Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 09:29:09 -0600 (CST)
From: Institute for Public Accuracy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Pinochet, Pinera and the Cato Institute
Institute for Public Accuracy
(202) 347-0020 * http://www.accuracy.org
915 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
Role of former high official in Pinochet dictatorship
is now subject of pointed questions in United States
From Institute for Public Accuracy
Tuesday 22 December 22 1998
WASHINGTON -- While former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto
Pinochet continues to face the possibility of prosecution in
Spain for human-rights abuses, a former high official in his
regime is the subject of growing controversy in Washington.
An article published Tuesday (Dec. 22) in Investor's
Business Daily condemns Jose Pinera's role in Chile and raises
questions about his current relationship with the Cato Institute,
a prominent Washington think tank.
"It strains credulity why top officials at that well-heeled
organization have continued to embrace" Pinera, says the
newspaper article, which was written by the directors of two U.S.
organizations, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and the
Institute for Public Accuracy.
Pinera, currently co-chair of the Cato Institute's Project
on Social Security Privatization, was Chile's Minister of Labor
and Social Security from 1978 to 1980.
Noting that today "Pinera is a Cato luminary," the article
says that while he worked as a top official in the Chilean
dictatorship, "Chile was under Pinochet's boot, with the
legislature having been shuttered and laws made by decree."
Human-rights groups have documented that the Pinochet regime
engaged in widespread political imprisonments, torture and
murder. "The fact that Cato even hired Pinera is a puzzlement,"
the article comments, given that "at the heart of its ideological
prattle are heated professions against intrusive government, the
definition of which presumably doesn't include torture."
After the 1973 coup, which overthrew a democratically
elected government, Chile privatized its pension system. In
recent years, officials at the Cato Institute and other advocates
of privatizing Social Security in the United States have cited
Chile as a model.
For more information:
* Larry Birns, Director, Council on Hemispheric Affairs;
* Norman Solomon, Executive Director, Institute for Public
Contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020
Realities of Pinochet's Past
By Larry Birns & Norman Solomon, in Investor's Business Daily
Tuesday, 22 December 1998
With the bitter market collapse in Southern Asia, all of us
-- certainly investors -- must be mindful that a poor human
rights record isn't necessarily a boon for business.
Meanwhile, internationally distinguished figures with solid
democratic credentials have applauded the arrest and detention of
former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, a world-class
human rights abuser.
But for some, privatization has become a philosopher's
stone. From their perspective, those who advance it are miracle
makers -- while those who challenge it by pointing to social
justice shortfalls are scornfully dismissed as neo-Luddites.
When the "Chicago Boys" served in the Pinochet regime,
writes Paul Craig Roberts in IBD (Viewpoint, Dec. 9), they "made
Chile the role model for Latin America."
Formerly a fellow with the Cato Institute in Washington,
Roberts dismisses Pinochet's brutalities as being a small enough
piece of jade to pay to advance the free market and oust the
But only those most bereft of an understanding of the
Pinochet period, or bored by the democratic ethos, can blunt the
grisly realities gripping Chile throughout the Pinochet era,
beginning on Sept. 11, 1973. When it comes to that dictatorship,
no grays were involved.
Not that Roberts hasn't attempted to manufacture them by
claiming that the world's odium has been "falsely" directed at
his hero because Pinochet had the temerity to put down "a
communist-led terrorist insurrection." In fact, no such
insurrection ever occurred.
In fact, Roberts' analysis has been repudiated by
international mainstream news organizations. Consider the London
Sunday Times, no bible of collectivism. The paper noted in
October that 3,197 people "were murdered for political reasons"
by Pinochet's dictatorship "and more than 1,000 are still
unaccounted for. Tens of thousands were imprisoned or exiled, but
often Pinochet's assassins would follow them."
One of the people they followed was a young Christian
Scientist, Charles Horman (portrayed in the film "Missing"), who
was detained and then murdered in Santiago, apparently for seeing
Pinochet's contract killers also went to Washington. In '76,
they blew up a car carrying the country's exiled former defense
minister, Orlando Letelier, just a few blocks from the White
Roberts' spirited defense of Pinochet also extends to Jose
Pinera -- who now co-chairs the Cato Institute's Project on
Social Security Privatization. It strains credulity why top
officials at that well-heeled organization have continued to
embrace the Chilean technocrat.
Roberts praises Pinera, who served as Chile's labor minister
from '78 to '80, during a period of unremitting oppression of
workers in that country.
Pinera is a Cato luminary, with its annual report stating
that he "oversaw the privatization of Chile's pension system in
the early 1980s." But the publication doesn't mention that during
his service, Chile was under Pinochet's boot, with the
legislature having been shuttered and laws made by decree.
The fact that Cato even hired Pinera is a puzzlement. At the
heart of its ideological prattle are heated professions against
intrusive government, the definition of which presumably doesn't
Roberts apparently has misidentified his readers' primary
allegiance, which is not only to profits, but to their public
role as citizens. Americans almost instinctively repudiate a
brutal regime that bloodily ousts a democratically elected
Doesn't torture matter? Are imprisonments and political
murders mere details to be denied in favor of brisk commerce?
Despite the inaccurate public relations Chile enjoys as "the
hemisphere's most perfected democracy" and Latin America's
"economic miracle," it is little better than a "guided democracy"
under military surveillance. Awash with great wealth in the hands
of a few, the country has one of the most concentrated financial
patterns in all of Latin America, while one-third of all Chileans
live at or below the poverty line.
The fact that only a handful of individuals have been
jailed, despite the thousands of innocents slaughtered by the
regime, is a testament to the magnitude of injustice spawned by
Pinochet and the unlikeliness that if returned to Chile he would
ever be tried. What Roberts has attempted is to conjure up a
Larry Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in
Washington, D.C. Norman Solomon is executive director of the
Institute for Public Accuracy in San Francisco.
Copyright (c) 1998 Investors Business Daily, All rights