On Pinochet and the Iron Lady

A Reuters photo of Thatcher and Pinochet at a reception in Santiago in March, 1994.

A Reuters photo of Thatcher and Pinochet at a reception in Santiago in March, 1994.

The Fundación Presidente Pinochet has taken out full page advertisements in El Mercurio, Chile’s largest newspaper, expressing its condolences over the death of Margaret Thatcher, saying the former British Prime Minister “had defended Chile’s jurisdictional sovereignty during very difficult moments in our recent history.” This refers to Thatcher’s public defense of Pinochet during his detention in London from October 1998 to March of 2000, when she called him Britain’s “friend and ally” and claimed he had “brought democracy to Chile.”

Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker interviewed Pinochet in London shortly before his arrest and has a blog post about the Chilean dictator and the Iron Lady, noting that Britain lifted its arms embargo against Chile the year after she took office and that the Chilean military helped Britain with intelligence on Argentina during the Falklands War

“Thereafter, the relationship became downright cozy, so much so that the Pinochets and his family began making an annual private pilgrimage to London. During those visits, they and the Thatchers got together for meals and drams of whiskey. In 1998, when I was writing a Profile of Pinochet for The New Yorker, Pinochet’s daughter Lucia described Mrs. Thatcher in reverential terms, but confided that the Prime Minister’s husband, Dennis Thatcher, was something of an embarrassment, and habitually got drunk at their get-togethers.” http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/04/neruda-pinochet-thatcher-chile-murder-exhumed.html

La Segunda has a story on Thatcher’s visit to Chile in 1994, including an incident in which she fainted while giving a speech to local business leaders.  The article reports that Thatcher had just praised Chile for defeating socialism and instituting free market economic policies when her speech slowed and she fell forward against the podium. http://www.lasegunda.com/Noticias/Internacional/2013/04/836777/su-fuerte-vinculo-con-chile-desmayo-en-santiago-y-su-defensa-a-pinochet



A Chilean news roundup

The Santiago Times reports that Chilean troops will continue to serve with United Nations peacekeeping forces in Bosnia for another year, joining soldiers from 23 other nations. Chile is the only Latin American country participating in this operation. Chilean troops also work with the UN in Haiti:  http://www.santiagotimes.cl/world/chile-abroad/25542-chile-to-keep-peacekeepers-in-bosnia-for-another-year.

The British travel book company, Rough Guides, has included Valparaiso on its Travel Hot List 2013, describing the Chilean port as “one of the most distinctive cities in Latin America, with colourful houses draped across a series of steep, undulating hills overlooking the Pacific. Valparaiso has an edgy bohemian atmosphere, character-filled cobbled streets, and wonderful turn-of-the-century architecture, plus some of Chile’s best restaurants and bars.” http://www.roughguides.com/website/Travel/SpotLight/ViewSpotLight.aspx?spotLightID=592

Entertainment Weekly has an interview on its blog with director Pablo Larrain about the making of the film “No,” Chile’s entry for the Oscar’s best foreign film: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/12/19/prize-fighter-chile-oscar-foreign-film-no-director-pablo-larrain/

The British Foreign Office’s announcement that the southern part of its claimed Antarctic territory would be named Queen Elizabeth Land has raised eyebrows in Chile and Argentina, as both countries have overlapping claims to the region as well. The Guardian newspaper calls the move “a retro piece of neo-imperialism for Her Majesty” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/19/queen-elizabeth-land-retro-neo-imperialism   while the Telegraph notes that “Australia, Norway, France and New Zealand are the only countries that formally recognize the existence of British Antarctic Territory; Argentina and Chile clearly don’t.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/antarctica/9755939/Whats-in-a-name-in-Antarctica-A-lot-….html.

MercoPress reports that Chile’s Antarctic bases expect to host some 250 scientists, including researchers from Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Germany, the United States, South Korea and Venezuela, who will work on 50 different projects over the 2012-2013 austral summer. http://en.mercopress.com/2012/12/19/chilean-antarctic-bases-expect-to-host-250-scientists-and-over-50-projects

Guest blogging

This week I’ve been invited to be the guest blogger at http://viehebdomadaires.wordpress.com/, a blogging chain which seeks out stories from across the planet.  I’ve started out with a piece on the aftermath of the Falklands War and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If anyone out there is interested in taking up this post next week, please get in touch.