The general’s daughter speaks her mind

Jacqueline Pinochet, third daughter and youngest child of the late General Augusto Pinochet

Remember Cristian Labbe, the die hard Pinochet supporter and mayor of the Santiago municipality where some of his likeminded associates held a public tribute to a notorious human rights abuser ( Miguel Krassnoff?  Well, Jacqueline Pinochet, the late dictator’s youngest child, wants everyone to know that Labbe is NOT the father of her youngest child, despite what it says in a declassified U.S. State Department cable.

Some background is needed here.  Municipal elections are scheduled for later this year, and following the uproar over the Krassnoff homage, opponents of Labbe, a retired army colonel and former agent of the Pinochet regime’s security forces, are hoping more than ever that he will not be re-elected. Earlier this month the Chilean press noticed the contents of one of hundreds of declassified documents on the State Department’s Freedom of Information site.  In this particular cable, dated August 14, 1987, a former regime official dishes the dirt on Labbe to the U.S. Embassy’s deputy chief of mission.  This official is Federico Willoughby, who served as the regime’s first press secretary until health problems forced his departure. But he remained close to Pinochet & Company, until he balked at joining the dictator’s campaign to extend his rule.

Willoughby said that Labbe, who had applied for a post at the Chilean Embassy in Washington, had belonged to a small group of army officers providing security for Pinochet in the early days of the regime.  This group was later folded into the dictator’s secret police agency, the DINA. More recently Labbe had been part of a unit whose job was “projection of the regime” and to monitor Pinochet’s opponents. Labbe had been sent to an unnamed American university for a course in politics and election management and to gather intelligence on a former DINA agent who had defected to the U.S. One wonders how closely, if at all, U.S. officials were keeping tabs on Labbe.

According to Willoughby another reason for sending Labbe back to Washington was his relationship with Jacqueline Pinochet, who had recently given birth to a daughter after splitting from her third husband.  The cable notes that Willoughby was being “driven to the wall” by the regime’s pressures on his business clients, that he had one remaining piece of property to mortgage but that he might have to declare bankruptcy.

After several days of stony silence, Jacqueline Pinochet gave an interview to Caras, a glossy Chilean magazine, which provided her with hair styling and makeup before taking the photograph above.  She had never had a “relationship” with Labbe, she said, insisting that he was an old friend and associate and that her youngest child had been conceived at a time when she and her ex-husband were attempting reconciliation.  She said she was considering legal action, and praised Labbe as a “super good mayor.”


A book, an invitation and ….oops!

invitación Krassnoff

Miguel Krassnoff is an Austrian-born former officer in the Chilean army and one of the more notorious members of the Pinochet regime’s security forces.  He is currently serving a 144-year sentence for 23 separate convictions for homicide and forced disappearances. But he has his supporters, who were planning a gathering on Monday to present a new edition of an admiring book, whose title in English is Miguel Krassnoff: Prisoner for Serving Chile.  The event was to be held at a venue in an eastern Santiago municipality whose mayor, Cristian Labbe is an unreconstructed Pinochetista.   During the former dictator’s detention in London from 1998-2000 Labbe ordered trash collection to be suspended at the British and Spanish Embassies located in Providencia, and made 14 visits to the United Kingdom to express his support for Pinochet.

Those invited include Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, and when the invitation reached his office a presidential staffer sent a response which may have automatically generated, saying the president’s schedule for that time was already full, congratulating the event’s organizers and extending the president’s  “best wishes for success.”  News of this event and the presidential office’s reply have outraged  human rights groups and a day later the government issued a terse statement calling its response “a lamentable error” which had not been authorized by President Pinera and “did not represent his thinking.”  There has been a chorus of disapproval from Chilean political leaders  and even the mayor’s own rightist Union Democratica Independiente (UDI)  has sought to distance itself, saying Labbe was not representative of the UDI just because he was a party member.

Labbe maintained this is a freedom of speech issue, but now says he will not be attending the event, claiming a scheduling conflict. Meanwhile, Krassnoff and his admirers have a blog,