Who was worse Che Guevara or Pinochet
Chile: How Pinochet thinks what Allende is hoping for
The grandchildren of the protagonists at the time in the original sound, recorded by Sandra Weiss.
My name is Augusto Pinochet Molina, I am 36 years old, divorced and I work in the administration of the Providencia district of Santiago de Chile. I became known through a speech at my grandfather's funeral, after which I was accused of defending his inheritance, and I was therefore discharged from the armed forces, in which I held the rank of captain. I don't remember the coup, I was just born and grew up in the United States. That was never an issue in my family. My grandfather was a central figure of respect, since his death the family has not sticked together like that, there are more conflicts. It was difficult to argue with him, he had a very rigid worldview, and I didn't agree with him in everything.
When I returned to Chile in 1986, the situation was very tense, but the economy was booming and growing by six or seven percent a year. Of course, my last name has led to a lot of prejudice about myself. But I am not responsible for what my grandfather did. The country was polarized back then, the people hated each other, there was no tolerance for those who thought differently. These trenches still exist today, but now there is more tolerance, you can talk about things more openly.
What I find problematic is that some who committed crimes were not prosecuted on the grounds that it would open a back door for the "enemy". But that had to do with the political climate at the time. That improved later. However, I think that the Concertación (the center-left alliance that has ruled since 1990) has exaggerated in coming to terms with the past. For political reasons, processes were often rushed through and human rights were violated in the process. Chile is polarized to this day, and it is the government's fault.
There was a tendency to revanchism. Especially in the case of my grandfather. I do think he held people accountable for certain things that happened during his tenure. But he has been on the defensive since he left. And at some point he got to a point where he could no longer for reasons of age. One could have been a little more lenient. Trample an old man who is lying on the ground is ugly, even if you are right.
I am very worried about the future of Chile. The politicians are puffing up the state more and more, and the economy is growing only slowly. There are more and more controls, more and more social welfare programs, everything is politicized, and not always the best get a chance. Only the big corporations and the banks benefit from the Chilean model, since they have divided the loot among themselves. Small and medium-sized businesses, which are actually the job creators, and middle-class employees bear the greatest burden of taxes and bureaucracy.
Of course you have to show solidarity in life, but that is not the job of the government, but of each individual. For example, I always give money to beggars, participate in charity events, and look after the well-being of my subordinates. For me, taxes are theft. The money is spent on thousands of things that are not essential, such as summits and excessive MPs' diets.
I'm pretty much alone in my opinion, that's why I'm a political orphan in Chile. I don't feel represented by any politician, even if the UDI (ultra right-wing Pinochetist party) has offered me a candidacy. I refused. My grandfather surrounded himself with certain people with whom I do not sympathize at all. They sail under his flag but are privateers.
My name is Gonzalo Meza Allende, I'm 44 years old and I work as a political consultant. I am Allende's eldest grandson. I only remember fragments of his reign, but of him as a person still very well. He was very busy, but a gracious grandpa who spoiled his grandchildren. I think I was special to him because he had three daughters himself and I was, in a way, the first male descendant. Sometimes he played chess with me or went sailing with me. He once took me on a helicopter flight. For my seventh birthday I got a horse from him, which impressed me very much.
I will never forget the day of the coup. Early in the morning the cleaning lady brought me to the house of socialist sympathizers in the south of Santiago. I was very confused and sad. Then my family followed. At first they didn't tell me what happened. It wasn't until later that I saw the television pictures of the bombing of the presidential palace, and then my family also told me that my grandfather was dead. On September 15, 1973, at night, the whole family flew out to Mexico. I became familiar with politics in exile. Political discussions and meetings were constantly taking place in our house.
Dialogue instead of confrontation
In 1983 my entry ban was lifted and I was allowed to return to Chile. It was the time of the first major protests against the dictatorship, and I was actively involved. For twelve years I supported the Concertación, be it as an advisor, functionary or city councilor. Now I have distanced myself from everyday political life. The parties are very contradictory, and politicians who should actually pull together fight each other over only one position. In addition, no party convinces me with their program. So now I prefer to work on the grassroots, with people who are looking for a constructive alternative to the current neoliberal model. I find that more promising.
I not only find the neoliberal economic model questionable, but also the philosophy on which it is based. So the idea that there will always be 20 percent rich and 80 percent poor and that you have to compete with each other in order to be better and to advance. That labor is seen as a cost factor. In such a model, values such as solidarity and cooperation are completely lost. It's a perverse logic that is all about wealth, about what you own. The middle and lower classes only have two options in the model: renouncing consumption or indebtedness. The average Chilean owes three months' wages and accordingly lives in fear and worry. It is very harmful to humanity. Unfortunately, the Concertación has also adopted this model introduced by Pinochet.
I think my grandfather was very avant-garde in this regard. During his reign, per capita income in Chile was higher than ever before and never since, the social gap was smaller then than it is today. Unfortunately, in the context of the Cold War at the time, foreign countries did not understand it that way. US President Richard Nixon saw only the communist threat in Chile, he did not differentiate. This black and white painting still has an effect today. The principle of social justice that my grandfather followed is still a valid guideline. Of course, not everything was great about his model. I think you have to take the best of everything in order to move the country forward, such as decentralization from Germany or the plebiscitary elements from Venezuela.
Feelings like hate are far from me. That's why I debated Pinochet's granddaughter on television a few years ago. I wanted to show that you can jump beyond your shadow and that a dialogue is always more forward-looking than sterile confrontations from the past. Neither of us have any responsibility for the actions of our grandfathers. If people looked more at what they have in common than at what separates them, we would be much more likely to make progress. (DER STANDARD, print edition, January 16, 2010)
Sandra Weiss lives as a correspondent in Santiago de Chile; the interviews were recorded shortly before the first ballot.
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