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From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 15:45:11 -0300 (CLST)
And now the cynical ones say that it all ends the same in the long run Try telling that to the desperate father who just squeezed the life from his only son And how its only voices in your head and dreams you never dreamt Try telling him the subtle difference between justice and contempt Try telling me she isn't angry with this pitiful discontent When they flaunt it in your face as you line up for punishment And then expect you to say thank you straighten up, look proud and pleased Because you've only got the symptoms, you haven't got the whole disease Just like a schoolboy, whose heads like a tin-can Filled up with dreams then poured down the drain Try telling that to the boys on both sides, being blown to bits or beaten and maimed Who takes all the glory and none of the shame Well I hope you live long now, I pray the lord your soul to keep I think Ill be going before we fold our arms and start to weep I never thought for a moment that human life could be so cheap cos when they finally put you in the ground They'll stand there laughing and tramp the dirt down So long Pinochet. Andrew
From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 16:35:49 -0300 (CLST)
A bit long on the UK connection, but good background, including relatively detailed economics. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1968953,00.html Captain-general Augusto Pinochet, who has died aged 91, was the most notorious of Latin America's 20th-century military rulers. Dictator of Chile between 1973 and 1990, after which he remained as army commander-in-chief, then senator-for-life, he bestrode the final decades of the Cold War in the region like no one else but Fidel Castro in Cuba. Then, in 1998, a Spanish judge ended his career as he could never have expected: under arrest in London and converted into a symbol of hope that heads of state who violate human rights may no longer escape a reckoning under international law. Pinochet sprang to the attention of the world, and of his own people, when he headed the coup that overthrew the leftwing government of Dr Salvador Allende in September 1973. Allende's election three years before at the head of a socialist-communist coalition had a significance far beyond Chile itself, being widely seen as the harbinger of similar projects in countries such as France and Italy, as well as the beginning of a "second Cuba" in Latin America itself. The coup, in which CIA destabilisation played a part, was as much of an iconic event of the time as the war in Vietnam or the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Pinochet, with his dark glasses and harshly downturned mouth, became the paradigm of the third world anti-communist strongman. By the late 1980s, while reviled worldwide for the brutality of his regime, Pinochet was also lauded by many for turning his country's economy into a dynamic free-market model for the developing world. When post-communist Russian television began an interview with him in 1994 by apologising for Soviet media coverage of his regime, there could have been no clearer example of the turning of the world-historical tide - unless it was the flood of his former ministers and technocrats invited to ex-Soviet-bloc countries to explain the marvels of untrammelled capitalism in Chile. All this was no mean feat for the apparently unremarkable son of a customs official, born in the Pacific port of Valparaiso. By his own admission, the young Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was "a weak lad", educated by conservative Marist priests before being twice rejected by the country's Military College. He was finally accepted at the age of 15, backed in his choice of career by his mother, Avelina Ugarte, a formidable woman of Basque extraction. Augusto Senior, the descendent of Breton cheese-makers who settled in Chile in the early 18th century to escape the Wars of the Spanish Succession, wanted his son to be a doctor. Augusto Jr graduated in 1937 as an infantry officer. His subsequent career was steady but routine, distinguished mostly for his expertise in "geopolitics", the subject he taught at the country's War Academy. This quasi-science, which regards nation-states as living entities and was one of the sources of Nazism, was the subject of a book he published in 1968, and which was attacked by specialists outside Chile for comprehensive plagiarism. According to his memoirs, Pinochet was first alerted to the "truly diabolical attractions of Marxism" in 1948, while commanding a prison camp for banned communists. It was here too that he first met Dr Allende, who in 1973 would commit suicide in the bombed ruins of La Moneda government palace rather than surrender the presidency. At the time, Allende was a young doctor and Socialist senator who came to visit the prisoners. The then Lieutenant Pinochet threatened to shoot him if he tried it - though Allende always associated a different officer with the incident. Members of Allende's presidential staff would remember the pre-coup Pinochet as a bluff and somewhat sycophantic officer - "the guy we would call if we needed a jeep," said one. Three weeks before the coup, when the constitutionalist General Carlos Prats resigned as commander-in-chief amid growing political crisis, Allende appointed Pinochet to replace him in the belief that he was the only remaining loyal member of the army high command. "I wonder what they have done with poor Pinochet," the doomed president remarked to aides as the first news of the coup broke. Pinochet himself would later claim that, for security reasons, he had been planning the coup alone for two years with student officers at the military academy. Other generals, who certainly were involved in the plotting, said that he was considered untrustworthy and played no role. What is not in doubt is that three days before the coup, he was given an ultimatum by the commanders-in-chief of the navy and air force to join them or suffer the consequences. On the day itself, there was little doubt Pinochet was in charge. "He realized what had dropped into his lap and had no alternative but to follow it through," said one of his closest civilian aides later. Amateur recordings of radio transmissions between the golpista command posts that day reveal the Pinochet the world would come to know. While negotiating Allende's surrender, he joked crudely about flying the president out of the country and crashing the plane on the way. "Kill the bitch and you finish the spawn," he said. Within a year, as the army asserted its overwhelming strength among the armed services, plans for a rotating presidency between the four members of the ruling junta of service chiefs were dropped and Pinochet was named President of the Republic. A tight group of civilian and military advisers designed a regime focused on him as the incarnation of the military's "historic mission to remake the country". Potential rivals were either retired or died in mysterious circumstances. In 1974, General Prats became one of the victims, killed with his wife in exile in Buenos Aires by a bomb attached to their car - an attack later shown to have been carried out by Pinochet's agents. The rank of Captain-general, hitherto held only by the Liberator of the country from the Spanish in the early 1800s, Bernardo O'Higgins, was revived for Pinochet. His uniform hat was tailored higher than that of other officers. Officially he became the visionary who, guided by "the mysterious hand of God", had made Chile "the only country in history to have broken free from the yoke of communism". He was reported to enjoy the special protection of the Virgin Mary, patron of both the army and the country. Such was the origin of the saint-like statuettes of Pinochet and the posters of "The Immortal" so widely seen at demonstrations supporting him after his arrest in London. This personality cult was only one of the ways in which the regime so notably avoided the factionalism that plagued the region's many other military dictatorships. Chile's army was already the most hierarchically disciplined in the region, the legacy of late 18th-century Prussian advisers, and this was skilfully translated into personal devotion to Pinochet. Limitations were placed on the services' own role in day-to-day government, with the brunt of this being left in Pinochet's own hands and those of his circle of advisers. A ruthless secret police watched the regime as much as the opposition. In the regime a strict ideology reigned, based in personal loyalty to Pinochet, anti-communist dogma of "national security", and the extreme neoliberal economic doctrine imported by a generation of technocrats known as the "Chicago Boys", after the university where some had received their training. Pinochet's own wiliness - his most evident political talent apart from ruthlessness - also came into its own, as he proved adept at nipping factions in the bud and playing them off against each other. In the mid-1980s he would use the same skill with success against the re-emerging opposition. Especially shocking was the level of repression in a country with a longstanding parliamentary tradition and a hitherto mild record of military involvement in politics by regional standards. Official investigations since 1990 have confirmed over 3000 deaths and disappearances at the hands of Pinochet's security forces. Torture was institutionalised, secret detention centres operated into which detainees disappeared never to be seen again, and murder squads were despatched to kill prominent dissidents abroad. Meanwhile, in laboratory conditions, with political parties and trade unions banned, the "Chicago Boys" set about radically remaking the heavily state-dependent economy. This was achieved through wholesale privatisation, a complete opening to the international economy, fixing the exchange rate artificially low, and pumping in foreign loans during the petro-dollar glut of the late 1970s. The result was the destruction of national industry and much of agriculture, then near-collapse in the early 1980s amid a frenzy of speculation, consumer imports and debt crisis. The state bailed out most of the country's banking sector and unemployment rose to an official level of over 30 per cent. Following the debacle, a more moderate group of neoliberals succeded in stabilising the now streamlined macroeconomy. A young and vigorous new breed of capitalists emerged, centred on new exports such as fish, timber and fruit. Reforms such as the privatisation of the pension system became highly influential around the world, growth became steady and Chile became a byword for economic success - though the gap between rich and poor widened to give the country the worst income distribution in the region after Brazil. In 1980, the shortlived boom that preceded the crash was exploited to help deliver victory in a plebiscite approving a new constitution. This enshrined Pinochet's dream of a "protected democracy', purged for ever of Marxism and other threats to "national security". It set the opening of a limited Congress for 1990, subject to military veto powers and with most of the left permanently banned. A further plebiscite was to follow in 1988 to ratify Pinochet in power for ten more years. Such hopes were dashed by the economic collapse. In 1983, the first mass protests erupted, lead by trade unionists rather than the bickering leaders of the political opposition. A mixture of repression and partial reforms headed off the protest movement, but by then the opposition was a visible and growing presence, including a small armed left which, in the shape of the communist-led Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, narrowly missed assassinating the General in September 1986. Two years later, against all the regime's calculations, Pinochet was defeated by 56 to 43 per cent in the plebiscite to ratify him in power. In December 1989, the Christian Democrat opposition leader, Patricio Aylwin, won the country's first general elections in 19 years. In March 1990, in a ceremony in the new Congress building built by Pinochet in his home town of Valparaiso - 80 miles from the capital, Santiago, and intended to remain well out of mind of the real centres of power - a sombre Pinochet handed the presidential sash over to Aylwin. Danger signals sounded twice in the ensuing months, as troops were put on alert in protest against court citations of officers on human rights charges and a Congressional investigation of the army's purchase of a bankrupt arms company from one of Pinochet's sons. But the sabre-rattling died away, and Pinochet earned grudging tributes from the government for allowing the transition to go ahead relatively smoothly. He seemed to thrive on his refurbished role, blustering about repercussions if any of his men were touched by the courts, but in practice seldom going beyond the plain-man avuncularity and bluffness that so captivated his supporters. It was in these years that Pinochet discovered a vein of Anglophilia. In 1994 he visited Britain to inspect a missile project being developed jointly between the Chilean army and the Royal Ordnance (RO) arms company. On this and subsequent visits over the following two years, he was warmly welcomed by Foreign Office officials and on occasions was given a Special Branch escort. He came to feel at ease in Britain, enjoying visits to Harrods, White's Club and Madam Tussaud's, and cultivating a mutually admiring relationship with Baroness Thatcher at various meetings for tea. During the 1982 Falklands War, Pinochet - who had himself almost gone to war with neighbouring Argentina four years before - aided Britain with intelligence and facilities for military planes flying south, so for the Baroness support was a matter of principle. By this time, a small group of officers had been imprisoned in Chile for human rights abuses, notably Pinochet's first secret police chief, General Manuel Contreras, who was jailed for the murder of Allende's former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, in Washington in 1976 (like Prats, Letelier was blown up by a bomb in his car). In January 1998, proceedings were even opened against Pinochet himself on charges of genocide brought by the Communist Party. He felt safe, however, protected by his past status, parliamentary immunity and the amnesty decree passed by the junta in 1978 to protect themselves against such charges. Even less did he consider the possibility of trouble abroad. In October 1998, nine months after he stepped down as commander-in-chief to take the lifelong senate seat guaranteed to him in his constitution, healmost over-reached himself. Ignoring both the change of government in Britain and the fact that warrants were out for his arrest in Spain over the disappearance of Spanish citizens after the coup, he came to Britain once again, in part for arms purchases and in part for back surgery at the London Clinic. British human rights organisations had got wind of his visits before, but were never able to bring legal action before his departure. Now they acted quickly, together with the Spanish judge in charge of the cases in that country, Baltazar Garzón. On October 16, Pinochet was arrested in his room at the London Clinic, off Harley Street, pending extradition proceedings at Judge Garzon's behest. What happened next passed into the annals of international jurisprudence as the first time a former head of state had faced arrest under international human rights law, principally the Convention Against Torture that came into force in 1987. In a complex series of decisions, the House of Lords ratified that extradition could go ahead, while reducing the grounds to the few cases occurring after the Convention was ratified by the UK in 1988. In the event, Pinochet was ordered to be sent back to Chile in January 2000 by Home Secretary Jack Straw on compassionate grounds, after confirmation that he was suffering the effects of a series of minor strokes. But, beyond Pinochet's own 16-month detention in two private clinics and an eight-bedroomed house in Virginia Water, Surrey, the internationally vital precedent had been established. Judges in France, Belgium and Switzerland also began extradition requests. More significantly for Pinochet himself, events in London had stimulated the opening of scores more cases against him at home. His actual return to Santiago in March was one of forced triumphalism by his supporters. Greeted at the city's airport by a military band playing his favourite "Lili Marlene", he hobbled across the tarmac from his wheelchair and waved his walking stick in the air - a gesture interpreted by friends and foes alike as proof that he had fooled the English doctors. But, against the expectations of many, the courts stripped him of his parliamentary immunity and proceedings against him went ahead, in the capable hands of Chile's own answer to Judge Garzón, Judge Juan Guzmán. Eventually, in July 2001 the Chilean courts adopted the Straw approach, suspending investigation on grounds of "dementia" caused by continuing minor strokes. But by this time, Pinochet's standing was in tatters, as political expediency on the political right and revelations of the brutalities of his regime reduced his admirers to a small hard core. Before long, reforms of parliament abolished his senate seat and a series of court rulings declared him fit to stand trial. In 2006 his last remaining immunity to prosecution, as a former president, was removed to allow him to be charged in a notorious case of the murder of opponents abroad. By this time, imprisoned military officers, including Contreras, were openly expressing disgust at Pinochet's refusal to accept any responsibility for abuses while his subordinates were being jailed and disgraced. By his death some 300 cases had been filed against him and proceedings were going ahead in three especially infamous cases. For one of these - multiple murders, torture and disappearance in a notorious secret detention centre in Santiago known as Villa Grimaldi - he was placed under house arrest. The most recent trial, begun in October 2006, is for the disappearance of officials of Allende's government from La Moneda palace on the day of the coup. For many former supporters, however, the final straw was nor murder or torture, but the revelation in 2005 by a US Senate investigation of terrorist financing that in the previous two decades Pinochet had opened and closed at least 128 bank accounts at nine US banks, an apparent money-laundering web through which almost US$ 20 million had been shuffled back and forth. Later investigation revealed other acounts around the world, and by early 2006 the alleged amount of deposits had risen to some US$28m, a fortune apparently still tended by Pinochet himself despite the supposed mental incapacity that had got him off the hook in London. In Chile, investigations for tax evasion and passport falsification were added to those for murder and torture, and speculation abounded about state funds siphoned off and kickbacks for arms deals. For decades it had been common to hear members of the Chilean elite claim that "Pinochet may have been vicious but at least he was honest," and many had donated money for his defense and living expenses in London. Now, as comparisons with Al Capone, another notorious man of violence finally jailed for tax crimes, became commonplace, they finally turned their backs. He married María Lucía Hiriart Rodríguez om 1943, and they had two sons - Augusto and Marco Antonio - and three daughters - Lucía, Jacqueline and Veronica. His strong-willed wife, the daughter of a former member of Congress, was always believed to be more of a political animal than her husband. An opinionated First Lady, she was an important influence on him throughout his career and was loathed or adulated quite as much. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, politician and soldier, born November 25, 1915; died December 10 2006.
From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2006 10:57:39 -0300 (CLST)
Last night I had to catch the bus from Santiago back to La Serena. The company I use has a shuttle service between Providencia (where I live) and the city centre - a small minibus. The shuttle arrived late (about 23:40), but that wasn't so unusual. We climbed onboard and the driver set off down the main road through Santiago (Alameda). When we were at the foot of Santa Lucia (a hill/landmark at the edge of the centre), we had to stop. Police in riot gear were clearing away their barricade. They then waved us through - we were one of the first vehicles to travel down the street. Just in front of us waas a car full of people waving flags and banners. Along the street were small groups of people - more than normal for a Sunday night, but no big crowds. In general, conditions were pretty good, although we passed a couple of small fires, and some areas had broken glass, rocks, stones, etc. One part of the street was wet - I guess they had been using a water cannon. Andrew