, Jacqueline Marie) and two sons (Augusto Osvaldo and Marco Antonio).

At the end of 1945, he was assigned to the "Carampangue" Regiment in the northern city of Iquique. Three years later, he entered the War Academy, but he had to postpone his studies because, being the youngest officer, he had to carry out a service mission in the coal zone of Lota. The following year he returned to his studies in the Academy, and after obtaining the title of Officer Chief of Staff, in 1951, he returned to teach at the Military School. At the same time, he worked as a teachers' aide at the War Academy, giving military geography and geopolitics classes. In addition to this, he was active as editor of the institutional magazine Cien Águilas ("One Hundred Eagles"). At the beginning of 1953, with the rank of Major, he was sent for two years to the "Rancagua" Regiment in Arica. While there, he was appointed professor of the Chilean War Academy, and he returned to Santiago to take up his new position.[2]

In 1956, Pinochet and a group of young officers were chosen to form a military mission that would collaborate in the organization of the War Academy of Ecuador in Quito, which forced him to suspend his law studies. He remained with the Quito mission for three-and-a-half years, during which time he dedicated himself to the study of geopolitics, military geography and intelligence. It's been recently alleged that while in Quito Pinochet had a romance with Piedad Noe, and fathered a boy called Juan.[16]

At the end of 1959, he returned to Chile and was sent to General Headquarters of the 1st Army Division, based in Antofagasta. The following year, he was appointed Commander of the "Esmeralda" Regiment. Due to his success in this position, he was appointed Sub-director of the War Academy in 1963. In 1968, he was named Chief of Staff of the 2nd Army Division, based in Santiago, and at the end of that year, he was promoted to Brigadier General and Commander in Chief of the 6th Division, garrisoned in Iquique. In his new function, he was also appointed Intendant of the Tarapacá Province.

In January 1971, Pinochet rose to Division General, and was named General Commander of the Santiago Army Garrison. At the beginning of 1972, he was appointed General Chief of Staff of the Army. With rising domestic strife in Chile, after General Prats resigned his position, Pinochet was appointed Commander in Chief of the Army on August 23, 1973 by President Salvador Allende just the day after the Chamber of Deputies of Chile approved a resolution asserting that the government was not respecting the Constitution. Less than a month later, the Chilean military deposed Allende.

Military coup of 1973

On 11 September 1973, the combined Chilean Armed Forces (the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Carabineros) overthrew Allende's government in a coup, during which the presidential palace, La Moneda, was shelled and Allende died. The cause of his death is disputed.

In his memoirs, Pinochet affirmed that he was the leading plotter of the coup, and used his position as Commander-in-chief of the Army to coordinate a far-reaching scheme with the other two branches of the military and the national police. In later years, however, high military officials from the time have said that Pinochet reluctantly got involved only a few days before it was scheduled to occur and followed the lead of the other branches (especially the Navy, under Merino) as they triggered the coup.

In the months that followed the coup, the junta, with authoring work by historian Gonzalo Vial and admiral Patricio Carvajal, published a book titled El Libro Blanco del cambio de gobierno en Chile (commonly known as El Libro Blanco, "The White Book of the Change of Government in Chile"), where they attempted to justify the coup by claiming that they were in fact anticipating a self-coup (the alleged Plan Zeta, or Plan Z) that Allende's government and/or its associates were purportedly preparing. United States intelligence agencies believed the plan to be simple propaganda.[17] Although later discredited and officially recognized as the product of political propaganda,[18] some Chilean historians have pointed to the similarities between the alleged Plan Z and other existing paramilitary plans of the Popular Unity parties in support of its legitimacy.[19]

Canadian Jean Charpentier of Télévision de Radio-Canada became the first foreign journalist to interview General Pinochet following the coup.[20]

Military junta

A military junta was established immediately following the coup, made up of General Pinochet representing the Army, Admiral José Toribio Merino representing the Navy, General Gustavo Leigh representing the Air Force, and General César Mendoza representing the Carabineros (national police). As established the junta exercised both executive and legislative functions of the government, suspended the Constitution and the Congress, imposed strict censorship and curfew, banned all parties and halted all political activities. This military junta held the executive role until 17 December 1974, after which it remained strictly as a legislative body, the executive powers being transferred to Pinochet with the title of President.


Junta session one week after the 1973 coup.
Pinochet in 1982.

The junta members originally planned for the presidency to rotate among the commanders-in-chief of the four military branches. However, Pinochet soon consolidated his control, first retaining sole chairmanship of the military junta, and then proclaiming himself "Supreme Chief of the Nation" (de facto provisional president) on 27 June 1974. He officially changed his title to "President" on 17 December 1974. General Leigh, head of the Air Force, became increasingly opposed to Pinochet's policies and was forced into retirement on 24 July 1978, after contradicting Pinochet on that year's plebiscite (officially called Consulta Nacional, or National Consultation, in response to a UN resolution condemning Pinochet's government). He would be replaced by General Fernando Matthei.

Pinochet organized a plebiscite on September 11, 1980. The Chilean people were asked to ratify a new Constitution, replacing the 1925 Constitution drafted during Arturo Alessandri's presidency. The new Constitution, partly drafted by Jaime Guzmán, a close adviser to Pinochet and future founder of the right-wing party Independent Democrat Union (UDI), gave the position of President of the Republic, held by Pinochet, a large amount of power. It created some new institutions, such as the Constitutional Tribunal and the controversial National Security Council (COSENA). It also prescribed an 8-year presidential period, and a single-candidate presidential referendum in 1988, where a candidate nominated by the Junta would be approved or rejected for another 8-year period. The 1980 referendum was approved by 67.04% against 30.19%,[21] although the opposition denounced extensive irregularities. Headed by ex-president Eduardo Frei Montalva, they argued that this result did not tally with electoral records. One objection was that voters cast their vote using as identification only their own ID cards, without any official records, and were only marked with ink on the thumb, which came off rapidly, making electoral fraud easy. These criticisms were rejected by the Scrutiny Association, and the Constitution was promulgated on October 21, 1980, taking effect on March 11, 1981. Pinochet was replaced as President of the Junta that day by Admiral Merino.

In a massive operation spearheaded by Chilean Army Para-Commandos, security forces involving some 2,000 troops.[22], were deployed in the mountains of Neltume from June to November,[23] where they destroyed two MIR bases, seizing large caches of munitions and killing a number of guerrillas.

In a 1985 report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated that it hoped that "the case now under way will lead to the identification and punishment of the persons responsible for the execution of so culpable an act."[24] Eventually, six members of the police secret service were given life sentences.

In September, weapons from the same source were used in an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Pinochet by the FPMR. Taken by surprise, five of his military bodyguards were killed. Although Pinochet's Mercedes Benz bullet proof vehicle was struck by a rocket, it did not explode, and Pinochet suffered only minor injuries, managing to escape.[25]

Allegations of fascism

Pinochet and his regime have been characterised as fascist.[26] However, he and his regime are generally excluded from academic typologies of fascism.[27][28][29][30] Roger Griffin included Pinochet in a group of pseudo-populist despots distinct from fascism and including the likes of Saddam Hussein, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Pol Pot, Suharto and Ferdinand Marcos. He argues that such regimes may be considered populist ultra-nationalism but lack the palingenesis necesary to make them conform to the model of palingenetic ultranationalism.[27] Robert Paxton meanwhile compared Pinochet's regime to that of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, arguing that both were merely client states that lacked popular acclaim and the ability to expand. He further argued that had Pinochet attempted to build true fascism, the regime would likely have been toppled or at least been forced to alter its relationship to the United States.[28] Anna Cento Bull also excluded Pinochet from fascism, although she has argued that his regime belongs to a strand of Cold War anti-communism that was happy to accommodate neo-fascist elements within its activity.[29] World Fascism: a Historical encyclopedia notes:

Although he was authoritarian and ruled dictatorially, Pinochet's support of neoliberal economic policies and his unwillingness to support national businesses distinguished him from classical fascists.[31]

This view is implicitly rejected by those who have argued that the Chilean economy revived under Pinochet only when the regime adopted corporatist economic policies as opposed to neoliberal ones of the Chicago School (Gregory Palast "Inside corporate America' column The Observer UK newspaper business news section 22/11/1998).

Suppression of opposition

He shut down parliament, suffocated political life, banned trade unions, and made Chile his sultanate. His government disappeared 3,000 opponents, arrested 30,000 (torturing thousands of them) ... Pinochet's name will forever be linked to the Desaparecidos, the Caravan of Death, and the institutionalized torture that took place in the Villa Grimaldi complex.

Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, National Review[32]

Almost immediately after the military's seizure of power, the junta banned all the leftist parties that had constituted Allende's UP coalition.[33] All other parties were placed in "indefinite recess," and were later banned outright. The government's violence was directed not only against dissidents, but also against their families and other civilians.[33]

The Rettig Report concluded 2,279 persons who disappeared during the military government were killed for political reasons or as a result of political violence, and approximately 31,947 tortured according to the later Valech Report, while 1,312 were exiled. The latter were chased all over the world by the intelligence agencies. In Latin America, this was made in the frame of Operation Condor, a cooperation plan between the various intelligence agencies of South American countries, assisted by a United States CIA communication base in Panama. Pinochet believed these operations were necessary in order to "save the country from communism".[34]

Some political scientists have ascribed the relative bloodiness of the coup to the stability of the existing democratic system, which required extreme action to overturn. Some of the most famous cases of human rights violation occurred during the early period: in October 1973, at least 70 people were killed throughout the country by the Caravan of Death. Charles Horman, a US journalist, "disappeared", as did Víctor Olea Alegría, a member of the Socialist Party, and many others, in 1973.

Furthermore, many other important officials of Allende's government were tracked down by the DINA in the frame of Operation Condor. Thus, General Carlos Prats, Pinochet's predecessor and army commander under Allende, who had resigned rather than support the moves against Allende's government, was assassinated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1974. A year later, the murder of 119 opponents abroad was disguised as an internal conflict, the DINA setting up a propaganda campaign to accredit this thesis (Operation Colombo), campaign that received diffusion by the leading newspaper in Chile, El Mercurio.

Other victims of Condor included, among hundreds of less famous persons, Juan José Torres, the former President of Bolivia, assassinated in Buenos Aires on 2 June 1976; Carmelo Soria, a UN diplomat working for the CEPAL, assassinated in July 1976; Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the United States and minister in Allende's cabinet, assassinated after his release from internment and exile in Washington, D.C. by a car bomb on 21 September 1976. This led to strained relations with the US and to the extradition of Michael Townley, a US citizen who worked for the DINA and had organized Letelier's assassination. Other targeted victims, who escaped assassination, included Christian-Democrat Bernardo Leighton, who escaped an assassination attempt in Rome in 1975 by the Italian terrorist Stefano delle Chiaie; Carlos Altamirano, the leader of the Chilean Socialist Party, targeted for murder in 1975 by Pinochet, along with Volodia Teitelboim, member of the Communist Party; Pascal Allende, the nephew of Salvador Allende and president of the MIR, who escaped an assassination attempt in Costa Rica in March 1976; US Congressman Edward Koch, who became aware in 2001 of relations between death threats and his denunciation of Operation Condor, etc. Furthermore, according to current investigations, Eduardo Frei Montalva, the Christian Democrat President of Chile from 1964 to 1970, may have been poisoned in 1982 by toxin produced by DINA biochemist Eugenio Berrios.[35]

Protests continued, however, during the 1980s, leading to several scandals. In March 1985, the savage murder of three Communist Party members led to the resignation of César Mendoza, head of the Carabineros and member of the junta since its formation. During a 1986 protest against Pinochet, 21 year old American photographer Rodrigo Rojas DeNegri and 18 year old student Carmen Gloria Quintana were burnt alive, with only Carmen surviving.

In August 1989, Marcelo Barrios Andres, a 21 year-old member of the FPMR (the armed wing of the PCC, created in 1983, which had attempted to assassinate Pinochet on September 7, 1986), was assassinated by a group of military personnel who were supposed to arrest him on orders of Valparaíso's public prosecutor. However, they simply executed him; this case was included in the Rettig Report.[36] Among the killed and disappeared during the military regime were 440 MIR guerrillas.[37]

Economic policy

In 1973, the Chilean economy was deeply hurt by several reasons, including the economic sanctions imposed by the Nixon administration,[38] inflation was hundreds of percents, the country had no foreign reserves, and GDP was falling.[39] By mid 1975, the government set forth an economic policy of free-market reforms which attempted to stop inflation and collapse. He declared that he wanted "to make Chile not a nation of proletarians, but a nation of proprietors."[40] To formulate the economic rescue, the government relied on the so-called Chicago Boys.

The economic policies espoused by the Chicago Boys and implemented by the junta initially caused several economic indicators to decline for Chile's lower classes.[41] Between 1973 and 1989 , there were large cuts to incomes and social services. Wages decreased by 8%.[42] Family allowances in 1989 were 28% of what they had been in 1970 and the budgets for education, health and housing had dropped by over 20% on average[42] The junta relied on the middle class, the oligarchy, huge foreign corporations, and foreign loans to maintain itself.[43] The oligarchy recovered most of its lost industrial and agricultural holdings, for the junta sold to private buyers most of the industries expropriated by Allende's Popular Unity government. This period saw the expansion of monopolies and widespread speculation.

Financial conglomerates became major beneficiaries of the liberalized economy and the flood of foreign bank loans. Large foreign banks reinstated the credit cycle, as the Junta saw that the basic state obligations, such as resuming payment of principal and interest installments, were honored. International lending organizations such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank lent vast sums anew.[42] Many foreign multinational corporations such as International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), Dow Chemical, and Firestone, all expropriated by Allende, returned to Chile.[42] Pinochet's policies eventually led to substantial GDP growth, in contrast to the negative growth seen in the early years of his administration. Foreign debt also grew substantially under Pinochet, rising 300% between 1974 and 1988.

His government implemented an economic model that had three main objectives: economic liberalization, privatization of state owned companies, and stabilization of inflation. In 1985, the government started with a second round of privatization, it revised previously introduced tariff increases and gave a greater supervisory role for the Central Bank. Pinochet's market liberalizations have continued after his death, led by Patricio Aylwin.[13]

1988 referendum and transition to democracy

According to the transitional provisions of the 1980 Constitution, a referendum was scheduled for October 5, 1988, to vote on a new eight-year presidential term for Pinochet. Confronted with increasing opposition, notably at the international level, Pinochet legalized political parties in 1987 and called for a plebiscite to determine whether or not he would remain in power until 1997. If the "YES" won, Pinochet would have to implement the dispositions of the 1980 Constitution, mainly the call for general elections, while he would himself remain in power as President. If the "NO" won, Pinochet would remain President for another year, and a joint Presidential and Parliamentary election would be scheduled.

Another reason of Pinochet's decision to call for elections was the April 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II to Chile. According to the US Catholic author George Weigel, he held a meeting with Pinochet during which they discussed a return to democracy. John Paul II allegedly pushed Pinochet to accept a democratic opening of the regime, and even called for his resignation.[44]

Political advertising was legalized on 5 September 1987, as a necessary element for the campaign for the "NO" to the referendum, which countered the official campaign which presaged a return to a Popular Unity government in case of a defeat of Pinochet. The Opposition, gathered into the Concertación de Partidos por el NO ("Coalition of Parties for NO"), organized a colorful and cheerful campaign under the slogan La alegría ya viene ("Joy is coming"). It was formed by the Christian Democracy, the Socialist Party and the Radical Party, gathered in the Alianza Democrática (Democratic Alliance). In 1988, several more parties, including the Humanist Party, the Ecologist Party, the Social Democrats, and several Socialist Party splinter groups added their support.

On 5 October 1988, the "NO" option won with 55.99%[45] of the votes, against 44.1% of "YES" votes. Pinochet complied, so the ensuing Constitutional process led to presidential and legislative elections the following year.

The Coalition changed its name to Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia (Coalition of Parties for Democracy) and put forward Patricio Aylwin, a Christian Democrat who had opposed Allende, as presidential candidate, and also proposed a list of candidates for the parliamentary elections. The opposition and the Pinochet government made several negotiations to amend the Constitution and agreed to 54 modifications. These amendments changed the way the Constitution would be modified in the future, added restrictions to state of emergency dispositions, the affirmation of political pluralism, and enhanced constitutional rights as well as the democratic principle and participation to political life. In July 1989, a referendum on the proposed changes took place, supported by all the parties except the right-wing Avanzada Nacional. The Constitutional changes were approved by 91.25% of the voters.

Thereafter, Aylwin won the December 1989 presidential election with 55% of the votes,[45] against less than 30% for the right-wing candidate, Hernan Buchi, who had been Pinochet's Minister of Finances since 1985 (there was also a third-party candidate, Francisco Javier Errázuriz, a wealthy aristocrat that represented the extreme economical right, who garnered the remaining 15%[45]). Pinochet thus left the presidency on 11 March 1990 and transferred power to the new democratically elected president.

The Concertación also won the majority of votes for the Parliament. However, due to the "binominal" representation system included in the constitution, the elected senators did not achieve a complete majority in Parliament, a situation that would last for over 15 years. This forced them to negotiate all law projects with the Alliance for Chile (originally called "Democracy and Progress" and then "Union for Chile"), a center-right coalition involving the Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI) and Renovación Nacional (RN), parties composed mainly of Pinochet's supporters.

Due to the transitional provisions of the constitution, Pinochet remained as Commander-in-Chief of the Army until March 1998. He was then sworn in as a senator-for-life, a privilege granted by the 1980 constitution to former presidents with at least six years in office. His senatorship and consequent immunity from prosecution protected him from legal action. These were only possible in Chile after Pinochet was arrested in 1998 in the United Kingdom, on an extradition request issued by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón —allegations of abuses had been made numerous times before his arrest, but never acted upon.[46]

Relationship with UK

Chile was officially neutral during the Falklands War, but the Chilean Westinghouse long range radar deployed in southern Chile gave the British task force early warning of Argentinian air attacks, which allowed British ships and troops in the war zone to take defensive action.[47] Margaret Thatcher has said that the day the radar was taken out of service for overdue maintenance was the day Argentinian fighter-bombers bombed the troopships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram landing ships, leaving 53 dead. According to Chilean Junta and former Air Force commander Fernando Matthei, Chilean support included military intelligence gathering, radar surveillance, British aircraft operating with Chilean colours and the safe return of British special forces, among other things.[48] In April and May 1982, a squadron of British mothballed Hawker Hunter fighter-bombers departed for Chile, arriving on 22 May and allowing the Chilean Air Force to reform the No. 9 "Las Panteras Negras" Squadron. A further consignment of three frontier surveillance and shipping reconnaissance Canberras left for Chile in October. Some authors suggest that Argentina might have won the war had she been allowed to employ the elite VIth and VIIIth Mountain Brigades which remained sitting up in the Andes mountain chain guarding against Chile.[49] Pinochet subsequently visited Margaret Thatcher for tea on more than one occasion.[50] Pinochet's controversial relationship with Thatcher led Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair to mock Thatcher's Conservatives as "the party of Pinochet" in 1999.

Arrest and trial in Britain

The case was a watershed event in judicial history, as it was the first time that a former government head was arrested on the principle of universal jurisdiction.[51]

After having been placed under house arrest in Britain and initiating a judicial and public relations battle, the latter run by Thatcherite political operative Patrick Robertson,[52] he was eventually released in March 2000 on medical grounds by the Home Secretary Jack Straw without facing trial.[53]

Return to Chile

Pinochet returned to Chile on 3 March 2000. His first act when landing in Santiago's airport was to triumphantly get up from his wheelchair to the acclaim of his supporters.[54][55][56] He was first greeted by his successor as head of the Chilean armed forces, General Ricardo Izurieta.[54] President Ricardo Lagos, who had just sworn in on March 11, said the retired general's televised arrival had damaged the image of Chile, while thousands demonstrated against him.[57]

In March 2000, the Congress approved a constitutional amendment creating the status of "ex-president," which granted its owner immunity from prosecution and guaranteed him a financial allowance. In exchange, it required him to resign from his seat of senator-for-life. 111 legislators voted for, and 29 (mostly, if not all, from the Left) against.[58]

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Juan Guzmán's request on August 2000, and Pinochet was indicted on 1 December 2000 for the "kidnapping" of 75 opponents in the Caravan of Death case—Guzmán advanced the charge of "kidnapping" as they were officially "disappeared": even though they were all most likely dead, the absence of their corpses made any charge of "homicide" difficult.[59]

However, in July 2002, the Supreme Court dismissed Pinochet's indictment in the various human rights abuse cases, for medical reasons (vascular dementia). The debate concerned Pinochet's mental faculties, his legal team claiming that he was senile and could not remember, while others (including several physicians) claimed that he was only physically affected but retained all control of his faculties. The same year, the prosecuting attorney Hugo Guttierez, in charge of the Caravan of Death case, declared that "Our country has the degree of justice that the political transition permits us to have."[60]

Pinochet resigned from his senatorial seat shortly after the Supreme Court's July 2002 ruling. In May 2004, the Supreme Court overturned its precedent decision, and ruled that he was capable of standing trial. In arguing their case, the prosecution presented a recent TV interview Pinochet had given for a Miami-based television network, which raised doubts about his alleged mental incapacity. He was charged with several crimes in December of that year (including the 1974 assassination of General Prats, the Operation Colombo case (119 dead), etc.) and again placed under house arrest, on the eve of his 90th birthday. Questioned by his judges in order to know if, as President, he was the direct head of DINA, he answered: "I don't remember, but it's not true. And if it were true, I don't remember."[61]

In January 2005, the Chilean Army accepted institutional responsibility for past human rights abuses.[62]

Furthermore, Pinochet was indicted in 2006 for kidnappings and tortures at Villa Grimaldi detention center by the judge Alejandro Madrid (Guzmán's successor),[63] as well as for the 1995 assassination of the DINA biochemist Eugenio Berrios (himself involved in the Letelier case).[64] Berrios, who had worked with Michael Townley, had produced sarin gas, anthrax and botulism in the Bacteriological War Army Laboratory for Pinochet (used against political opponents). The DINA biochemist was also alleged of having created black cocaine, which Pinochet then sold in Europe and the United States.[65] The money for the drug trade was allegedly put directly into Pinochet's bank accounts.[66] Pinochet's son Marco Antonio, who had been accused of participating in the drug trade, has denied claims of drug trafficking in his father's administration and announced a lawsuit for libel against Manuel Contreras, who had also claimed Pinochet sold cocaine.[67]

On 25 November 2006, Pinochet marked his 91st birthday by having his wife read a statement written by him, and read to his admirers present for his birthday: "I assume the political responsibility of all that has been done."[68] Two days later, he was again ordered to house arrest for the kidnapping and murder of two bodyguards of Salvador Allende who were arrested the day of the 1973 coup and executed by a firing squad during the Caravan of Death episode.[69][70]

However, Pinochet died a few days later, on 10 December 2006, without having been convicted of any of the many serious crimes he was accused of.

Secret bank accounts, tax evasion and arms deal

In 2004, a United States Senate money laundering investigation led by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Norm Coleman (R-MN)—ordered in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks—uncovered a network of over 125 securities and bank accounts at Riggs Bank and other U.S. financial institutions used by Pinochet and his associates for twenty-five years to secretly move millions of dollars.[71] Though the subcommittee was charged only with investigating compliance of financial institutions under the USA PATRIOT Act, and not the Pinochet regime, Senator Coleman noted:

This is a sad, sordid tale of money laundering involving Pinochet accounts at multiple financial institutions using alias names, offshore accounts, and close associates. As a former General and President of Chile, Pinochet was a well-known human rights violator and violent dictator.[71]

Over several months in 2005, Chilean judge Sergio Muñoz indicted Augusto Pinochet's wife, Lucia Hiriart; four of his children—Marco Antonio, Jacqueline, Veronica and Lucia Pinochet; as well as his personal secretary, Monica Ananias, and former aide Oscar Aitken on tax evasion and falsification charges stemming from the Riggs Bank investigation. In January 2006, daughter Lucia Pinochet was detained at Washington DC-Dulles airport and subsequently deported while attempting to evade the tax charges in Chile.[72] In January 2007, the Santiago Court of Appeals revoked most of the indictment from Judge Carlos Cerda against the Pinochet family.[73] But Pinochet's five children, his wife Lucia Hiriart, and 17 other persons (including two generals, one of his ex-lawyer and his ex-secretary) were arrested in October 2007 on charges of embezzlement and use of false passports. They are accused of having illegally transferred $27m (£13.2m) to foreign bank accounts during Pinochet's rule.[74][75]

In September 2005, a joint-investigation by The Guardian and La Tercera revealed that the British arms firm BAE Systems had been identified as paying more than £1m to Pinochet, through a front company in the British Virgin Islands, which BAE has used to channel commission on arms deals.[76] The payments began in 1997 and lasted until 2004.[76][77]

Furthermore, in 2007, fifteen years of investigation led to the conclusion that the 1992 assassination of DINA Colonel Gerardo Huber was most probably related to various illegal arms traffic carried out, after Pinochet's resignation from power, by military circles very close to himself.[15] Huber had been assassinated a short time before he was due to testify in the case concerning the 1991 illegal export of weapons to Croatian army. The deal involved 370 tons of weapons, sold to Croatia by Chile on 7 December 1991, when the former country was under a United Nations' embargo because of the support for Croatian neo-nazists or Neo-Ustashe in civil war in Yugoslavia.[78] In January 1992, the judge Hernán Correa de la Cerda wanted to hear Gerardo Huber in this case, but the latter may have been silenced to avoid implicating Pinochet in this new case[15][79][80]—although the latter was not anymore President, he remained at the time Commander-in-Chief of the Army. Pinochet was at the center of this illegal arms trade, receiving money through various offshores and front companies, including the Banco Coutts International in Miami.[81]

Pinochet was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in August 2000 by the Supreme Court, and indicted by judge Juan Guzmán Tapia. Guzmán had ordered in 1999 the arrest of five militarists, including General Pedro Espinoza Bravo of the DINA, for their role in the Caravan of Death following the 11 September coup. Arguing that the bodies of the "disappeared" were still missing, he made jurisprudence which had as effect to lift any prescription on the crimes committed by the military. Pinochet's trial continued until his death on December 10, 2006, with an alternation of indictments for specific cases, lifting of immunities by the Supreme Court or to the contrary immunity from prosecution, with his health a main argument for, or against, his prosecution. The Supreme Court affirmed in March 2005 Pinochet's immunity concerning the 1974 assassination of General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires, which had taken place in the frame of Operation Condor. However, he was deemed fit to stand trial for Operation Colombo, during which 119 political opponents were "disappeared" in Argentina. The Chilean justice also lifted his immunity on the Villa Grimaldi case, a detention and torture center in the outskirts of Santiago. Pinochet, who still benefited from a reputation of righteousness from his supporters, lost legitimacy when he was put under house arrest on tax fraud and passport forgery, following the publication by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of a report concerning the Riggs Bank in July 2004. The report was a consequence of investigations on financial funding of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. The bank controlled between USD $4 million and $8 million of Pinochet's assets, who lived in Santiago in a modest house, dissimulating his wealth. According to the report, Riggs participated in money laundering for Pinochet, setting up offshore shell corporations (referring to Pinochet as only "a former public official"), and hiding his accounts from regulatory agencies. Related to Pinochet's and his family secret bank accounts in United States and in Caraïbs islands, this tax fraud filing for an amount of 27 million dollars shocked the conservative sectors who still supported him. Ninety percent of these funds would have been raised between 1990 and 1998, when Pinochet was chief of the Chilean armies, and would essentially have come from weapons traffic (when purchasing Belgian 'Mirage' air-fighters in 1994, Dutch 'Léopard' tanks, Swiss 'Mowag' tanks or by illegal sales of weapons to Croatia, in the middle of the Balkans war.) His wife, Lucía Hiriart, and his son, Marco Antonio Pinochet, were also sued for complicity. For the fourth time in seven years, Pinochet was indicted by the Chilean justice.[82]

Human rights violations

Pinochet is alleged to be responsible for various human rights abuses during his reign including usage of torture against political opponents. According to a government report that included testimony from more than 30,000 people, Pinochet's government killed at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000. Two-thirds of the cases listed in the report happened in 1973.[83] However, The Age newspaper (Melbourne, Australia) has reported that the real number of people killed or reported missing and presumed dead are 1,183 people and that their names appear on a special memorial at the General Cemetery of Santiago.[9] Professor Clive Foss, in The Tyrants: 2500 years of Absolute Power and Corruption (Quercus Publishing 2006), estimates that 1,500 Chileans were killed or disappeared during the Pinochet regime. Among the killed and disappeared during the military regime were at least 663 MIR guerrillas.[84] The Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front admitted 49 FPMR guerrillas were killed and hundreds tortured.[85]


Pinochet suffered a heart attack on the morning of December 3, 2006, and subsequently the same day he was given the last rites. On December 4, 2006, the Chilean Court of Appeals ordered the release of his house arrest. On December 10, 2006 at 13:30 local time (16:30 UTC) he was taken to the intensive care unit.[86] He died of congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema,[87] surrounded by family members, at the Military Hospital at 14:15 local time (17:15 UTC).[88]


Massive spontaneous street demonstrations broke out throughout the country upon the learning of his death. In Santiago, opponents celebrated at the Alameda avenue, while supporters grieved outside the Military Hospital. Pinochet's remains were publicly exhibited on December 11, 2006 at the Military Academy in Las Condes. During this ceremony Francisco Cuadrado Prats, the grandson of Carlos Prats, a former Commander in Chief of the Army in Allende's Government, murdered by Pinochet's secret police, spat on the coffin, and was quickly surrounded by supporters of Pinochet, who kicked and insulted him. Pinochet's funeral took place the following day at the same venue before a gathering of 60,000 supporters.[89]


Pinochet funeral.

In a government decision, he was not granted a state funeral, an honor bestowed upon constitutionally elected Chilean presidents, but a military funeral as former commander-in-chief of the Army appointed by President Salvador Allende. The government also refused to declare an official national day of mourning, but it did authorize flags at military barracks to fly at half staff. Pinochet's coffin was also allowed to be draped in a Chilean flag. Socialist President Michelle Bachelet, whose father Alberto was temporarily imprisoned and tortured after the 1973 coup, dying shortly after from heart complications, said it would be "a violation of [her] conscience" to attend a state funeral for Pinochet.[90] The only government authority present at the public funeral was the Defense Minister, Vivianne Blanlot.


Pinochet's body was cremated in "Parque del Mar" cemetery, Concón on December 12, 2006, on his request to "avoid vandalism of his tomb," according to his son Marco Antonio.[91] His ashes were delivered to his family later that day, and are deposited in one of his personal residences. The armed forces refused to allow his ashes to be deposited on any military grounds.[92]


Pinochet has different nicknames, some of them given to him by his opponents and some by his supporters. Supporters sometimes refer to him as mi general (Spanish for "my general") while opponents call him pinocho.[93] Another common nickname used by both opponents and supporters is el tata (Spanish equivalent of "grampa"). After the Riggs Bank scandal he has been referred sarcastically as Daniel López, one of his fake identities used to deposit money in that bank.[citation needed]

See also

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ "Bush praises revival of Democracy in Chile". Google news.,3529255&dq=chile+return+to+democracy%20Deseret%20News:%20Bush%20praises%20revival%20of%20democracy%20in%20Chile%20%28Dec%206,%201990%29. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  2. ^ a b c "Augusto Pinochet: Timeline". CBSNews. 
  3. ^ - CIA acknowledges involvement in Allende's overthrow, Pinochet's rise - September 19, 2000
  4. ^ Michael Evans. "CIA Acknowledges Ties to Pinochet’s Repression". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  5. ^ Cavallo, Ascanio et al. La Historia Oculta del Régimen Militar, Grijalbo, Santiago, 1997.
  6. ^ "Chile under Pinochet - a chronology | World news |". Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  7. ^ English translation of the Rettig Report
  8. ^ 2004 Commission on Torture (Valech Report) (Spanish)
  9. ^ a b "Chile to sue over false reports of Pinochet-era missing. The Age. December 30, 2008". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  10. ^ "Chile under Pinochet: recovering the truth. By Mark Ensalaco. Page 145. Cloth 1999". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  11. ^ Angell, Alan (1991). The Cambridge History of Latin America, Vol. VIII, 1930 to the Present. Ed. Leslie Bethell. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 318. ISBN 978-0521266529. 
  12. ^ "Chile: No todo es como parece". COHA. January 3, 2005. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  13. ^ a b Thomas M. Leonard. Encyclopedia Of The Developing World. Routledge. ISBN 1579583881 p. 322
  14. ^ Chang, Jack; Yulkowski, Lisa (December 13, 2006). "Vocal minority praises Pinochet at his funeral". Bradenton Herald. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  15. ^ a b c Larry Rohter, Colonel's Death Gives Clues to Pinochet Arms Deals, The New York Times, 19 June 2006 (English)
  16. ^ "Supuesto hijo de Pinochet en Ecuador dispuesto a prueba de ADN". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  17. ^ El fin de un mito en Chile: el Plan Zeta, Clarín, 5 July 1999 (Spanish)
  18. ^ Comisión Nacional sobre Prisión Política y Tortura CAPÍTULO III Contexto.
  19. ^ Vial Correa, Gonzalo (2003-09-23). "Carlos Altamirano, el Plan Z y la "Operación Blanqueo"". La Segunda. 
  20. ^ "Cool and mannerly, he was Trudeau's press secretary at a difficult time". Globe and Mail. 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  21. ^ Hudson, Rex A., ed. "Chile: A Country Study". GPO for the Library of Congress. 1995. March 20, 2005
  22. ^ "Chile under Pinochet: recovering the truth. By Mark Ensalaco. Page 146. Cloth 1999". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  23. ^ "Chile: Terrorism still counterproductive. CIA document". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  24. ^ "Inter-American Commission on human rights Report 1986". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  25. ^ Flash presentation depicting the September 1986 assassination attempt (Spanish)
  26. ^ "Pinochet was a vile Fascist...". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  27. ^ a b R. Griffin, The Nature of Fascism, London: Routledge, 2003, pp. 36-37
  28. ^ a b R.O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, London: Allen Lane 2004, p. 201
  29. ^ a b A. Cento Bull, 'Neo-Fascism', R.J.B. Bosworth, The Oxford Handbook of Fascism, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 604
  30. ^ Walter Laqueur. Fascism: Past, Present, Future. Oxford University Press. 1997. p. 115
  31. ^ "World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1 By Cyprian Blamires, Paul Jackson". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  32. ^ Pinochet Is History: But how will it remember him? National Review Symposium, December 11, 2006
  33. ^ a b Stern, Steve J.. Remembering Pinochet's Chile. 2004-09-30: Duke University Press. pp. 32, 90, 101, 180–81. ISBN 0-8223-3354-6. , accessed 10-24-2006 through Google Books.
  34. ^ Eduardo Gallardo, Pinochet Was Unrepentant to the End, ABC News (Associated Press), December 11, 2006 (English)
  35. ^ Ex-Chilean leader 'was murdered', BBC, 23 January 2007
  36. ^ Capítulos desconocidos de los mercenarios chilenos en Honduras camino de Iraq, La Nación, September 25, 2005 – URL accessed on February 14, 2007 (Spanish)
  37. ^ "Su revolución contra nuestra revolución: izquierdas y derechas en el Chile, Verónica Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, p. 179, LOM Ediciones, 2006". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  38. ^ Still Hidden: A Full Record Of What the U.S. Did in Chile, Peter Kornbluh, The Washington Post, Sunday 24 October 1999; Page B01
  39. ^ Manfred Bräuchle. "Applied Theory: The Reforms in Chile". 
  40. ^ "Augusto Pinochet biography data. Chilean coup d'etat. Pinochet human rights violations". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  41. ^ K. Remmer (1998). The Politics of Neoliberal Economic Reform in South America. 33. pp. 3–29. Studies in Comparative International Development. 
  42. ^ a b c d Petras and Vieux (1998). The Chilean "Economic Miracle": An Empirical Critique. pp. 57–72. Crit Sociol. 
  43. ^ [1] Chile under Pinochet: recovering the truth
  44. ^ George Weigel, Biografía de Juan Pablo II - Testigo de Esperanza, Editorial Plaza & Janés (2003), ISBN 8401013046
  45. ^ a b c Tribunal Calificador, Chilean governmental website (Spanish)
  46. ^ See Juan Guzmán Tapia's autobiography
  47. ^ "Margaret Thatcher Foundation. Speech on Pinochet at the Conservative Party Conference. October 6 1999". 1999-10-06. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  48. ^ "Mercopress. September 3rd 2005". 2005-09-03. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  49. ^ Nicholas van der Bijl and David Aldea, 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands , page 28, Leo Cooper 2003
  50. ^ "UK | UK Politics | Pinochet death 'saddens' Thatcher". BBC News. 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  51. ^ Robertson, Geoffrey, Crimes Against Humanity. Penguin Books, 2006. Ppg. 336-7.
  52. ^ Evening Standard June 21, 1995
  53. ^ Pinochet set free, BBC, 2 March 2000 (English)
  54. ^ a b Pinochet arrives in Chile, BBC, 3 March 2000 (English)
  55. ^ video of Pinochet arriving at Santiago airport, March 3, 2000
  56. ^ Alex Bellos and Jonathan Franklin, Pinochet receives a hero's welcome on his return, The Guardian, 4 March 2000 (English)
  57. ^ Thousands march against Pinochet, BBC, March 4, 2000
  58. ^ Chile offers Pinochet new immunity, BBC, 25 March 2000 (English)
  59. ^ Pinochet charged with kidnapping, BBC, 1st December 2000 (English)
  60. ^ "The Appeals Court Ruling Is Negotiated Out for Pinochet", Interview with Attorney Hugo Gutierrez, by Memoria y Justicia,21 February 2002 (English)
  61. ^ 16 November 2005. Spanish: '"No me acuerdo, pero no es cierto. Y si es cierto, no me acuerdo". Quoted in Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet, La Nacion, 11 December 2006 (Spanish)
  62. ^ General Juan Emilio Cheyre, "Ejército de Chile: el fin de una visión", La Tercera, May 11, 2004
  63. ^ Court 'lifts Pinochet immunity', BBC, September 8, 2006.
  64. ^ Levée de l'immunité de Pinochet pour le meurtre d'un chimiste, news agency cable, 12 October 2006 (French)
  65. ^ Jonathan Franklin, Pinochet 'sold cocaine to Europe and US', The Guardian, July 11, 2006 (English)
  66. ^ General (r) Manuel Contreras: Eugenio Berríos está vivo, Radio Cooperativa, 10 July 2006 (Spanish)
  67. ^ Hijo de Pinochet acusa de "mentiroso y canalla" a ex jefe DINA, Los Tiempos, 10 July 2006(Spanish)
  68. ^ Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet, La Nacion, 11 December 2006 (Spanish)
  69. ^ Eduardo Gallardo: "Pinochet indicted for 1973 executions," Associated Press, 27 November 2006.
  70. ^ Procesan a Pinochet y ordenan su arresto por los secuestros y homicidios de la "Caravana de la Muerte", 20minutos, 28 November 2006.
  71. ^ a b United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs: "Levin-Coleman Staff Report Discloses Web of Secret Accounts Used by Pinochet", Press Release. US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, March 16, 2005
  72. ^ "U.S. Sends Back Pinochet Daughter," CNN, 28 January 2006
  73. ^ Corte revoca mayoría de procesamientos en caso Riggs, El Mercurio, 3 January 2007 (Spanish)
  74. ^ Pinochet family arrested in Chile, BBC, 4 October 2007 (English)
  75. ^ Cobertura Especial: Detienen a familia y principales colaboradores de Pinochet, La Tercera, 4 October 2007 (Spanish)
  76. ^ a b David Leigh and Rob Evans, Revealed: BAE's secret £1m to Pinochet, The Guardian, 15 September 2005 (English)
  77. ^ David Leigh, Jonathan Franklin and Rob Evans, Detective story that linked £1m Pinochet cash to BAE, The Guardian, 15 September 2005 (English)
  78. ^ Biographical notice on Memoria viva NGO website (Spanish)
  79. ^ Jorge Molina Sanhueza, Gerardo Huber sabía demasiado, pero no alcanzó a contarlo. El coronel que le pena al ejército, La Nación, 25 September 2005 (Spanish)
  80. ^ Andrea Chaparro, CDE insiste en unir caso Huber con tráfico de armas a Croacia, La Nación, 15 August 2005 (Spanish)
  81. ^ Andrea Chaparro Solís, Generales (R) y civiles de Famae procesados en caso armas a Croacia, La Nación, 13 June 2006 (Spanish)
  82. ^ U.S. sends back Pinochet daughter, CNN, January 28, 2006
  83. ^ Reel, Monte; J.Y. Smith (December 11, 2006). "A Chilean Dictator's Dark Legacy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  84. ^ "Caidos Del Mir En Diferente Periodos. Ceme (Centro De Estudios Miguel Enriquez." (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  85. ^ "Aquellos que todo lo dieron. El Rodriguista, 11 Años de Lucha y Dignidad, 1994". 2005-11-04. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  86. ^ Muere el ex dictador Chileno Augusto Pinochet EFE
  87. ^ Augusto Pinochet falleció en el Hospital Militar tras sufrir recaída "; El Mercurio"
  88. ^ Chile's General Pinochet 'dead' BBC News
  89. ^ "Pinochet's Funeral Draws 360,000", CBA news,
  90. ^ "Clashes Break out after Pinochet's death", Yahoo!News, 11 December 2006
  91. ^ Family Wants Pinochet Cremation
  92. ^ Pedregoso camino para que cenizas de Pinochet llegaran a Los Boldos, La Nación 26 December 2006
  93. ^ Capturing Contested Memories: The Day Pinochet Died, Kristin Sorensen, Bentley University


  1. ^ This is a Spanish name; the first family name is Pinochet and the second is Ugarte. Pinochet pronounced his name with a silent t,[citation needed] though it is not uncommon for the t to be pronounced by Spanish speaking Chileans: [pinoˈtʃet]. In English it is usually pronounced /ˈpiːnoʊʃeɪ/, or sometimes in the US /piːnoʊˈtʃɛt/.Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow, England: Longman. p. 537. ISBN 0582053838.  entry "Pinochet"

Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Salvador Allende
President of Chile
Succeeded by
Patricio Aylwin
Military offices
Preceded by
Carlos Prats
Army Commander-in-chief
Succeeded by
Ricardo Izurieta


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (November 25, 1915December 10, 2006) was a general and de facto head of state of Chile. He led a military junta to power in 1973 through a coup d'état, deposing the elected Socialist president Salvador Allende and establishing a military dictatorship.



As Chairman of the Government Junta

  • I am going to die. The person who succeeds me also would die. But elections, you won't have.
  • If Senator Kennedy is elected President of the United States, the government of Chile will take the necessary measures.
  • Not a single leaf moves in this country if I'm not the one moving it. I want that to be clear!
    • Speech (October 1981), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet" (2006-12-11) La Nación. This expression is not original to Pinochet; it is also attributed to Inca Atahualpa in 1531. See de las Casas, Destruction of the Indies.
  • This is not a dictadura but a dictablanda.
  • The rich people are the ones making money and you have to treat them well so they continue making more money.
  • Don't forget that in the history of the world, there was a plebiscite, in which Christ and Barabbas were being judged, and the people chose Barabbas.
    • Speech (25 October 1988), commenting on his defeat in a plebiscite to return to democracy. Quoted in Pamela Constable et al. (1991) A Nation of Enemies
  • I'm not someone who usually sends out threats. I warn only once. The day they touch one of my men, the rule of law is over.

As army commander-in-chief

  • Look, what a greater economy!
    • Remark to reporters (September 1991) when asked about the burial of 125 political opponents in 108 graves. Quoted in "Revelan datos de víctimas de Pinochet, mal identificadas en Chile" (2009-02-12) Agencia EFE
  • To whom are we going to ask to be forgiven? To the one who tried to kill us? To the one who tried to destroy our country? To whom? They are the ones who must ask to be forgiven for everything they did before September 11.
    • Comments at Mass (11 September 1994), quoted in Calvin Sims (1994-10-06) "Villain or Hero? Pinochet Is Still Viewed as Both in Chile" New York Times
  • Rome cut off the heads of Christians and they continued to reappear one way or another. Something similar happens with Marxists.

As senator for life

  • Tell my friends to get me out of here.
    • October 27, 1998, nine days after being arrested in London, quoted in Heraldo Muñoz (2008) The Dictator's Shadow
  • The freedoms which had been so hard won from colonial domination were being crushed by Soviet-inspired and funded military and political forces. Their clear intention was to deprive the people of their democratic freedoms. As history shows, this is what had happened in the Soviet Union and in Cuba, and continues to be the case in other parts of the world.
    • Statement (8 November 1998)
  • I have lived with my conscience and my own memories for over quarter of a century since the events of 1973.… These are not easy reflections for me. But I am at peace with myself, and with the Chilean people, about what happened. I am clear in my mind that the return to Chile of true democracy, and from that the true freedom to which all individual people are entitled, could not have been achieved without the removal of the Marxist government.
    • Statement (8 November 1998)
  • I was only an aspiring dictator. I was never a real dictator.
    • November 1998, during detention in London)[1]
  • Is it true what Contreras testified before the courts, that the president of the junta and later the president of the Republic was the direct head of DINA?
    I don't remember, but it is not true. It is not true and if it was, I don't remember. Contreras liked to cajole, wrap around his boss. Contreras gave the orders. It was he who managed the institution.
    • Exchange between Judge Victor Montiglio and Pinochet (November 16, 2005), quoted in Heraldo Muñoz (2008) The Dictator's Shadow
  • Today, near the end of my days, I want to say that I harbor no rancor against anybody, that I love my fatherland above all and that I take political responsibility for everything that was done which had no other goal than making Chile greater and avoiding its disintegration.… I assume full political responsibility for what happened.
    • Birthday announcement (25 November 2006)


  • Power must be vested in the armed forces, since only they have the organization and the means to fight Marxism.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 187

Simple English

File:Pinochet de
Augusto Pinochet.

General Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (November 25, 1915December 10, 2006) was a Chilean army general and president who led Chile from 1973 to 1990. He became leader after he overthrew Salvador Allende, a socialist president.

About 3,000 Chilean people died because of Pinochet's rule and many other people were tortured. Many of the people that died during Pinochet's rule were communists, however many of Pinochet's supporters died as well.

Pinochet introduced many neoliberal free market policies, bringing growth and great economic progress to Chile.

The coup d'état that was launched to overthrow Allende and put Pinochet in power was supported by the United States, as was Pinochet's regime.[1]

In 1988, there was a plebiscite in Chile. The people were asked whether Pinochet should rule for another eight and a half years. About 56% of the people did not want that. Pinochet respected the wish of the people, and stepped down from power in 1990. Patricio Aylwin became the next president. Pinochet kept his responsibilities as head of the military until 1998. After this, he became a senator. He left the senate in 2002, but he was not arrested because the Supreme Court of Chile said he suffered from dementia. In May 2004, judges said that was not true. On December 13 he was placed under house arrest.

He died from heart failure on December 10, 2006. He had had a heart attack a week earlier.


  1. Chomsky, Noam (2006). Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. Metropolitan Books. p. 111. ISBN 0-8050-7912-2.,M1. "Meanwhile, Washington firmly supported Pinochet's regime of violence and terror and had no slight role in its initial triumph." 

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