Controversial Legacy of Former Chilean Dictator ; General Pinochet Is Credited with Stablilizing Chile's Economy, but Is Best Known for His Repressive Rule and Alleged Human Rights Violations

By Jen Ross Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 12, 2006 | Go to article overview

Controversial Legacy of Former Chilean Dictator ; General Pinochet Is Credited with Stablilizing Chile's Economy, but Is Best Known for His Repressive Rule and Alleged Human Rights Violations


Jen Ross Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


The death Sunday of one of South America's most notorious dictators, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, frustrated the efforts of those who had hoped to see him condemned for the human rights abuses committed during his 17-year rule.

Yet Gen. Pinochet, who overthrew Chile's democratically elected Marxist government in a 1973 coup, leaves behind a disputed legacy that is also lauded for impressive economic successes.

The date of his death - Dec. 10, the UN's International Human Rights Day - could not have been more symbolic. The international effort to bring Pinochet to justice epitomized the global struggle to end impunity for human rights abusers in Latin America.

"It's no consolation to anyone that Pinochet has been subjected to a long legal battle, given that it has never resulted in a condemnation. That's what his victims will lament most about his death," says Sergio Laurenti, executive director of the Chilean wing of Amnesty International.

A paradoxical and symbolic regional figure, Pinochet is one of the most recognized emblems of Latin America's Dirty Wars against leftists during the 1970s and '80s.

Pinochet's rise

In 1970, Chile became the first country in Latin America to elect a socialist leader. President Salvador Allende quickly moved to nationalize foreign-owned industries and rectify Chile's gross economic disparities. But by 1972, internal dissent, failing production, and covert international attempts to undermine Mr. Allende's government combined to create an atmosphere of high political tension that many Chileans feared would crescendo into class warfare or civil war.

On Sept. 11, 1973, two weeks after being appointed commander in chief of Chile's Army, Pinochet led a military junta of four officers who sent war planes to bomb the presidential palace, La Moneda. Once Pinochet's treason and the forces against him became clear, Allende committed suicide.

Pinochet imposed a curfew and ordered mass arrests in an effort to root out opposition. Declaring himself president in 1974, he eliminated Congress, political parties, freedom of speech, habeas corpus, and trade unions. At least 27,000 people were tortured while in detention, and an estimated 3,200 Chileans were killed or disappeared during his rule.

Political scientists say that, although many dictators elsewhere in Latin America were responsible for more deaths, Pinochet is the most notorious because of what he embodies.

"He overthrew Latin America's first democratically elected Marxist leader, who himself was a symbol," says Robert Funk, a political science professor at Santiago's Diego Portales University.

In 1998, Pinochet narrowly lost a referendum on his rule, giving way to a democratic government in 1990, led by center-left president Patricio Aylwin.

Though condemned for its brutality, his regime is credited with stimulating economic growth.

"Pinochet, of course, became known for the economic reforms that he championed, which became perhaps the first case of neoliberal reform, not only in Latin America but in the world, and which were then copied by governments such as those of [US President Ronald Reagan] and [British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher]," Funk says.

Pinochet managed to control inflation, unite the country with highways, and bolster Chile's economic growth. He is credited with heralding an economic miracle for this developing nation, whose economy is now considered the most stable in the region.

Debating a symbolic legacy

Although it has been 33 years since Pinochet's military coup, and more than 16 years since the end of his rule, he still stirs passions on both sides.

Car horns honked here in celebration on Monday, while tens of thousands of his opponents gathered in plazas across the country to cheer and celebrate his passing. The celebrating was punctuated by low-level violence when police clashed with masked anti-Pinochet demonstrators, snarling traffic on Santiago's main boulevard. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Controversial Legacy of Former Chilean Dictator ; General Pinochet Is Credited with Stablilizing Chile's Economy, but Is Best Known for His Repressive Rule and Alleged Human Rights Violations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.