By Robin Harris
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Extra resources for A Tale of Two Chileans: Pinochet and Allende
Not just the whole of the Left but a substantial section of the Centre had become committed to economic and social policies which directly or indirectly led to the breakdown that brought the military into power. It was necessary to give time for tempers to cool, for political elements which were fundamentally opposed to lawful, constitutional order to be suppressed, and for a new generation of political leaders to emerge, able and willing to take over a modern, prosperous and stable Chile. Which brings us to an important matter of terminology.
One can, of course, argue about whether the time-scale envisaged by Pinochet was too protracted, that he should have handed power back to the party politicians earlier. This may be so: but on the other hand, it is worth recalling that as late as 1986 Chile was faced with a major threat of Cuban-backed terrorism, and that the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the Soviet Union looks a good deal safer than it did during those years of Chile’s military government. Pinochet’s policy of banning political activity for a number of years after the military coup was, though, surely in principle justified.
For their involvement in this crime the Director and the Chief of Operations of DINA were tried and convicted in Chile. They are still in prison, having been specifically exempted from the 1978 Amnesty Law - by contrast, those sentenced in America for their involvement have been freed. Such abuses are, of course, deplorable. But there is absolutely no evidence of General Pinochet’s involvement in them. Moreover, there should be no doubt of the reality of the threat that the country faced, and it was essentially this continuing threat that guaranteed miscreants in the security apparatus a degree of impunity.
A Tale of Two Chileans: Pinochet and Allende by Robin Harris