Left: Image of Pinochet courtesy of Britannica Online
It was with little joy that I read of the death of Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, former dictator of Chile. While there is one less tyrant in the world, the wily Pinochet managed to slither and dance long enough to avoid a conviction on the numerous charges of torture, murder, illegal detention, and tax evasion he faced around the globe.
The number of people who were tortured, killed, or "disappeared" under the Pinochet regime may never be fully known. At least 3,000 documented killings of political opponents occurred at the hands of Pinochet's aptly-named Caravan of Death, and conservative estimates put the number of torture victims at 30,000.
Pinochet remained resolute in his defiance to the end.
"Today, near the end of my days, I want to say that I harbour no rancour against anybody, that I love my fatherland above all," he said in a statement read by his wife Lucia Hiriart. "I take political responsibility for everything that was done."
Political responsibility. Let the lawyers argue over what this means, but ambiguous rhetoric cannot change the fact that Pinochet went to his grave with bloody hands. If there is a Hell, may Augusto Pinochet be assigned an especially bitter, tortuous, and eternal corner of it.