Augusto Pinochet

dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1990

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (November 25, 1915December 10, 2006) was a general and de facto head of state of Chile. He led a military junta to power in 1973 through a coup d'état, deposing the elected Socialist president Salvador Allende and establishing a military dictatorship.

Augusto Pinochet (circa 1994)

Quotes edit

1970s edit

  • The armed forces have acted today solely from the patriotic inspiration of saving the country from the tremendous chaos into which it was being plunged by the Marxist government of Salvador Allende.… The Junta will maintain judicial power and consultantship of the Comptroller. The Chambers will remain in recess until further orders. That is all.
  • The country is safe, because we have a good intelligence service.
    • Speech (September 1974), quoted in La Nación (2006-12-11) "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet" (The Immortal Sayings of Pinochet) [1]
  • I am going to die. The person who succeeds me also would die. But elections, you won't have.
    • Speech (17 June 1975), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."

1980s edit

  • Not a single leaf moves in this country if I'm not the one moving it. I want that to be clear!
    • Speech (October 1981), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet." This expression is not original to Pinochet; it is also attributed to Inca Atahualpa in 1531. See Las Casas, Destruction of the Indies.
  • I devalued the peso solely looking after the poor.
    • Speech (29 June 1982), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • This is not a dictadura [dictatorship/hard rule] but a dictablanda [soft rule].
    • Speech (September 1983), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet." The Spanish word dura means tough, while blanda means soft.
  • I have a sour face. Maybe that's why they say I'm a dictator.
    • Speech (24 April 1986), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • My library is filled with UN condemnations.
    • Speech (26 December 1986), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • The nation is trying to make Chile a country of proprietors, not of proletarians.
    • Speech (24 April 1987), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • I'm looking at them from above, because God put me there.
    • Speech (July 1987), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • We practically wiped this nation clean of Marxists.
    • Speech (February 23, 1988), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • The rich people are those who create wealth, and you have to treat them well so they continue to give wealth.
    • Speech (26 May 1988), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • Don't forget that in the history of the world, there was a plebiscite, in which Christ and Barabbas were being judged, and the people chose Barabbas.
    • Speech (25 October 1988), commenting on his defeat in a plebiscite to return to democracy. Quoted in Pamela Constable et al. (1991) A Nation of Enemies

1990s edit

  • How very economical! (¡Pero que economía más grande!)
    • Remark to reporters (September 1991) when asked about the burial of 125 political opponents in 108 graves. Quoted in Chile Under Pinochet (2000) by Mark Ensalaco
  • To whom are we going to ask to be forgiven? To the one who tried to kill us? To the one who tried to destroy our country? To whom? They are the ones who must ask to be forgiven for everything they did before September 11.
    • Comments at Mass (11 September 1994), quoted in Calvin Sims (1994-10-06) "Villain or Hero? Pinochet Is Still Viewed as Both in Chile" New York Times
  • The only solution to the issue of human rights is oblivion.
    • Speech (21 September 1995), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
  • Had I been a dictator, I would still be governing.
    • Speech (December 31, 1995), quoted in "Las frases para el bronce de Pinochet."
We practically wiped this nation clean of Marxists.
  • Tell my friends to get me out of here.
    • October 27, 1998, nine days after being arrested in London, quoted in Heraldo Muñoz (2008) The Dictator's Shadow
  • The freedoms which had been so hard won from colonial domination were being crushed by Soviet-inspired and funded military and political forces. Their clear intention was to deprive the people of their democratic freedoms. As history shows, this is what had happened in the Soviet Union and in Cuba, and continues to be the case in other parts of the world.
    • Statement (8 November 1998)
  • I have lived with my conscience and my own memories for over quarter of a century since the events of 1973.… These are not easy reflections for me. But I am at peace with myself, and with the Chilean people, about what happened. I am clear in my mind that the return to Chile of true democracy, and from that the true freedom to which all individual people are entitled, could not have been achieved without the removal of the Marxist government.
    • Statement (8 November 1998)
  • I was only an aspiring dictator. I was never a real dictator.
    • November 1998, during detention in London[2]

2000s edit

  • Is it true what Contreras testified before the courts, that the president of the junta and later the president of the Republic was the direct head of DINA?
    I don't remember, but it is not true. It is not true and if it was, I don't remember. Contreras liked to cajole, wrap around his boss. Contreras gave the orders. It was he who managed the institution.
    • Exchange between Judge Victor Montiglio and Pinochet (November 16, 2005), quoted in Heraldo Muñoz (2008) The Dictator's Shadow
  • Today, near the end of my days, I want to say that I harbor no rancor against anybody, that I love my fatherland above all and that I take political responsibility for everything that was done which had no other goal than making Chile greater and avoiding its disintegration.… I assume full political responsibility for what happened.

Attributed edit

  • Power must be vested in the armed forces, since only they have the organization and the means to fight Marxism.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 187

Quotes about Pinochet edit

  • I think Pinochet has been proven to be an evil dictator in the eyes of most people in the world, and most people see Allende as a dreamer and even as a visionary.
  • We always think that a powerful dictator is larger than life, but he died of a cold, a very common thing. All of sudden, his authority diminished, like the Witch in the “Wizard of Oz.” It sort of trivializes his power.
  • The political future of Chile is a democracy, without a doubt. Pinochet is not eternal; immortality is going to fail him at any moment.
    • Isabel Allende, Interviews with Latin American writers by Marie Lise Gazarian Gautier (1989)
  • I think the Pinochet trial has forced us look one another in the face … to speak to one another, to understand the past and understand that time is not going to solve the problem. In a way it has been a victory for the dead of Chile.
  • Augusto Pinochet saved Chile from Communism and set it on the path to economic success. He also ran a regime that killed thousands. Pinochet replaced a threatened Communist dictatorship with a real military one, bringing material prosperity while violently suppressing freedom. He reluctantly laid the foundation for democracy and surrendered power. Thereafter, he faced incessant legal problems.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2,500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption (2006), p. 188
  • I have certainly never contended that generally authoritarian governments are more likely to secure individual liberty than democratic ones, but rather the contrary. This does not mean, however, that in some historical circumstances personal liberty may not have been better protected under an authoritarian than democratic government. [...] More recently I have not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende. Nor have I heard any sensible person claim that in the principalities of Monaco or Lichtenstein, which I am told are not precisely democratic, personal liberty is smaller than anywhere else!
  • Fortunately, there have been those whose conscience and consciousness enabled them to see things differently.  They correctly perceived Pinochet and DINA officials to be the terrorists—state terrorists.  They correctly recognized the right of people to peacefully resist a military regime, especially an anti-democratic regime that has gained power through the violent ouster of a democratically elected regime.  Nothing—not even “free-enterprise, Chicago-boys” economic policies—can excuse that sort of state-sponsored thuggery.

    That’s why people in the libertarian section of the political spectrum, unlike those in the conservative section, have long supported the criminal indictment of Pinochet and his DINA minions—because terror in the name of fighting terror is a grave criminal offense against humanity no matter what economic philosophy the state terrorist happens to hold.

  • The exercise of justice is only possible within the framework of established institutions which command respect. To command respect it is not sufficient to make just pronouncements: it is necessary also to have the power to put them into practice... A general acquiescence towards the established order is required for the exercise of this power, and hence for the just dealings which the citizen expects from it. In return for this expectation of justice, the state expects the allegiance of its citizens; they are constrained in conscience to sanction the most violent and even "unnatural" methods in the suppression of rebellion, provided the aim is as rapid a return as possible to the condition where just dealings become the norm. This is surely what should be said in defence of those, like Chile's General Pinochet, who have had to make the choice between violently establishing an order in which natural justice has a chance, and acquiescing in the ongoing violence and degradation of a society devoted to "social justice". Only those who have no experience of communism will be without sympathy for the General in this dilemma – which is not to say that he ever experienced it as one.
    • Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism: Third Edition (2001), p. 85

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