By now the world has had enough time to reflect on the irony of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s death Sunday, December 10, International Human Rights Day. Now the dictator responsible for the death, torture and disappearance of thousands will never face justice.
It’s been over 33 years since Pinochet rose to power in
In 1973, in the weeks following Pinochet’s coup, my uncle, CristiÃ¡n Montecino, was abducted from his apartment by the military police and executed in a military barrack for no reason other than taking pictures. Throughout the 17-year dictatorship, Pinochet’s secret police, the DINA, murdered and kidnapped approximately 3,000 people, ranging from leftist dissidents to clergymen, university professors and journalists. Even today, many of the victim’s family members still deal with the pain and uncertainty of not knowing if their disappeared loved-ones were killed or not.
When I was still a child an Argentine woman came over to my house to ask my father to help her find her long-lost lover, disappeared since 1973. My father wasn’t home at the time and so I helped her search through his archive of pictures of political prisoners in
When I was teenager growing up in post-Pinochet
Was my childhood babysitter and close family friend, Rodrigo Rojas, who was burned alive and left to rot in a roadside ditch, merely collateral damage? Can economic growth offset the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of such crimes against humanity or the pain suffered by Rodrigo’s family?
The good thing is most people don’t think so anymore and the overwhelming public reaction in
His death is far too convenient for him and his supporters because now he will never be convicted for his crimes. Those on the Right callous enough to still stand by their “General” can now forever live in fantasy. Fortunately, Bachelet’s government spokesmen have announced that Pinochet will receive no special funeral from the state. Now the cult of Pinochet is finally in decline and this year’s International Human Rights Day can go down in history as a truly appropriate one indeed.
Perhaps Pinochet’s death marks the true end of the Cold War in
Juan Antonio Montecino, a former Institute for Policy Studies intern, is a student at the