General Pinochet headed the military coup against democratically elected, President Salvador Allende. — — - Photo: fpalvarez at Flickr.

Curious, to say the least, the Chilian case.

In August 1973, the then President-Elect of Chile (Elected by popular vote), the leftist leader Salvador Allende, named General Augusto Pinochet Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army.

Only one month later, in September 1973, Pinochet headed a military coup, which overthrew Allende and caused his death. Legitimized seven years later by a plebiscite supposedly rigged, which also served to approve the 1980 Chilean Constitution (Designed by the Government itself).

General Pinochet, surrounded by military officers, announced to the Chileans the assumption of Government. Photo: J.M.Vargas at Flickr.

General Pinochet remained in power 17 years (During that time there were countless accusations of murder and torture of members of the opposition to his regime, as well as thousands of cases of reported disappearances), until confident of his triumph, he lost a popular plebiscite of which he himself was the convener, which forced him to call forth a general election, which he also lost, stepping down of the Chilean Presidency in 1990, although he conserved his military rank as Commander in Chief of the Chilean army until his retirement in 1988.

Detentions in Santiago… and later disappearances. Photo: santiagonostalgico en Flickr.

In that same year General Pinochet, now a lifelong Chilean Senator according to his own Constitution (The1980 Constitution was still in force), traveled to London, where he was detained by order of the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, for numerous violations to the Human Rights committed during his mandate.

Pinochet, at the time he was detained in London. Photo: Wikipedia.

After fighting numerous legal battles, he returned to Chile in the year 2000, at age 85 and theoretically with his health deteriorated.

Four years later, in 2004, at age 89 a Chilean judge found him apt to be present and judged in Court.

At the time of his death, in 2006 at the age of 91, General Pinochet faced countless charges in Chile for violations of the Human Rights, and also charges for embezzlement of public funds, and tax evasion.

General Pinochet at his deathbed. Photo: polmuadi at Flickr.

Allegedly, he accumulated a fortune of $ 28 million dollars during his mandate.

The walls talk. Photo: Annais Ferreira, at Flickr. “Thief”, in Spanish, reads the anonymous manifesto on the wall, along with the well known, unmistakable portray of the dictator.

The 1980 Constitution, Pinochet’s Constitution, as it is better known, is still in force, although the female President of Chile, elected (2015) by the Chileans, the popular leftist leader Michelle Bachelet, in her second mandate (she didn’t make any Constitutional changes during her first mandate) had promised in her campaign to call forth a Constitutional Assembly to promulgate a new Constitution that replaces the dictator’s one.

Although significant changes have been made to Pinochet’s Constitution since the return to democracy, Bachelet and others have argued that the Constitution must be redesigned from scratch.

Chile’s outgoing President Michelle Bachelet — on the last day of her Presidency — , sent Congress legislation to replace the country’s dictator-era Constitution with one to guarantee equal pay for men and women and the right to strike for workers, an old aspiration of the Chilean left, although she didn’t convoke — as promised in her campaign — a Constitutional Assembly.

While Bachelet will not likely be able to push the proposal through Congress before her term ends, it could force incoming President Sebastian Piñera to reckon with a longstanding aspiration of the leftist and centrist lawmakers, with whom he will have to govern. Taken from

Sebastian Piñera’s Goverment will be closely watched by the many followers of General Pinochet. — — — - -Photo: Marcos J. Vargas at Flickr.-

But so far, the prevailing Chilean Constitution, more than 30 years after Pinochet stepped down from Government, continues being…Pinochet’s 1980 Constitution.

Although we can’t agree whith his methods, there is no question in my mind about Pinochet’s patriotism. During his mandate, Chile laid the basis for an efficient exporting economy and helped to develop the mentality and creativity of the Chileans, geared toward that end.



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Eugenio Magdalena

Eugenio is a disabled Economist (UCAB, Caracas), cursed a post-graduate Diploma in Marketing (Strathclyde University, Scotland, UK), and an MBA (England, UK).