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Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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Tramp the Dirt Down

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.


Good Obit from the Guardian

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.,,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

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

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

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.


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