On 9/11/1973, Augusto Pinochet siezed the government of Chile from democratically elected president Salvador Allende in a military coup, and promptly gathered, tortured, and killed a large chunk of his oponents in, among other places, the national soccer stadium. President Allende, rather than be kidnapped, killed himself with a shot to the head.
Ariel Dorfman made his ironic escape to the United States--ironic, because as a child his parents had left the United States for Chile to escape the McCarthyism of the time. Pinochet would be dictator into the 1990's. In all, nearly 4,000 people were tortured and killed by Pinochet's regime.
Pinochet has now died, leaving the country with mixed emotions:
To his supporters, General Augusto Pinochet was a national savior who prevented Chile from succumbing to communism.
Other Chileans are expressing conflicting emotions over Pinochet's death: satisfaction that a man they regard as a murderer has perished, yet sadness that a wave of lawsuits brought against him are now moot.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a diehard lover of this great country, the U.S.A. However, I can criticize it too, as is my right and duty. The reason "the world hates us" as we hear so often, is because of things like Augusto Pinochet's rise to power. (Yes, this "they hate us!" was going on long before George Bush and his "let's do a 'study group' after we fuck up Iraq" approach to foreign policy.) Nutcases like Hugo Chavez don't get all paranoid and start calling our presidents the devil out of the blue.
The CIA, with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, actively, directly, and not-even-so-covertly worked to undermine Salvador Allende and his socialist government. This was a government the people there chose for themselves. Elections could have had Allende removed, and probably would have eventually removed socialism from Chile. But rather than wait it out, the U.S. "stop it before it spreads" approach to communism was enacted.
Pinochet came to power and political freedom, including freedom of speech and assembly, ended promptly. A lot of people died, but communism was in fact stopped, and the economy prospered while Chile rose to one of the most prosperous nations in South America at the time. If and when Iraq becomes stable, we'll say all the "collateral damage" was worth it...just like many people say that Chile's prosperity was worth the death of civil liberties and the death of thousands of people.
More on this later, right now I have to look up pictures of anorexics and babies snatched from Africa. Oh, and by the way the dermotologist told me today I have hives. HIVES. WTF? I blame this entirely on stress and hold The World Church of Assmilation fully accountable.