Another One Bites the Dust

The “imminent” heart attack that kept Augustus Pinochet out of courtrooms for the past 11 years or so finally arrived yesterday.

Gen. Augusto Pinochet, 91, the former Chilean dictator whose government murdered and tortured thousands during his repressive 17-year rule, died yesterday at a Santiago military hospital of complications from a heart attack, leaving incomplete numerous court cases that had sought to bring him to justice.

Pinochet assumed power on Sept. 11, 1973, in a bloody coup supported by the United States that toppled the elected government of Salvador Allende, a Marxist who had pledged to lead his country “down the democratic road to socialism.”

First as head of a four-man military junta and then as president, Pinochet served until 1990, leaving a legacy of abuse that took successive governments years to catalogue. According to a government report that included testimony from more than 30,000 people, his government killed at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000. Two-thirds of the cases listed in the report happened in 1973.

An austere figure who claimed to be guided by “the spiritual force of God as a believer,” Pinochet regarded himself as a soldier rather than a politician. With his stern visage and fondness for military uniforms and dark glasses, he seemed to personify implacable authority. He was both an opponent of communism and a critic of “orthodox democracy,” which he said was “too easy to infiltrate and destroy.”

Conservatives will be mourning the death of their friend and ally, especially President Bush, who was a follower of Pinochet and borrowed many of The General’s ideas for his own domestic agenda – the privatization of Social Security, the usefulness of torture and secret prisons, and of course the trick of governing outside the law through executive fiat, to name a few.

Yes, they’ll be missing him, alright. Gus was one of them: a gun-slinging toy soldier with a mean streak, an authoritarian’s will-to-power , an oil-tanker’s worth of arrogance, 3 healthy dollops of conservative Xtian self-righteousness, a talent for vicious brutality, a penchant for kissing US corporate asses, and the ability to nurse a hubristic vision of himself as some sort of twisted, anti-democratic icon that “God” had chosen to show the rest of us how it’s done.

As for everybody else, we’re wicked pissed this butcher got off so light.

2 responses to “Another One Bites the Dust

  1. yeah, only the good die young is what I thought of right away.

  2. And the evil live practically forever? Good point.

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