Pinochet's death reminds Latin America of its dark past
Dec 11, 2006, 17:30 GMT
Buenos Aires - The death of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was met with no sadness among Latin American governments, which nearly unanimously expressed regret that the general was never brought to justice for the crimes committed under his regime.
In Brazil, the government and the opposition were united when it came to Pinochet, 91, who died on Sunday one week after suffering a heart attack.
'General Augusto Pinochet symbolised a dark period in the history of South America. It was a long night in which the lights of democracy disappeared, turned off by authoritarian coups,' Lula said Sunday night in a statement, which did not express regret for Pinochet's death.
'Let us make vows so that liberty in the region is never again under threat, and so that in each country the peoples can always solve their differences peacefully,' Lula added.
Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002), the leader of the opposition Party of Brazilian Social Democracy, said on Monday that 'General Pinochet was a great obstacle for Chile,' since he was compromised 'by everything - by torture, by corruption.'
'It is a pity he has not been tried, but he did not manage to escape the judgement of history, which has condemned him already,' said Cardoso.
Cardoso lived in exile in Chile until just 10 days before the Pinochet-led military coup which ousted socialist president Salvador Allende in September 1973.
The governor of the state of Sao Paulo, the social democrat Jose Serra, was also in exile in Chile and was even detained by the Pinochet regime. For him, the former dictator 'gave a bad example to Latin America and to the rest of the world.'
Estela de Carlotto, the president of the Argentine human rights organization Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, said Pinochet's death is 'a relief,' although she too regretted that 'justice did not get there on time' in the case of the former dictator.
'Nobody cheers for a death, but for Chile, Latin America and the whole world it is a day of relief that Pinochet has stopped being part of the world,' De Carlotto said.
Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel took a similar stance.
'I have respect for death and for the dead - there will be another moment for judgement. The only thing I can say is that death seals Pinochet's impunity,' Rangel said, according to Venezuelan TV
The official press in communist Cuba devoted little space and no commentary to the death of the general.
'Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has died,' the daily Granma said in its last page.
The official trade union weekly Trabajadores reported 'thousands of demonstrators against official memorial for Pinochet' and 'violence in Chile.'
Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said 'a period has ended in Chile, and history will pas judgement on the government of president Pinochet.'
During Pinochet's dictatorship, the US government went from supporting the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power to calling his dictatorship 'one of the most difficult periods' in Chile's history.
'Our thoughts today are with the victims of his reign and their families,' White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Sunday.
'We commend the people of Chile for building a society based on freedom, the rule of law, and respect for human rights,' Fratto added.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur