10 December, 2006

General Augusto Pinochet, 1915-2006. (updated)

Former President of Chile, General Augusto Pinochet has died in a Santiago hospital, aged 91.

In 1973 Pinochet saved Chile from the Marxist depredations of President Salvador Allende and facilitated a period of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity for the Chilean people.

In 1982 Pinochet's government gave vital assistance to the British task force retaking the Falkland Islands, providing intelligence which saved the lives of many British servicemen.

In later years, the General was the target of an international leftist hate campaign but now he is beyond their reach and at rest. The West has lost a venerable Cold War warrior and the UK has lost a good friend and ally.


Daily Telegraph; the Guardian; and the BBC.

Update 13.12.06
General Pinochet has been buried. The Daily Telegraph has pictures of the funeral and a report; also, Robin Harris examines the UK's debt to the General for his assistance in the Falklands War.

The Chileans allowed disassembled aircraft to be shipped in for British use. But by far the most important assistance was intelligence. A long-range military radar was installed opposite Argentina's Comodoro Rivadavia air base. With this equipment, the Chileans provided the Task Force with minute-to-minute information on Argentine aircraft movements, so the Task Force commander could prepare his ships' defences and scramble fighters to intercept. On June 8, however, the long-range radar had to be switched off for overdue maintenance. Argentine aircraft were thus able to launch a surprise attack, sinking the troopships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, with terrible casualties. Whether Britain could have won the Falklands War without Chile's help is debatable. Whether it could have done so without far greater loss of lives is simply not. Pinochet, who took every key decision, fully deserved Mrs Thatcher's gratitude.
And the gratitude of us all.


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