- Category : Political - Dictator
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sleeping Phoenix 4
Captain General Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (November 25, 1915–December 10, 2006) was dictator and President of Chile from 1973 to 1990. His rule instituted broad economic reforms and a severe and highly controversial campaign against suspected revolutionary leftists and their sympathizers.
In 1973, at the behest of the legislative and judicial branches of government, Pinochet participated in a coup d'état that deposed Socialist President Salvador Allende and established a military government. In 1974, the junta appointed Pinochet president by a joint decree. He remained in power until 1990, when he was defeated in a plebiscite to continue his rule. After stepping down, he remained a senator, in accord with Chilean law.
Arguing that Chile was under siege by communist subversives, Pinochet implemented a series of security operations in which (according to the Rettig Report) around 3,000 suspected terrorists or known dissidents were killed, and (according to the Valech Report) around 30,000 more were tortured. He later implemented free-market economic reforms which are credited with the recovery from the hyperinflation which came during Allende's presidency and the development of the robust modern Chilean economy, although this is disputed by his opponents. At the time of his death in 2006, around 300 criminal charges in Chile were still pending against Pinochet for alleged human rights abuses and embezzlement during his rule. Pinochet remains a polarizing figure in many parts of the world, dividing people who condemn him for human rights abuses and for taking power from a democratically elected government, from those who credit him with stabilizing Chile and preventing a Communist takeover.
Pinochet was born in Valparaíso on November 25, 1915, the son of Augusto Pinochet Vera (descendant of Breton immigrants who arrived in Chile during the 18th century) 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 to the Military School, which he entered in 1933. After four years of study, in 1937 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. In 1948, 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.
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 War Academy, and he returned to Santiago to take up his new position.
In 1956, Pinochet was chosen, together with a group of other young officers, 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. During his time there, he was known in diplomatic circles as an exceptional poker player.
At the end of 1959, he returned to Chile and was sent to General Headquarters of the I 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 II Army Division, based in Santiago, and at the end of that year, he was promoted to Brigadier General and Commander in Chief of the VI 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, Pinochet was appointed Army Commander in Chief on August 23, 1973 by President Salvador Allende just the day after the Chamber of Deputies of Chile approved The Resolution of August 22, 1973 asserting that Chilean democracy had broken down and calling for Allende's removal, by military force if necessary, to restore constitutional rule. Less than a month later, the Chilean military deposed Allende.
Military coup of 1973
Main article: Chilean coup of 1973
Augusto Pinochet in Military coup of 1973
Augusto Pinochet in Military coup of 1973
On September 11, 1973; the Armed Forces overthrew Allende's government in a coup. Allende committed suicide just as troops burst into the presidential palace. The exact circumstances of his death are still disputed by his supporters, but an autopsy in 1990 found that Allende's wounds were consistent with the suicide account. The suicide account has been confirmed by his personal physician and friend, who was with him at the time.
In his memoirs, Pinochet affirmed that he was the leader 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 recent 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 other branches (especially the Navy) as they triggered the coup. There is some doubt as to whether these declarations are true, because they give rise to the question as to why Pinochet was at first reluctant to become supreme head of the junta if, as he claimed, he was one of the main characters who planned it.
In the months that followed the coup, the government inself published a book titled El Libro Blanco del cambio de gobierno en Chile (commonly known as "El Libro Blanco"), in which their actions appeared to be just anticipating some kind of self-coup that Allende's government and/or its associates were preparing to aim. The plans for this self-coup were known as the "Plan Zeta" (or "Plan Z"). They included the violent dis-stabilization of the government of Salvador Allende, via the killing of the head of all the military corps and some important politicians in the celebrations that would happen in the anniversary of Chilean national independence, in mid-september of that 1973 year. Until today, "Plan Zeta" hasn't been proven to be true, and the publishing of the "Libro Blanco" seems more than a product of seeking legitimacy than anyhing else.
Main article: Government Junta of Chile (1973)
A military junta was established immediately following the coup, made up of General Pinochet representing the Army, Admiral José Toribio Merino Castro representing the Navy, General Gustavo Leigh Guzmán representing the Air Force, and General César Mendoza Durán representing the Carabineros (national police). As commander in chief of the army--the oldest branch of the military--Pinochet became president of the junta. The military dictator was supported by the U.S. government and the CIA. This was due to the Communist background of Allende's government, his wide campaign of nationalizations and disregard for property rights, his close links with the USSR and Cuba and his declared intention to start a Communist Revolution.
Main article: Chile under Pinochet
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 June 27, 1974. He officially changed his title to "President" on December 17. In 1980, by the way of another national referendum, Chile got a new Constitution, replacing the old document from 1925, and granted Pinochet 10 more years in power as President of Chile. The option "yes" won with 67.04% against 30.19% for the option "no".
General Leigh, head of the Air Force, became increasingly opposed to Pinochet's policies and was forced into retirement on July 24, 1978. He was replaced by General Fernando Matthei.
Pinochet with presidential band (1974)
Pinochet with presidential band (1974)
In 1981, Pinochet was promoted to the rank of Captain General previously borne by colonial governors and by Bernardo O'Higgins, a hero of Chile's war of independence. The rank had ben reserved only for those who are, at the same time, heads of Government and of the Army.
Main article: Chile under Pinochet#Economy and Free Market reforms
By mid 1975, Pinochet set forth an economic policy of free-market reform. He declared that he wanted "to make Chile not a nation of proletarians, but a nation of proprietors." To formulate his economic policy, Pinochet relied on the so-called Chicago Boys, who were economists trained at the University of Chicago and heavily influenced by the ideas of Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger.
The government launched an era of deregulation of business and privatization. To accomplish these objectives, the government privatized the pension system, and reprivatized state-owned industries, and banks, and lowered taxes on income. However, the large copper industry remained under control of the government owned Codelco. Supporters of these policies (most notably Milton Friedman himself) have dubbed them "The Miracle of Chile," due to the country's sustained economic growth since the late 1980s.
Suppression of opposition
After the military's seizure of power, Pinochet destroyed the insurgency linked to the defeated Popular Unity (UP) government. In October 1973, at least 70 people were killed by the Caravan of Death.
Almost immediately, the junta banned all the leftist parties that had constituted Allende's UP coalition. All other parties were placed in "indefinite recess," and were later banned outright. The regime's violence was directed against dissidents. It is not known exactly how many people were killed by government and military forces during the 17 years that he was in power, but the Rettig Report concluded that 2,279 persons who disappeared during the military government were killed for political reasons, and approximately 30,000 tortured according to the Valech Report, and several thousand persons were exiled. The latter were chased all over the world in the frame of Operation Condor, a cooperation plan between the various intelligence agencies of South American countries, assisted by a US communication base in Panama. Pinochet believed these operations were necessary in order to "save the country from communism." It is also rumored that United States CIA agents helped Pinochet to install his government to suppress the communist uprising in Chile.
Pinochet with his Argentinean counterpart, Jorge Rafael Videla
Pinochet with his Argentinean counterpart, Jorge Rafael Videla
In contrast to most other nations in Latin America, prior to the coup, Chile had a long tradition of democratic civilian rule; military intervention in politics had been rare. 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.
The situation in Chile came to international attention, thanks to pressure especially by Diego Arria then Governor of Carracus, in September 1976, when Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean ambassador to the United States and minister in Allende's cabinet, after his release from internment and exile, was assassinated in Washington, D.C. by a car bomb.
General Carlos Prats, Pinochet's predecessor and army commander under Allende, who had resigned rather than support the moves against Allende's marxist government, was assassinated under similar circumstances in Buenos Aires, Argentina, two years earlier.
Chilean foreign relations under Pinochet
The new junta quickly broke off the diplomatic relations with Cuba that had been established under the Allende government. Shortly after the junta came to power, several communist countries, including the Soviet Union, North Korea, North Vietnam, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia, severed diplomatic relations with Chile (however, Romania and the People's Republic of China both continued to maintain diplomatic relations with Chile). The government broke diplomatic relations with Cambodia in January 1974 and renewed ties with South Vietnam in March 1974.
Having come to power with the self-proclaimed mission of fighting communism, Pinochet found common cause with the military dictatorships of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and later, Argentina. The six countries eventually formulated a plan that became known as Operation Condor, in which one country's security forces would target active Marxist subversives, guerrillas, and their alleged sympathizers in the allied countries.
During 1977 and 1978, Chile was on the brink of war with Argentina (also ruled by a military government) over a disagreement regarding the ownership of the strategic Picton, Lennox and Nueva islands at the southern tip of South America. Antonio Samoré, a representative of Pope John Paul II, prevented full-scale war. The conflict was finally resolved in 1984, with the Treaty of Peace and Friendship (Tratado de Paz y Amistad). Chilean sovereignty over the islands and Argentinian over the surrounding sea is now undisputed.
Under Pinochet, Chile was the only country in Latin America not to support Argentina in its war with the UK over the Falkland Islands in 1982, after having almost started a war over a confrontation on the Picton, Lennox and Nueva islands.
Pinochet's government received tacit approval and material support from the United States. The exact nature and extent of this support is disputed. (See U.S. role in 1973 Coup, U.S. intervention in Chile and Operation Condor for more details.)
End of the Pinochet regime
In 1980, a new constitution was approved, which prescribed a single-candidate presidential referendum in 1988, and a return to civilian rule in 1990. In May 1983, the opposition and labor movements began to organize demonstrations and strikes against the regime, provoking violent responses from government officials. In 1986, security forces discovered 80 tons of weapons smuggled into the country by the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR), the armed branch of the outlawed Communist Party. The shipment of Carrizal Bajo included C-4 plastic explosives, RPG-7 and M72 LAW rocket launchers as well as more than three thousand M-16 rifles. The operation was overseen by Cuban intelligence, and also involved East Germany and the Soviet Union.
In September, weapons from the same source were used in an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Pinochet by the FPMR. Pinochet suffered only minor injuries, but five of his military bodyguards were killed. The beheading of leftist professor José Manuel Parada, and journalist Manuel Guerrero, and Santiago Nattino by the uniformed police (carabineros) led to the resignation of junta member General César Mendoza in 1985.
Lost referendum and return to civilian rule
According to the transitional provisions of the 1980 Constitution, approved by what the government claimed was 67% of voters in referendum, a referendum was scheduled for October 5, 1988, to vote on a new eight-year presidential term for Pinochet. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the plebiscite should be carried out as stipulated by the Law of Elections. That included an "Electoral Space" during which all positions, in this case two, Sí (yes), and No, would have two free slots of equal and uninterrupted TV time, simultaneously broadcast by all TV channels, with no political advertising outside those spots. The allotment was scheduled in two off-prime time slots: one before the afternoon news and the other before the late-night news, from 22:45 to 23:15 each night (the evening news was from 20:30 to 21:30, and prime time from 21:30 to 22:30). The opposition No campaign produced colorful, upbeat programs, telling the Chilean people to vote against the extension of the presidential term. Ricardo Lagos, an opposition leader, called (in an interview) on Pinochet to account for all the "disappeared" persons. The Sí campaign did not argue for the advantages of extension, but was instead negative, claiming that voting "no" was equivalent to voting for a return to the chaos of the Popular Unity government.
Pinochet lost the 1988 referendum, where 57% of the votes rejected the extension of the presidential term, against 43% for "Sí", this triggered multi-candidate presidential elections in 1989 to choose his replacement. Open presidential elections were held the next year, at the same time as congressional elections that would have taken place in either case. Pinochet left the presidency on March 11, 1990 and transferred power to Patricio Aylwin, the new democratically elected president.
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 first granted to former presidents with at least six years in office by the 1980 Constitution. His senatorship and consequent immunity from prosecution protected him, and legal challenges began only after Pinochet had been arrested in the United Kingdom.
Arrest and trial
Pinochet's regime has been accused of systematic and widespread human rights violations both in Chile and abroad, including mass-murder, torture, kidnapping, illegal detention, and press censorship. He also was criticized for using his position to enrich himself and his family. On October 17, 1998, while visiting the United Kingdom for medical treatment, Pinochet was arrested on a Spanish provisional warrant for the murder in Chile of Spanish citizens while he was president. Five days later, Pinochet was served with a second provisional arrest warrant from judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain charging him with systematic torture, murder, illegal detention, and "disappearances".
Pinochet was placed under house arrest in Britain while appealing the legal authority of the Spanish and British courts to try him, but eventually released on medical grounds by the then Home Secretary Jack Straw without facing trial. He returned to Chile, where judge Juan Guzmán initiated a procedure against him, requesting three days after his return to Chile the suspension of his parliamentary immunity. Pinochet's legal team was headed by Pablo Rodríguez, the former leader of the far-right paramilitary group Fatherland and Liberty (Patria y Libertad).
Pinochet resigned his senatorial seat in 2002, after a Supreme Court ruling that he suffered from "vascular dementia" and therefore could not stand trial for human rights abuses—allegations of abuses had been made numerous times before his arrest, but never acted upon. In May 2004, Chile's supreme court ruled that he was capable of standing trial, and he was charged with several crimes in December of that year.
In 2004, a United States Senate money laundering investigation led by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Norm Coleman (R-MN) 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. Though the subcommittee was charged only with investigating compliance of financial institutions under the USA PATRIOT Act, and not the Pinochet regime, Sen. 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.”
Over several months in 2005, Chilean judge Sergio Munoz indicted Augusto Pinochet's wife, Lucia Hiriart; four of his children --Marco Antonio, Jacqueline, Veronica and Lucia Pinochet; 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. In January 2007, the Santiago Court of Appeals revoked most of the indictement from Judge Carlos Cerda against the Pinochet family.
On November 22, 2005, Augusto Pinochet himself was indicted on tax evasion charges and placed under house arrest for an alleged $27 million hidden in secret accounts under false names. That figure was later reduced to $11 million.
On November 25, 2006, Pinochet marked his 91st birthday by issuing a statement for the first time taking full political responsibility for atrocities and abuses committed by his regime. Two days later, he was indicted and ordered to remain under house arrest for the kidnapping and murder of two bodyguards of former President Salvador Allende --Wagner Salinas and Francisco Lara-— who were arrested the day of the 1973 coup and executed by firing squad four weeks later.
Final days and death
Pinochet suffered a heart attack on the morning of December 3, 2006, and subsequently the same day he was given the last rites. This occurred days after he was put under house arrest. On December 4, 2006, the Chilean Court of Appeals ordered the release of this house arrest. On December 10, 2006 at 13:30 local time (16:30 UTC) he was taken to the ICU. He died of congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema, surrounded by family members, at the Military Hospital at 14:15 local time (17:15 UTC). His last word was "Lucy", the name of his wife (Lucia Hiriart).
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 corpse was publicly exhibited on December 11, 2006 at the Military School in Las Condes, and viewed by tens of thousands. His funeral took place the following day on the same venue. In a government decision, he was not granted a state funeral, as is normally given to former presidents, but a military funeral, as former commander-in-chief of the Army. The government also did not declare an official national day of mourning, but it did authorize flags at military barracks to fly at half staff. President Michelle Bachelet, whose father Alberto Bachelet was temporarily imprisoned and tortured after the 1973 coup, dying shortly after heart complications, said it would be "a violation of conscience" to attend a state funeral for Pinochet. The only government authority present at the 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 profanation of his tomb", according to his son Marco Antonio. His remains were delivered to his family later that day.
Pinochet's legacy has been debated continuously. Some view him as a brutal dictator while others credit him for stopping Chile sliding towards instability and implementing economic reforms. After the 1973 coup, Pinochet said, “We only set ourselves the task of transforming Chile into a democratic society of free men and women." His supporters made similar claims. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, for example, thanked the General for "bringing democracy to Chile". When in power, Pinochet gave a series of speeches that indicate that the 1973 coup targeted not only Allende's Popular Unity government, but Chilean democracy itself, which the General saw as hopelessly flawed. In wording that Pinochet repeated several times in various speeches, he claimed that Chile had been “slave and victim of the Congress since 1925, and slave and victim of the political parties.” Arguing for an "organic" type of democracy, Pinochet contended that “Merely formal democracy dissolves itself, victim of a demagogy that substitutes simple, unattainable promises for social justice and economic prosperity.” That form of democracy would inevitably result in a Marxist dictatorship, according to his analysis. Chilean democracy, therefore, was “progressively socializing in its economic experiments.... Those who thought they could detain or control this evolution... were given proof under the Marxist regime of their impotence and incomprehensible lack of vision.”
There have been several detailed reports which describe the human rights abuses carried out by the Pinochet regime. In January 2005, the Chilean Army accepted institutional responsibility for past abuses. Other institutions also accept that abuses took place, but blame them on individuals, rather than official policy. Lucía Pinochet Hiriart, Augusto Pinochet's eldest daughter, said the use of torture during his 1973–90 regime was "barbaric and without justification", after seeing the Valech Report. Much of the torture was carried out at secret prison facilities like Villa Grimaldi, Chacabuco, and Pisagua.