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Monday, December 11, 2006

Augusto Pinochet Dead at Age 91, Former Chilean Dictator

The man who pledged when he came into power to stay, "only as long as circumstances demand it," Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile for 17 years is dead at the age of 91. Pinochet suffered a heart attack a week ago. The hospital officials in Santiago, Chile announced today his condition suddenly worsened on Sunday.

In a bloody coup Pinochet, with the believed assistance of the American C.I.A., a charge the U.S. vehemently continues to deny, overthrew the democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende. What is undeniable is that once the so called leftist Allende was elected, the U.S. embargoed Chile and brought it to such a state of poverty and suffering that it was ripe for Pinochet's plucking. What is also true, once Pinochet took power the embargo ended and the U.S. gave support to the unelected Pinochet.

After Pinochet seized power, the days following the coup were filled with mass arrests, torture and killing of civilians under the pretext that they were "leftist supporters" of Allende. Many innocent detainees, including Americans Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, were herded into the National Stadium, which became a torture and detention center, which the American government was fully aware of. The Americans Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi were among those executed by the Chilean military, their deaths chronicled in the 1982 film "Missing." (Likewise the state of Argentina after Pinochet took power has been chronicled by the American writer Isabel Allende.)

Other leftists were rounded up by a death squad known as the "Caravan of Death". Victims were buried in unmarked mass graves in the northern Atacama desert, in the coastal city of La Serena and in the southern city of Cauquenes..

Pinochet, immediately upon having seized power, famously stated he had "goals, not deadlines." Sounds like our president.

Pinochet is survived by his wife, Lucia, who headed a volunteer women's organization dedicated to helping the poor,(how ironic-since her husband is the cause of their impoverished condition), two sons and three daughters.

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