Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Pinochet Paradox

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

A Cold War dictator who paved the way for democracy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Augusto Pinochet died on Sunday at the age of 91, more than 18 years after he agreed to a 1988 plebiscite that turned him out of power. The standard Pinochet narrative is to emphasize the loss of liberty during the 17 years he ruled the country as a military dictator. The real story is more complicated.

Though General Pinochet became a devil symbol of the international left, he was a far more complex figure and cannot be understood apart from the global Cold War conflict of which he and his country were a part. Pinochet's legacy is a paradox--a long string of them.

He took power in a coup in 1973, but ultimately he created an environment where democratic institutions would prevail. He is responsible for the death and torture that occurred on his watch, but had Salvador Allende succeeded in turning Chile into another Cuba, many more might have died.

2 comments:

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