Augusto Pinochet

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Augusto Pinochet Ugarte
Augusto Pinochet President of Chile.jpg
Presidential Standard of Chile.png
President of Chile

From: December 17, 1974 – March 11, 1990
Predecessor Salvador Allende
Successor Patricio Aylwin
President of the Government Junta of Chile
From: September 11, 1973 – March 11, 1981
Predecessor Position established
Successor José Toribio Merino
Senator-for-life of Chile
From: 11 March 1998 – 4 July 2002
Predecessor Position established
Successor Position disbanded
Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army
From: 23 August 1973 – 11 March 1998
Predecessor Carlos Prats
Successor Ricardo Izurieta
Spouse(s) Lucía Hiriart
Religion Catholic
Military Service
Allegiance Flag of Chile.png Chile
Service/branch Coat of arms of Chile.png Chilean Army
Service Years 1931–1998 (67 years)
Rank Captain General
  • "Chacabuco" Regiment
  • "Maipo" Regiment
  • "Carampangue" Regiment
  • "Rancagua" Regiment
  • 1st Army Division
  • "Esmeralda" Regiment
  • 2nd Army Division
  • 6th Army Division
  • Santiago Army Garrison
  • Chilean Army

General and President Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (b. Valparaíso, on November 25, 1915–d. Santiago, on December 10, 2006) was a Chilean general who became Chile's head of state (or leader) from September 11, 1973 to March 11, 1990 (President from 1974 to 1990). He came to power as a member of a council of military leaders after the overthrow of the communist government of President Salvador Allende. Pinochet restored the free market, traditional Western values, and prosperity to Chile after tyranny under communism. Leftists hated Pinochet for his conservative policies, to the point of wrongly imprisoning him in England on political charges long after Pinochet had relinquished power. He was ultimately released.[1]

A polling expert, Marta Lagos, observed in 2023 while thousands of migrants seek prosperity and freedom in Chile rather than its Marxist South American neighbors:

“Pinochet, I believe, is the only dictator in Western contemporary history, during this century and the last century, who, 50 years after his coup, is still appreciated by 30 or 40% of a country’s population.[2]

The Military Government managed to break the communists, who were heavily armed and trying to start a civil war; rebuilt an economy destroyed by the previous regime; Pinochet's administration grew the middle class until it became the majority of the country, and eradicated extreme poverty; built a health care system that was affordable, efficient, and available to all; created a private retirement pension account system that gave people free choice while at the same time amassing a huge pool of capital that could be invested in the growth of the country; expunged corruption at all levels, most especially among the oligarchs, whom the government broke on in 1980–82; and created a legal and constitutional framework that has given Chile peace, order and prosperity since.[3][4][5]

As the historian Sebastián Hurtado summarizes it "The United States (CIA) had no direct participation in the coup (itself), neither in its planning nor in its coordination, and I would dare to say that not even in its incitement [...] but it did want Allende to fall (and did actions to promote that with no relation with the successful coup itself)."[6]


He was the first-born of six siblings, so his parents raised him in a strict environment of discipline. Despite the rigorous education he received, he only managed to enter the Military School after two unsuccessful attempts, which, however, did not prevent him from becoming Commander in Chief of the institution in 1973 and leading one of the most important episodes in Chilean history. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was born on November 25, 1915, in the Almendral neighborhood of Valparaíso. Son of Augusto Pinochet Vera and Avelina Ugarte Martínez, at the age of four he entered a nursery school near his home and then attended the Sara Vives School, where he studied for two years. When he was eight years old, he boarded at the San Rafael Seminary, where he excelled in history and religion. Later, Pinochet attended the Marist Brothers Institute in Quillota and then the Padres Franceses School in Valparaíso.

Military vocation

Augusto Pinochet in 1971.

In 1933 he entered the Military School, graduating four years later with the rank of Infantry Ensign. He was immediately assigned to the school of that weapon located in the city of San Bernardo. After a few months, in September 1937, he was assigned to the "Chacabuco" Regiment in Concepción.

In 1939 and with the rank of second lieutenant, Augusto Pinochet was transferred to the "Maipo" Regiment garrisoned in Valparaiso, returning in 1940 to the Infantry School. The following year, together with his promotion to lieutenant, he was assigned to the Military School.

During a hectic military life, on January 30, 1943, he married Lucía Hiriart Rodríguez in the Sagrados Corazones Church in Santiago. They had five children: Inés Lucía, Augusto Osvaldo, María Verónica, Marco Antonio and Jacqueline Marie.

At the end of 1945 he was assigned to the "Carampangue" Regiment in Iquique, and in 1948 he entered the War Academy, where he had to postpone his studies because, despite being the youngest officer, he was assigned to a service commission in the coal zone in Lota.

The following year, Pinochet returned to his studies at the academy. After obtaining the title of Staff Officer, in 1951 he transferred to the Military School, where he was appointed commandant of the sixth years and professor of the Military Course. At the same time, he taught as an assistant professor at the War Academy in the subjects of Military Geography and Geopolitics. At the same time, he worked as director of the institutional magazine "Cien Águilas" (Hundred Eagles), an organ of diffusion of the officers' headquarters.

At the beginning of 1953, with the rank of major, he was assigned for two years to the "Rancagua" Regiment in Africa. Subsequently, he was appointed professor at the War Academy and returned to Santiago to resume his teaching work. He later furthered his studies and obtained his bachelor's degree, with which he entered the Law School of the University of Chile.

At the beginning of 1956, he was selected together with a group of officers to form a Military Mission that collaborated with the organization of the Ecuadorian War Academy in Quito, which forced him to suspend his law studies. He remained in that mission for three and a half years, a period in which, along with teaching, he continued his studies in geopolitics, Military Geography and Intelligence Service. At the end of 1959, he returned to Chile and was assigned to the Headquarters of the I Army Division in Antofagasta. The following year he was appointed Commander of the "Esmeralda" Regiment, glorious 7th Line. His command was rewarded with his appointment, in 1963, as deputy director of the War Academy.

In 1968 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the II Army Division in Santiago and, at the end of that year, he was promoted to Brigadier General, when he was appointed Commander in Chief of the VI Division, garrisoned in Iquique. In his new functions, he was appointed Intendant (s) of Tarapacá, a position in which he tried to put an end to a strike at the Escuela Industrial Superior de Iquique, whose students had taken over the establishment's premises.[7]

General Pinochet was a graduate of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Salvador Allende Socialist Regime (The Dark 1000 Days of Chile)

Main article: Salvador Allende
Military intervention, La Moneda Presidential Palace, 11th of September 1973.

United States intelligence reports implicated the Marxist Allende in the assassination of several opponents,[8] while KGB files smuggled out of Russia by Vasily Mitrokhin indicate that Allende received funds from the Soviet Union.[9] Allende was formally condemned by Chile's parliament for systematically destroying democracy in Chile.[10] The Chilean Chamber of Deputies Resolution of August 22, 1973, accused Allende of support of armed groups, torture, illegal arrests, muzzling the press, confiscating private property, and not allowing people to leave the country. In the infamous "Cuban Packages Scandal" that precipitated the coup, large quantities of weapons were sent from Castro's Cuba to arm pro-Allende terrorists in Chile.[11] Kissinger privately told Nixon that Allende might declare martial law.[12]

By 1973, as a result of covert U.S. aid to Chilean dissidents and financing of pro-democracy protesters, US intelligence indicated Allende would likely lose the next Chilean election if it was held.[13] According to The Wall Street Journal, faced with illegal seizures of farms and factories, defiance of judicial orders, unchecked street violence and death threats against the judges themselves, the Supreme Court warned on May 26, 1973, in a unanimous and unprecedented message, that Chile faced "a peremptory or imminent breakdown of legality."[14] Volodia Teitelboim, the chief ideologue of the Communist Party in Chile, declared that if civil war came, "it probably would signify immense loss of human lives, between half a million and one million."[15]

In January 1971 Pinochet was promoted to Major General and appointed General Commander of the Santiago Army Garrison. Subsequently, at the beginning of 1972, he was appointed Chief of the Army General Staff. Within a convulsed internal political situation, on August 23, 1973, Pinochet was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army, following the removal of General Carlos Prats González.

His appointment came one day after the Chamber of Deputies accused the Executive of breaking the Constitution and falling into illegality, demanding the military members of the cabinet to withdraw from the Popular Unity government and urging the Armed Forces to put an end to the permanent violations of the Constitution.

The chaotic situation of the country, the total paralysis of its activities, the daily armed confrontations and the civil war that threatened the nation provoked the military pronunciation (commonly called military coup, however wasn't a coup because it came from the institutions to restore them).

On September 11, 1973 La Moneda Palace was bombed and Salvador Allende committed suicide, after he rejected the offers made to him to leave the country and surrender. The control of the government passed into the hands of a Military Junta headed by Pinochet, who thus became the ruler whose stay in power is the longest in the republican history of the country, followed only by Presidents Joaquín Prieto, Manuel Bulnes, Manuel Montt and Joaquín Pérez, whose terms lasted a decade each.

Military Government

Main article: Augusto Pinochet regime (Chile, 1973–90)
The Government Junta of Chile.
The Junta in 1973.
Pinochet in 1974.
President Pinochet and his wife Lucía Hiriart.
Pinochet in a photo for the 'Sí' Campaign in 1988.

As President of the Military Junta between 1973 and 1981 and as President of the Republic between 1981 and 1990, Augusto Pinochet carried out a series of visits to different cities and towns in Chile, mainly inaugurating numerous development works such as schools, high schools, health clinics, hospitals, housing, bridges and roads, sports centers and CEMA Chile headquarters, attended the inauguration of different private companies and met with the presidents of Bolivia and Argentina seeking a peaceful solution to the border problems. The Military Government Junta carried out a series of reforms as a legislative body. Two major world recessions damaged the economic activity that was beginning to recover.

General Pinochet headed a military government for 17 years (1973-1990) which suppressed communist revolutionaries in Chile. In Pinochet's military government, the Ortúzar Commission (integrated by Jaime Guzmán as well as other experts) drafted a new Constitution (1980), which was approved in a referendum with 67% of the vote. The text established a gradual and legal path for the return to full democracy and introduced a new binomial electoral system that was also made by Guzmán. The constitution introduced an amnesty law for all military officials, and Pinochet granted himself the title of senator for life (Senador vitalicio) that would be enacted once Pinochet left the charge of Commander in Chief of the Chilean Armed Forces.

General Pinochet instituted free-market reforms in Chile in the 1970s that resulted in lower inflation and an economic boom. During this period, he held a plebiscite on his rule and 75% of the people affirmed their support for his emergency government.

During his time in power, including the 1973 coup, at least 1,200 people were killed or vanished in the military crackdown on Left Wing Terrorism in Chile. The most common estimate is that 3,000 were killed but that number comes from the questionable Rettig Report.[16] Of the confirmed 2,774 Marxist guerrillas and left-wing radicals killed or missing in the 17 years of the Chilean military government, 1,522 died or disappeared between 11 September and 31 December 1973.[17] In addition, over a quarter million Chileans were arrested. Universities were purged of terrorist sympathizers, Marxist books were burned, and rival political parties banned. Thousands of members of the Socialist Party of Chile and the Communist Party of Chile fled the country out of fear of the secret police, which allegedly tortured citizens.[18]

A new Constitution of the Republic was promulgated in Chile in 1980, which authorized General Pinochet to serve as president for another eight-year term, to be followed by a plebiscite on his presidency.

Pinochet allowed the Chicago Boys to move Chile into a market economy, privatizing many inefficient government businesses, and opening the country to foreign investment. The stability that his government gave encouraged foreign investors to come to Chile. His minister, José Piñera, started one of the first Individual capitalization pension systems in the world, which has been highly successful. Hernán Büchi was responsible for reintroducing economic liberal policies at the end of the government.

President Augusto Pinochet in La Moneda Palace.

Between 1977 and 1978 Pinochet had to put up with Argentina's tough stance on the dispute over the Beagle Channel islands, which almost caused a war. Augusto Pinochet reinforced the southern zone preparing the Armed Forces for a possible war, but it would not be the Chileans who would start a war. The interest of Pope John Paul II in the conflict made the presidents of Chile and Argentina accept the mediation of the Vatican. In 1982 during the Falklands War, Chile helped the United Kingdom since Argentina was a real threat for the country, and if they won the war they were going to attack Chile after. Margaret Thatcher thanked the Chilean support when Pinochet was captured in London in 1999.[19] On May 2, 1985, the Foreign Ministers of Chile and Argentina signed the Peace Treaty before Pope John Paul II. That same day, President Pinochet announced the importance of the signing of this border treaty to the country on national radio and television. In April 1987 Pope John Paul II visited Chile.

Chile was blocked on the international weapon market, however the country bought weapons from Israel, Spain, Rhodesia,[20] and South Africa[21][22] as well as making their own mainly in FAMAE and made by Carlos Cardoen. Chile sold weapons produced by Carlos Cardoen to Saddam Hussein from Irak[23][24] and supposedly to China.

China was one of the few in the socialist orbit that did not break diplomatic relations with Pinochet's military junta. The Asian country granted a credit of 62 million dollars to the Chilean military government presided by General Augusto Pinochet in 1977.[25]

Chile's Take off thanks to Pinochet economic reforms.

The US adopted sanctions to Chilean Fruit exports for 'human right abusses' and pressured Chile to introduce a series of economic reforms, a process that escalated sharply in the eighties. This led to a period of rapid economic expansion and development without precedent in Latin America, in which growth averaged 7% annually, that came to be known as the "miracle of Chile" (it also included the region's greatest reductions in infant mortality[26]). In turn, this allowed Chile to make a long-term transition to sustainable democratic rule that would likely have been otherwise inconceivable.[27]

Augusto Pinochet in 1986

On September 7, 1986, President Augusto Pinochet suffered a terrorist attack perpetrated by the Patriotic Front Manuel Rodriguez (FPMR) in the Achupallas sector, Cajón del Maipo, when the motorcade in which he was traveling from his resting residence was attacked with rockets and machine guns. Pinochet suffered minor injuries to his left hand, but five of his escorts were killed. The attack used weapons from the war arsenal found in the Atacama Region on August 15, 1986, in a cove located in Carrizal Bajo, south of Copiapó, weapons sent by Fidel Castro.

The head of the attack on Pinochet, was César Bunster, and the communist military chief who has publicly confessed to having been the mastermind of that attack, was Guillermo Teillier, both have never been prosecuted because the courts have held that prescription does operate for them.[28]

President Augusto Pinochet with Pope John Paul II visiting Chile in 1987.

The men who were killed were: - Army Corporal 1st Corporal Miguel Angel Guerrero Guzmán. - Army Corporal 1st Corporal Cardenio Hernández Cubillos. - Carabineros 2nd Corporal Pablo Antonio Silva Pizarro. - Army Corporal 1st Corporal Gerardo Rebolledo Cisternas. - 2nd Corporal of the Army Roberto Rosales Martínez.

The Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) was built between 1976 and 1989 and connects several rural towns in the far south of Chile that previously didn't have direct transportation, it is 1240 km long, starting in Puerto Montt and ending in Villa O'Higgins. Today the highway is a touristic destination of Chile because of the beauty of the landscape. This huge and important geopolitical megaproject was built by military personnel, and many died because of the rough climate.

and No logos of the 1988 Chilean national plebiscite.

Pinochet's firm decision to hand over the presidential command was not broken either by his own will or by the terrorist actions that since 1983 had been accentuated, causing deaths and serious damage to public and private property. President Pinochet was nominated by the Military Government Junta as a candidate to continue as President of Chile for another few years, and a plebiscite was called for the people to accept or reject such nomination. On October 5, 1988, Pinochet was defeated in the vote to decide the continuity of his government. On that occasion, the "Yes" option obtained 44.01% and the "No" 55.99%, so the President had to call elections for the following year.

The "No" Campaign and the Concertación were supported by George Soros[29][30] and the organization "National Endowment for Democracy" originated from the U.S. Congress resolution H.R. 2915, helped the center-left with propaganda on television, newspapers, radio and magazines.

The NED financed numerous leftist entities like trade unions, academic and journalistic organizations. Pinochet knew this and described it as "an act of intervention that cannot be viewed with pleasure by the majority of Chileans, including broad sectors of the opposition".[31]

The subsequent free presidential elections were won by the Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin with 55.2% of the vote, to whom Pinochet handed over the presidency on March 11, 1990. Nevertheless, Pinochet remained at the head of the Army until 1998.

Concertación governments

Augusto Pinochet giving the Presidency to Patricio Aylwin, March 11, 1990.
Pinochet in 1995 as Commander in Chief.

As the highest authority of the military branch, the former general complied with the presidential hierarchy. However, during Patricio Aylwin's term of office, the Army expressed its dissatisfaction on two key occasions.

A judicial case known by Leftists as "Pinocheques" was an investigation of Augusto Pinochet Hiriart, son of General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, for receiving payment of 971 million pesos (three million dollars) from the Army, following the sale of the armaments factory "Valmoval" which was part of the Army. But a Chamber of Deputes investigative commission examined every detail of that sale and concluded that the transaction had been convenient for the Army. The involvement of a relative so close to the Commander-in-Chief, was a lack of delicacy, but there was no evidence of malice or fiscal damage.[32][33]

The "liaison exercise" (ejercicios de enlace) happened in December 1990, treated as a routine military maneuver, was actually an expression of the Army's rejection of the possible request for Pinochet's resignation by the Minister of Defense, Patricio Rojas. This possible request would have been motivated by the judicial investigations of officers and by attacks by parliamentarians on the Commander-in-Chief and the military institution.

On May 28, 1993, the headline "Pinochet's son's checks case reopened" appeared on "La Nación" Newspaper. After the press release, the building of the Armed Forces - a few steps away from La Moneda - was surrounded by soldiers with war uniforms, painted faces and black berets, this is known as the "boinazo". There was no evidence of malice or fiscal damage in the case.[34][35]

The "boinazo" consisted of a reinforcement of the guard of the Armed Forces building by a special group of commandos, carried out during a meeting of the Corps of Generals that lasted eight hours. The cause was similar to that of the previous episode. Given the lack of communication between the Executive and the Army, they sought to avoid what the military branch considered to be a campaign against them.

Pinochet embarked the Army on a modernization process known as the "Alcazar Plan," which was governed by the concept of "consolidating a professional, technified, flexible and powerful Army."

The innovations contemplated in the program ranged from modifications to the uniform to the renewal of military equipment. Likewise, the uniformed officers began to open up to the civilian world, entering universities and some attaining master's or doctorate degrees in various areas, ranging from administration to international relations, including political science.

On March 10, 1998, Augusto Pinochet handed over military command to General Ricardo Izurieta Caffarena, appointed by then President of the Republic Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle.

The choice of the replacement caused surprise, since Izurieta was selected from a list of names in which he was in last place. In spite of the turbulent succession of the position -especially due to the presidential veto to the promotion of Brigadier Jaime Lepe, a close collaborator of Pinochet-, all sectors approved Izurieta's appointment and the generational change it implied.

On March 6, 1998, the Chilean Army decorated Pinochet with the rank of "Comandante en Jefe Benemérito", an honorary title that reflects the loyalty of the Army to the man who headed this military institution for almost 25 years.

In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, on March 11, 1998, Pinochet was sworn in as senator for life in the National Congress.

Detention in London

Pinochet and his wife with Margaret Thatcher.

In 1998, the leftists who had long hated Pinochet arranged for his arrest while he was in London receiving medical treatment. An unprecedented arrest warrant was issued in Spain by judge Baltasar Garzón for alleged human rights violations with the charges of "genocide, terrorism and torture" that is accused of being responsible during his government. Margaret Thatcher was a vocal supporter of Pinochet during the arrest. The stunt failed, and Pinochet was subsequently returned to Chile due to his ill health after a year and five months of detention in England. He returned to his country on March 3, 2000. Upon his return, he had to face numerous lawsuits filed against him in the courts. On June 5, the Court of Appeals decided -by 13 votes to nine- to strip the senator for life of his immunity, a measure that was ratified by the Supreme Court by 14 votes to six. He was later indicted and charged with 'kidnapping' 19 supporters of Salvador Allende (Left Wing Terrorists) during the 1973 coup in which Pinochet took power. The Chilean Supreme Court suspended the prosecution in July 2002, again due to Pinochet's continuing poor health.[7][1]

Trials, persecution and revenge against him

See also: Augusto Pinochet regime (Chile, 1973–90)#Smear campaign against the Military Government
Augusto Pinochet in civilian outfit.

On January 29, 2001, Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia put him on trial "as the author of the crimes of kidnapping and aggravated homicide" in the "Caravan of Death" case, after medical examinations proved that his state of health allowed him to face justice. On March 8 of the same year, by two votes to one, the Santiago Court of Appeals confirmed Judge Guzmán's decision but changed the classification of the crime from "perpetrator" to "accessory after the fact". Hypertension and dental problems, as well as his diabetes, led him to remain hospitalized in the Military Hospital on several occasions and influenced Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia not to order his affiliation, a legal procedure that is carried out for those who are declared prisoners. Subsequently, on July 9, 2001, by two votes to one, the Sixth Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Santiago, formed by Justices Amanda Valdovinos, Cornelio Villaroel and Hugo Dolmetsch, decided to dismiss temporarily Augusto Pinochet for health reasons.

However, the process against the senator for life ended definitively on July 1, 2002, when the Second Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court decided to dismiss him definitively, considering that the vascular dementia he was suffering from was irreversible. Three days later, Augusto Pinochet resigned as senator for life, thus making his definitive retirement from political life official. Pinochet justified his resignation on the grounds of "insurmountable health problems and the relentless passage of time" and because "it would not be consistent with my conduct and my ideals if I were to maintain the dignity (of senator for life), unable to do so as I am...". The former general began to make his decision hours after the highest court put an end to the process against him. Subsequently, he summoned the Cardinal Archbishop of Santiago, Francisco Javier Errázuriz, to his residence, in whose presence he signed his letter of resignation. The cardinal then went to the Senate in Santiago to deliver the document to the president of the Senate, Andrés Zaldívar. With the letter in hand, Zaldívar summoned the heads of the Senate committees, who resolved to make it public four days later in a floor session that was marked by more than half an hour of confrontations between detractors and supporters of the former senator for life, and which culminated in the eviction of the room and fights outside the Congress.

After his resignation, Pinochet stayed for ten days in Iquique. Subsequently, he returned to Santiago on the recommendation of his doctors, according to whom the former senator for life should no longer be exposed to strong emotions derived from the tributes received in the capital of the Tarapacá Region. In the following months, the former general was seen sporadically in different areas of the country, especially in the Valparaíso Region, and on November 25 he celebrated his 87th birthday at the Los Boldos estate with a luncheon attended by 150 guests including family, friends and former collaborators. In March 2003, Pinochet underwent an operation to change the battery of his pacemaker and a month later he had to be hospitalized again in the Military Hospital due to a blow to his ribs caused by a fall in the bathroom of his house. In May of the same year, the former president attended a cocktail party offered on the occasion of the launching of a car distributor in Santiago and in August he accompanied the independent senator pro UDI Marco Cariola at the funeral of his son. Three months later, while he was in his apartment in Reñaca Alto, Valparaíso Region, Pinochet suffered a fall in the bathroom which caused him to fracture his left wrist. The former military officer was rushed to the "Almirante Neff" Naval Hospital and then transferred to the capital, where he remained hospitalized for a couple of days.

A day before his 88th birthday, Latin television in Miami broadcast an exclusive interview with the General (r). In it Pinochet affirmed that he did not have to ask for forgiveness, that he did not murder anyone, that "justice was not fair with me" and that he would do everything he did again. On the judicial level, 2003 was a relatively quiet year, marked only by the filing of some lawsuits against him and ending with a new dismissal, this time in the so-called "Calle Conferencia" case.

The hoax about the General's money accounts

On May 28, 2004, the Court of Appeals approved the dismissal of the former military officer in the "Operation Cóndor" case, a decision that was ratified by the Supreme Court three months later. Likewise, the existence of millionaire accounts in the name of Augusto Pinochet in the Riggs Bank in the United States, an entity strongly questioned for irregularities and money laundering, was made public. In view of the uncertainty about the origin of the funds, Judge Sergio Muñoz took charge of the investigation as a jurisdictional minister. Both Pinochet and his family members were questioned, while the Internal Revenue Service filed a complaint against him for possible "maliciously incomplete or false" declarations and his assets were seized.

At the same time, the retired soldier underwent new medical examinations, which confirmed that he suffered from moderate subcortical dementia. However, the diagnosis did not prevent Minister Juan Guzmán from putting him on trial as the author of nine aggravated kidnappings and one aggravated homicide in the "Operation Cóndor" case.

Days before, Pinochet had been disqualified for the third time for his alleged responsibility in the murder of former Army Commander-in-Chief Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofía Cuthbert, which took place in Buenos Aires in 1974. But that was not all. Almost at the end of the year, a serious vascular accident that caused him to lose consciousness forced him to be hospitalized in the Military Hospital, where he remained for some days. 2005 did not start off much better. On January 4, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal filed by his defense to annul his indictment, so the following day he was notified of his house arrest, which he served in his plot of land in Los Boldos, Valparaíso Region.

A couple of days later, his office located on Malaga Street, in the Las Condes district, was raided by order of Judge Sergio Muñoz, who seized two computers, a series of documents and a briefcase of the general (r), all within the framework of his investigation into the Riggs Bank accounts. In April, the court judge Alejandro Solís dismissed Pinochet in the case of the murder of former Army Commander-in-Chief Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofía Cuthbert, which occurred in Argentina in 1974. The following month, the former officer suffered a new health crisis and had to be transferred to the Military Hospital after suffering a fainting spell due to a decrease in blood flow.

On June 7, the full Court of Appeals decided to strip him of his immunity in the context of the investigation into the secret accounts at Riggs Bank. However, on the same day, the Fourth Chamber of the Court of Appeals revoked the indictment against him in the Operation Cóndor case. Two weeks later, Pinochet was again hospitalized in the Military Hospital after suffering two consecutive fainting spells while having breakfast at home. At the beginning of July, justice stripped him of his immunity for the fifth time in the framework of the so-called Operation Colombo. A month later, his wife and his son Marco Antonio were prosecuted as accomplices to tax fraud, being detained in the Military Hospital and in the Capuchinos Prison annex, respectively. In October, the Plenary of the Supreme Court confirmed his dismissal for four offenses investigated in the "Riggs" case and during November he was interrogated on several occasions by Ministers Carlos Cerda and Víctor Montiglio.

The latter ordered a confrontation between the retired military officer and former DINA director Manuel Contreras, which took place on the 18th of the same month at the Lo Curro Military Club. A few days later, Judge Cerda ordered his indictment and house arrest as the alleged perpetrator of four crimes in the context of the investigation into the secret accounts at Riggs Bank. Pinochet regained his freedom after paying a $6 million bail. Also in November, the former president was indicted and convicted by Minister Montiglio for his responsibility in the so-called "Operation Colombo" case. On December 28, Pinochet was remanded in custody at his home in La Dehesa. In January 2006, the Plenary of the Court of Appeals of Santiago decided to strip him of his immunity in the trial for kidnapping and torture in Villa Grimaldi. That same month, Judge Cerda indicted the entire Pinochet Hirart family for tax evasion, alteration and use of false passports. The wife and children of the former commander-in-chief of the Army quickly regained their freedom, except for his eldest daughter, Inés Lucía, who at the time of the notification was in Argentina. She then traveled to the United States where she stayed for only two days and then returned to Chile, where she was detained at the Gendarmerie School until her bail was paid.

In April, the Fifth Chamber of the Santiago Court of Appeals revoked two of the four crimes for which Pinochet was indicted in the "Riggs" case. In May, the general (r) is indicted for the aggravated kidnapping of Arturo Barría Araneda, a victim of the Operation Colombo case. Pinochet was detained, but regained his freedom in early June. A month later, the former ruler is stripped of his immunity in the Caravan of Death case. In July he is also interrogated by Minister Alejandro Solís about the crime of General Carlos Prats and his wife Sofía Cuthbert. On August 18, Pinochet was stripped of his immunity for the crime of embezzlement of public funds in the Riggs case. In September and October, the courts ordered two new disqualifications of the former ruler: for kidnapping and torture in Villa Grimaldi, and for illicit association and kidnapping in the Berríos case.[7]

Gold bullion hoax

At the end of October, the press published information about the detection of deposits of nine thousand kilos of gold in the name of Augusto Pinochet in the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking (HSBC). Finally, the institution confirmed that the documents were false and that the former military officer did not have any bank accounts in his name.[36][37] After this, Pinochet was again indicted, this time as the author of 35 kidnappings and 23 cases of torture in the Villa Grimaldi case, and for the murder of PC university professor Alejandro Avalos Davison. The retired military officer was detained at his home in La Dehesa. On November 8, the Court of Appeals decided to strip the former president of his immunity for his alleged responsibility in the kidnapping of Spanish priest Antonio Llidó.

HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) declared that the gold certificate, supposedly issued by him, was a fake. Yes, but who remedies the national and international damage to the general's image? When they were caught, the perpetrators of the hoax vanished, but not without cynicism. For even a German named Schell appeared, who declared that in his signature there was a deposit receipt from HSBC for the 9,620,000 kilos of gold or 9.62 metric tons, of 99.9% purity. And he gave the facsimile of his certificate, which was published in El Mercurio of 27.10.06, p. C 3. Despite being from a German firm, it was in English, but with a spelling mistake: instead of saying "safe deposit", which is something like "safe deposit box", it read "save deposit", a very rare error in a serious financial institution. And this supposed original HSBC certificate, a facsimile of which was also published, did not even have the name of the bank spelled correctly, calling it "Hong Kong Shanghai Corporation Bank" instead of "Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation". There is no bank with the former name. A crude and rudimentary fraud.

The whole thing collapsed like a house of cards. So much so that the commentator Patricio Navia, who although leaning towards the Concertación, lived for some time in the United States, where lying -unlike here- has consequences, wrote a column entitled "9,000 Kilos de Errores" (9,000 Kilos of Errors). In it, along with laughing at Foxley, who "dared to say that the information that had reached him deserved 'to be taken into account, seriously, in the courts'", he added:

"In addition, a notorious case of corruption in Chiledeportes had just been uncovered. The revelations about Pinochet's alleged gold seemed to fit the government like a glove: the biggest scandals make you forget the minor fuss."

A frustrated image assassination, with official complicity (or authorship?). All false. Who responds? Nobody. Who perpetrated it? No one.

His final days

Carretera Austral in Aysén Region, built during the Military Government and unofficially named after him by his supporters.

On November 25, 2006, Pinochet turned 91 years old and was seen in public for the last time. From the door of his La Dehesa residence and seated in a chair, the General (r) greeted the supporters who came to greet him on the occasion of his birthday. At the same time, his wife read a speech prepared by Pinochet himself. "Today, near the end of my days, I want to state that I bear no grudge against anyone, that I love my country above all, and that I assume political responsibility for everything I have done...", read one of the paragraphs read by Lucia Hiriart.

Two days later, the former ruler was re-arrested after being notified of his indictment for kidnapping and aggravated homicide in one of the aspects of the Caravan of Death case.

Free of guilt and convictions, he spent his final days in Santiago and Bucalemu.

Pinochet died of a heart attack on December 10, 2006.[38]


When Chileans see what communism is, when Chileans understand the lies, the fallacies, how they are being deceived!, they will realize that this government was right.[39]
If I were a politician, I would have given them the pill right now here (lie), as I am not a politician I speak frankly, that is the difference between the others and the speaker.[40]
I believe that no political event, since the birth of Chile to independent life, will have as much transcendence as September 11.
Human rights are a very wise invention of the Marxists.
Between securing the rights of some 10,000 disassociated persons or guaranteeing those of ten million, we had no hesitation.
At the origins of the Catholic religion were St. Peter and St. Paul. These two gentlemen quarreled for six years and almost came to blows. Now, if these holy men could not come to an agreement, calculate for us.
I'm the General of the poor.
We must take care of the rich so that they give more.
We are trying to make Chile a country of owners and not of proletarians.
One out of every ten Chileans will have a car, one out of every five will have a television and one out of every seven will have a telephone.
(The current German Army) has become a group of potheads, that is to say, long-haired, homosexuals and trade unionists.
Reflecting and meditating, I am good. I have no resentment, I have kindness.
Thank you, my Motherland, I have been your soldier and that makes me happy.
Ask for forgiveness? They should ask for it instead.
Near the end of my days, I want to state that I bear no grudge against anyone, that I love my country above all else, that I assume political responsibility for everything I have done.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hermógenes Pérez de Arce (1998). Europa vs. Pinochet, Indebido Proceso (in es). 
  3. Mario Spataro (2006). Pinochet: las "incómodas" verdades. 
  5. Telegram Statement about Pinochet. Telegram.
  6. Sebastián Hurtado, historiador: “Estados Unidos no tuvo participación directa en el Golpe, pero sí quería que Allende cayera” (es). La Tercera (August 26, 2023).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 BIOGRAFIA. Chile Pinochet Nuestro.
  10. “Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy,” Resolution of the Chamber of Deputies, Chile, August 22, 1973.
  16. BBC profile
  17. La verdad olvidada del terrorismo en Chile
  18. Augusto Pinochet Biography
  19. Thatcher visits her old friend Pinochet. The Guardian (March 26, 1999).
  20. Las armas que España vendió a Pinochet (es). El País (April 11, 1987).
  21. Declassified: Apartheid Profits –Pals with Pinochet. Daily Maverick (November 28, 2017).
  22. [1]
  23. Pincohet, Arms Merchant. Nacla (March 6, 2008).
  24. [2]
  25. Crédito de China a Pinochet (es). El País (August 16, 1977).
  26. Nick Eberstadt, The Poverty of Communism (Transaction Publishers, 1990), pp188, 196-206, 240-6, in which he discusses living standards in Communist Cuba versus Pinochet's Chile.
  28. Hermógenes Pérez de Arce (2019). Historia de la Revolución Militar Chilena 1973 - 1990. Editorial El Roble. 
  29. Ministro desclasifica vínculo de George Soros con Chile: apoyó campaña del No, ayudó a Ricardo Lagos con los empresarios y hoy respalda inversión en el país (es). Economía y Negocios (September 27, 2015).
  30. El multimillonario que apoyó la campaña del No y ayudó a Ricardo Lagos con empresarios (Soros helped the "No" campaign) (es). Emol (September 27, 2015).
  31. Hermógenes Pérez de Arce (2019). Historia de la Revolución Militar Chilena 1973 - 1990. Editorial El Roble. 
  32. De Poncio Pilatos a Pinochet (es). Hermógenes Pérez de Arce's blog (February 24, 2019).
  33. Hermógenes Pérez de Arce (2019). Historia de la Revolución Militar Chilena 1973 - 1990. Editorial El Roble. 
  34. De Poncio Pilatos a Pinochet (es). Hermógenes Pérez de Arce's blog (February 24, 2019).
  35. Hermógenes Pérez de Arce (2019). Historia de la Revolución Militar Chilena 1973 - 1990. Editorial El Roble. 
  36. [3]
  37. [4]
  38. NYTimes
  39. [5]
  40. [6]
  41. [7]