I meant to put this up the other day. Insta linked to a shocking editorial in the Washington Post on the legacy of Pinochet that is well worth reading. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in the WaPo; someone must be off their meds there. Heck, if they wrote more like this it might almost make me subscribe.
Look, in no way am I trying to lessen the evil that Pinochet did, but the fact remains that Chile is one of the strongest economies in Latin America because of Pinochet, while Cuba is one of the worst because of Castro. Yet everybody loves and worships Fidel. Blech.
Follow the link or the full editorial is below the fold for those who aren’t registered, as I want to save it.

A Dictator’s Double Standard
Augusto Pinochet tortured and murdered. His legacy is Latin America’s most successful country.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006; Page A26
AUGUSTO PINOCHET, who died Sunday at the age of 91, has been vilified for three decades in and outside of Chile, the South American country he ruled for 17 years. For some he was the epitome of an evil dictator. That was partly because he helped to overthrow, with U.S. support, an elected president considered saintly by the international left: socialist Salvador Allende, whose responsibility for creating the conditions for the 1973 coup is usually overlooked. Mr. Pinochet was brutal: More than 3,000 people were killed by his government and tens of thousands tortured, mostly in his first three years. Thousands of others spent years in exile.
One prominent opponent, Orlando Letelier, was assassinated by a car bomb on Washington’s Sheridan Circle in 1976 — one of the most notable acts of terrorism in this city’s history. Mr. Pinochet, meanwhile, enriched himself, stashing millions in foreign bank accounts — including Riggs Bank, a Washington institution that was brought down, in part, by the revelation of that business. His death forestalled a belated but richly deserved trial in Chile.
It’s hard not to notice, however, that the evil dictator leaves behind the most successful country in Latin America. In the past 15 years, Chile’s economy has grown at twice the regional average, and its poverty rate has been halved. It’s leaving behind the developing world, where all of its neighbors remain mired. It also has a vibrant democracy. Earlier this year it elected another socialist president, Michelle Bachelet, who suffered persecution during the Pinochet years.
Like it or not, Mr. Pinochet had something to do with this success. To the dismay of every economic minister in Latin America, he introduced the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle — and that not even Allende’s socialist successors have dared reverse. He also accepted a transition to democracy, stepping down peacefully in 1990 after losing a referendum.
By way of contrast, Fidel Castro — Mr. Pinochet’s nemesis and a hero to many in Latin America and beyond — will leave behind an economically ruined and freedomless country with his approaching death. Mr. Castro also killed and exiled thousands. But even when it became obvious that his communist economic system had impoverished his country, he refused to abandon that system: He spent the last years of his rule reversing a partial liberalization. To the end he also imprisoned or persecuted anyone who suggested Cubans could benefit from freedom of speech or the right to vote.
The contrast between Cuba and Chile more than 30 years after Mr. Pinochet’s coup is a reminder of a famous essay written by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the provocative and energetic scholar and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who died Thursday. In “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.

4 Responses to “Pinochet”

  1. Mike Rentner says:

    So what you’re saying here is that Lenin is right. All we need is a dictatorship to propel a nation to freedom and equality. I guess just the right kind of dictatorship need apply.

  2. No, Mike, what he’s saying is that we need economic freedom. Pinochet did that much, despite being a murderous tyrant.
    What is interesting, though, is how he was prosecuted later for his crimes. Why? Well, basically because he did the one thing that few dictators ever do, he stepped down voluntarily.
    Let that be a lesson to other dictators: Whatever you do, don’t step down voluntarily, the Belgians will jump on you.

  3. Mike Rentner says:

    He was prosecuted by the Spanish, specifically the left over ideologues of the losing side of the Spanish Civil War, who were and still are itching to punish their ideological counterparts.
    I’ve always thought that the real reason for WWII was more clearly obvious in the Spanish Civil War, it was a war between two socialist dictatorial ideologies vying to be dominant in Europe. The holocaust masked that struggle, and we don’t usually see ourselves as supporting communist socialism over fascist socialism, but many of the communists in Europe and the US definitely saw it that way. The EU is a part of that dream for the triumph of socialism, made possible only by finally divorcing their ideas from the USSR, whom they never really liked much anyway. Every good socialist knows that France and Germany are the rightful leaders of the world socialist movement.
    The new idea that the Spanish can prosecute a former head of state of another nation without that nation’s consent and without conquering them is revolutionary in the annals of international (hah!) law. Pinochet wasn’t as bad as a lot of others, but the success of his country that followed his time in power made him a good target.
    I guess the lesson to be learned is to never voluntarily cede power before you die. It’s best to put things in order before you die, like Franco did. For all his crimes, Franco left Spain with a very modern and free government.

  4. I contribute to a blog named ‘A Tangled Web’, and we hosted a posting on the very same subject as you had.
    The question it posed was quite direct, being “Why are left-wing dictators acceptable, while right-wing ones are not?”

Image | WordPress Themes