Passing of President Pinochet

By Jasper, William F. | The New American, January 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Passing of President Pinochet


Jasper, William F., The New American


"Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who terrorized his opponents for 17 years after taking power in a bloody coup, died Sunday." So began the December 10 dispatch from Santiago, Chile, by Associated Press correspondent Eduardo Gallardo, a dispatch that was carried by thousands of newspapers and Internet sites worldwide. The AP story goes on to tell readers that Gen. Pinochet's name "has become a byword for the state terror ... that retarded democratic change across the hemisphere."

Yes, according to AP (and most of the rest of the left-tilting major media), it is former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet--not Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, Robert Mugabe, Muammar Qadaffi, or Kim Jong-Il--whose name has become a "byword" for state terrorism. By and large, the flavor of the news coverage of Pinochet's death has not deviated much from the treatment he had received for the last 30 years of his life. Which is to say that when it comes to Augusto Jose Ramon Pinochet Ugarte, president of Chile from December of 1974 to March of 1990, the Western press has been singularly, relentlessly, viciously--and unfairly--hostile.

For the past three-plus decades, journalists have uniformly felt obligated--as though ordered by some invisible Central Committee--to lard all of their "news" reports and editorials on Pinochet with demonizing epithets and invective. "Brutal dictator." "Torture." "Murder." "Terror." "Bloody." "Tyrant." "Despot." "Cruel." These are some of the more commonly used terms that seem to be compulsory when mentioning Gen. Pinochet.

It's really quite extraordinary, if one pauses to consider it: why such unremitting animosity toward the man? Even if one accepts at face value the worst charges against Pinochet (which I don't), one must conclude that he was a mere piker in the brutality department, compared to terror champs like Castro, Putin, Jintao, et al. After all, according to Pinochet's dogged critics, he's responsible for the disappearance and/or death of some 3,000 of his political opponents over a 17-year period. While it is true that even one life is immeasurably important, the tally attributed to Pinochet barely rates as a blip compared to the tens of thousands imprisoned, tortured, and murdered by Fidel. Ditto for the other aforementioned dictators who, by and large, are treated with kid gloves (if not outright hugs and kisses) by the same media mavens who find Pinochet to be irredeemably odious.

It is also true that most of the "evidence" that has been put forward by the Pinochet hounders, when not irrelevant, dubious, or fabricated, does not prove that Pinochet ordered, approved, or even knew of the alleged crimes.

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