Chile: Augusto Pinochet (00:00:05)
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Chile: Augusto Pinochet

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Location and time:

Poland, 1990


Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte[note 1] (25 November 1915 – 10 December 2006) was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on September 11, 1973. 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 transferring power to a democratically elected president 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, Pinochet led a coup d'état which put an end to Allende's democratically elected socialist government. In December 1974, the military junta appointed Pinochet as President by a joint decree, with which Air Force General Gustavo Leigh disagreed.[3] From the beginning, the government implemented harsh measures against its political opponents.[4] According to various reports and investigations 1,200–3,200 people were killed, 80,000 were interned, and up to 30,000 were tortured by his regime including women and children [5][6][7] However, Professor Clive Foss in The Tyrants: 2500 years of Absolute Power and Corruption (Quercus Publishing 2006), estimates that in reality 1,500–2,000 Chileans were killed or disappeared during the Pinochet regime. In October 1979 the New York Times had reported that Amnesty International had documented the disappearance of approximately 1,500 Chileans since 1973.[8] The Australian The Age newspaper in 2008 ran a story that alleged that the real number of Chileans killed or reported missing and presumed dead are the 1,183 people whose names appear on a special memorial at the General Cemetery of Santiago.[9] Critics of the Valech Report that concludes that up to 3,200 Chileans were killed or disappeared, claim that families are falsely stating that their relatives went missing during the 1973–1990 military regime, following reports that four people listed as killed or missing, were in fact alive or had died in unrelated circumstances.[10] The cases have raised questions about the system of verification of dictatorship victims.[11] Among the killed and disappeared during the military regime were at least 663 Marxist MIR guerrillas.[12] The Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, however, has only admitted 49 FPMR guerrillas killed but hundreds detained and tortured.[13] 200,000 Chileans are claimed to have been forced to go 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;[14] however, some key individuals were followed in their exile by the DINA secret police, in the framework of Operation Condor, which linked military 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[15] and some attribute the devastating effect of the 1982 monetary crisis in the Chilean economy precisely to these policies.[16] Pinochet's economic policies were continued and strengthened by successive governments after 1990.[17] 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 (which saw 56% vote against continuing his presidency) 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 Tapia 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.[18] Pinochet was accused of having corruptly amassed a wealth of US$28 million or more while ruler of Chile.[19] Pinochet was an intensely polarizing figure at home and abroad. His policies were vehemently opposed by leftists and many moderates who attacked his human rights abuses and claimed that he favored elite interests, while many rightists saw him as a bulwark against Marxism and chaos and believed that he led Chile to become one of the most prosperous and developed countries in Latin America.




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26-07-2010 22:50:34

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