The Truth About Augusto Pinochet’s Corpse

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet came to power after he led an overthrow of the administration of democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973. According to NBC News, he then proceeded to run a vicious regime of terror and violence against any opponents to his right-wing agenda. He had a bit of help from the U.S. government, which justified the action by concluding that thousands of dead and disappeared liberals were better than Communism finding a foothold in Latin America.

Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship lasted 17 years until a plebiscite finally booted him out of the country’s top office in 1990, though he was allowed to remain the head of the military. He spent the last leg of his life as a senescent, inconsequential political figure who had racked up quite a bit of bad reputation across the globe for the cruel tactics like torture, murder, disappearances, and forced exiles he employed to maintain his grip on power. As History.com notes, he was arrested in London in 1998 at the request of Spain, which had issued an extradition order for Pinochet on charges of crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, the murderous tyrant died of a heart attack on December 10, 2006, before he could be brought to justice.

Augusto Pinochet did not receive a hero's burial

Spatial and temporal distance from Pinochet’s terrible regime gives one the impression that by the time of his death, such a man would have been universally reviled for the heartless things he had done to his own country. However, people are strange and inexplicable, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that there were those who actually mourned the death of such a poor excuse for a human being. As SBS News reports, as many as 7,000 friends, family, and supporters of Pinochet attended his funeral, which was held at the Santiago Military School.

But that ceremony was not an official state funeral. Then President Michelle Bachelet refused to honor the despot with the pomp and circumstance of an official funeral by the state that he had terrorized. And she had good reason, too. She lost her father to the regime. He was tortured and ended up dying in jail. While they survived Pinochet, both Bachelet and her mother were tortured during his reign. NBC News reports that the dictator’s family believed that history will redeem their murderous patriarch, but others think history will be shrewd enough to recognize the vicious autocrat for what he really was. The renowned Chilean novelist — and niece of the president Pinochet deposed — Isabell Allende said that he “will go down in history alongside Caligula and Idi Amin as a byword for brutality and ignorance.”

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