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Pinochet brought nothing but misery

Sir - The obituary (SI, 17/12/06) repeated the twin myths that first, General Pinochet organised the coup to save the country from communism, and, second that he created an economic miracle in Chile.

Allende's Popular Unity government was not a communist government. It could be described as socialist, although some might describe it as left-nationalist. No matter what its complexion, any government in the US's Latin American backyard that dared to take land from the rich and redistribute it to the poor, or nationalise the copper industry and other concerns or, worse still, took steps to really redistribute wealth, was considered a threat to US vital interests; not least because an example might be set that other countries in the region could follow, to the detriment of US corporations.

Another crime Allende committed was to have good relations with Cuba, when the US expected all countries within its Latin American Monroe Doctrine sphere of influence to toe the line and embargo Cuba, another country that dared to be independent.

Henry Kissinger was reported as saying about Chile at the time: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people." That is, they didn't vote for the government the US wanted.

Well, of course the US trotted out the same excuse of combating communism when it overthrew the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954, which resulted in years of dictatorship, oppression and murder for the people of Guatemala. The CIA knew then that this government wasn't communist, and it knew the Allende government wasn't either. But these governments just wouldn't do what they were told, so they had to go. The US has the same problem today with Venezuela, and has done its best to get rid of the Chavez government.

As for Pinochet's 'economic miracle' the progressive journalist, Greg Palast, did a great demolition job on that myth in an article marking Pinochet's death. He says that the economic miracle of Chile "was just another fairy tale". He argues that in fact it was the work of Salvador Allende that saved the nation.

There are some people in the world who believe that making obscenely rich people even richer, whilst throwing a few crumbs from the table to the working class and keeping them in their place, ideally with the shackles of a 30-year mortgage, amounts to an economic miracle.

General Pinochet is beyond justice, but some of the criminals who were in the US administration at the time and who promoted and supported the coup and, therefore, were complicit in the torture and murders, are still alive in the US, as are some Chileans who took part in it.

Brian Abbott, Bishopstown Road, Cork

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