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At Last! Pinochet Naked (August 16, 2000)

Picture Homer Simpson's boss, naked, a scrawny figure bent with age, covering his genitals with his general's hat. The caption: “You've stripped me, but don't take my hat!”

Augusto Pinochet, former President, Generalissimo, King of the World, now naked, stripped of immunity. The Chilean Supreme Court has removed the imperial armor that has covered his treacherous butt since he led the September 1973 coup to overthrow the elected socialist government of Salvador Allende.

Pinochet, head of the army under Allende, didn't join the coup plotters until the last minute. He vacillated, procrastinated, anguished. Then, when he understood that the armed rebellion had strong US backing and would succeed, he joined the conspiracy and, as head of the largest unit in Chile's armed forces, he declared himself head of the military junta. Overnight, he became more fanatic than the most rabid of the fascist ideologues inside the military.

Shortly after the military takeover, Pinochet established DINA, a secret police and intelligence agency, answerable only to him. DINA thugs began their caravan of death, committing wholesale murder. They also tortured tens of thousands suspected of “subversion.” Some members of the original cabal began to complain about the “excesses.” By June 1976, however, Pinochet understood: he had gotten away with murder — mass murder.

In June, according to declassified documents, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Chile, symbolically blessing the illegitimate government. Kissinger met with Pinochet and obsequiously pleaded for the General's understanding that he had to make a human rights speech to the OAS meeting in Santiago, but that his excellency should not take this in any way as directed against his government. “We approve of your methods,” Kissinger told Pinochet.

Which methods?

Did Kissinger refer to the free market economic model that he had imposed through military fascism, or the method of eliminating his political opponents by murdering, torturing and exiling them? US Embassy and CIA officials had carefully reported the data on Pinochet's efficient death squads, torture chambers and concentration camps. Kissinger understood these “methods.” Kissinger also had information on Operation Condor, a sinister collusion of secret police and intelligence agencies from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia. The CIA and FBI had both assisted Condor agents in rounding up “subversives.” On several occasions, as Kissinger knew, Condor agents had gone beyond their boundaries to assassinate enemies.

In late June, just after Kissinger's departure from Chile, a Condor mission from Santiago commenced. Its target: Orlando Letelier, Allende's former Defense Minister. Did Pinochet interpret Kissinger's approval of his methods as a green light to kill Letelier? On September 21, 1976, just three months after Kissinger's visit, Pinochet's secret police agents detonated a bomb under Letelier's car in Washington, DC. Ronni Moffitt, Letelier's colleague at the Institute for Policy Studies, also died in the explosion.

In 1978, the Justice Department indicted Chile's secret police chief and eight other conspirators. Privately, the FBI agents concluded that Pinochet had authorized the hit on Letelier, but unfortunately he would “get away with it.”

Indeed, Pinochet had gotten away with 3,192 murders during his 17-year rule. He made some concessions to US power. Two high DINA officials ultimately went to prison in Chile for the Letelier hit, but in 1990, Pinochet, as he stepped down from the presidency to become army chief, had wrapped himself and his military minions in an amnesty decree — absolving the killers and torturers. Pinochet, almost everyone in power and out agreed, had gotten away with murder.

In 1996, former Allende advisor, Juan Garces, representing families of Pinochet's victims, and a Spanish law team, filed charges against Pinochet and other high military officers — in Spain. The political and legal community laughed at this act of futility.

In 1998, Pinochet retired as army chief and made himself Senator for Life, adding yet another immunity blanket for his old age. By now he had accumulated a sizable fortune and enjoyed the routine of the fearful bowing and scarping before him. The once deferential army officer behaved as if he had been born Emperor of Chile. 

The Spanish case proceeded. In the Fall of 1998, some of his legal advisers worried about the proceedings in the Spanish court, which the Spanish government had tried and failed to derail. But Pinochet dismissed such concerns as he prepared for his annual voyage to London to visit his dear friend, Lady Margaret Thatcher. Pinochet sipped tea with the former British Prime Minister who hailed him as an ally in her 1982 war against Argentina over the Malvina/Falkland Islands. 

Pinochet and Lucia, his wife, shopped and tasted the fine cuisine of London’s posh restaurants before the general entered a high-priced clinic to repair a back problem.

Meanwhile, the Spanish judge issued an order to British authorities to arrest Pinochet. They held him for 15 months, accused in Spain of violation of international law, and torture. The House of Lords upheld the arrest, thus affirming a sea change in international law. A torturer, like a pirate was fair game for any court in the world. In March, 2000 Home Secretary Jack Straw, after cutting a deal with Chilean and Spanish authorities, released Pinochet on flimsy health grounds.

Now, at age 84 and in Chile, no one can touch him, said the cynics. But the determination and courage evinced by those who had pressed the Spanish case and the judgment by the House of Lords proved infectious. Those who once trembled before Pinochet, now filed suit against him — in Chile. Once timid Chilean judges upheld the newly discovered international law. And Pinochet's victims and their families can laugh at the naked, former tyrant, whose lawyers maneuver desperately to keep him out of court. The lessons: Aspiring human rights violators have also learned this lesson and aging criminals like Kissinger checks carefully with foreign governments before traveling abroad. For those who pressed the case: Sometimes, with courage and determination, you can achieve a measure of justice — and change international law.

One Comment

  1. Mark Laszlo September 7, 2021

    The late Auguste Pinochet, gives an object lesson, that
    even ex-heads of state, can be stripped of their cover of power, however gained. In his case, of the fascist kind. But there are more monsters who we need to see as they are,
    including democrats and republicans, who help to fuse government and corporations, that is to fulfill Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism.

    As Sec. of state under President Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger was not only cognizant of details, but involved in installing and aiding fascist governments.

    On Orianna Fallacci, the Kissinger’s interviewer’s exposive method, with the attitude of the child in Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”:

    I see why those guilty of war and corporate crimes in the
    US “national security establishment” & UK’s Home Office,
    feel such terror of Julian Assange! The time is past for hangings at Nuremberg, but they could possibly chill out at the Hague.

    Each victory against tyranny tempts complacence to think from now on the world will be different, while tyrants work overtime to reverse the People’s progress at reform.

    The mighty Wurlitzer player, the dominatrix in bed with Western mass media, and allied, world-class psychopaths, terrorize those who succeed in major exposure of their high crimes, by using the bullhorns and firehoses of mass media to marginalize so much truth that might otherwise, as the ironic quote in the the CIA’s lobby at Langley says, “set us free.”

    When it comes to an Assange, a Manning or a Snowden, marginalization, ie, keeping enough people ignorant or distracted or numb of our secret, unconstitutional government institutions infamous crimes, marginalization is not enough for our chill, dank, inky,
    tentacled, subversive government.

    Not even letting our oldest ally Britain, destroy Assange with psychologic torture, satisfies the monsters from outer space, so to speak.

    They sure are doing a great part of making most of the world uninhabitable long term with their weapons. Have nazis killed as many, since WWII? It’s a natural question to ask “Are they human?” Or are they really bug-eyed monsters at war with our planet, or carrying out some diabolical deal with them?

    What is our Indian love call?

    How about Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”, with a 50 Amp sound system and jumbotrons, where some of our nuclear warlords can hear it and see videos of their
    neutron bombs used on people, shown to thousands in public? They violated the majority of Americans’ will for nuclear disarmament, when we marched in millions in America, that even Ronald Reagan had to acknowledge
    is a native sentiment, not manipulated by Russia.

    What will make our nuclear warlord rogues’ brains burst into green goo?

    Time to take the gloves off!

    No joke! Those who damage their facade of exceptional righteousness they maintain with their influence over
    media, want to destroy Assange personally. They want to establish power to extradite journalists who leak their crimson crimes. They want the world press to know they can isolate and crush any who damage their ability to
    falsely claim the moral high ground.

    During the Tall Ships festival in NYC’s bicentenial celebration, in July 1976; the pride of nation’s navies, from many countries, meticulously maintained historic
    wooden sailing ships, including the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides”, were moored at New York Harbor piers.

    Among them was the Esmeralda from Chile. Even more naive than now in those days, i went with a group of communists, of the brainwashed kind, to protest fascism.

    I had heard on WBAI FM that ship has been used as one
    of the junta’s torture centers. When we reached the pier and started a loud picket “ESMERAlDA TORTURE BOAT, KEEPS THE FASCIST FLAG AFLOAT!”, young sailors in immaculate white dress uniforms appeared at the dockside rail, looking at us curiously, but an officer
    appeared and i think he ordered them below deck. That didn’t stop us from continuing the chant and passing
    out leaflets, so the Esmeralda’s recent history and Chile’s fascist’s infamy would be exposed.

    Glad i was there. Chile’s fascist government didn’t rate a part in a celebration of liberty. Ron Reagan’s invitation was hypocritical. But by now, does America’s?

    “In Every Spy a Prince”, by Victor Ostrovsky, an ex-Mossad agent, he wrote of going to Chile to get a French avocet missile warhead to copy, because Israel was not allowed to buy it. A Chilean air force general was happy to help them. They were happy to help the Chileans in return.

    The general said they had terrorists too and asked the Mossad to train them how to carry out assassinations. That’s one of the Mossad’s services to train in. They impart tradecraft, but keep some to themselves.

    Weeks later, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit were blown up in the USA. That an American, Moffit, was killed and that the fascist act of terrorism was done in the USA, raised a hue and cry but the Chilean DINA chief left the USA for Chile before he could possibly be arrested. And nobody knew Israel had the avocet.

    Now the oligarchic Russian state has learned our CIA’s tricks, like rigging other countries elections and fostering fascism to overthrow democratic republics, America’s
    karma our “national security establishment” earned for us,
    is coming home to roost. And close examination shows;
    in the words of the great philosopher Pogo:

    “We have met the enemy and it is us!”

    To strip the disguise off the head of the native fascist boil, we must start by busting Donald Trump down from
    would-be dictator by fraud and putsch, to a convict for fraud, obstruction of justice, treason and mass murder.

    But who’d want to see him naked? An orange jumpsuit will do! That may be the most We the People can do, but if that head of America’s boil is not lanced, the pus will spread through the body, like he spread Covid19.

    I do not know how to strip the military industrial complex’ subverted government naked, but some in
    it show some kind of rationalized understanding and faith in the Constitution. It’s one of Trump’s rare achievements that he moved them to declare the understanding and faith in it they have, since he has none at all.

    The USA’s secret government will go on destroying the world along with fossil fuel cos and other capitalists but may succeed fully by accident. Capitalist “Lords of the Universe” think themselves superior to nature, but i think the forces of destruction they have unleashed will prove beyond their control.

    Hunt a hole! By families surviving with true knowledge and understanding of history, to arm us against any new tyranny, we can gain chances to regain the rest of our liberty and property they are stealing, when our chances appear going forward. Not to mention guns.

    Capitalism has made it practically impossible for most to own land and install fallout shelters, so people must organize to discuss and seek how to work together, so more can be saved, especially children, who are the future.

    The unconstitutional government will not help us w/o taking more liberty. The traitors to the constitution and capitalists have the deepest holes to hide in while the rest of us die. But those with less who survive somehow, will have everything taken from us, if we don’t get it together 1st.

    I think the 1st thing to do to expose tyrants, is get
    correct knowledge and understanding of them. and spread the liberating truth. We must face our terrifying predicament to survive and must survive to take back
    our liberty, even if it takes generations in a ruined world.

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