However he’s a good news/bad news situation. The fact that Pinochet was a military dictator. That’s bad news.
But — strange for a general — he had good economic instincts. That’s the good news. Before him, Chile was just a poor, isolated mining province. He took Chile from a backwater with some copper mines to the most successful country in Latin America. Now, everything works there. The average Chilean is, believe it or not, wealthier than the average American. One reason for that is their national Social Security funds are individually owned accounts, invested in their stock market. Argentina needs something like Pinochet.
Augusto Pinochet, President of Chile 1974 – 1990
Everybody says, “Oh, Pinochet, he killed a couple thousand people.” Yeah, he did. And that’s too bad, even though they were mostly communists. But you’ve got to remember that the Argentine generals killed 30,000 or 40,000 people. The Brazilian generals probably killed another 20,000 or 30,000 people. Even the Uruguayan generals killed a couple thousand people. And that’s Uruguay, which used to be called the Switzerland of South America.
Pinochet was mild by South American standards. The only reason that he was pilloried, brought to trial, and hated so much, is because he put economic reforms into effect. It wasn’t because he killed a couple thousand people. It’s because he was pro-capitalist. That’s why he was persecuted.