As far as Latin American dictators go, Augusto Pinochet doesn't get nearly enough hate in these parts. I mean, this is what Miami does: hate Latin American dictators. Philly has cheese steaks, Orlando has theme parks, Miami has its undying hate for Latin American dictators.
Oh, that's right! Pinochet was a right-wing murderous dictator and not a left-wing murderous dictator. Unfortunately some people are willing to over look the deaths of more than 1,000 political dissidents under his government, the thousands more who were captured and tortured, and his rampant corruption, and still paint him as an economic hero.
In fact, as pointed out by The Awl, yesterday The Wall Street Journal's editorial page took the chance to exploit the earthquake in Chile to paint Pinochet as an economic hero who's responsible for the fact the death toll in that country's earthquake wasn't as great as it was in Haiti.
Even in that city of one million, the death toll might have been worse. That it wasn't is due in part to Chile's stricter building codes, which have been developed over long experience with quakes along the Eastern Pacific fault line. Chileans have prepared well for the big one.
But such preparation is also the luxury of a prosperous country, in contrast to destitute and ill-governed Haiti. Chile has benefited enormously in recent decades from the free-market reforms it passed in the 1970s under dictator Augusto Pinochet. While Chileans still disagree about Pinochet's political actions, they have not repealed most of that era's economic opening to the world. In the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, compiled by the Heritage Foundation and this newspaper, Chile is the world's 10th freest economy. Haiti ranks 141st
Congratulations Wall Street Journal editorial board on exploiting a natural disaster to make an ideological political point and try to prop up the legacy of friggin' Pinochet.
Why not to mention Pinochet's penchant for having dissidents killed, tax evasion and corruption?
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Why not to mention that those very same policies resulted in massive economic disparity?
Why not to mention that some of Chile's pre-Pinochet economic woes had to do with Nixon-era sanctions?
Why not to mention that Chile continues to prosper, perhaps more so, under current popular president Michelle Bachelete, a gasp (moderate) socialist who was tortured as a young woman under Pinochet's regime?
I'm sure she, and her father who died after daily torture sessions, really appreciate it.