Dictators come and go, but good riddance to this thug. Though championed by some on the right for his free-market ways, Augusto Pinochet was no ally of democracy. The Chilean general finally expired this week at age 91, never atoning forand never having to answer forhis murderous 17-year rule.
After helping overthrow Chile's elected socialist government in 1973, the U.S.-backed Pinochet oversaw the killing of over 3,000 people and the torture of 10 times that number. (For more on this, see Chile's National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation and the later work (in Spanish) of its National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture.)
His regime became notorious for making people "disappear." His security agency, the Directorate of National Intelligence, or DINA, operated with such impunity that it staged a 1976 car bombing on Washington's Embassy Row, murdering former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and his American aide, 25-year-old Ronni Moffitt. Brutes like Pinochet are one more reason to be glad the Cold War is over. For an inside look at his sordid record, including his backing by Washington, check out the National Security Archive's Pinochet: A Declassified Documentary Obit.
Photo credit: SANTIAGO LLANQUIN —AP