How to turn a fascist into a cuddly teddy bear

Why, how else? Open a museum dedicated to “humanizing” a monster:

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.”

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.

Share this story:
This entry was posted in Chile Sin Queso, Crapagandarati, Fascism Without Swastikas, Filthy Stinking Rich, Isn't That Illegal?, Not So Compassionate Conservatism, Paraguay, Uruguay, Socialism is Good for Capitalism!. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to turn a fascist into a cuddly teddy bear

  1. Slave Revolt says:

    You will find much admiration and love of Pinochet among the wealthy and upper middle class in the Americas. They stumble all over themselves to apologize for the craven criminality.
    Very much like you will find folks in the US and Canada that engage apologetics with respect to Vietnam and Iraq.
    For the upper classes ‘might makes right’–unless they are on the other side of ‘might’. Totally hypocritical, and same as it ever was throughout human history.
    Given the crimes in the past few decades–with the empire’s approval–the changes happening with Chavez, Morales, and Correa do point toward a better future for the people of the region. The economic and social policies of the rich have been an abysmal failure.
    My major focus is on ecological sustainability, and this can only really be addressed through an advance in education and authentic democracy.
    As the ecological crisis deepens in the decades to come, there is simply no way that the craven exploiters can maintain a positive public face without an outright, brutal dictatorship.
    Knowledge from indigenous people will be particularly relevant, and an ethic of ‘healing’ and creative thinking will need to become the dominant gesture in human culture.
    The maximization of profit at the expense of ecological health will be recognized as an ideological disease, a form of barbarity. All human actors, like Pinochet, that functioned to stifle democratic control over government by the people will be seen by future generations as the degenerates that they always were.
    However, given that societies are still controlled by unjust hierarchies deliniated by social class and priviledge, you can still count on constant flack to prop up the rapacious, barbaric ideologies that sustain the status quo.

  2. Just this morning I was hearing yet another jackass TV “report” on the Madoff scandal. It made me sick, the amount of facts they were holding back from their viewers. The REAL scandal is that the system is set up to allow precisely things like this, and NO ONE QUESTIONS ITS EXISTENCE. They act like this is just an aberration. It’s not! Deregulation of markets is precisely the problem, yet I hear not one single “business expert” calling for an end to it. That’s because all of them made their bundle by touting that line endlessly during the ’80s and ’90s. Of course they’re not going to question it all now. They’re paid to make sure that the best light is put on the Madoff situation–it’s unusual, it’s the exception not the rule, the system isn’t broken, it’s just a glitch, move along, nothing more to see here, folks.
    The question is not how can someone break the rules like that, it’s “What were you expecting when there are no rules left to stop them?” It’s Argentina in 2001 all over again! Only now, the chickens are roosting at home. And still they don’t see…
    And anyone who thinks that Augusto Pinochet is just an exception, should wake up–all of Latin America knows by now that “free markets” and enslaved people are connected in numerous and profound ways. Guatemala knew it already in the ’50s; the Southern Cone was woken up to it by machine-gun blasts in the ’70s. Venezuela has long been aware that iron-handed dictators were lovable to Washington and the Vatican both, and that their human rights abuses were condoned as long as the cheap oil flowed and the people were kept down. Bolivia “grew”, in the eyes of economists, under colonists and dictators. Ecuador was made ungovernable precisely so that Big Bidness could have its way unimpeded by pesky local government. They’re now trying to manoeuvre Rafael Correa out, because he’s the biggest threat to Chevron–and international capital–that there is.
    For all that capitalists talk of “democracy”, they really don’t give a shit for it. As long as they have their way, it doesn’t matter who at the bottom is in misery and without prospects of climbing from the hole. It’s like the old British aristocracy there, really–“democracy for ‘we’, not thee.” The common folk don’t get a vote, not one that counts; the only votes counted are those of the lords. And that’s only as long as the lords don’t also revolt…
    I’m sorry, am I preaching to the choir again? LOL.

Comments are closed.