General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte

General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte

Country Ruled: Chile

Years Ruled: 1973 - 1998

Current Residence: Chile


General Pinochet came to power in a military coup d'etat on (September 11, 1973). The coup leaders used fighter jets to bomb the Presidential Palace.

The violence and bloodshed of the coup itself was continued during Pinochet's administration. Once in power, Pinochet ruled with an iron hand. Dissidents were "disappeared" or murdered for speaking out against Pinochet's policies. It is unknown exactly how many people were killed by government and military forces during the 17 years that he was in power, but the "Rettig Commission" listed 2,095 deaths and 1,102 "disappearances". Torture was also commonly used against dissidents. Thousands of Chileans fled the country to escape the regime.

Pinochet's brutal political repression existed in parallel with economic reforms. To formulate his economic policy, Pinochet relied on the so-called Chicago boys who were economists trained at the University of Chicago and heavily influenced by the monetarist policies of Milton Friedman. Privatisation, cuts in public spending and anti-labour policies alienated Chile's working classes, though more prosperous strata benefited from real growth.

Under the Pinochet government, Chile's economy staged a massive recovery. Some global economists dubbed this recovery the Miracle of Chile while others have disputed this claim.

According to the transitional provisions of the 1980 constitution, a plebiscite was held in October 1988, to vote on a new eight-year presidential term for Pinochet. In the plebiscite the advocates of a "No" vote won, and, again according to the provisions of the constitution, open elections were held the next year. Pinochet left the presidency on March 11, 1990.

Due to the transitional provisions of the constitution, Pinochet remained the Commander-in-Chief of the Army until March 1998. Upon leaving that post, he took a senatorial position for life, granted by the constitution to all former presidents with at least six years in office. His senatorship made an eventual prosecution in Chile harder.

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General Pinochet is currently experiencing poor health and is available only on a consulting basis.

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