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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


 

Pinochet - the whitewash begins


Just when you thought the corporate media couldn't get any worse, the Washington Post editorial staff weighs in on the death of Augusto Pinochet.
"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"
Pinochet is not considered an "evil dictator" because he overthrew Allende, he is considered an evil dictator because he was an evil dictator, ruling with an iron fist, and killing and torturing thousands of innocent people. He could have overthrown Hitler and he'd still be considered an evil dictator. As for the "considered saintly" part, Allende's "saintliness" comes from his becoming a martyr because he was overthrown (and either was killed or killed himself, depending on what you believe). As a ruler, he was no more saintly than many other elected leftists throughout the years.
"Michelle Bachelet...suffered persecution during the Pinochet years."
Michelle Bachelet did not "suffer persecution." Michelle Bachelet was tortured, and her father, unmentioned by the Post, was tortured to death.
"It's hard not to notice, however, that the evil dictator leaves behind the most successful country in Latin America."
The re-privatization of industry and gutting of workers’ living standards under Pinochet’s reign of terror reduced 49 percent of the population to the poverty level by 1987. There has been a recovery since then, but the "economic miracle" for the capitalists was no miracle for the workers.
"Mr. Castro [to whom the Post is contrasting Pinochet] also killed and exiled thousands."
Hundreds (not thousands) of Batista's torturers were summarily executed when the Cuban Revolution took power. Executing police torturers may be opposed by those who oppose the death penalty under all circumstances, but it's hardly comparable to torturing and murdering thousands of political activists, students, and other categories of innocent civilians. As far as I know, no Cuban was "exiled," although hundreds of thousands did leave. By contrast, during Pinochet’s rule, one million Chileans fled into exile.

For a real appraisal of the lessons of Chile, I recommend this article from which a few of the facts in this post come. As for the Post, the words "liberal media" come to mind...accompanied by an ironic laugh.

Update: Richard Estes in the comments reminds me of a line from the editorial I had in my sights but totally left out of the post by accident:

"Salvador Allende['s] responsibility for creating the conditions for the 1973 coup is usually overlooked."
Maybe the reason I skipped this one is because one is almost left speechless by such a formulation. Just the idea that there were conditions in Chile which justified a coup is preposterous (one does wonder exactly what "conditions" the Post is referring to), and the fact that the Post implicitly accepts the coup as legitimate with this sentence is almost beyond belief. Based on this precedent, I expect them to be advocating a coup against Fouad Siniora in Lebanon any day now, not to mention one against George Bush. Sure I do. What I really expect them to say, should something I don't expect to happen come to pass, is that "Hugo Chavez was responsible for creating the conditions for the 20xx coup."

Second update: Glenn Greenwald gives us a view through the years of the Washington Post's editorial writings on Pinochet, and notes how far to the right the "mainstream" has moved over the years.

Another update: It occurs to me that some younger readers might not have seen the great Costa-Gavras film Missing, the true story of an American journalist who was "disappeared" in the wake of Pinochet's coup. See it.


Why stop here? There's more...

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