Sorry, Lefties, but Pinochet looks better every day

Augusto Pinochet was born this week in 1914.  He died in 2006.

There are no shades of gray with this man.  People love or hate him.

Many of us remember Pinochet as the man who saved Chile from misguided socialism and created the most successful economy in Latin America.  The left created this villain named Pinochet who tortured people and filled the prisons.  In fact, the real villains who torture are the ones the left has supported or endorsed, such as Che! 

What's the truth?  He was not "Santo Augusto," but his legacy is the best economy in Latin America.

Like any dictator, Pinochet had absolute power and reminded his enemies of it every time there was a crackdown or demonstration.

To be fair, Pinochet's opposition had a huge advantage over dissidents in Cuba like Armando Valladares and the torture chambers of North Korea.

Pinochet was bad, but he allowed the foreign press to cover domestic events.  In other words, major international newspapers had bureaus in Santiago and operated freely in the country.

Let me ask you this: how many times did the international press visit a Cuban or North Korean political prison?

Did the Kremlin allow Western reporters in The Gulag Archipelago?

Some of us are old enough to remember what President Salvador Allende did to Chile.

In the early 1970s, my parents had many Chilean friends.  I remember many dinner table conversations about Chile, Allende, and later Pinochet.

Allende was elected with 36% of the vote in a contest that was eventually settled in the Supreme Court.  He shocked most Chileans by nationalizing the means of production and expropriating foreign-owned industries, banks, corporations, and estates.

By the summer of '73, Chile was a disaster.  It was pure economic chaos.  To be sure, Allende had gone too far, and most Chileans were scared.

I recall a family friend who came back from Chile and was horrified with the insecurity in his homeland.  He said his countrymen were afraid to walk the streets, and everyone was dumping the national currency for gold or anything not paper-based.  Bartering became a necessity.  Like Cuba, food shortages were common.

In other words, Salvador Allende was not the romantic figure the anti-U.S. left created.  He was an incompetent leader who started a leftist revolution in a country that did not vote for one.

On September 11, 1973, Pinochet overthrew Allende.  Eventually, Allende shot himself!

Pinochet quickly moved to fix the Chilean economy.  In fact, he presided over an economic miracle.  Pinochet inherited triple-digit inflation and left an economy that is the envy of the continent.

Later, he brought in Milton Friedman's "Chicago Boys."

They cut spending, privatized public enterprises, provided generous incentives for foreign investors, deregulated the banks, lowered trade barriers, and promoted exports.

It worked.  Chile has been the best economy in Latin America in the last 45 years!  No one disputes that!

Pinochet made mistakes.  However, he accepted a referendum and walked away from power in '88.

How many dictators have held a referendum and respected the results?

For many years, Chile has had elections, and no one has reversed Pinochet's economic plan.

The left hated Pinochet.  The left criticized Pinochet for human rights abuses and kept its mouth shut on Fidel Castro's excesses.  As always, the international left showed its selective indignation on human rights abuses.

In the U.S., Pinochet was criticized by Jesse Jackson and Hollywoodies.  They hated Pinochet because of his connection to Kissinger and Nixon.  As President Nixon wrote in his memoirs, a communist regime like Cuba in South America was an unacceptable alternative.

Make no mistake: Allende was on his way to turn Chile into Cuba, with lots of copper and silver to go with it!

Unfortunately, Jesse and the actors did not show the same concern for Cuban political prisoners.

Like any strong leader, Pinochet leaves a mixed record.  However, I rate him as a positive for Chile.

He gets low marks for "human rights" and very high marks for economic policies.  I would add that many of those anti-Pinochet demonstrations in the streets of Chile were often arranged and calculated for media coverage.

My overall grade is very good!

Latin America has had a lot of bad leaders.  Pinochet was not one of them!

In fact, I argue that Pinochet ranks rather high compared with his contemporaries, such as the aforementioned Fidel and Raúl Castro and the mess that Cuba is today; Mexico's disastrous populist 1970s under President Echeverria and the corrupt President Lopez-Portillo; Venezuela's irresponsible President Carlos Andres Perez, who sort of set table for the Hugo Chávez disaster still ongoing; and some of the juntas that governed other South American countries.

In sum, Chile could have done a lot worse than Pinochet!

Again, all things considered, Pinochet left a better Chile than the one he inherited.  And that's legacy!

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Augusto Pinochet was born this week in 1914.  He died in 2006.

There are no shades of gray with this man.  People love or hate him.

Many of us remember Pinochet as the man who saved Chile from misguided socialism and created the most successful economy in Latin America.  The left created this villain named Pinochet who tortured people and filled the prisons.  In fact, the real villains who torture are the ones the left has supported or endorsed, such as Che! 

What's the truth?  He was not "Santo Augusto," but his legacy is the best economy in Latin America.

Like any dictator, Pinochet had absolute power and reminded his enemies of it every time there was a crackdown or demonstration.

To be fair, Pinochet's opposition had a huge advantage over dissidents in Cuba like Armando Valladares and the torture chambers of North Korea.

Pinochet was bad, but he allowed the foreign press to cover domestic events.  In other words, major international newspapers had bureaus in Santiago and operated freely in the country.

Let me ask you this: how many times did the international press visit a Cuban or North Korean political prison?

Did the Kremlin allow Western reporters in The Gulag Archipelago?

Some of us are old enough to remember what President Salvador Allende did to Chile.

In the early 1970s, my parents had many Chilean friends.  I remember many dinner table conversations about Chile, Allende, and later Pinochet.

Allende was elected with 36% of the vote in a contest that was eventually settled in the Supreme Court.  He shocked most Chileans by nationalizing the means of production and expropriating foreign-owned industries, banks, corporations, and estates.

By the summer of '73, Chile was a disaster.  It was pure economic chaos.  To be sure, Allende had gone too far, and most Chileans were scared.

I recall a family friend who came back from Chile and was horrified with the insecurity in his homeland.  He said his countrymen were afraid to walk the streets, and everyone was dumping the national currency for gold or anything not paper-based.  Bartering became a necessity.  Like Cuba, food shortages were common.

In other words, Salvador Allende was not the romantic figure the anti-U.S. left created.  He was an incompetent leader who started a leftist revolution in a country that did not vote for one.

On September 11, 1973, Pinochet overthrew Allende.  Eventually, Allende shot himself!

Pinochet quickly moved to fix the Chilean economy.  In fact, he presided over an economic miracle.  Pinochet inherited triple-digit inflation and left an economy that is the envy of the continent.

Later, he brought in Milton Friedman's "Chicago Boys."

They cut spending, privatized public enterprises, provided generous incentives for foreign investors, deregulated the banks, lowered trade barriers, and promoted exports.

It worked.  Chile has been the best economy in Latin America in the last 45 years!  No one disputes that!

Pinochet made mistakes.  However, he accepted a referendum and walked away from power in '88.

How many dictators have held a referendum and respected the results?

For many years, Chile has had elections, and no one has reversed Pinochet's economic plan.

The left hated Pinochet.  The left criticized Pinochet for human rights abuses and kept its mouth shut on Fidel Castro's excesses.  As always, the international left showed its selective indignation on human rights abuses.

In the U.S., Pinochet was criticized by Jesse Jackson and Hollywoodies.  They hated Pinochet because of his connection to Kissinger and Nixon.  As President Nixon wrote in his memoirs, a communist regime like Cuba in South America was an unacceptable alternative.

Make no mistake: Allende was on his way to turn Chile into Cuba, with lots of copper and silver to go with it!

Unfortunately, Jesse and the actors did not show the same concern for Cuban political prisoners.

Like any strong leader, Pinochet leaves a mixed record.  However, I rate him as a positive for Chile.

He gets low marks for "human rights" and very high marks for economic policies.  I would add that many of those anti-Pinochet demonstrations in the streets of Chile were often arranged and calculated for media coverage.

My overall grade is very good!

Latin America has had a lot of bad leaders.  Pinochet was not one of them!

In fact, I argue that Pinochet ranks rather high compared with his contemporaries, such as the aforementioned Fidel and Raúl Castro and the mess that Cuba is today; Mexico's disastrous populist 1970s under President Echeverria and the corrupt President Lopez-Portillo; Venezuela's irresponsible President Carlos Andres Perez, who sort of set table for the Hugo Chávez disaster still ongoing; and some of the juntas that governed other South American countries.

In sum, Chile could have done a lot worse than Pinochet!

Again, all things considered, Pinochet left a better Chile than the one he inherited.  And that's legacy!

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.