Born in Valparaiso, Chile, on November 25, 1915, the great Latin American leader, General Augusto Pinochet.
The very idea of referring to a Latin American ruler as “great” is a rarity. So many of the rulers south of the United States have been vicious, not just recently, but since ancient times. From the Incas and Aztecs of old to the Fidel Castros and Nicholas Maduros of the present, Central and South American rule has traditionally resulted in permanent poverty, usually awash in blood.
Augusto Pinochet is the exception.
He ruled from the date of his coup d’état, September 11, 1973, through his semi-retirement in 1988 (and remained a senator for life thereafter). He is universally reviled, primarily for his success in driving Communism out of his country. Today, Chile is about the only stable, prosperous major country in Latin America, primarily because of Pinochet’s reforms… and the Left will forever hate him for it.
The Left adored Pinochet’s predecessor, Salvador Allende, because he brought Socialism to Chile, with the intent of joining the Soviet orbit as a Communist nation. Pinochet led a military coup in 1973, with a goal of not only overturning Allende, but of inoculating Chile from Communism forever.
The Left immediately started calling Pinochet a Fascist, but outside of his military uniform, nothing could be further from the truth. His economic reforms were designed by the team of Milton Friedman’s best students, hired away from the University of Chicago, and their goal was the opposite of Fascism: to privatize the nation’s retirement funds, to reduce bureaucracy, to stabilize currency, essentially, to make Chile a free country, the freest economy in Latin America.
With this record of success, who does the Left vilify? Augusto Pinochet, who brought prosperity to his nation…
And who does the Left champion? Hugo Chavez, Lula da Silva, Che Guevara… The Communists, corruptocrats and mass murderers who have long consigned the many millions of Latin Americans to generational, inescapable poverty.
Pinochet stands alone as one who recognized the dangers of Communism and acted with determination. At a time when others in Latin America sought advisers from Soviet Russia, Pinochet hired advisers from the United States.
Think of the world of 1973, and consider the choices made by Central and South American leaders in those days. Soviet Communism had already murdered tens of millions of its own. The killing fields of Cambodia were just about to begin… Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution in Red China had already killed tens of millions of victims. Even in tiny North Korea, Kim il-Sung's penal colonies had already killed hundreds of thousands of political prisoners.
Almost 50 years after his coup, the modern Left still doubles down on its hatred of Pinochet. They attack him for dealing out capital punishment to Communists, refusing to admit to themselves that Communism is itself the most severe form of capital punishment ever inflicted upon this world.
In the 20th century, Communist rule killed a hundred million people. No natural disaster – hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or volcanic eruption – can hold a candle to the devastation caused by Socialism. And no disease – from plague to AIDS – can even come close. Communism is itself a death sentence.
Pinochet almost single-handedly transformed his country into a modern representative republic, blessed with limited government and a path to prosperity that few others south of the United States have ever enjoyed. If his methods were sometimes severe (a couple thousand communists executed without the full benefit of civilian trials), it was because he believed it necessary. And in fact, surveying the surrounding countries in the years since, it is hard to disagree with his decision.
Here in the United States, we don’t even execute mass murderers anymore… Speck, Manson, and so many others have been allowed to die of natural causes in prison, decades after murdering their innocent victims. Perhaps, sometimes, we are too kind. Pinochet looked at Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, and decided not to make the mistake of being too kind. He did the best he could to cut out the cancer in his beloved nation.
Today, we see the popular culture champion the advocates of mass murder… Ruth Bader Ginsburg, abortion’s biggest advocate since the eugenicist Margaret Sanger, is held up on a podium as a heroic role model for young women. Jack Kevorkian, inventor of the oxymoron “assisted suicide,” was a pop-culture hero for the Left. The bloodthirsty monster Che Guevara has his visage emblazoned on the T-shirts of impressionable youths.
It is long past time to redeem the memory of Augusto Pinochet. Fifteen years before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain, Augusto Pinochet saved Chile from the Soviet orbit, dealing a needed blow to Leonid Brezhnev’s evil record of so many successful conquests.
General Pinochet was a hero. Thank Heaven for putting him in Chile when his country needed him.
(Note: Corrections made to original version post-publication concerning historical facts during 1973)
Copyright 2019 John F Di Leo
John F Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer, transportation manager, writer and actor. His columns are regularly found in Illinois Review.
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Pinochet is a hero.