Pinochet and Saddam -- the Ironies
You have to admit there are certain ironies to the situation: on one side of the globe, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, a ruthless, corrupt dictator, expired from natural causes in a hospital in Santiago, Chile. Though he will not be granted a state funeral, (after all, the current president of Chile was tortured during his reign), Pinochet is to be buried with full military honors. Meanwhile, in BaghdadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Green Zone, another brutal, corrupt tyrant, Saddam Hussein, is on trial for his life, and will probably be twitching at the end of a hangmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s noose within the next few months.
Though PinochetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dictatorship was far less murderous than SaddamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, just the same, at least three thousand people were killed or Ã¢â‚¬Å“disappearedÃ¢â‚¬Â during the Chilean tyrantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reign. Thousands more were tortured and imprisoned, while others considered enemies of the regime were murdered abroad, including AllendeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s former Foreign Minister, Orlando Letelier, blown apart by a car bomb in Washington D.C. on PinochetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s orders.
Pinochet and Saddam also had friends in common. During some of their most repressive periods, both tyrants were strongly backed by the U.S. government. Pinochet was seen as a staunch ally by the U.S. in the 1970Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s ,during what the Nixon White House regarded as a life or death struggle against International Communism.
After first failing to block the election of Marxist Salvador Allende in Chile, under Nixon and Henry KissingerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s direction, the CIA then spent millions to destabilize the new Chilean government. When the Chilean army under Pinochet finally overthrew and murdered Allende, they launched a wave of brutal repression. As thousands of bodies piled up in SantiagoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Central Morgue, Secretary of State Kissinger battled all attempts by the U.S. Congress to enact sanctions against PinochetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s regime.