December 11, 2006

Death of Pinochet

Chile's Augusto Pinochet has died, leaving behind a muddled legacy for the South American country. He came to power via a coup in 1973 with the assistance of the United States, deposing socialist Salvador Allende. He renounced power in 1990 and ironically ... a socialist is now president.

The Corner has had discussions today about how Pinochet's death will be covered -- as opposed to someone like Castro's, whose death certainly seems imminent. Of course, many conservatives believe Pinochet was a "beneficient dictator" ("our SOB") while goons like Castro are viewed by liberals similarly. But how will the media cover their deaths? The Corner's Tim Graham already notes the differences in the Washington Post: Pinochet is "scorned," while China's Deng Xiaoping was "mourned." The article title? "A Chilean Dictator's Darl Legacy." But Deng's headline was nothing so sinister. And unlike Pinochet's article, there was little to no mention of China's [prodigious] human rights abuses, but much about the liberalization of the Chinese economy.

Of course, Pinochet ceded power after 17 years and left Chile an economically thriving democracy. On the other hand, China, though it instituted many reforms, remains a communist authoritarian regime. And Fidel Castro remains head of state in Cuba -- since 1959 -- his country still a Marxist-Leninist basket case.

I'd like to think I've been consistent in my view that we were wrong to [actively] support the Pinochet coup, especially since Allende was democratically elected. (Evidence has surfaced over the years that communists were actively involved with Allende, -- especially Cubans since Allende was an admirer of Castro. But this doesn't change my overall view.) Being it was the height of the Cold War, concentrated CIA surveillance and intelligence (especially considering the KGB and Cuban DGI involvement) was prudent, and if Allende did indeed begin to impose totalitarian rule upon Chile then more active involvement could have been considered. But as it was, it seems to me we really betrayed our touted values of democracy and free elections.

But, I don't want to get into a protracted "what if" scenario. Just keep an eye on the MSM and watch how they report on Pinochet's demise. Rightist dictators certainly aren't "their SOBs"!

UPDATE: And then there's the New York Times courtesy of this report by Anthony Paletta:

The New York Times reports on American students attending Medical school in Cuba on Friday. Their education is free. Whatever. Some international students there are enthusiastic about their patrons:

“In my country many see Fidel Castro as a bad leader,” said Rolando Bonilla, 23, a Panamanian who is in his second year of the six-year program. “My view has changed. I now know what he represents for this country. I identify with him.”

Fátima Flores, 20, of Mexico sympathized with Mr. Castro’s government even before she was accepted for the program. “When we become doctors we can spread his influence,” she said. “Medicine is not just something scientific. It’s a way of serving the public. Look at Che.”

Chavistas everywhere! Most importantly, though, look to what the author has to say about Castro:

And some students cannot help responding to the sympathetic portrayal of Mr. Castro, whom the United States government tars as a dictator who suppresses his people.

Tars as? In contrast, what does the Times have to say about Pinochet today? “Pinochet, tarred as Dictator by leftists?” Of course not, he’s just:

“Augusto Pinochet, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile”

Imagine Castro’s Obituary:

“Kindly Medical Benefactor Dies, Called Dictator by CIA”

Posted by Hube at December 11, 2006 05:30 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I think I'll pop in that flick "Missing" to celebrate.

Posted by: Mike Matthews at December 11, 2006 09:30 PM