Remembering Pinochet

Pinochet will be remembered as a dictator who ruled Chile with an iron fist, stifling any democratic process. Bit he wasn’t the only military dictator in Latin America. He was just one of the bunch of military dictators in this region of the world as in Brazil and Argentina. Argentina has similar history with Chile as both suffered human rights abuses under military rule.

Pinochet was able to stay in power because of his grip on the military establishment and the allies he got outside Chile, notably the USA. For the USA, he was a guardian against the spread of communism in his country and consequently in neighbouring ones. He did a good job for the USA and for himself through disappearances and systematic torture to keep his opponents and communists at bay.

What is remarkable is that the turn of the 21st century is witnessing the fall or death of many dictators like Saddam Hussein of Iraq or Slodonan Milosevic of ex-Yugoslavia. The only difference Pinochet had with these is that Milosevic was brought to justice for his crimes against humanity. He didn’t get any final sentence due to his death in jail. Saddam was brought to justice, his death sentence is awaiting execution pending on the success or failure of his defence and International Human Right Groups to stand his execution.

We shouldn’t also forget W Butha of South Africa who died this year and whose era was marked with oppression against black South Africans. What is common between Butha and Pinochet is that both died leaving their respective countries enjoying political stability under democratic rule.

Pinochet should be considered among the luckiest or shrewdest dictators. He escaped justice on many occasions on health or legal grounds, forcibly leaving the victims of his regime frustrated. His death should be seen as an opportunity for Chile to definitely close an era which was for many Chileans a dark one. The Chileans have to look ahead as even before he die, Pinochet became a history. It’s now 15 years since he relinquished power. Chile witnessed the emergence of the democracy for which many Chileans paid with their lives.

Pinochet’s era should only serve as a lesson for the new generations to preserve and develop their democratic process. Pinochet shouldn’t remain a haunting figure souring the fruits of democracy which many Chilean are reaping now. Since 1991 and until the eve of his death Pinochet became politically impotent. His death will make him a history once for all except for his supporters who will go nostalgic about him from time to time, and his victims whose past negatively affected by his dictatorial rule.

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