Tuesday December 12, 2006

What's up with the New York Times?

While clicking around the internets yesterday, I came across Rick’s post linking to Ziva’s post about Pinochet. Neither is particularly remarkable for what it says (“Pinochet was a bad dude, now he’s dead,” etc.), but interesting threads developed in the comments. It seems that there are actually passionate supporters of Pinochet walking around in our midst, and they’ve let their voices be heard.

Check out Manuel A. Tellechea’s comment — neither site will let me link to it directly, but it’s high up in both threads, pretty long, and hard to miss. This is a guy I’ve very much agreed with in the past, but here he’s just silly. Here’s one paragraph:

But the leftwing media in this country and Western Europe, which believe that countries have the right to commit mass suicide so long as it’s done democratically, as in Germany in 1933, proceeded to blacken Pinochet’s name while extolling the perennially unelected Castro as a folk hero.

Now, that’s just plain silly (even after the “mass suicide” gaffe). Nobody in the mainstream media has ever called Castro a folk hero, any more then they’ve supported the holocaust. When pressed, Manuel challenges me to find articles in major newspapers that refer to Castro as a “monster,” or a “dictator,” as they do with Pinochet. There’s at least one of the former, and plenty of the latter.

The right-wing guys always fixate on the New York Times, and of course the NYT also . . . wait a second. I’m searching the NYT site for articles that include the words “Castro” and “dictator.” Many of them obviously are mentioning Castro in passing, and talking about a different dictator but, hmm, ok — here’s one and here’s another. Whoa! What’s going on here? Here are the respective quotes:

. . . a man whom the vast majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami consider a despicable and murderous dictator.

. . . Mr. Castro, whom the United States government tars as a dictator who suppresses his people.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that one of these articles is a “fascinating” look at a pro-Castro radio station, and another is a rather positive look at a Cuban educational program, why does the New York Times always holding the word “dictator” at arms length. “Those people call him that,” it seems to say, implying (does it not?) that it does not consider him one?

Now, playing the numbers game to try to see who’s better between Pinochet, Castro, Stalin, and Hitler (that’s four murderous dictators, btw, two right-wingers and two left-wingers) is just absurd, as is the notion that American media doesn’t call Castro a dictator — most of them do. But what’s up with the New York Times?

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  1. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 08:57 AM #  

    Where shall I begin, my friend? Your heart is in the right place about Cuba and that is what matters most to me. Although I’ve already parsed it several times for unsympathetic readers on those other blogs, I shall do so here again for one whose mind is at least still open and absorbing knowledge.

    Here is where most readers lose their way:

    Democracy is a beautiful concept and it usually works, but it does not always work. Sometimes the people make stupid choices and the result is national suicide. Such was the case in Germany in 1933 when Hitler was democraticaly elected chancellor. Yes, the most despicable man in history did not come to power through a putsch (although like Chavez he had attempted an unsuccessful putsch in the past). Hitler was elected. Like Roosevelt and Churchill but unlike Stalin.

    Other democratic governments and their respective media treated Hitler like a democratically-elected leader, which in fact he was. This was Hitler’s shield against criticism. If he had come to power through illicit means, he would not have had this shield of legitimacy to protect him from the revulsion and censure which his life and writings merited.

    You have shown, and I thank-you for it, that The New York Times has never directly referred to Castro as a dictator. Entire books have been written—the most recent by a current Times reporter— showing that TNYT was not only deferential to Hitler but chose not to report his predations on Jews either before or during the war. Yes, the Holocaust went unreported in The Times even though it received from numerous sources confirmation of German atrocities against the Jews. In fact, most of these reports were ironically forwarded to The Times in the erroneous belief that surely a “Jewish” newspaper would publish them.

    Although Castro remains a virgin when it comes to elections, he too has been treated with the same deference as the democratically-elected Hitler. And Castro’s crimes have also gone unreported in its newspaper.

    Nobody in the mainstream media has ever called Castro a folk hero, any more than they’ve supported the Holocaust.

    No, my friend, it is you who is being silly now. In The Times itself Castro has been called a “Robin Hood” and a “Jeffersonian democrat.” As for supporting the Holocaust, it is the Times’ silence that made it possible.

    Alright, Alesh, there’s a nice long post for you. If wouldn’t be a party if the invited guest had not come.

  2. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 09:42 AM #  

    Every obituary of Pinochet says that he overthrew “the democratically-elected president Salvador Allende.” If the U.S. media had any respect for the truth that sentence would have read “Pinochet was instructed to remove the democratically-elected AND impeached ex-president Salvador Allende, who was later revealed to have been a Soviet agent for 40 years”

    Because, prior to Pinochet’s intervention, Allende had been successfully impeached by the Chilean Chamber of Deputies and declared a renegade for refusing to relinquish power.

    It was Chile’s legislature that ordered Pinochet, as head of the army, to apprehend the seditious ex-president.

    Instead, Allende committed suicide with a submachine gun, a gift from Fidel Castro.

    Allende’s supporters at home and abroad claimed for 30 years that he had been executed at Pinochet’s orders. Finally, two years ago, Pinochet’s daughter finally admitted the truth: Allende had indeed committed suicide.

    By then, the Soviet archives had been opened and Allende revealed as a KGB agent for 40 years.

  3. Alex    Tue Dec 12, 10:34 AM #  

    I rememember some explanation once that the NYT recognizes elections (even those in Cuba in which only one political party is allowed) and thus they call Castro “president”, his official title. I will say though, they don’t do it as often as some people will make you believe. Most of the time they do some rethorical runaround, instead referring to “Fidel Castro’s government” etc.

    You can’t link to the comment but you can link to the post (http://stuckonthepalmetto.blogspot.com/2006/12/unleash-hounds.html)
    You being HTML literate, can do better than I just did. It’s Blogger world, get with the program.

  4. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 10:48 AM #  

    Despite the fact that Cuba is a one-party state and conducts “elections” in accordance with that fact, Fidel Castro has never stood for “election” as president. Even by Stalinist standards, the title is entirely illusory, but nonetheless good enough for The New York Times.

  5. B.A.C.    Tue Dec 12, 11:25 AM #  

    Pinochet this and Pinochet that. There will always be two sides to a story. Just like Castro has his supporters and detractors, Pinochet has his. My family has lived in Peru during and before Pinochet came to power and the only thing they have to say about him is that he was a murderer and good riddance. Then again there are supporters saying he was a liberator (Who murdered his opponents, go figure). Granted my family did not live in Chile but the the two countries experienced heightened tensions as a result of Pinochet’s rule spilling over to Peru (If I wasn’t work surfing I would try to find the link to support).

    I think it should be a given that Pinochet was a madman who committed crimes against humanity. Had he been healthy for trial I believe he would have been convicted. But that doesn’t seem to happen all the time with these sorts of people. As for the NYT and calling Castro a dictator, I can’t presume to know anything. To me, he is a dictator who should have been overthrown YEARS ago but for some reason has remained in power. Why? I would love to know.

  6. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 11:34 AM #  


    Because Castro has never allowed the Cuban people to vote on his continued rule. Pinochet did. And when the Chilean people voted him out of office, Pinochet left.

  7. B.A.C.    Tue Dec 12, 12:17 PM #  


    I guess I just don’t understand why the people in Cuba don’t stand up if living conditions and life under the rule of a dictator is as bad as the exiles claim it to be. There are several cases in the 21st century that attest to people overthrowing tyrannical regimes.

  8. kingofrance    Tue Dec 12, 12:34 PM #  

    A search of the Lexis-Nexis NYT database shows no instances of Castro being referred to as a Robin Hood. The closest is a review of propaganda posters at a gallery which refers to viewers who may see him in that light. As for “Jeffersonian Democrat”, it only appears in a 1993 letter to the editor. As for the paper itself, there are many instances of the paper directly referring to Castro as a dictator, “the Cuban dictator” (2003 editorial), “the insolent Communist dictator”(1997 editorial).

  9. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 12:37 PM #  


    Because they would have to combat the tanks with their fists. It’s been tried before. In Communist China during the Tiannamen Square protests. In Hungary during the 1956 Soviet invasion. It doesn’t work.

    It would also help if the U.S. abrogated the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact, which established the U.S. as the guarantor of Communism in Cuba.

    Cubans cannot free themselves until the U.S. stops upholding the Castro regime by denying the rights of belligerancy to his opponents.

  10. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 12:58 PM #  


    Do your Lexis-Nexis search from 1953-present. You might try using the keyword “Herbert Matthews.” As for the 1993 letter to the editor that you did find, I may well have written it myself or my old friend Carlos Ripoll. In any case, “Jeffersonian democrat” is in quotation marks because the letter writer is quoting The Times.

    Elsewhere I did say that The Times has called Castro a “dictator” in recent editorials and Op-Ed pieces. But never in a news story. Because news stories are suppose to be “objective.” Except when the subject is Pinochet, then it’s acceptable to call him a “dictator” anywhere in the paper.

  11. alesh    Tue Dec 12, 01:14 PM #  


    Thanks for your patience.

    Democracy is a beautiful concept and it usually works, but it does not always work.

    That’s also an absurd statement. Sometimes people elect bad leaders (George W.Bush comes to mind), but to say that democracy isn’t working is absurd. What do you propose, a system where elected leaders of state be approved by the US before taking power? By the way, didn’t Hitler later suspend elections?

    Your analogy with Nazi Germany is not helpful. The USA’s unwillingness to condemn and oppose the events of that time is part of the history, but it has no bearing on the Cuban situation. Castro has not been treated with “the same deference” as Hitler. If you have any proof that he was called “Robin Hood” or a “Jeffersonian democrat” by anyone serious, please provide it.

    OK. As for Allende/Pinochet. This was during the cold war, when the USSR and the USA were both meddling in the affairs of MANY nations around the world. While I’m glad that Communism was mostly defeated and so I agree with the USA’s goals, I strongly disagree with many of the tactics they used during the cold war. I suspect that I’d also disagree with their motives.

    Allende was their guy, Pinochet was our guy, plain and simple. They were both terrible leaders, and I suspect traitors to their country. Left wingers that still support Allende and right wingers who still support Pinochet are equally wrong. I suspect that either of those supporters have a “the ends justify the means” type of attitude, which is profoundly unmoral. The same sort of people still believe that the war in Iraq is a good thing. But I digress.


    If indeed that’s the NYT’s reason for not using the word “dictator,” then that’s reprehensible. Just plain wrong.

    Sorry; I forgot to put in the link this morning. It’s not a Blogger world by any stretch, thank God, but the lack of a link was an oversight (I started working on the post while my connection was down, and so the article was briefly posted without the links this morning).


    The reasons why Communism lives on in Cuba, and why it was successfully overthrown in other places, are complicated. It’s not simply because the government has the power — bare fists (or even just voices) have successfully overthrown tanks on numerous occasions.

    One unfortunate factor is that the anti-Castro “action people” in Cuba mostly came to the USA, diluting the dissident base on the island.

    Another is the lack of a “trigger event” in Cuba. A lot of people were holding out hope for the death of Castro, but as you can see that has been managed, so far, in such a way as to keep it from being one.

  12. B.A.C.    Tue Dec 12, 01:22 PM #  

    In the case of Hungary the people would have overthrown the Facist WWII regime had it not been for the interference of an outside government, The Soviet Union. But the point is the Hungarians stood up, the Chinese stood up. Against all oppositions they took a risk that meant their life for a better future. I just don’t see the same resolve from the people on the isle of Cuba. Revolution means people will die, the Americans fought the greatest empire the world ever saw and won. The Yugo’s revolted recently and succeeded. Is the lack of determination to be free the fault of the outside world? Are the people on the isle itself indifferent to the way they live? Maybe if there was oil in Cuba Good ole’ Dubya would take interest. Who knows.

  13. B.A.C.    Tue Dec 12, 01:27 PM #  


    If the dissidents are in the USA and not on the island doesn’t that imply the majority favors their current life on the island? If so then the meddlers, the exiles, should respect that want.

    I don’t know, I’m getting involved in things I don’t have enough knowledge on. I respectfully remove myself from the discourse. Cheers.

  14. alesh    Tue Dec 12, 01:35 PM #  


    In some cases governments have been overthrown with the help of outside governments. I believe that such help is almost ALWAYS a bad idea — I think most of those revolutions could have happened anyway, and it’s always better when it’s domestic.

    Such was most certainly the case in my country, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech and Slovak republics).


    Does that imply that the Cubans on the island are happy with Communist rule. Not at all. It just means that they’re not the sort of people to go out and overthrow a government. As I said, many of the “action people” that would have made the leaders of such a movement took some action and came to Miami.

    From here they have every right (even obligation) to work towards the overthrow of Castro and Communism. But to enlist the USA’s government is a bad idea in principle, and I think has pretty clearly shown itself to be counter-productive (though understandably most of them will disagree).

  15. kingofrance    Tue Dec 12, 01:41 PM #  

    dude making me work during my lunch hour. Indeed, the letter was written by Mr. Ripoll, however the quotation marks are mine. April 19, 1995, Section B, Page 13:
    “When the Peronists won a series of congressional elections in early 1962, the military, which had also become alarmed after learning that Dr. Frondizi had met secretly with Che Guevara, an emissary of the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, withdrew its support, forcing Dr. Frondizi’s resignation that March.”

    I don’t think the NYT database goes back any further than mid – 1980’s in full text, the older stuff is abstracted. But I see what you mean. It looks like the NYT style manual does not dictate that he be referred to as “dictator”.

  16. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 01:57 PM #  


    Here’s everything you always wanted to know about Fidel Castro and The New York Times but didn’t know where to look::


  17. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 02:28 PM #  


    Here’s another article from Time Magazine (Oct. 6, 1961) entitled “Fidelity to Fidel,” which exposes even at that early date The New York Times’ bias towards Fidel Castro.

    It contains a wonderful quote from Charles Poore, who counters Herbert Matthews’ argument that calling Castro a communist might have forced him to become one.

    Writes Poole (and I paraphrase): “The reasoning here, possibly, is that if we had identified Castro as an abominable snowman, we’d have stigmatized him into becoming an abominable snowman.”


  18. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 12, 02:52 PM #  

    Alesh & kingofrance:

    Here’s a very simple test which I performed and which you can easily replicate.

    I googled Fidel Castro dictator and the search yielded 762,000 hits.

    I googled Augusto Pinochet dictator and the search yielded 1,670,000 hits.

    I did the same thing for News Google, with Castro receiving 1,750 hits as a dictator and Pinochet 4,230.

  19. kingofrance    Tue Dec 12, 03:24 PM #  

    What was I thinking? I’ve lived here long enough to know a couple of things: the bus is never on time, the Deuce only takes cash, and stay out of any discussion involving Castro.

  20. j-j    Tue Dec 12, 05:03 PM #  

    I will also add that I love the Deuce Bar too

  21. Robert    Tue Dec 12, 05:58 PM #  


    Glad you discovered the kid gloves treatment the NYT gives fidel.

    Even if the NYT was the only MSM outlet to treat fidel that way, the fact that it’s the most influential newspaper in the United States, and one of the most influential in the world, is cause enough to complain. Even more so when you consider that the major TV networks get the majority of their stories from either the NYT or Washington Post, and use this influence to shape the opinion of many viewers.

  22. NicFitKid    Wed Dec 13, 01:11 AM #  

    Yes, yes, we are all brainwashed zombies of the MSM. If it’s repeated often enough it must be so.

    Pinochet was a swell guy who never had anything to do with the caravan of death and the nefarious NYT installed Castro and enabled the Holocaust. Isn’t it awesome how every evil act always ends up analogized to Nazis? Just another notch in the belt of Godwin’s Law.

    It’s all just primate dominance mechanics, folks. Human beings are nature’s most sadistic critters. The politics are just for show. I’m sure that twenty thousand years ago two hunter-gatherer tribes bumped into each, and one of them decided they didn’t like the cut of the other tribe’s spear points. From there it was quick descent into killing the men, stealing the women, and grabbing the hunting grounds.

    Meanwhile the shamans cooked up a whole rhetorical mess about why the People of the Weird Spears had to die.

  23. Jonathan    Wed Dec 13, 06:56 AM #  

    WRT Pinochet, one of the best pieces I’ve read on Chile under Allende was a blog post by a friend of mine. His blog is no more but I just republished his essay on my other blog.

  24. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 08:15 AM #  


    Let me see if I understand you. People do not fight for principles or justice. All their struggles are casual and meaningless. It is the victors, after the fact, who invent frivolous justifications for war.

    I have never read such cynical loathing for humanity. It must chill you to the bone to have to inhabit the skin of one of those “sadistic critters.”

  25. alesh    Wed Dec 13, 08:53 AM #  

    Jack Cashill is not the sort of guy who’s statements I would take without a grain of salt, but a little independend googling seems to confirm the story he tells of Herbert Matthews and the New York Times in the link above. For anyone who missed it, here it is: Fidel Castro’s friendly New York Times. This only deals with events before and during the revolution, in the 1950’s, though; it appears that by the end, the NYT had realized that Matthews was wrong, and the Jason Blair quote equating himself with Matthews seems to indicate that those events have entered NYT lore as a dark chapter in the paper’s history?

    As for your “Fidel Castro dictator” / “Augusto Pinochet dictator” google queries, I’d point out that the same queries without the word “dictator” “Fidel Castro” / “Augusto Pinochet” yield discrepancies in the same proportion. In other words, Pinochet gets more ink overall, NOT more proportionate “dictator” references.

    I agree. However, I do not generally find the portrayal of Castro in the US media to be anything but negative. I think most Americans consider him a barbaric and fanatical dictator, this on the basis of media reports they see.

    Right. I don’t get the Nazi analogy. But don’t kid (HA!) yourself — YOU may not be a brainwashed zombie of the MSM, but an overwhelming majority of your fellow americans most certainly are.

    Wow, that is one long and serious bit of writing. It looks very thoughtful, but just reading the beginning, it seemed like it was jumping in at a particular point in a long-raging debate, and I’d have to do a lot of background reading to understand the points he’s making. But he seems to confirm what I said above w/r/t this being a cold war thing, with the USSR and the USA each supporting one guy to the detriment of the nation at stake.

    I’ll try to get up to speed and come back to it. Nice site, BTW.

  26. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 08:55 AM #  


    A great article. What was the name of your friend’s blog? There is something called the Wayback Machine that preserves expired blogs.

    The article contains an absolutely remarkable quotation from Allende:

    “How many of the masses are needed to stop a tank?

    Rene Debray believes that this indicates a disinclination to confront the military.

    I read it differently.

    I think it shows Allende’s disposition to sacrifice the nation in order to remain in power.

  27. Steve    Wed Dec 13, 09:13 AM #  

    Nicfitkid: That was great. Do it again. More. Harder. Deeper. Don’t stop. Great.

  28. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 09:32 AM #  


    By the time that The New York Times realized that Castro was a Communist, he had already declared himself a Communist. After perpetrating the myth of Castro as a “Jeffersonian Democrat,” The Times proceeded to create the myth of Castro as an “Humanitarian Communist.” That myth is still being upheld today.

    There are so many dark chapters in the history of The New York Times. You are acquainted, I’m sure, with Walter Duranty, the Times reporter who concealed and denied all the crimes of Stalinism. While tens of millions were dying in the Soviet Union from government-instigated famines meant to wipe out the kulaks (prosperous peasant farmers), Duranty blissfully wrote of agricultural bonanzas and boundless growth in a land blessed by a bountiful ruler. For his reportage from the Soviet Union Duranty was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. His picture still hangs in the Times building in the gallery of Pulitzer Prize winners. When The New York Times was requested to remove the picture of this monster of deceit from its hall of honor, it resolutely refused.

  29. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 09:48 AM #  


    Castro has ruled for 48 years and counting. Pinochet ruled for 17 years but relinquished power in 1990.

    So why are there a million more references to Pinochet as a “dictator” on google?

  30. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 12:10 PM #  

    “I’m also aware that it is you who brought democracy to Chile, you set up a constitution suitable for democracy, you put it into effect, elections were held, and then, in accordance with the result, you stepped down.”

    Margaret Thatcher, addressing Pinochet, 1999.

  31. NicFitKid    Wed Dec 13, 12:55 PM #  

    What chills me to the bone, Mr. Tellechea, is to hear someone as educated as yourself engaging in all sorts of hand-waving and pretzel logic in order to salute the thuggish Pinochet as a “great and noble soul.” That is why I distrust grand ideologies that attempt to remake the world; they whitewash the cruel tragicomedy of human existence which typically revolves around the getting and keeping of power at the expense of others. Or did the NYT also steal and stash the money that Pinochet and his relatives kept in their overseas accounts? Must have been a frame-up, maybe you can dig up some fifth-column subversives from Foggy Bottom to blame for that one.

    Principles and justice have their utility in negotiating everyday human transactions, but when a group gets it into their heads that they possess a greater understanding of the Ultimate Principles, all sorts of murderous machinations becomes justifiable. That is why I don’t trust the ideological veneer applied by political-minded intellectuals to modern history’s darker chapters. Whether you’re trapped under the boot of a fascist, a stalinist, or a madman, the result remains the same, the only difference is of degree. I may enjoy reading Plato’s Republic, but I wouldn’t want to live there, no matter how noble it sounds.

    Steve~ Thanks for the props.

    Jonathan~ ChicagoBoyz? Is that some kind of tribute to the Chicago Boys, the mad econ scientists who got to test out all their economic theories on Chile during the Pinochet years? I’d read the essay but your link keeps giving my browser a “403 error forbidden.”

    Alesh~ The Nazi analogy thing is out of control on the internet. It’s everybody’s trump card in every situation. What no one wants to admit about the Nazi-era is that it actually represent one of the more timeless facets of the human personality: the desire to suppress and eliminate those different from yourself and your traditions. It’s easier to think of the people involved as aberrant monsters rather than everyday Joes persuaded to kill their fellow man for the sake of a fucking idea. It’s the ultimate cautionary tale about human nature from the bloody annals of the twentieth century, but at this point most people just look back and go “gee, what a bunch of inhuman monsters, I could never do that.” Oh, but you could, that’s what’s so goddamned terrifying about it. The difference is that next time it will be a different ideology and a different bag of rhetoric, but the victims end up just as dead.

  32. alesh    Wed Dec 13, 02:39 PM #  


    There are leaders who are murderous dictators, and there are leaders who are not murderous dictators. Castro and Pinochet are both murderous dictators.

    Clearly, your defense of and admiration for Pinochet is fueled by your sympathy with his politics. If the NYT’s treatment of Castro is in any way influenced by its sympathy with his politics, then it seems like you’re hardly the guy to be attacking them; there’s the small matter of hypocrisy, don’t you think? Wouldn’t they, at the very worst, be doing the same exact thing you’re doing?

    More likely, though, the NYT’s choice of words comes from some sort of obscure semantic reason.

  33. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 02:49 PM #  


    Hay hombres que viven contentos aunque vivan sin decoro. Hay otros que padecen como en agonia cuando ven que los hombres viven sin decoro a su alrededor. En el mundo ha de haber cierta cantidad de decoro, como ha de haber cierta cantidad de luz. Cuando hay muchos hombres sin decoro, hay siempre otros que tienen en si el decoro de muchos hombres. Esos son los que se rebelan con fuerza terrible contra los que les roban a sus pueblos su libertad, que es robarles a los hombres su decoro. En esos hombres van miles de hombres, va un pueblo entero, va la dignidad humana. Esos hombres son sagrados. Estos tres hombres son sagrados: Bolivar, de Venezuela; San Martin, del Rio de la Plata; Hidalgo, de Mexico. Se le deben perdonar sus errores, porque el bien que hicieron fue mas que sus faltas. Los hombres no pueden ser mas perfectos que el sol. El sol quema con la misma luz con que calienta. El sol tiene manchas. Los desagradecidos no hablan mas que de las manchas. Los agradecidos hablan de la luz.José Martí

  34. Jonathan    Wed Dec 13, 03:01 PM #  

    Alesh: Thanks. I didn’t post Val’s essay in response to any particular point that you made, but because I think it’s a good analysis and has some relevance to current discussions about how bad Pinochet really was.

    Manuel: Val’s blog was called “Val e-diction”. Some or all of his posts are still cached by Google. (My site has a link to the cached version, with comments, of the essay that I reposted.)

    NFK: Sorry about the error messages. I just upgraded that blog to WordPress and seem to have screwed up the database. I’ve redirected the essay’s URL to another site that works fine, so try clicking on it again.

  35. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 06:38 PM #  


    If Pinochet had been a murderous dictator like Castro, I would not have praised him. But the point is that he wasn’t.

    As for The New York Times, there is no totalitarian of the left whose rise it has not abetted in the last 90 years. I have not even mentioned its worst “gaffe” — Mao. This is not the result of some “obscure semantic error” but of an organic predisposition to leftist thugs.

    If I’m wrong about Pinochet, then I would have erred in respect to one man. The Times has erred in respect to every leftwing dictator.

    Hypocrisy is a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not. In no sense am I hypocritical in my support of Pinochet.

  36. NicFitKid    Wed Dec 13, 09:16 PM #  

    Oh good lord, Mr. Tellechea, are you rummaging through your rhetorical bag of absurdity for a Jose Marti quote? That poor man’s writings have been used and abused by every blowhard across the political spectrum to argue every side of an issue.

    Let’s parse the quote, shall we? Honor is a zero-sum commodity that accumulates within certain Great Men when everyone else around them lacks honor. Charged with this excess of honor, the Great Men of history are free to take any action required to restore honor to society at large. Whatever blemishes and spots they may accumulate—you know, just little things like overseeing torture and murder—are forgiven, since even the sun has spots, and no one is greater than the sun.

    Whoa, that’s almost Egyptian in its imagery. You’re not advocating the return of the Pharaohs here, are you? Honestly, I prefer the rule of law within a liberal democracy rather than some claptrap about the Great Leader’s honor justifying his tyrannical actions. I guess Pinochet’s secret bank accounts fall under the spots category too, and don’t make him just another brutal opportunist. Hey, being the savior of Chile needs a few perks, right? Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be absolved by history.

    Oh, and thanks for not translating the quote for the general audience (isn’t translation one of your professional skills? Oh, maybe you’re strictly a pay-to-play kind of guy). Next time I find a nice Alexander Herzen quote on the nature of exile politics, I’ll make sure to post it in the original Russian.

  37. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 13, 11:26 PM #  


    First of all forgive me for assuming that you knew how to read Spanish. I presumed that the “Nic” in your moniker signified Nicaraguan, and most Nicaraguans read Spanish. When I quoted the Peruvian Manuel González Prada’s views on tyrannicide in Stuck on the Palmetto, I supplied Rick with a translation when he requested one. I should have been pleased to do the same for you.

    What you write is quite remarkable. Never did I think that I would live to see anyone question the wisdom of Martí, or, indeed, refer to it as “claptrap.” Rubén Darío, who revered Martí, is surely spinning in his grave. Indeed, poor Darío has been doing a lot of spinning lately since his countrymen willingly resumed their former shackles.

    Let me explain to you what Martí is really saying: When men are forced to live without dignity (that is, in submission to a tyrant), there will always appear one man (like Bolívar or Martí himself) who will uphold and vindicate the dignity of all men. These great men will not be perfect, but their flaws will not obscure their virtues. Ungrateful men will see only their faults; grateful men will be thankful for their virtues.

    How anyone could possibly object to that sentiment is beyond my powers of reasoning. I suppose you must be a Nietzchean who worships the ubermenschen. I’ll leave you to wait in anxious expectation for that unblemished leader to appear on the horizon. Hint: He’ll probably be walking on the water.

  38. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 02:02 AM #  

    Pinochet finally receives his due:


  39. NicFitKid    Thu Dec 14, 02:22 AM #  

    Mr. Tellechea,

    NicFitKid means Nicotine Fit Kid, a reference to my on again off again relationship with tobacco. It’s a bit of humorous self-deprecation, something you might want to try one day, it does wonders for an over-sized ego. You can shorten it to Nic or NFK, but I’m sure you’ll persist in using Kid, as a diminutive form of address goes stylishly with your condescending tone.

    I can read enough Spanish to get by, Miami-born halfie that I am, although I won’t be carrying on any deep conversations in the language. As for the Marti quote, it was your call to bring it in with reference to Pinochet. Hey, I’m no Marti scholar, but if the man was cool with military dictatorship, he’s not going to the top of my favorite authors list anytime soon. I suspect, however, that other fans of Marti would object to using one of his quotations in support of a thug like Pinochet. But that’s part of Marti’s strange afterlife, from what I hear. Everybody wants a piece of his legend to wrap themselves in.

    Hey, and thanks for classifying me as a Nietzschean waiting for the ubermenschen, that’s a great way to slip in a proto-fascist slur. You really are a very clever fellow to completely ignore everything I say, such as my preference for the rule of law above the rule of a Great Man or my general distrust of grand theories that seek to impose an ultimate Truth (capital T) over all peoples. Unfortunately, I’ll have to disappoint you, for I am not waiting for either the over-man nor the flawed-but-honorable tyrant you think Marti refers to.

    As far as I’m concerned human history has been plagued with Great Men who seek to impose their will and often leave misery and woe in their wake. If humanity as a whole could get away from it’s sick fascination with brutal authoritarians, I think we’d all be much better off. So you’ll have to excuse me, I can’t twist my brain into the right pretzel-shape to pay tribute to Pinochet. I’ll leave that to you.

  40. NicFitKid    Thu Dec 14, 02:30 AM #  

    And if you want anyone to actually read that little tribute piece you’re trying to link to, then make it an actual link.

    quotation mark text quotation mark colon http://www.url.com

    See, just like this

  41. Jonathan    Thu Dec 14, 07:05 AM #  

    Pinochet was a flawed and certainly far from ideal leader. But the question isn’t whether he was the kind of leader we would prefer in an ideal world, it’s whether he was better than the actual alternatives. Clearly, he was, since Allende was rapidly transforming Chile into a permanent Cuban-style dictatorship that would have been much worse than Pinochet’s temporary authoritarian one. (That there were innocent victims of Pinochet’s government does not change this fact. There are innocent victims of the US government too, but that doesn’t make the US government just as bad as any dictatorship.)

    The people who villify Pinochet show a lack of perspective. Politics isn’t about finding ideal solutions, it’s about choosing the lesser of evils. The alternative to Pinochet wasn’t rule by town meetings, it was communist dictatorship. Pinochet looks pretty good by that standard.

  42. alesh    Thu Dec 14, 08:07 AM #  


    Take the number of Iraqis that Saddam Hussein would have killed over the last five years had he been in power, and subtract it from the vastly higher number who have actually been killed during the US invasion and occupation. That’s the number of deaths (by some respectable accounts over half a million) that are the responsibility of George W. Bush and, insofar as this is a democracy, of the American people. Does that make the US as bad as any dictatorship? I think the answer we’re working towards is, “maybe.”

    The people who villify Pinochet show a lack of perspective. Politics isn’t about finding ideal solutions, it’s about choosing the lesser of evils. The alternative to Pinochet wasn’t rule by town meetings, it was communist dictatorship. Pinochet looks pretty good by that standard.

    You’re talking about him like he was a brick wall, dude. Pinochet was a GUY. He got into power, and he made decisions. Some good, and some very very bad and immoral.


    What? Thousands of people weren’t killed by Pinochet’s regime? Political opponents of his? Or is it that they were opponents of his, in other words leftists, and so you agree that they deserved their deaths? (Oh and let us remember that thousands more were tortured and raped, not the least of which was the mother of the current Chilean president.)

  43. Alex    Thu Dec 14, 08:32 AM #  

    NFK, return the favor. He’ll consistently ignore your points and continue moving the target. I call it pseudointellectual Whack-a-Mole.

    Jonhatan, again with the crystal ball. You have no proof whatsoever that Allende was going to establish a brutal communist dictatorship -because it didn’t happen. It’s no “fact”. He was a senator and a three time failed candidate who finally won the elections. He started socialist measures: nationalizing primary industries (btw, both Mexico and Venezuela nationalized oil production which continues to this day), increasing minimum wages, etc. He had not banned political parties or opposing media. He was naive and allowed Castro to use him. You may find some victims of Allende, but certainly not in the thousands. In short, he was Chavez. I don’t like Chavez at all, but I’m not going to deny the fact Chavez has been elected or the reasons Venezuelans keep voting for him, because that would be burying my head in the sand. The oligarchy didn’t like it, the military didn’t like it, the US didn’t like it so he had to go. It was the Cold War, it was SOP at the time. Those are FACTS, the rest is speculation and as NFK says, pretzel logic to justify your approval of a dictator as long as he is on your side.

    If he really had pure intentions, after the coup, Pinochet could have turned over the country to civil society. Instead that benevolent dictator of yours, that wise king, chose to stay in absolute power for 17 years and only relented when he had no other option left.

    We are either for democracy rule or not.

    Also, stop the ludicrous comparisons. If and when the US government carries on a policy of extrajudicial executions, coups d’etat, suppression of civil liberties, etc; then the US will be a bloody dictatorship. If the US government does it based on suppositions of “alternatives” then it would lack legal, ethical and moral base a civilized society needs to exist.

    If the critics of Pinochet lack perspective, his supporters lack those same moral values they get on a soapbox so often -about Castro for example. It goes beyond hypocrisy.

  44. Alex    Thu Dec 14, 08:39 AM #  

    As far as Marti goes: the days when quoting Marti got you the higher moral ground were gone the moment Armando Perez Roura and his cohorts in Cuban radio started quoting him at the beginning of every broadcast. The man has been pimped as much as Che Guevara (and I do suspect NFK, the non-translation was intentional). In any case there are plenty of Marti’s writing opposing tyranny, in fact the elimination of tyrannycal rule was what he dedicated his life to. Comparing Pinochet to Bolivar, San Martin and especially Hidalgo is absurd to the point of laughability.

  45. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 09:12 AM #  


    José Martí was a pragmatist as all great leaders are and must be. He despised dictators but knew that they could be used to accomplish great ends. In 1878, Martí left Mexico because General Porfirio Díaz had seized power in a coup. 17 years later he travelled to Mexico to meet with Díaz and apprise him of his plans to liberate Cuba. Díaz contributed $30,000 to Martí‘s Revolution, which Martí gratefully accepted. He knew that money, even a dictator’s, is not inherently good or evil; it is the purposes to which men put money that are good or evil. Porfirio Díaz, dictator or not, brought prosperity and stability to Mexico after a half-century of civil wars. His international stature prevented the U.S. from carving-up Mexico some more. When he was deposed in 1910, the civil wars resumed and the U.S. again invaded Mexico. Martí was certainly right to consider Díaz the right man at the right time, dictator or not.

    Nietzsche, the supreme individualist, was not a fascist or a proto-fascist; the Nazis hijacked his legacy as the Castroites hijacked Martí‘s.

    I will agree this far with Nietzsche: great men are the engine of history.

    I am sorry that you think I have been condescending to you. First, of course, I had to tap the well to see how deep it ran. Let me say, however, that I am impressed by your command of the English language, which is at least as good as that of any major contemporary writer. I hope you put those talents to some higher purpose than arguing with an old man who did not.

  46. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 09:29 AM #  


    I agree with everything you have said; yours is surely the most penetrating mind here and not because you happen to see Pinochet in the same light as I do.

    The greatest statesman of our time, Margaret Thatcher, agrees with us.

    I might also point out that there has lately developed in Russia what I would call “a cult of Pinochet.” Putin even invited Pinochet’s Chilean economic advisers to consult with him in Russia. Condolences were sent by Russia to Pinochet’s widow, something not done by the U.S. Obviously, those who suffered the Communist yoke the longest know how to appreciate someone who broke that yoke in time and saved his people.

  47. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 09:47 AM #  


    Bolívar, San Martín and Hidalgo were all vilified in their day to an extent that would make Pinochet’s critics mere scoffers. Bolívar assumed the official title of “Dictator” with no reservations and died alone, convinced that he had “ploughed the seas”; San Martín was banished from Argentina by the very people he had freed and died in exile in Europe; and Hidalgo was betrayed and executed.

    Yet today they are honored along with Martí as our greatest leaders.

  48. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 10:05 AM #  


    I have answered your objection already and I know you are acquainted with my answer:

    The media has also accused Pinochet of killing 3000 of the opposition during his 17-year rule, which amounts to 175 casualties a year. The homicide rate is much higher in most major American cities. The difference is that in Latin America all violent deaths tend to be ascribed to political motives.

    Moreover, in the last 10 years, more than 1000 of the so called “disappeared” have resurfaced from their coverts in Cuba and Eastern Europe. In the end, it may well be that Pinochet was the least sanguinary of all Latin American leaders.

    Compare him, if you will, to Fidel Castro who in his first year in power killed 15,000 Cubans by firing squad. And he’s had 47 more years in power.

    As for the current president of Chile, she sought refuge with her whole family in East Germany (that great democratic bastion) when Allende fell. Maybe it was Eric Honecker who tortured her.

  49. Alex    Thu Dec 14, 10:31 AM #  

    OK, I get it now: Bolivar, San Martin, Hidalgo = Pinochet because they were all vilified (by some, you forget to add) in their time, and they were vindicated by history (as you suppose Pinochet will). Let’s continue the reductio ad absurdum: Pinochet was the second coming of Christ, by the same standard. Why not?

  50. j-j    Thu Dec 14, 10:31 AM #  

    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea

  51. Steve    Thu Dec 14, 10:57 AM #  

    Manuel: Your (repeated) statement: “The media has also accused Pinochet of killing 3000 of the opposition during his 17-year rule, which amounts to 175 casualties a year. The homicide rate is much higher in most major American cities“ is nauesatingly wrong-headed. A government that murders its own citizens — even ONE citizen — disqualifies its legitimacy. The homicide rate has nothing to do with it. You don’t see that, you can’t be talked to.

    Pack up your fascism and peddle it elsewhere. We ain’t buying.

  52. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 11:07 AM #  


    I suppose since you keep repeating my name that you must be an admirer. Pinochet’s supporters were also chanting his name at his funeral. You are cordially invited to attend mine.

  53. Jonathan    Thu Dec 14, 11:45 AM #  


    First of all, I don’t accept your premise that the USA killed more Iraqis than Hussein did. The 500k figure is ludicrous (where are the bodies, for one thing); the Lancet’s earlier 100k estimate is almost as implausible, being based on poor sampling methods; Iraq Body Count, which I think probably overstates, has a current max estimate of 56k deaths, not all of which (maybe not even most of which) are our doing. Hussein, judging by the estimated population of mass graves, the prisons, the genocides, was killing people at a very high rate (1000 per month? 2000?). Second of all, to the extent we are killing people it’s either because 1) they are trying to kill us, 2) we are trying to prevent a much worse loss of life in the future by engaging in defensive war against our enemies now or 3) they were, unfortunately, in the wrong place at the wrong time and we killed them accidentally. We are not killing people the way Hussein did — i.e., because we consider them political enemies or their kid made a joke about George Bush in school. To compare us to dictatorships that use mass-killing as a political tool is silly.

    As for Pinochet, I agree that he was a bad man in many ways; he killed people. But you too are missing the point. The point is that 1) he was the best alternative at that time and place and 2) he left his country better off than it was when he came in. That’s not what Castro, who has literally wrecked Cuba, and BTW has killed far more people, has done. It’s not what Saddam Hussein did, or Idi Amin, or Mao or Stalin etc. Pinochet is more comparable to Franco, who also was in many ways a bad man but who could have gotten away with much worse if he had wanted to, and who left his country in pretty good shape.

  54. Jonathan    Thu Dec 14, 11:56 AM #  


    Yes, based on my reading of events, I think that Allende was trying to institute a communist dictatorship, and that if he had not been stopped would have been much worse than Pinochet was. I made clear that this is my opinion. You disagree with it. So?

    We are either for democracy rule or not.

    Well, no, actually. We should be for democratic rule when it furthers freedom and self-determination, which are the values we are really for. We are not necessarily, or at least should not necessarily, be for democracy when democratically elected leaders abuse the institutions of democratic government in order to become dictators. That was the problem with Allende, as it is with Chavez.

  55. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 12:06 PM #  


    You have just accused Bush (rightly or wrongly) of being responsible for a half-million deaths in Iraq. I guess that makes George Bush 166 times worse than Pinochet.

    Does that qualify Bush as a “murderous tyrant?”

    You say “maybe” in respect to Bush but have no problem calling Pinochet a “murderous tyrant.”

    Your numbers just don’t add up, Alesh.

  56. Dan    Thu Dec 14, 12:16 PM #  

    Alex —

    Also, stop the ludicrous comparisons. If and when the US government carries on a policy of extrajudicial executions, coups d’etat, suppression of civil liberties, etc; then the US will be a bloody dictatorship. If the US government does it based on suppositions of “alternatives” then it would lack legal, ethical and moral base a civilized society needs to exist.

    Yes, clearly, the U.S. would never engage in extrajudicial renditions of suspects to other countries, where said suspects are tortured and even killed ; foment coups d’etat in other countries ; or suppress civil liberties .

    This is America. It could never happen here.

    Manuel —

    Margaret Thatcher is the greatest statesman of our time? The woman who crushed social movements and labor unions, sometimes by brute force? The woman who allowed prisoners to starve to death rather than call them “political prisoners”? The woman who shrugged off the very concept of a “society” as so much fiction?

    Yeah. Some statesman.

  57. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 12:18 PM #  


    By the way, Pinochet both won and lost elections in Chile, and when he lost he stepped down.

    Bush is president because he wouldn’t step down when he lost an election.

    In fact, if Bush had run in Chile (where the guy with the most votes wins), Gore would have won in 2000 and Kerry in 2004.

  58. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 12:26 PM #  

    “A government that murders its own citizens — even ONE citizen — disqualifies its legitimacy.” — Steve

    I guess there are no legitimate governments on the face of the earth.

  59. Alex    Thu Dec 14, 12:40 PM #  


    Corrections: ...when democratically elected leaders abuse the institutions of democratic government in order to become dictators. That was the (theoretical) problem with Allende, as it is (theoretically) with Chavez.

    Dan: If your point is to inform me of the several cases in which the US government has acted/is acting less than honorably, save it (I’m surprised you didn’t include Arbenz, which is much more relevant here than Iran). Isolated cases do not constitute a policy. Unless we have a social order resembling Pinochet’s Chile or Castro’s Cuba we can’t say dictatorship with a modicum of credibility.

  60. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 12:41 PM #  

    What would have happened if a KGB agent had been elected president of the United States during the Cold War?

    It didn’t happen here, but it happened in Chile. The KGB’s agent’s name was Salvador Allende and he was an asset of the Soviets for 40 years.

    This had long been rumored in Chile (just as Castro’s Communist leanings were an open secret in Cuba prior to 1959).

    When the Soviet Union collapsed, the KGB archives were opened and Allende’s history as a KGB agent confirmed.

    What possible legitimacy can a man have who is a traitor to his country?

  61. Dan    Thu Dec 14, 01:08 PM #  

    Alex —

    Wasn’t trying to paint the U.S. in the same light as Pinochet’s Chile or Castro’s Cuba, both of which I see as incredibly tyrannical (i.e. I’ve got no dog in this hunt). I’m just pointing out that the American record is, while unlike the aforementioned regimes, hardly spotless. Sorry if my previous post was muddled.

    Manuel —

    I’m aware of Allende’s KBG ties, of course (especially per Vasili Mitrokin’s journals), but I think such an outlook, just like the rest of this debate, has to be put in the Cold War context, wherein just about every world leader had to pick a side. Pinochet, by contrast, had ties to the CIA. And while I think Pinochet was on the right side of history in this regard, I would offer that no national leader should be at the behest of any foreign intellgence service’s agenda.

  62. Alex    Thu Dec 14, 01:42 PM #  

    No prob Dan. You are abolutely right this whole debate should be framed within the Cold War context.

    As the protagonists (Kirkpatrick, Pinochet, soon castro) we’ll see more of this debate.

    One thing to take into account while praising Pinochet: The nationalization of the copper industry by Allende, —the main move that got him labeled a communist— was never revoked by Pinochet, despite his Friedman/Chicago Boys inspired economic policies. How much of the credit for Chile’s financial health belongs, ironically, to Allende?

  63. Lei    Thu Dec 14, 02:12 PM #  

    Talking about the NYT; what did you think about this?
    Miami Basel: An Art Costco for Billionaires
    it Came out on the Sunday newspaper
    to me kind of harsh… are they Jealous?


  64. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 02:53 PM #  

    “How much of the credit for Chile’s financial health belongs, ironically, to Allende?” — Alex


    The free market saved Chile; Marxism brought it to the point of collapse. KGB agent Salvador Allende nationalized 564 industries in Chile, which, naturally, led to a complete economic collapse, the institution of food rationing and massive inflation. Fidel Castro even travelled to Chile and stayed there for a whole month in order to guide Allende through this process of national ruin which Castro had already perfected in his own country.

    Since you chose not to read the London Telegraph article cited above, here are some facts for your edification:

    “Other statistics of Pinochet’s record are worth mentioning. Inflation down from 600 per cent to six per cent. Infant mortality rates down from 66 per thousand to 13 per thousand. Urban access to drinking water up from 67 per cent to 98 per cent. Life expectations up from 64 to 73. Living standards more than doubled.”

    Of course, this is complete news to you. The media doesn’t report Pinochet’s achievements, just the 3000 dead. However, in every article ever written about Fidel Castro, his so-called “social achievements” are always mentioned to justify his 48 years of unelected rule. What is never mentioned is the more than 250,000 casualties attributable to his regime.

  65. Steve    Thu Dec 14, 03:35 PM #  

    Gosh. Since I read the NY Times every day, I just had no idea Pinochet’s economic achievements were so awesome. Assuming President Bush can do something equally impressive, say, undo the gigantic deficit his government has created, how many citizens would he be allowed to slaughter before we’re allowed to condemn him?

  66. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 03:51 PM #  


    Alesh has already attributed 500,000 deaths to Bush. I guess he’s killing on credit.

  67. Jonathan    Thu Dec 14, 05:27 PM #  

    This guy has a good perspective. He frames the issue as a question of how a country can transition from authoritarian or totalitarian government to representative government. Some countries — Spain, S. Korea, Taiwan, Greece, Portugal, Czech, etc. — have made the transition successfully. Some countries haven’t. Some countries, such as Chile, went the other way, at least for a while. The Shah of Iran was a bad man and Jimmy Carter, perhaps motivated in part by a desire to repudiate past US support for Pinochet, Somoza et al, encouraged his ouster — not one of our better national policy decisions, to put it mildly. It is a tricky business. No matter how bad the situation looks in a particular country, it can usually get worse.

    Pinochet was bad, Allende seemed likely to be a lot worse. Not that it was a sure thing. But during the Cold War the stakes were high. The stakes aren’t so high today in, say, Venezuela, which is one reason why the USA leaves Chavez alone. Of course if Chavez ever gets nuclear or other WMD the stakes will become high again.

  68. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 14, 06:28 PM #  

    “Upon Stalin’s death in 1953, Chilean communists held a “homage to Stalin” in Santiago’s Baquedano theatre where Salvador Allende could hardly contain himself: “Stalin was a banner of creativity, of humanism, and an edifying picture of peace and heroism!” he gushed while choking back the tears. “Everything he did, he did in service of the people. Our father Stalin has died but in remembering his example, our affection for him will cause our arms to grow strong towards building a grand tomorrow — to ensure a future in memory of his grand example!”

    Read more of Humberto Fontova’s “Pinochet, the Untold Story” at:


  69. Alex    Thu Dec 14, 08:26 PM #  

    I was wondering when was that false prophet of the delusional, Fontova, going to chime in. His style is amusing, a hodgepodge of pseudofacts, cliches and free associations (Allende got the same percentage of votes as Hitler) shot at the page in rapid fire mode, so full of testosterone one wonders if he is overcompensating. Here’s a sample:

    “They knew their nation was looking up the locked and loaded muzzle of a Stalinist takeover.

    So they marched into the Chilean “OK Corral” loaded for (Soviet) bear.”

    What would he do without exclamation points?

  70. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 15, 10:59 AM #  


    And I was wondering when the green monster would rear its head.

  71. NicFitKid    Sat Dec 16, 05:33 PM #  

    This argument has rapidly devolved into a display of competing rhetoric and philosophy, which has its place, but we are arguing about history here. Sorry, Mr. Tellechea and Jonathan, but I think we approach and interpret history from fundamentally different perspectives. So be it.

    I am certainly just as guilty as anyone else on this thread of reaching for the cutting argument and trenchant riposte, albeit somewhat unsuccessfully. In the spirit of trying to reintroduce some historical grounding into the debate, here are some links to declassified U.S. government documents dealing with the Pinochet era, made available by George Washington University’s National Security Archive. I post these links for the benefit of the general audience so they can view at least some of the primary sources from the U.S government dealing with Pinochet, and decide for themselves if this type of ruler and government was worth supporting.

    Department of State, SECRET Memorandum, ‘Chilean Executions,’ includes ‘Fact Sheet-Human Rights in Chile,’ November 27, 1973

    Central Intelligence Agency, SECRET Intelligence Report, [Executions in Chile since the Coup], October 27, 1973

    Central Intelligence Agency, SECRET Report, ‘Chile: Violations of Human Rights,’ May 24, 1977

    Defense Intelligence Agency, CONFIDENTIAL Report, ‘Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA) Expands Operations and Facilities,’ April 15, 1975

    Department of State, SENSITIVE Cable, ‘USG Attitude Toward Junta,’ September 13, 1973

    Department of State, SENSITIVE Cable, ‘Continuation of Relations with GOC and Request for Flares and Helmets,’ September 18, 1973

    Department of State, Memorandum, ‘Ambassador Popper’s Policy Paper,’ July 11, 1975

    Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation, Secretary’s Meeting with Foreign Minister Carvajal, September 29, 1975

    Department of State, SECRET, ‘The Secretary’s 8:00 a.m. Regional Staff Meeting,’ December 5, 1974

    Department of State, SECRET Memorandum of Conversation between Henry Kissinger and Augusto Pinochet, ‘U.S.-Chilean Relations,’ June 8, 1976

    Central Intelligence Agency, SECRET Intelligence Information Cable, [Assassination of Orlando Letelier], October 6, 1976

    Central Intelligence Agency, SECRET Intelligence Assessment, ‘Chile: Implications of the Letelier Case,’ May 1978

    Central Intelligence Agency, SECRET Intelligence Report, ‘[Deleted] Strategy of Chilean Government with Respect to Letelier Case, and Impact of Case on Stability of President Pinochet,’ June 23, 1978

    Central Intelligence Agency, SECRET, ‘Biographic Handbook [on] Chile,’ November 1974

    The links in their original context on the GWU National Security Archive page on Pinochet

    About GWU’s National Security Archive

  72. Manuel A. Tellechea    Sun Dec 17, 03:28 AM #  


    I appreciate how seriously you take this discussion and know you must have spent quite some time putting together these documents. I must honestly say, however, that the “cutting argument and trenchant riposte” is what adds interest to these discussions, and since you are exceptionally gifted in both, I do not think that you need these links to bolster your arguments. In any case, you should quote selectively from them rather than park the truck and dump its contents here.

    The spontaneity of these discussions is their chief charm. We sit at our keyboards, marshalling the resources of a lifetime of reading, distilling everything into a conclusion that may seem hasty, but which, in fact, is the synthesis of all that came before. It is possible but hardly worthwhile to trace all our opinions to their sources; but, ultimately, this approach overwhelms the discussion and, indeed, turns it into an academic exercise rather than a political debate. Now, I am all for academic discussions, but this does not seem to be the place for them.

    Most of your references are from the early years of the Pinochet regime when a state of siege existed in Chile. It is then that 99 percent of the 3000 casualties attributed to Pinochet occurred. For most of his 17 years in power there were no political killings in Chile. That is, when the Marxists ceased to threaten the social order, there was no need to defend the nation against them anymore.

    Pinochet, by the way, was no puppet of the United States. In fact, he held this nation in the greatest disdain, but, unlike Castro, did not see it as his “historic mission” to combat it. That is one reason, among many, that Pinochet was successful and Castro was not.

  73. alesh    Sun Dec 17, 09:29 AM #  

    Yes, Manuel, speaking as someone who’s lived under a totalitarian regime, I can tell you that that’s how it works: you kill a few thousand people, torture another few thousand, and exile a few thousand (maybe blow up a couple of high-profile supporters of your enemies when they get in a car in Washington, right), and all of a sudden everybody calms way the fuck down.

    That’s how smart murderous dictators do it; you make it very very clear from the beginning that if anyone makes a peep their whole family goes, and everyone shuts the fuck up and behaves. Then you shut down the free press just to be on the safe side.

    Again, Manuel, you don’t measure a murderous dictator. You measure him by the fact that his nation lived in abject fear and repression during his rule. Your life’s reading has led you to the conclusion that the right-wing version of murderous dictatorship is better then the left-wing version.

    I’d suggest it’s time for some serious reflection and re-evaluation.

    Nic~ “Trenchant riposte,” eh? Good one. Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out at work, as my home ‘puter chokes on PDF.

  74. Manuel A. Tellechea    Sun Dec 17, 12:31 PM #  

    “Your life’s reading has led you to the conclusion that the right-wing version of murderous dictatorship is better than the left-wing version.“ — Alesh

    Reading and experience.

    I do not think that anyone would dispute that left-wing dictators are bloodier than right-wing dictators. [And Hitler, by the way, was a left-wing dictator, not a right-wing dictator].

    Whom would you have preferred? Gustáv Husák or Tomas Masaryk?

  75. Steve Klotz    Sun Dec 17, 10:49 PM #  

    I do not think that anyone would dispute that left-wing dictators are bloodier than right-wing dictators. [And Hitler, by the way, was a left-wing dictator, not a right-wing dictator].”

    Congratulations. Alesh. You have successfully reduced this imbecile to meaningless blathering. Good thing it’s printed: IRL,the drool and spittle would be almost as repulsive as the gurgling verbiage it accompanies.

  76. Manuel A. Tellechea    Mon Dec 18, 12:19 AM #  

    I stand corrected. There is a neophyte out there who actually believes that Hitler was a “right-wing” dictator. Of course! All right-wing parties call themselves “Socialist” like the Nazis did!

  77. alesh    Mon Dec 18, 01:14 AM #  


    When you say, “I do not think that anyone would dispute that left-wing dictators are bloodier than right-wing dictators,” you are once again making what is to me an unforgivable error — presupposing that murderous dictators are better or worse depending on what beliefs they hold.

    It’s nonsense. All tyrants who hold their nations hostage are contemptible, and beyond redemptive qualities.

    It’s like asking if you’d rather be killed by a crocodile and a shark, and then being forced to listen to arguments that the shark is more intelligent, while the crocodile is more virtuous: IT’S FUCKING NONSENSE!!

    You want to go on believing that Pinochet was a swell guy? Great, go right on with it. I feel sorry for you.

    Oh, and if you think that we want to watch you jump through rhetorical hoops showing that Hitler was this or that, which therefore means this or that, you’ve got another thing coming.

    This is about pricks who think they know better then anyone else and use their ill-gotten power to make people suffer. If you hate one of them, you should hate them all.

    But constantly dragging the conversation back to Hitler doesn’t show much more then that you’re out of ideas.

  78. Manuel A. Tellechea    Mon Dec 18, 08:24 AM #  


    A “murderous dictator” is better or worse depending on the number of people he kills. And it is a fact, which you as a Czech should know, that left-wing dictatorships are responsible for practically all the political murders of the 20th century. Red China and the Soviet Union alone killed more people in this century than were killed in all centuries past. This is no casual fact, and those as yourself who choose to brush it aside, have learned nothing from history.

    Hitler is usually used as the benchmark because everybody has heard of Hitler and his crimes. Very few people know the extent of Stalin’s or Mao’s crimes. In fact, I am sure that most Americans would have difficulty identifying Stalin or Mao.

    I did try to shift the focus of discussion from Hitler to the Czechs Tomas Masaryk and Gustav Hasak, but you would have none of it, preferring to return the discussion again to Hitler and then decrying that fact.

  79. alesh    Mon Dec 18, 08:41 AM #  


    You are wrong. Murderous dictators are evil people, but not just because they kill people — it’s because of the terror they put their entire civilization through. In that sense the killings are just an instrument; the crimes are against everyone living under the dictator, even those that are never physically hurt.

    Ideologues such as yourself brush this fact aside and play the numbers game. That trivializes human suffering.

  80. Jonathan    Mon Dec 18, 09:11 AM #  


    Surely there are degrees of badness. Otherwise we would consider Pinochet, Castro and Hitler (for example) to be equally bad. If it’s reasonable to think that Castro isn’t as bad as Hitler, then surely it’s reasonable to ask whether Pinochet was worse than Allende. Yet anyone who discusses such comparisons and concludes that Allende was worse gets accused of being a fan of right-wing dictators, which in my case (I’m not saying other people here disagree, merely that I speak for myself alone) is horseshit.

    The big question that the Allende case raises is what to do about elected officials who seize dictatorial power. You can’t just say that all dictators are equally bad, and that therefore Pinochet and the Chilean army were unjustified in overthrowing Allende, because if that’s your argument then you are effectively rationalizing an Allende dictatorship (as it was becoming) on the grounds that Allende was initially elected. That’s plainly untenable. Dictators may come to power by all kinds of means including, sometimes, elections. This is one reason why the notion of a right to rebellion is part of our political theory and history: it reflects experience with leaders who abused power and could not be replaced by peaceful means. IMO the Chilean army acted reasonably in deposing Allende before it became impossible to do so. You may disagree on this point, but the fact that we disagree does not make me a supporter of dictators. Far from it.

  81. Alex    Mon Dec 18, 11:08 PM #  

    Explain to me what would be the purpose of the comparison if it’s not justification. Where’s the reasonability of comparing body counts? Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 people and John Wayne Gacy killed 33, so Dahmer wasn’t the same degree of badness as Gacy. Does that make sense?

    I’d be easier to hear “Pinochet wasn’t as bad as Castro because he killed less people” if it didn’t always preceded “and he gets a pass because he was great for Chile”. Give me a break.

  82. Jonathan    Tue Dec 19, 02:15 AM #  

    So you think there is no worthwhile distinction to be drawn between Pinochet, Castro and Hitler?

    You keep ignoring the question of what to do about elected leaders who seize dictatorial powers as Allende did. There are two possible responses to this question: 1) you think there is no need to do anything, because an elected leader has legitimacy no matter what he does after he is elected, or 2) you think it’s OK to overthrow a leader who goes too far in abusing power and who will not otherwise leave office. Which is it? If you say 1, then you are essentially saying that elected leaders rule by divine right once they are elected, which is a ridiculous position for anyone who advocates representative government. If you say 2, then you agree with me in principle and we only disagree on how bad a leader has to be before it’s OK to overthrow him. So which is it? You’ve already made clear (comment 59) that you don’t consider Chavez to be a dictator. I am curious to know just how much worse someone like him, or Allende, has to be before you will consider his overthrow to be justified.

  83. Alex    Tue Dec 19, 09:05 AM #  

    Yes. And #2. Which Allende had not reached and Chavez hasn’t yet.

    Now answer my question; why the comparison if it’s not for justification?

  84. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 19, 12:55 PM #  


    Allende was a KGB agent and hence a traitor to his country. If that is not sufficient grounds to remove him, then, pray, what would be? When would this KGB agent and traitor “reach” the point of becoming unacceptable to you?

  85. Jonathan    Tue Dec 19, 03:06 PM #  

    Really? In which of those dictatorships would you rather live?

    As for Chavez and Allende, reasonable people can disagree. However, given Allende’s disrespect for the rule of law and the will of the electorate I don’t think he would have left office voluntarily. Nor do I think Chavez will, since he has destroyed judicial oversight and rigged elections.

    The purpose of comparison between dictators is the same as for comparison between elected leaders. Some leaders are worse than others and it’s important to understand why, because as voters we need to know whom to vote for, and as a country we need to know whom to support and whom to oppose. For dictators we quantify behavior by noting the numbers of people they killed and the ways in which they damaged the institutions of government and of civil society. Pinochet killed some people but he left Chilean society mostly intact. By that standard he was better than Castro, who killed more people by an order of magnitude or more and has wrecked most of the institutions of Cuban society. And by that standard Castro looks like a great guy as compared to Saddam Hussein, who is responsible for maybe one million deaths directly and indirectly. These are important distinctions, and pretending that all of these dictators are on the same level makes it needlessly difficult to draw necessary moral and practical (from a national-policy perspective) conclusions. If they are all equally bad, should we have avoided fighting Hitler because we didn’t fight other dictators? Should we now invade Venezuela because we invaded Iraq? As a country we have to make such decisions. Pretending that things are either black or white doesn’t help. To argue that Pinochet was preferable to Allende is merely to argue that Pinochet was preferable to the alternative. It doesn’t mean that Pinochet was a nice guy or that he would be my preferred alternative. Sometimes we have to work with the choices we are given, even though they are not good choices. If that’s “justification” then so be it.

  86. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 19, 03:34 PM #  

    Now answer my question; why the comparison if it’s not for justification? — Alex

    Because everything in life consists of comparisons. Whether it’s the least of two evils or the better of two goods, we are always comparing and choosing. And in every comparison there will always be something preferable to something else. Would you object to all comparisons because they inevitably justify one choice over another? All comparisons are made for the purpose of justification.

    So what is your point?

  87. Alex    Tue Dec 19, 04:01 PM #  

    In neither one (and I actually lived in one). You would have preferred Pinochet I assume?

    If we quantify tyrannical behavior before there’s a moral or practical decision to intervene, what is the threshold? What’s the magic number? When does it stop being inmoral to look the other way? The reality is that those decisions have never been made on the basis of how bad a dictator is -at the most, it becomes an excuse. They are made on the basis of on whose side the tyrant is, or whose strategic interests are affected. Thus Iraq gets invaded while Omar Al-Bashir massacres hundreds of thousands in Sudan. Allende is propped by Cuba and deposed by the CIA. Pol Pot kills millions with impunity while Noriega is jailed in Miami. Those are realpolitiks and the number of dead have nothing to do with it. Who is our son of a bitch, as FDR said of Somoza. It’s a false standard, both morally and practically.

  88. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 19, 04:31 PM #  

    What is morally reprehensible is to have no standards at all.

  89. Alex    Tue Dec 19, 05:20 PM #  

    Looking in the mirror Manuel? I have a standard: no tyrants, of any stripe.

  90. Dan    Tue Dec 19, 05:40 PM #  

    Manuel —

    If Allende’s feeding information to and accepting money from the KGB made him a traitor to his country, then what can one say about Pinochet, who fed information to and accepted money from the CIA?

    When was it OK to overthrow him?

    I agree with Alex. A tyranny is a tyranny is a tyranny. Neither Allende nor Chavez have reached the point where they could not/cannot be removed through political means. As for Chavez rigging elections, in the 2006 election, he never trailed in a single, solitary poll that I’m aware of — even including those of Penn, Shoen and Berland, the pollster that accused Chavez of fraud during the 2004 recall. Indeed, Venezuela’s elections are conducted on electronic voting machines with a verifiable voter paper trail — something that can’t be said even for our own elections, sadly enough.

  91. Jonathan    Tue Dec 19, 05:56 PM #  

    In neither one (and I actually lived in one). You would have preferred Pinochet I assume?

    You didn’t answer the question. In the real world, “neither” isn’t always an option. It wasn’t an option for Chileans.

    And yes, of course I would have preferred to live under Pinochet than Castro or Hitler. Under Hitler I probably would have been killed; under Castro I probably would not have been killed, but I might have been persecuted for holding independent views, and my productive potential would have been largely squandered by the restrictions and poverty imposed by the dictatorship; under Pinochet I probably would have been left alone as long as I didn’t engage in anti-government agitation. (And, of course, the dictatorship eventually relinquished power.) This is not a difficult question for me to answer.

  92. alesh    Tue Dec 19, 06:10 PM #  

    In the real world, “neither” isn’t always an option. It wasn’t an option for Chileans.

    Busted being meta-wrong, Jonathan! Of course in this case there was NO choice for the Chileans — the military came in and took over. Most of the people and groups who’d supported the idea of a coup withdrew their support as soon as they’d realized what they’d gotten themselves into, but by then it was too late.

    There is no real sense in which anyone had a choice between Allende and Pinochet — no one person cast a deciding vote. And in the grand scheme, those were decidedly NOT the only two options.

    Had outside forces not been meddling in the affairs of Chile, there no doubt would have been more moderate candidates which would have won popular support.

    We can’t go back and change history, but the lesson here is that meddling in the affairs of another country is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a bad idea. With the best of intentions there are terrible unforeseen consequences, and often the intentions aren’t that good to begin with.

    Look at our “intervention” in Iraq, where a murderous dictator holding the country together with an iron fist is paradise compared to what we have now. And — mark my word — in two years we’re going to be longing for the good old days of 2006 when the violence was confined to Iraq and the body count was only in the hundreds per day!

  93. Alex    Tue Dec 19, 06:25 PM #  

    LOL Alesh. BTW Johnathan, under Castro you are also “left alone as long as I didn’t engage in anti-government agitation”. In other words, you are ok with dictatorships as long as they don’t affect you or your views. Which has been my point all along about Pinochet apologists.

    I like Dan’s turning point for democratically elected leaders that turn into dictators: when there are no legal/political means to remove them.

  94. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 19, 06:53 PM #  

    Of course in this case there was NO choice for the Chileans — the military came in and took over. — Alesh

    As I have already explained, the Chilean Congress removed Allende as president for violating the Constitution and ordered General Pinochet, chief of the Army, to carry out its democratic will. Allende refused to surrender power to the civil authorites; the Armed Forces moved to secure the country; Allende committed suicide.

  95. alesh    Tue Dec 19, 07:10 PM #  

    I think the word “ordered” is a little strong there, but even assuming it’s true, it omits the fact that after the coup Pinochet started doing his barbaric bit, and the Congress and everyone else withdrew their support.

    Of course at that point it didn’t bother him so much.

  96. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 19, 07:11 PM #  


    In Castro’s Cuba you weren’t “left alone as long as you didn’t engage in anti-government agitation.” You could have been the most inoffensive individual and still the government would have taken your house, your car, your farm, your anything and everything. And since the individual in a communist regime is at the complete mercy of the State, he is subject to every indignity and usurpation whether he chooses to confront it or not.

    You should know this because you did live in a Communist state. Yet Jonathan, who did not, knows more about the real nature of Communism than you do.

  97. cohen    Tue Dec 19, 07:38 PM #  

    chavez didn’t rigg the elections, the opposition was trying to do that. still, he beat them by MILLIONS (about 4) of votes.

  98. alesh    Tue Dec 19, 09:17 PM #  

    (Picking up on something I didn’t respond to earlier…)

    Jonathan (#80)~

    Allende was probably worse then Pinochet. So were/are (less ambiguously) Castro, Hitler, and Stalin. That does not in any way excuse Pinochet.

    Talking about an Allende dictatorship is a little funny, since there’s no basis to believe he intended to stay in power past his six year term. Still, he was clearly acting in ways that were anti-democratic (not to mention terrible for Chile). Reasonable arguments could be made that he needed to be removed from power. However, those arguments do not justify the regime that followed him. Both were terrible; to argue about which was “worse” is to miss the point.

    iven Allende’s disrespect for the rule of law and the will of the electorate I don’t think he would have left office voluntarily.

    That’s not an unjustified bit of speculation, but come one, you see that it’s tainted by your partisanship, right?? Nothing wrong with that, just saying.

    For my money, you get to be called “dictator” on the first day that you’re in power past the point you were elected.

  99. Alex    Tue Dec 19, 09:28 PM #  

    Manuel, you know nothing about my life other than what has been drummed in your brain after 50 years in exile. I’m not surprised you can’t face the truth, because it’ll deny your life. I’ve seen that same attitude before, in the hardline communists that still adore Castro. You have more in common with them that you imagine.

    It’s inevitable to be subjected to brainwashing in a communist country, it’s pathetic to voluntarily brainwash yourself in a free society.

  100. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Dec 19, 11:14 PM #  


    All that I know about you is what you have told everyone; namely, that you were raised as a “child of the Revolution” and regard that as a positive experience. You are not a “hardline communist who still adores Fidel” but you have on occasion said positive things about him. God knows that you can’t bring yourself to say anything good about Pinochet, but for Castro you do have the occasional “objective” word.

    I am glad that you admit that you were “brainwashed” in a communist country. Since you can now openly acknowledge that fact perhaps you can tend to its effects.

  101. alesh    Tue Dec 19, 11:27 PM #  

    It’s inevitable to be subjected to brainwashing in a communist country, it’s pathetic to voluntarily brainwash yourself in a free society.

    Well said, and a very easy truth to overlook. Or refuse to consider.

    BTW, Thanks, Lei (#63). I totally re-posted your link here without credit. Sorry.

  102. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 08:12 AM #  


    Yes, it is pathetic to voluntarily brainwash yourself about the “virtues” of Communism while living in a free society. And, yes, at one time this sickness afflicted nearly all the Western intelligentsia. Happily, it never afflicted me.

    What is even more pathetic, however, is to have escaped the tyrant’s control and still remained in thrall to him.

  103. Alex    Wed Dec 20, 08:22 AM #  

    Manuel, you are a liar. Find one instance where I said anything positive about Castro. It’ll be offensive if it wasn’t just the ramblings of a confused man —confusing Castro with the country— one more sheep in the exile herd. No only you can’t face the truth that the reality of life in Cuba is not as black and white as you have been saying for 50 years, you can’t face the truth that it was you who put Castro in power and it’s you who keeps him there.

  104. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 09:48 AM #  

    Alex, you are a fool. So you don’t intend your acknowledged praise of Communist Cuba to reflect positively on Fidel Castro? That’s like praising hell without exalting the Devil.

  105. Jonathan    Wed Dec 20, 10:36 AM #  

    BTW Johnathan, under Castro you are also “left alone as long as I didn’t engage in anti-government agitation”. In other words, you are ok with dictatorships as long as they don’t affect you or your views.

    Wrong. I am saying that if someone put a gun to my head and told me to eat either rotten food or rat poison I would have no difficulty choosing to eat rotten food. That doesn’t mean I am OK with eating rotten food.

  106. Alex    Wed Dec 20, 10:38 AM #  

    Manuel: So you couldn’t find it, right? Liar. Enough with the hijacking, I’m getting bored.

    Alesh: For my money, you get to be called “dictator” on the first day that you’re in power past the point you were elected.

    You could make an argument for the first day you suppress the institutions that allowed you to get elected in the first place —opposition parties, the press, opposing legislators, etc.

  107. Jonathan    Wed Dec 20, 10:43 AM #  

    iven Allende’s disrespect for the rule of law and the will of the electorate I don’t think he would have left office voluntarily.

    That’s not an unjustified bit of speculation, but come one, you see that it’s tainted by your partisanship, right?? Nothing wrong with that, just saying.

    Of course. It’s my opinion. That’s why I wrote, “I don’t think. . .”

  108. Steve    Wed Dec 20, 11:44 AM #  

    It’s also pathetic, in a retro-way, to hear Manny Youngman go on and on about “communism” as though Eisenhower was still president. “Communism” and “facism” are secondary problems to the totalitatrianism they have in common….hence that idiotic discussion above about left-wing and right-wing dictatorships. A left-wing bullet is as deadly as a right-wing one. Or a moderate one. A difference without a distinction, unless one’s entire life and ideology depend on such trivial considerations when real live human beings are tortured, starving, and dying. Most of us figured this out years ago, but perhaps, as Alex suggests, Manny’s rather mired in some misty, mythical past. Sad, really, if true.

  109. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 12:00 PM #  


    Since you asked for it, here are you crediting Castro’s “advances” in health and education on A Grand Illusion:

    “Well of course the same people that say Pinochet is better than Castro because he killed less people, would be screaming their eyes out if you pointed that, by the same logic, Castro is a swell guy because he killed less people than Hitler.

    And better yet, they recoil in horror at any attempt to justify Castro’s tyranny with Cuba’s advances in health and education.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander guys. Dictators are dictators and crimes are crimes.

    Don’t expect links to corroborating sources either. When have the insane needed more proof than the voices in their heads?”
    Alex | 12.11.06 – 12:37 pm | #

    And here is Val Prieto’s well-deserved rebuke of you:


    You are the last person that I would expect to be spewing the party line on “advances in healthcare and education” and I wont even get into that discussion with you save to say that just like the price the Chileans paid for the supposed “prosperity” mentioned above was too high, so, too, is the price paid for that “education and healthcare” in Cuba.”

  110. alesh    Wed Dec 20, 12:13 PM #  


    You could make an argument for the first day you suppress the institutions that allowed you to get elected in the first place — opposition parties, the press, opposing legislators, etc.

    I can go along with that. Here’s my understanding of Allende’s election: there were three candidates, and the vote was pretty evenly split, with each getting about a third. Allende got the most votes, followed by the right-wing candidate, followed by another left-wing candidate with a platform similar to Allende’s (it’s interesting to note that without this left-wing split, Allende might have gotten close to 70% of the vote, but whatever).

    In elections where no candidate gets over 50% of the vote, in Chile the parliament decides between the two candidates (a pretty bizarre system).

    The parliament voted for Allende, but made him sign a document agreeing to do and not do a bunch of things, which he did. Immediately after taking office, he pretty much officially announced that he had no intention of following the document, and only signed it to get elected.

    Pretty brazen, and clearly a supression of the institution that got him elected, right? So Allende was a dictator almost from day one?


    I don’t know whether or not there have been advances in Health and Education under Castro. It may well be a case of swallowing the party line to say so. But I didn’t read that comment by Alex as supporting Castro, fwiw.

  111. Alex    Wed Dec 20, 12:31 PM #  

    Is that it Manuel The Liar? Because anybody with minimal English comprehension can understand I’m equating two false arguments, one being “Pinochet gets a pass because of Chile’s economy” the other being “Castro gets a pass because of Cuba’s health and education”.

    I guess I should have put “advances” within quotation marks or precede it with “supposed” or something like that to make it easier to understand for you and Val. It’s pavlovian, really. You say “Cuba” and “health and education” in the same sentence and the knees start jerking. Sad, sad, sad.

    It’s time you bury the hatchet with Babalu. You’ll fit right in.

  112. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 12:36 PM #  


    No Communist ever keeps his word. The Chilean legislature were fools to believe that Allende would. Fortunately, it acted in the nick of time in removing him from office. Still, it would all have been unavailing if Pinochet had not upheld the Constitution and the Rule of Law at that crucial moment and saved Chile.

  113. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 01:10 PM #  


    How cute! You have adopted John Longfellow’s old sobriquet for me: “Manuel the Liar.” I am sure that he will find it very amusing.

    People “with minimal English comprehension” may mistake your meaning perhaps, but I don’t.

    Your analogy, of course, is flawed. Pinochet did in fact bring unprecedented prosperity to all Chileans. Castro did not improve either the quality or availability of health or education for Cubans.

    What are Castro’s “achievements?”

    The highest suicide rate in the world.

    The highest rate of abortion in the world.

    And, for your information, Val Prieto and I have no hatchet to bury.

  114. alesh    Wed Dec 20, 01:13 PM #  

    Pinochet did in fact bring unprecedented prosperity to all Chileans.

    Historically false. You’re entitled to your own opinions, Manuel, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

  115. mkh    Wed Dec 20, 01:26 PM #  

    You’re entitled to your own opinions, Manuel, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

    Alesh, that line alone makes this discussion worthwhile. I may even have a chance to use it myself before the workday ends.

  116. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 01:30 PM #  


    From the London Telegraph (quoted previously):

    “Other statistics of Pinochet’s record are worth mentioning. Inflation down from 600 per cent to six per cent. Infant mortality rates down from 66 per thousand to 13 per thousand. Urban access to drinking water up from 67 per cent to 98 per cent. Life expectations up from 64 to 73. Living standards more than doubled.”

  117. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 01:39 PM #  

    “You’re entitled to your own opinions but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”


    When you quote the above line be sure to credit it to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was the first to say it.

  118. alesh    Wed Dec 20, 02:14 PM #  

    Under Pinochet real wages declined by 40%, poverty doubled to 40%, unemployment reached 22%, and that sustained economic growth did not begin until after Pinochet had relinquished power. source

    MKH~ I think that’s a Mark Twain quote. I’m not sure, which is why I didn’t say before, but i’m sure it’s not mine.

  119. Alex    Wed Dec 20, 02:17 PM #  


    Not really. Chilean Congress was dominated by members of the losing party. They were playing politics as much as Allende was. BTW, they were socialist in nature (the other side of the leftist split), so they were not going to break with the tradition of selecting the candidate with the largest popular vote (as small as the margin was, there had been smaller margins before) and they were not going to elect their candidate either, that would have been brazen.

    Look, I’m not going to defend Allende and the disastrous social and economic policies (other than nationalizing the copper industry)he was implementing. The point is that there were still pacific, political methods to oppose him, despite what Manuel The Liar says, and Pinochet was not a saint but a power drunk intrument of the CIA and the oligarchy.

  120. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 06:35 PM #  


    Of course the Chilean Congress was dominated by opposition parties. Allende’s own party had obtained only 34 percent of the vote in the presidential election. The opposition was the absolute majority (two-thirds).

    Incidentally, now you have adopted (or re-assumed) the formal Marxist verbiage of your youth — “not a saint but a power drunk instrument of the CIA and the oligarchy.”

    Do you really want me to invent a sobriquet for you? It would, of course, be the best sobriquet ever devised in history. You know that it would define and trail you for the rest of your days. And still you would dare me?

  121. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 07:25 PM #  


    The Chilean Miracle was known as the Chilean Miracle long before Pinochet left office.

    The statistics quoted in the London Telegraph article refer to the Pinochet years, not the post-Pinochet era.

    The article that you cite has a specific and undisguised political slant that disqualifies it as an objective source.

  122. Alex    Wed Dec 20, 07:50 PM #  

    “It would, of course, be the best sobriquet ever devised in history. You know that it would define and trail you for the rest of your days.”

    I stand corrected. It should be Manuel the Egotistical Liar.

    I don’t know where you get the “of course” —the majority in Congress was Christian Democrats, whose candidate finished third in the presidential election. Congress was split between three parties, there was no absolute majority.

    None of that is relevant anyway. There was no jutification for the coup and much less for the thousands of dead and “disappeared” in the 17 year tyranny that followed.

    You are quite acquainted with Marxism —you sure you didn’t belong to the PSP before hightailing it out of Cuba?

  123. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 08:02 PM #  


    I note that you have not dared me. Smart boy (for once).

  124. Alex    Wed Dec 20, 08:46 PM #  

    What are you, 13? Act your age.

  125. alesh    Wed Dec 20, 09:02 PM #  


    Thanks for the Pat Moynihan correction! I wanted to give the cite when I used the line, but a quick google didn’t turn up the source and I was in a hurry.

    The article may be biased (I didn’t read it — the line I quoted actually came from the Wikipedia article), but if you don’t have alternate numbers for wages, etc, right? Thought not. I think it’s fair to say that the economy improved, but most of the difference was for the very wealthiest people. Median salaries fell, nobody disputes that, which means that the majority of the people were worse off because of Pinochet. I do agree however that his economic policy was clearly much much better the Allende’s.

    One other correction: In the 1970 election, the third candidate was also a left-winger, and ran on a platform similar to that of Allende. So between 60 and 70 percent of the voters wanted the leftist solution — the one right-wing candidate got a little over 30%. It’s a safe bet that in a run-off election between the top two candidates, Allende would have won by a very large margin.

    Oh, and “Smart boy (for once).”? That makes you sound like you’re at your wit’s end?

  126. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 09:30 PM #  


    If I “acted my age” I would be room-temperature and then you could actually hope to win an argument.

    And, yes, still you do not dare.

  127. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 09:33 PM #  


    You could travel the world over, time and time again, and still you would not reach my wit’s end.

  128. alesh    Wed Dec 20, 10:07 PM #  

    Huh? He doesn’t dare . . . what? I think I missed something. But if we’re done exchanging ideas and we’ve moved on to exchanging insults, I’m going to draft up an ad-hoc comments policy (like this!) and start deleting comments.

  129. Steve Klotz    Wed Dec 20, 10:44 PM #  

    Interesting policy statements on ArtBlog. But what’s with the weird Rorschach test-looking ink stains at the top of the page?

  130. Jonathan    Wed Dec 20, 11:03 PM #  

    Cool, let’s argue about Alesh’s new comments policy.

  131. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Dec 20, 11:10 PM #  


    The moment you start deleting comments will be the moment you see the last of me. That is my one and inalterable rule.

  132. alesh    Wed Dec 20, 11:15 PM #  

    Help me out. Here’s some draft ideas, in order of how much things bug me

    — Identity issues – impersonating or outing another commenter or real life person.

    — Advertising – A useful comment with a name that links to a commercial site is ok; anything more overt is abuse. Click ‘advertise on this site’ instead.

    — Unredeemable insults – gratuitous offensive comments directed at another commenter. Though in practice I tend to find redeeming qualities even in pretty nasty comments.

    Those are things I could see deleting comments for. Other things I’d like to encourage:

    — Pick a name and stick with it; a bunch of pseudonyms for the same person making the same arugment is a pain in the ass.

    — Learn Textile. It’s a pain in the ass, and when there’s a way for me to enable the basic HTML commands I will, but until then Textile actually is easier to use, and allows for quick italics and hyperlinks (the two most frequently needed formattings). My mini-help below probably needs some work.

    Any other suggestions? (At one point I wanted to implement some sort of comment-rating system like Slashdot, but then I realized it’s impossible without registration, duh, so that’s not happening.)

  133. Alex    Wed Dec 20, 11:42 PM #  

    Dare him to come up with a nickname for me, I guess. Very schoolyard. As far as the comment policy, those are very reasonable and stay away from judgement calls (like what constitutes a non-sequitur), which is what kills the debate. I don’t know if you need them as a poster-on-the-wall kind of thing, but definitely works as broad guidelines. I would not take offense if you delete one of my commments because of one of the above. Except for textile. Ugh.

  134. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 21, 01:21 AM #  

    I would take objection even if it were somebody else’s comment that was deleted.

    As for “the school yard” taunt, “Manuel the Liar” certainly does not rise above that level (though I know it’s the best Alex can do).

    If I devised a sobriquet for him, it would be anything but infantile. I would prefer to let him live in fear of that name rather than baptise him with it. But if he dares me I will have no choice.

  135. Jonathan    Thu Dec 21, 02:46 AM #  

    OK, seriously. Are you sure you need a written policy on commments? You seem to be doing OK without one. Nobody will read a written policy if it’s longer than a short paragraph, and the real jerks (I’m not referring to anyone in the current discussion) will argue with you about it no matter what the specific rules are. Like, show me where your policy says I can’t say XYZ, man — U R a censor! etc.

    It’s your blog. If commenters are being intentionally disruptive or using multiple IDs or whatever, just delete their comments. If commenters are calling each other names to the point of disruption, you can always ask them to knock it off. Most readers will accept your running of your show as you wish as long as you are basically reasonable. The other readers you will never be able to please, so why waste your time trying to spell everything out for them. But if you want to spell everything out, the rules which you proposed seem OK.

    (BTW, I think implementing a comment rating system is probably not helpful unless your posts routinely receive hundreds of comments from many different commenters. The pattern with heavily commented posts here is for the same few people to contribute most of the comments, and the other readers know who these people are and can easily decide to read or ignore their comments without a formal rating system.)

  136. Alex    Thu Dec 21, 08:30 AM #  

    “I would prefer to let him live in fear of that name rather than baptise him with it. But if he dares me I will have no choice.”

    Hey, you forgot to add “nyah nyah nyah”.

    Amazing what 13 year olds with Wikipedia can do these days.

    Other than that, agree with Jonathan. Pigs are flying. And I’ll knock it off.

  137. Steve    Thu Dec 21, 09:12 AM #  

    Maybe change the name to “Delete This Blog.”

    I agree with Jonathan, also. You already have a comments policy: it’s your blog, so delete what you please, and explain rationale at your pleasure. Or don’t. People don’t like it, they can wank away elsewhere. (Kind of like leaving Miami instead of ceaselessly complaining about it.)

    Personally, I haven’t intentionally deleted any comments other than spam bots, but while there have been some doozies, overall they’re enjoyable. Of course, Manny Youngman hasn’t blessed my blog with his oral colonics. Yet. Maybe if I dare him and stick out my tongue. Or other digit.

  138. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 21, 09:46 AM #  


    Don’t beg; it’s unseemly. I promised that I would visit your blog and I will. Be patient. You all need “oral colonics” and there is only one of me.

  139. Manuel A. Tellechea    Thu Dec 21, 09:51 AM #  

    Amazing what 13 year olds with Wikipedia can do these days. —Alex

    I don’t know any “13-year olds with wikipedia” or without wikipedia, so I’ll let you be the expert on that.

  140. Jonathan    Thu Dec 21, 12:05 PM #  

    BTW, this is a pretty good, nonpolemical assessment of Pinochet’s economic policies in various areas.

  141. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 22, 04:43 AM #  

    Guess what? Salvador Allende did not commit suicide. A book recently published in France reveals that he was murdered in cold blood by his Cuban bodyguard, Col. Patricio de la Guardia, at Fidel Castro’s instructions. It appears that Allende tried in vain several times to surrender to the military but his Cuban handlers would not allow it, preferring a “martyred Allende” to one that might reveal the Castroite takeover of Chile. This same Patricio de la Guardia was later purged with his twin brother Tony and Arnaldo Ochoa in Castro’s show trial of the 1980s. But whereas Generals Ochoa and Tony de la Guardia were executed, Patricio was not because he took the trouble of depositing a full confession of Allende’s murder in a foreign bank vault. Patricio de la Guardia, however, is still in jail in Cuba.

    Castro Ordered Allende Killed

  142. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 22, 04:48 AM #  

    P.S.: Hugo Chávez also has Cuban bodyguards.

  143. Steve    Fri Dec 22, 10:25 AM #  

    Astonishing what Manny Youngman will believe. Even leaving aside the witnesses (all propoganda-spewing liars, right Manny?), Allende’s final radio broadcast practically announced his intention to self-destruct. Good riddance to a dead dictator.

    Why is this even controversial, other than for the motiviation to conform the world into some beebee brained ideology?

  144. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 22, 11:52 AM #  


    If it were really his intention to commit suicide, Allende would have done so to great effect while on the air. That’s what Cuba’s most popular pre-Castro politician Eddie Chibás did. Indeed, Castro first came to prominence when he literally kidnapped his idol’s corpse in a transparent bid to assume his mantle.

    The Allende cultists first alleged that Pinochet had killed Allende, and that lie was piously repeated for 30 years by all his sympathizers in and out of the media till Allende’s own daughter gave the lie to it. The truth is even less heroic: Allende was killed at the orders of his political mentor and idol.

    Of course, Allende’s is not the only death of a political ally for which Castro is directly responsible. If you knew anything about Fidel Castro, you would know that it is more dangerous to be Castro’s friend than to be his enemy.

    BTW, if you ever post something other than your Christmas specialties, I will visit your blog as promised.

  145. j-j    Fri Dec 22, 01:55 PM #  

    I have this to add

    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea



    oh and and a few more…
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea
    Manuel A. Tellechea

    ...to reinforce my point

  146. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 22, 03:12 PM #  


    Thank-you again, wise and thoughtful reader. Your remarks are always to the point and display more commonsense than anybody else’s.

  147. j-j    Fri Dec 22, 03:37 PM #  

    Manuel: I love you, please don’t ever change, keep on shining you special dude!

  148. alesh    Fri Dec 22, 06:37 PM #  

    Jonathan (#135)~

    I don’t need a comment policy yet. I will one day. This thread is actually great — it got a little uncomfortable with the jabs between Manuel and Alex for awhile, but didn’t really get close to anything I would consider deletable. But check out the threads for some of the recent New Times related posts, in particular this one and you’ll see some unredeemable nastiness, people talking complete shit about people that aren’t even on the blog. I have a problem with that. In the end, the only comment I deleted was someone who was impersonating a New Times writer, but I’d like to discourage pure nastiness that doesn’t add anything to the conversation.

    As readership of this blog picks up, probably sometime in 2007 I’m going to have to adopt some sort of policy; I feel much more comfortable deleting comments when I can say “here’s the rule you broke, you were warned”, because that way it’s not like I’m the Critical Miami tyrant deciding which direction a conversation can go in.

  149. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 22, 07:20 PM #  

    The Wisdom of Tellechea Distilled to its Essence

  150. alesh    Fri Dec 22, 07:27 PM #  

    Dude . . . it doesn’t work.

  151. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 22, 07:29 PM #  

    Let’s try again. This time you cut and paste:


  152. alesh    Fri Dec 22, 09:26 PM #  

    Now it goes somewhere, but not to anything written in a Roman alphabet. I’m intrigued, though — if the wisdom of Tellechea is this difficult to access, it must be boundless.

  153. Manuel A. Tellechea    Fri Dec 22, 11:21 PM #  


    Yes, Alesh, boundless and eternal like the Taj Mahal.

    The language is Hindi. Unbeknownst to me until today, when I casually discovered it on the internet, my wisdom has been translated into the mother of all languages.

  154. Steve Klotz    Sat Dec 23, 01:40 PM #  

    “The wisdom of Tellechea,” when translated by computer, turned out to be an entire page of Henny Youngman jokes. Not bad, either.

  155. Manuel A. Tellechea    Sun Dec 24, 09:32 AM #  

    It began with the politics of the West and ends with the philosophy of the East. May all such future discussions end as serenely.