On the 10th December, at 14.15 hours, the greatest killer and thief that Chile has ever known, the former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, died.
Hundreds of thousands of Chileans came onto the streets to celebrate and rapidly organised celebratory demonstrations throughout the country. In all the workers’ districts people came onto the streets to express their happiness. In working class districts like La Bandera and La Vitoria the people rapidly organised carnivals to celebrate Pinochet’s death.
In the centre of the capital city, Santiago, especially in the Plaza Italia, the traditional place for parties, hundreds of people began to assemble. In less than two hours, thousands had gathered. They organised a march to down the main thoroughfare in Santiago, Alameda, towards La Moneda, the Presidential Palace. Champaign, drums, dancing; anything to celebrate the death of the hated dictator took place. Unfortunately, when the march arrived at La Moneda the police began to violently repress the street celebrations. This is very common today. Although many of the torturers and killers left the Carabineros (police), the same mentality continues to exist within their ranks. They just could not understand why the majority of the people were so happy!
At the same time, it particularly regrettable that the government coalition, Concertación, and the Socialist Party President, Michelle Bachellet gave orders to the police to repress the demonstration. According to press reports, the government "wanted to avoid a carnival atmosphere developing following the death of the killer".
The opinion polls clearly reflected the attitude of the people. 70% were against an official remembrance service being organised following the death of Augusto Pinochet and seven out of ten opposed an official bereavement service. This was the main reason the government did not declare an official national bereavement service for the former dictator - especially when they saw thousands of Chileans taking to the streets to celebrate within a few minutes of his death being announced on the radio and television.
Only the killers honour the killers
President Michelle Bachellet authorized the army to give military honours to the criminal Pinochet. All the army barracks were told to lower the flag to half mast at the signal of the beginning of the ceremony. Even the government rendered some honour to Pinochet by sending an official representative to the funeral, the Minister of Defence. It is a scandal that after 17 years of so-called ‘democracy’ this mass killer never was put on trial for his crimes.
All of the ceremonial honour for the former dictator was in the hands of the army, which is not surprising, given that they are equally responsible for the horrors carried out during the years of dictatorship. The killers are honouring the killers!
The role of the justice system
The role of the Chilean justice system has been shameful. The judgements against Pinochet were a complete farce. If Pinochet had lived for two hundred years this justice system would never have prosecuted him and he would never have been sentenced. This is despite the existence evidence of his involvement in repression, robbery and corruption. The Chilean judges were part of the former dictatorship and they never had any intention of brining Pinochet to trial. Everybody knows this and the Concertación was part of the farce that developed when Pinochet was arrested in London a few years ago. At that time, the authorities said Chileans would have the opportunity to bring about justice. The truth is "His death has sealed the immunity of Pinochet", as the Venezuelan Vice President, José Vincente Rangel said. Pinochet’s death was hoped for by both the government and the official opposition to seal his immunity and allow them, like Biblical Pilate, to wash their hands of the matter. This is typical of the real morality of the Concertación government, which from the beginning of its existence guaranteed immunity to Pinochet.
The bronze prize for cynicism goes to the spokesperson from the US administration, when he declared: "The dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet represented on of the most difficult times in the history of the country. Our thoughts today are with the victims of the regime and their families" (Tony Fratto, Spokesperson for the White House).
Such cynicism knows no limits. The US was one of the principal financiers and supporters of the dictatorship. Pinochet always acted with the agreement of the CIA. The CIA financed the main daily papers in Chile, like El Mercurio, and also financed right-wing terrorist organisations in Chile, in the 1970s, as well as the main political parties which backed the brutal Pinochet coup against the elected Salvador Allende government. Clear proof of this has been published in many books and reports.
Pinochet and so-called economic well being of Chile
The right-wing, the employers, and sections of the Concertación, attempt to balance the atrocities of the Pinochet dictatorship with the so-called economic growth which took place, to present Pinochet as the father of modern Chile. Which country are they speaking of? This is one of the worst lies repeated in Chile and internationally. Reality is totally different. The majority of Chileans continue to live in poverty. One in every five Chileans live in conditions of extreme poverty - that is to say 20% of the population. Another 40% of the population are put in social class "D" which also means living in conditions of poverty. In other words, the majority of the population live in appalling conditions.
80% of workers are employed in small and medium size companies. These workers constantly live under the threat of loosing their job, low wages and terrible living conditions. 60% of the labour force gets about US$300 per month. But many commentators claim that the average annual income of the country is US$8,000!
The social crisis and deep poverty that was caused by the dictatorship can be seen in every aspect of society. Today, there is an education system, previously imposed by the dictatorship, which is in deep crisis. This provoked a massive mobilisation of secondary school students earlier this year. This struggle is likely to develop with even greater force next year. We also face a similar crisis in the health sector and also in the pension system (AFP’s). This condemns thousands of pensioners to extreme poverty. The state was finally forced to finance pensions, to some degree, as the private sector could not do so.
The economic ‘well-being’ much talked about reaches only the richest 20% of the population in Chile, not the workers and the poor, but the rich, the employers, the tops of the armed forces, and the bureaucrats in the government and in the parliament. They are the only ones that have befitted from the economic system installed by blood and fire under the dictatorship.
It was for all these reasons that thousands of workers, women, youth, and poor now are celebrating the death of the tyrant Pinochet. The celebrations over his death showed that those who died under the regime are not forgotten and are respected. The majority of the population supported the street demonstrations. The popular slogan, "Neither forgotten not forgiven", is for today!