The New York Times reports that Auguste Pinochet, the ex-dictator of Chile and archetype for the worst kind of American interventionism and right wing terror, is dead of heart complications. I am sure there will be many many analyses of his regime, but the best evocation of those times is in Isabel Allende’s (niece of the man Pinochet deposed) book, The House of the Spirits. It is interesting that the Times, which one would hope is against state terror independent of its ideological basis, highlights the economic acumen of Pinochet’s regime in the same breath that it talks about his terror tactics. Here is a quote:
Attempts at strikes or other forms of protest were ruthlessly put down by General Pinochet’s secret police. That repression gave the free-market policies time to take hold. Since the mid-1980s, Chile’s gross domestic product has grown an average of more than 6 percent a year, the most impressive performance in Latin America.
Is this supposed to be a good thing?
On a personal note, one of my favorite scientists, Fransisco Varela (who was responsible, among other things, for the immensely popular meetings between the Dalai Lama and scientists) was one of the thousands who had their lives torn apart by Pinochet. Chile’s loss was France’s gain in Varela’s case.