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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Augusto Pinochet, one of the most hated caudillo of South America, has died

CSMS Magazine Staff WritersThe most hated man of Latin America, Augusto Pinochet, died this week. His funeral was not peaceful. Mourners booed the defense minister whose government denied him a state ceremony, exposing the deep divisions in Chile over the former dictator’s legacy.Michele Bachelet, Chile’s liberal president whose father perished during the bloody coup in 1973 that overthrew socialist president Salvador Allende and brought Pinochet to power refused to honor the passing of what she called “the end of a dark period in Chile’s history.”According to The Associated Press, Defense Minister Vivianne Blanlot was noisily booed as she arrived as the government’s only representative at the military funeral for the general who supporters say saved Chile from communism by toppling an elected Marxist president and presiding over a hard-line government that killed thousands of foes. Bachelet herself and her mother were jailed, mistreated and forced into exile.Blanlot remained standing beside military commanders. Pinochet’s younger daughter, Jacqueline, eased tensions by shaking Blanlot’s hand at the moment of exchanging peace wishes in the Roman Catholic Mass. Church leaders called for Chileans to take Pinochet’s passing as an opportunity for national reconciliation.This is a time “to pray for the soul of Gen. Pinochet, but also for the soul of Chile,” said Santiago Archbishop Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz. The Archbishop was sincere in his remarks for the Church always stands firm on the sides of fascist dictators in Latin America and in the Caribbean. The Church has always been for the peace of the graves. Remember Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo of Nicaragua and Wolf Ligonde in Haiti?After the Mass, Pinochet’s casket was slowly carried on a gun carriage to a waiting helicopter for a flight to an undisclosed cemetery outside of Santiago for cremation.Across town, meanwhile, more than 3,000 people gathered to pay tribute to Allende, who committed suicide rather than surrender during the 1973 coup. Many carried photos of Allende or those of relatives killed under Pinochet.For 17years, Pinochet ruled Chile with an iron fist, killing, suppressing, and sending into exile anyone refusing to bow to his dictate.According to an official report tens of thousands were killed for political reasons in the 17 years after Pinochet overthrew Allende in the Sept. 11, 1973, coup. More than 30,000 were tortured, many more illegally imprisoned and thousands were forced into exile.”Pinochet is not a figure who encourages national unity,” said Interior Minister Belisario Velasco. History will view him as “a classic right-wing dictator who gravely violated human rights and who enriched himself — that’s the pattern of right-wing dictators in Latin America.”His death put an end to hundreds of criminal complaints over human rights violations. His wife, Lucia Hiriart, and four of his five children still face charges of tax evasion and using false passports to manage the family’s overseas fortune, and Pinochet’s colleagues still may be held accountable for human rights abuses under his dictatorship.

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