||Year End 2006|
Interview: The Terminator
Industrial: Vive La Resistance
Unions: Breaking News
History: Seven Deadly Sins
Economics: Back to the Future
Politics: Organising and Organisations
International: Web Retrospective
Review: Shock Therapy
All the Best
Gone But Not Forgotten
On December 10 dictator and thug, Augusto Pinochet, died in his home town of Valpraiso, aged 91.
That Pinochet lived so long, in luxury, after a rule that was brutal, even by Latin American standards of the day, was little surprise.
After all, the Chilean strongman was "our" murderer, torturer and terrorist, not "theirs".
Pinochet came to power in Santiago after elected president Salvador Allende, was murdered in a CIA-sponsored coup on September 11, 1973.
His military junta ruled the country, traditionally one of South America's most liberal with a long parliamentary tradition, for 17 years.
Under his regime, trade unions were closed down, political parties banned and opponents were tortured and killed at purpose-built facilities.
Even Catholic nuns were fair game for Pinochet's henchmen.
Chile's current president, Michelle Bachelet, was one of many women tortured in his prisons. Her father, Alberto, died in another.
Football stadiums and naval ships were transformed into detention centres and torture chamers.
Evidence suggests that, in an effort to cover their crimes, Pinochet's men would fly the bodies of their victims well off the coast, by military helicopter, and drop them in the ocean.
These people became known as the "disappeared" because their families never learned of their fates.
As Pinochet grew more bold, he took the campaign offshore, blowing up former Allende supporters in foreign cities, including Washington DC.
Official investigations put the number of murdered opponents at more than 3000, with many more tortured.
Pinochet had the support of powerful backers, including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
They liked his hard right economic agenda that transferred wealth from the people to big business.
Pinochet was the world's first leader to embrace the Chicago school of economics that now holds sway in much of the west.
Without any opposition to take the hard edges off the dogma he went for broke and so did Chile. After a decade of no-holds-barred economic rationalism, industry was decimated and official unemployment topped 30 percent.
When then US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, met Pinochet in 1976, according to documents released 13 years later, he told the despot to ignore his critics.
"We wish your government well," the State Department papers record him as saying.
Going even further, Baroness Thatcher publicly thanked the General "for bringing democracy to Chile".
But Pinochet's economic experiments weren't confined to the macro sphere. A 2005 US Senate investigation revealed he had opened and closed more than 120 personal accounts at nine separate US banks, through which $US28 million had passed.
The dictator expired with more than 300 criminal cases pending against him, including one for multiple murders and torture at the notorious Villa Grimaldi.
And, if that were that, it would turn the page on another bleak chapter in human history. But it's not.
As Pinochet breathed his last, on International Human Rights Day, 2006, reports indicated the War on Terror had given state-sponsored torture a new lease on life.
One came in the form of video footage released by lawyers for Jose Padilla, a US citizen being held, without trial, on suspicion of terrorism.
Padilla has spent three years under a regime of total sensory deprivation. He has been kept in a blacked out cell, unable to see or hear anything beyond its confines.
According to a forensic psychiatrist who examined him, it has cost him his mind.
Video footage showed him visiting the prison dentist, blindfolded by blackout goggles, and hearing shut off by headphones.
Meanwhile, the US-based Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project, has documented more than 400 cases of torture or killings at military prisons in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq.
The New York Times and Washington Post both report torture at Bagram Airbase, where sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual assault, black hoods and spray painted googles are listed among the tools of preference.
And a British monitoring group, Cageprisoners, claims that 14,000 people, of many nationalities, have been 'disappeared' into hell holes across the globe since the US tasted its own September 11.
They enter a world where the rules do not apply.
Augusto Pinochet is gone but the world can't afford to forget him while his spirit is being honoured - in our names.
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