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Chilean Ex-Dictator Augusto Pinochet Dies

The dictator has died this past Sunday. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, born into a middle class family in 1915, a late-comer to coup plotting in 1973, and subsequent figurehead of the military coup ousting the democratically elected Socialist Salvador Allende, was dead 30 minutes after losing consciousness. He was hospitalized last week after suffering from a serious heart attack.

That comes from Chilean-American journalist Tomás Dinges who is based in Santiago and goes on to emphasize the symbolism of Pinochet's death on December 10, International Day of Human Rights.

Lorena Pizarro, the long-time president of the Association of Families of the Detained and Disappeared, said in comments to the local paper La Tercera, “Who knows what is the story, Pinochet dies the 10th of December and maybe its because all of humanity told him that it was enough.”

The tenth of December is the anniversary of the United Nations approval of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserts that human rights and dignity are “the foundations for liberty, justice and peace in the world.” It is also the day in which Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon dictated the court motion to prosecute him in 1998 for responsibility in genocide, torture and terrorism involving 3000 people, as well as the 84th birthday of his wife Lucia Hiriart, whose hand he clasped upon his final breath.

Following Pinochet's death, most of Chile's ministers met in President Bachelet's house to prepare the way the situation would be handled. The citizens are divided. While the followers are outside the military hospital supporting the family, the leftists are celebrating in Plaza Italia, a common place for celebrations in the capital.

Roberto Arancibia (ES) writes:

No voy a hacer aquí un resumen histórico de los acontecimientos ni mucho menos, ya vendrán los historiadores y los profesionales del debate, pero sí voy a decir que me viví la dictadura, toda. Desde el primer día. En la Universidad, en el trabajo, viví el toque de queda, los amigos asilándose, otros desapareciendo. Y claro, otros contentos. Me viví la Consulta, el atentado, el Plebiscito, el No, las Elecciones, la historia reciente.

I’m not going to do a historical summary about the facts, the historians and debate professionals will soon come, but I am going to say that I lived the dictatorship, all of it. Since the first day. In university, at work, I lived the curfew, the isolated, others disappearing. And, of course, others who were happy. I lived through the attempt, the plebiscite, the No, the elections, the recent history.

Beatriz (ES) has a generational perspective because of her daughter:

Le expliqué a mi hija Beatriz de 9 años quien fue Pinochet. No supe explicarle el por qué hay tanta gente afuera del hospital Militar, con tristeza por su muerte. Veo hoy a Chile dividido. El gobierno no rendirá honores.

I explain to my 9-year-old daughter who Pinochet was. I didn't know how to explain to her why there were so many people outside the military hospital, with the sadness of his death. Today I see a divided Chile. Government honors will not be made.

Much of that divide is based on class and neighborhood. William Sherman, also based in Santiago, traveled with his Chilean girlfriend to the wealthy neighborhood of Las Condes to document the reaction of Pinochet's supporters on the he passed away.

I like going to the rich part of Santiago Chile because it fills me with a sense of inner, suburban peace … It’s here I get the feeling that Chile isn’t just rich, it’s filthy rich. I can’t help but enjoy the bath of wealth that pours forth from everywhere …

Embedding myself amidst the protestors was, in a word, frightening. I felt scared. People screaming out their love and support of the general … At one point my girlfriend (who's Chilean) pulled me aside, told me that she was really, really frightened. She’d overheard people talking about a group coming up behind, in which violent Pinochetistas were attacking any anti-Pinochet “infiltrators”. At that point, I hadn't heard reports of violence toward journalists, but I did feel weird taking pictures and videos. I think I told her to keep smiling and giving the thumbs up, like I was doing.

But the most frightening, I suppose was the general shock I felt towards their fanaticism. The framed pictures of Pinochet, the neon stickers, the baseball caps of Pinochet, the poster that spanned three lanes “Mi General”. And their collection of protest cant ranged from the relatively benign I-love-you-General-Pinochet kinda stuff and “As long as Chile exista there will always be Pinochetistas to “dirty, faggoty Marxist pigs” stuff and delved into the really hideous with one that went something like “we killed the desaparecidos just for the fun of it.

Günther Hener, member of the National Central Committee of Socialist Youth and author of Blog of a Socialist is unequivocal in his insistence that Sunday was to be celebrated [ES]:

LA JUVENTUD SOCIALISTA DE CHILE CELEBRA LA MUERTE DEL DICTADOR AUGUSTO PINOCHET. ES PARA NUESTRA ORGANIZACIÓN UNA ALEGRÍA QUE LA PEOR Y CRUENTA VERGÜENZA DE LA HISTORIA DE CHILE, YA NO SEA UNA CARGA PARA LA CIUDADANÍA CHILENA. SI BIEN NO RECIBIÓ JUICIO POR PARTE DE LOS TRIBUNALES DE JUSTICIA CHILENOS, PINOCHET FUE JUZGADO POR CHILE Y LA COMUNIDAD INTERNACIONAL. BAJO SU GOBIERNO FUERON ASESINADOS MILES DE CHILENAS Y CHILENOS, QUE POR EL SOLO HECHO DE PENSAR DISTINTO FUERON EXTERMINADOS. ¡VIVA LA DEMOCRACIA, VIVAN LOS TRABAJADORES, VIVAN LOS ESTUDIANTES, VIVA LA LIBERTAD, VIVA CHILE!

The Socialist Youth of Chile celebrates the death of dictator Augusto Pinochet. It is, for our organization, a joy that the worst and most shameful part of Chile's history is no longer a weight on Chile's citizenry. Even though he did not meet justice in the Chilean courts, Pinochet was judged by Chile and the international community. Under his administration, thousands of Chilean men and women were assassinated. For the simple act of thinking differently, they were exterminated. Viva la democracia! Vivan the workers, vivan the students, viva freedom, viva Chile!

From Circulo Bloser [ES]:

escucho noticia de que pinochet murio !! quede en shock no se que pensar solo que es una noticia totalmente transendente y de caracter mundial apesar de que soy mas comunista que de derecha me siento rara siento que no deberia haber muerto quiza asi se hubiese esclarecido todos los crimenes que hizo y los robo indiscriminados siempre digo lo que uno hizo en la tierra se paga en la tierra y creo que el no pago lo que deberia pero antes de todo este suceso muchos incluyendome querian verlo muerto pero ahora no se que pensar… espero que con la muerte de pinochet se muera tambien el odio en la sociedad se que no sera de un dia para otro pero espero que de a poco y paulatinamente chile sea un pais mas humanitario y con una mejor empatia!

I just heard of that Pinochet died!! I'm in shock. I don't know what to think … just that it is transcendental and world-scale news. Even though Im more communist than conservative, I still feel odd, still feel that he shouldn't have died. That maybe he got away with all the crimes he committed. I always say that what one does on earth, one must pay for on earth and I don't think that he paid for what he should have. Before he died, a lot of people – including me – wanted to see him dead. But now I don't know what to think … I hope that with the death of Pinochet so dies the hate in our society. I know that it won't be tomorrow or the next day, but I hope that slowly Chile becomes a more humane country and with greater empathy.

El Chere (ES) also has a very good and complete summary about the legacy of Salvador Allende's presidency and then Pinochet's dictatorship.

Co-written by Rosario Lizana and David Sasaki

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