Why, how else? Open a museum dedicated to “humanizing” a monster:
Well, if by “the people” you mean ravening beasts like Nixon, Reagan and Henry Kissinger, then yeah, “the people” loved him. But the people of Chile have many, many reasons to loathe him, and among them is that he wrecked the Chilean economy. To this day, it has never recovered to the levels of prosperity that it had achieved under–are you sitting down for this, kiddies?–SALVADOR ALLENDE. Yes, that’s right, the socialist guy. His economic policies were actually quite sound, and were it not for deliberate sabotage on the part of the Chilean rightards and their US backers, the country would be in better shape today. It’s still limping, and laws Pinochet left on the books are what crippled it.And let’s not even get started on what he did to human rights. The one, as Naomi Klein has pointed out, ties directly in to the other. Economic abuses necessitated human-rights abuses to make the “lessons” stick.Meanwhile, I’ve been re-reading Piers Paul Read’s book, Alive, the true story of the Uruguayans whose plane crashed in the Andes. There are a number of things relating to Chile that really strike me, every time I read that story. Not everyone on the chartered Uruguayan air-force plane, for instance, was a rugby player on the way to a match in Santiago; some of them were socialist students of ecnomics, eager to see Allende’s Chile for themselves. That hope, unfortunately, was crushed when the plane hit the side of a mountain and broke up, landing in a snowy valley near the Tinguiririca volcano and Cerro Sosneado on the border between Chile and Argentina. One of the things that severely hampered the rescue efforts of both Chile and Uruguay was the run-up to the right-wing coup. Airplane fuel had become prohibitively expensive, thanks to the economic blockade; the Chilean military, as a result, dragged its heels on the search-and-rescue effort, to the dismay and disgust of the victims’ families. An international convention requiring countries to search ten days for air-crash survivors on their soil was broken as a result; the Chileans gave up their official search after just eight days; the Uruguayans ended up having to mount a private search effort, at considerable expense. The rich were so hell-bent on installing a dictator that they not only waged an economic blockade, they also laid nails and other tire-piercing junk on the roads, so that a car carrying the Uruguayans’ loved ones in their efforts to rescue them was badly slowed down. The survivors could have been rescued within two weeks; instead, they stayed up in the mountains for ten. They were rescued in the end, but only due to the valiant efforts of their own, and several of those who had survived the crash and a subsequent avalanche ended up dead of slow starvation and infected wounds. The story is littered with incidents of frustration and sabotage. And if the Uruguayans were outraged and stymied during the few weeks they were in Chile, how must the people of Chile have felt, having to live amid such insanity for months and years on end–before, during and after the coup?Are the “people” who did those ugly deeds the same “people” who found Pinochet cuddly–the ones who now have a museum preaching to the choir? It’s guaranteed to convert no one, because most Chileans already know all too well what kind of a man Pinochet really was. And how can anyone claim that the ones who did this are in any sense representative of Chile or the Chilean public will, when in fact the elected president was Salvador Allende and not Augusto Pinochet, who NEVER won a free and fair election in all his unnatural life?Allende didn’t need no “humanizing”, because he was human already. And a damn fine human he was, too. Anyone with eyes could see it. The same cannot be said about the monster who illegally supplanted him–and who required repression, murder, torture and disappearances to get and keep the “love” of the “people”. Or a museum to whitewash all that.
Visitors to the museum can see the late general’s office, desk, uniforms, medals – even his large collection of toy soldiers, representing all the divisions of the Chilean army in which he served during his long military career.There is a bronze bust of Pinochet alongside those of the other members of his four-man military junta, which seized power in 1973 by violently overthrowing the democratically elected Socialist government of President Salvador Allende.The items on display include Pinochet’s black military beret, swords, coins and gifts from former US Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.“We want to allow Chileans to get to know Pinochet, the man, the general, the president, and what better way to do that then by opening a small, boutique display of his personal effects,” said Major General Luis Cortes Villa, executive director of the President Pinochet Foundation which oversees the museum.“Foreigners often think that his government ruled in isolation, that the people didn’t love him. Well, here’s the proof to the contrary.”