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