Augusto Pinochet was a military officer in Chile who led the U.S.-backed military coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende’s socialist government. He became the head of the subsequent military government, a role he retained for nearly two decades. While many characterize his government as fascist, others describe the regime as ultra-nationalistic and Pinochet as a despot. His rule was characterized by widespread arrests and torture of liberal dissenters as well as the development of Chile’s free market economy. While his privatization policies did provoke a revival of Chile’s floundering economy, they also are believed to have greatly increased economic inequality. After being voted out of office, he remained commander of the armed forces until he was given the office of senator-for-life. In this capacity he was detained by the British government in response to a Spanish extradition request regarding his torture of Spanish citizens in Chile. This action was a legal landmark as it was the first time universal jurisdiction had been applied to the head of a government. While he was deemed unfit to stand trial, he was beset by allegations of human rights violations, tax evasion, and embezzlement for the rest of his life. He was survived by his wife Lucía and his five children.
Childhood and Adolescence
Augusto Pinochet, the son of Augusto Pinochet Vera and Avelina Ugarte Martnez, was born on November 25, 1915. He was raised as a Roman Catholic and was of French Breton and Basque origin.
He graduated from military school with the rank of second lieutenant. He quickly progressed through the infantry ranks, and by 1953, he had risen to the rank of major after several visits to the ‘Infantry School’ and the ‘War Academy.’
Career of Augusto
Pinochet climbed through the Chilean military ranks, becoming a regiment commander, a Chief of Staff, a brigadier general, and the 6th Division’s Commander in Chief. In 1971, he was promoted to division general and given the title of General Commander.
He was named General Chief of Staff of the Army from 1972 to 1973, but after General Prats resigned, President Salvador Allende promptly promoted him to Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army. He took part in the military coup that ousted President Allende a month later.
Following the military coup against President Salvador Allende’s government, a junta was formed, which included Pinochet. In 1974, he was elected President of the United States.
He aimed to eradicate leftism in Chile as President and implement a free market economy. He accomplished this by enforcing severe measures that suppressed dissent while eliminating government control of the economy.
At least 3,197 people were killed, 29,000 were tortured, and over 200,000 were sent into exile under the Pinochet regime.
Chile’s economy, which had been harmed by the ‘Nixon administration”s harsh sanctions, developed gradually under the new privatization and economic liberalization policies.
He enacted a constitution in 1980 that gave the President an eight-year term and established new institutions including the ‘Constitutional Tribunal’ and the ‘National Security Council.’
The constitution was changed in 1988 in response to international criticism to allow for a transition to a more democratic government. He was then voted out of office and sworn in as a senator-for-life under the terms of the 1980 constitution.
He was detained in London in 1998 in response to a Spanish extradition request; the Spanish government had issued a warrant for his arrest so that he may face trial for human rights breaches, many of which involved Spanish nationals.
He was held under house arrest for two years before being returned to Chile due to illness. His immunity from prosecution would be contested and reinstated several times over the next six years.
Major Projects of Augusto
Augusto Pinochet was one of the leading strategists involved in the coup that deposed President Salvador Allende and ultimately led to Allende’s death.
While his exact role in the coup has never been fully clarified, he was one of the leading strategists involved in the coup that deposed President Salvador Allende and ultimately led to Allende’s death.
He went on to become the de facto leader of the military junta and then President of Chile, dramatically changing the country’s trajectory.
Personal History and Legacy
He married Luca Hiriart Rodrguez on January 30, 1943, and they remained married for the rest of his life. Ines Luca, Mara Verónica, Jacqueline Marie, Augusto Osvaldo, and Marco Antonio were their five children.
He supposedly had an affair with a woman named Piedad Noe in the late 1950s when stationed in Quito, Ecuador, with whom he fathered a son named Juan.
Pinochet’s arrest was regarded as a watershed moment in human rights cases, demonstrating that even the most powerful members of society were not beyond the law.
Since then, human rights organizations have gotten more aggressive in prosecuting international leaders for human rights crimes, and have been more successful.
Augusto Pinochet died of congestive heart failure after a heart attack on December 10, 2006.
Pinochet’s wife Luca and son Marco were both sued in 2005 for tax evasion in connection with Pinochet’s arms deals.
In connection with the ‘Riggs Bank’ scandal, Luca and all five Pinochet children were detained in 2007 on charges of embezzlement and use of fraudulent passports.
In the 2013 presidential election, the ghost of Chile’s history reappeared. Both candidates are the daughters of generals who served during the coup, one on President Allende’s side and the other on General Pinochet’s side.
Estimated Net Worth
Augusto Pinochet was thought to have acquired a fortune of at least $28 million at the time of his death. Many believe he made his riches through illegal activities such as arms trade, tax evasion, and embezzlement.
Opponents of this well-known politician dubbed him ‘pinocho,’ which is Spanish for ‘Pinocchio.’