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Ron Price
11-20-2010, 12:27 PM
PINOCHET

In the last months of my career as a full-time teacher in 1998/99 in Western Australia and the first months of my sea-change and retirement in Tasmania at the age of 55, Augusto Pinochet was back in the news. I had first come across his name and his activity in Chile while teaching high school in Whyalla South Australia in September 1973, the very month I was hired for a position as senior tutor in human relations at the then Tasmanian college of Advanced Education. On both these occasions, in the 1970s and at the turn of the millennium, I was so occupied with my 60 hours a week job as a high school teacher and senior tutor and then 25 years later as a post-secondary teacher as well as my role in the Baha’i community--another people-centred activity--that I did not really appreciate the details of the story connected with this Chilean dictator’s role in politics and contemporary history.

I won’t go into the details of Pinochet’s political role and his personal, military and notorious history in this prose-peom. Readers can easily find that out on the internet or in books should they be interested in the topic. But on watching the doco-drama, telemovie, Pinochet in Suburbia(1) last night and on reading some background on his life and on the history of Chile, I came to form a considered opinion—not so much about Pinochet the man as about the importance of international law in the modern world.-Ron Price with thanks to (1)SBS TV, “Pinochet in Suburbia,” 11:55-1:30 p.m. 6 June to 7 June 2010.

My world was a hot, intense landscape
in a dry-dog-biscuit of a town at the
bottom-end of the world where I had
come as a young man so long ago----
when I heard the name Pinochet—was
he an Indian I thought to myself as I
tried to survive after falling in holes
in my young adult-life. I fell in a few
more holes before I heard that name in
the closing years of that mirabile dictu—
incredible century......He’d been a busy
man as I had been a busy man in those
years from 1973 to 1999 and he was a
busy man again in suburbia in the UK(1)
before he disappeared from history bit(2)
by bit while I, too, was disappearing from
history and taking up a place in cyberspace.

(1) Pinochet was placed under house arrest in Britain and was at the centre of a judicial and public relations battle, the latter run by Thatcherite political operative Patrick Robertson. He was eventually released in March 2000 on medical grounds by the Home Secretary Jack Straw without facing trial. Pinochet returned to Chile on 3 March 2000.

(2) On 25 November 2006, Pinochet marked his 91st birthday by having his wife read a statement written by him. Read to his admirers it stated in part: "I assume the political responsibility of all that has been done." Two days later, he was again ordered to house arrest for the kidnapping and murder of two bodyguards of the then President Salvador Allende who were arrested the day of the 1973 coup and executed by a firing squad during the Caravan of Death episode. Pinochet died a few days later on 10 December 2006 without having been convicted of any of the many serious crimes of which he was accused.

Ron Price
7 June 2010
Updated for: Deep Politics Forum
On: 20/11/'10:top: