Tuesday, December 07, 2004

U.S. Dollars for Tyrants Scandal?

One more story from this morning's Times.
Front page of business section, Timothy L. O'Brien and Larry Rohter's "U.S. and Others Gave Millions to Pinochet" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/business/07bank.html):
Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator, received multimillion-dollar payments from the governments of several countries, including the United States, during his 25-year tenure as Chile's ruler and military chief, according to documents recently uncovered during a Senate committee investigation into suspected money laundering at Riggs Bank.

The documents, including General Pinochet's sworn financial statements, show that he received $3 million from the United States government in 1976 and, in other years, $1.5 million from Paraguay, $1 million from Spain, $2.5 million from China, a combined payment of $2.5 million from Britain and China, and a combined payment of $3 million from Britain, Malaysia and Brazil. From 1974 to 1997, the payments totaled at least $12.3 million.

[. . .]

General Pinochet, who is 89, assumed control in Chile after overthrowing the elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973. He instituted a police state, oversaw the kidnapping and killing of some 4,000 political dissidents, laid the foundation of a stable economy and kept a tight grip on power until 1990. Until 1998, he remained commander in chief of the military. Now he faces potential charges of human rights abuses in Chile as well as legislative and tax service investigations there of his financial dealings.

In 1976, the year General Pinochet received his payment from the United States, there were two pivotal events for Chile. The intelligence services of Chile and other South American countries agreed on a wide-ranging campaign to kill exiled political opponents. Shortly after that, a former Chilean foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, and his American assistant were blown up in their car on a busy street in Washington, an event that led to a reassessment of the United States' relationship with the Pinochet government.

Ben e-mailed this story and wondered why it wasn't on the front page?   Ben noted:  "Wonder if this will get the play that Judy Miller's bash the UN pieces get?"  Good question.  Thanks for sending it in and your allusion to Miller's recent pieces resulted in the naming of this entry.

I'll also note (since seven people have already e-mailed on this) that Paul Krugman returns from his vacation -- his first column since the week of the election runs in this morning's paper.  It's regarding social security (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fPaul%20Krugman) and remember that Bob Somerby is also addressing the myths being used in an attemp to privatize social security at The Daily Howler (www.dailyhowler.com).


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