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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

INSIDE RUSSIA: Pinochet's 'Success' Is Unforgivable




Last week, British courts ruled that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet can, in fact, be extradited to Spain. Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon - in apparent envy of Kenneth Starr - erred on the cheap and safe side by demanding the arrest of a leader from another country.


For some strange reason, the case of the dictator responsible for creating the most blooming economy in South America was heard in a country that is now under the control of the Labor Party and whose economy is doing anything but blooming. Maybe that's just a coincidence. Maybe England has independent courts. But it is hard for me to imagine that Pinochet would have been arrested during Margaret Thatcher's tenure.


For some strange reason, Pinochet is the first dictator of the 20th century to stand before a court in a country different from his own. The innumerable Marcoses and Pol Pots, murderers and scoundrels who robbed their subjects, who turned their countries into re-education camps or just simply transferred the wealth of their nations to foreign banks - all of them, if their people didn't string them up or shoot them, died more or less unmolested in mansions abroad. Pinochet also turned out to be the only dictator of the 20th century who used his power not for the purposes of getting rich, but rather for the good of his nation. He killed opponents by the thousands - but he never took a bribe. A rebirth of socialism in Chile is impossible not because Pinochet shot all the socialists, but because the dawn of liberal economics has put a cross over socialism in the minds of every Chilean.


Pinochet changed not only the fate of his own country but o f other South American countries as well. After him, the regimes in South America that were crawling toward socialism turned sharply to the right. Without Pinochet, there would have been no reform in Argentina, no peso tied to the dollar. Pinochet raised a coup not only in Chile but in South American history.


Pinochet is also the only dictator of the 20th century who abdicated power. The left could never forgive him for that. Nor could they forgive the thousands of murders. But the worst for them were Pinochet's crimes of creating a booming economy - and then leaving power on his own.


Leftist dictators like Ceaucescu or Pol Pot never abdicated power and left their countries in ruins. Pinochet will be tried in Spain for killing foreigners in Chile. This begs the question - was it illegal for Pinochet to kill foreigners but all right to kill Chileans? Chileans were killed 100 times more often than Spaniards, Turks or Greeks. Probably then the Chileans should try him as well. But the paradox is that the Chileans won't try him. Is that because his brother or his nephew is currently in power there? Not at all. Chile has already had free democratic elections.


But the Chileans know that any attempt to bring Pinochet to trial there would result in civil war.


In the 1930s, Soviet schools and trade institutes carried out the same kinds of show trials against enemies of the people: Roosevelt, Curzon, Churchill. Those who organized these trials neglected to understand that only the people of a nation can judge a leader for his crimes - or his successes. It's only too bad that Se?or Garzon and the Stalin-era executioners look upon jurisprudence in the same way.


Yulia Latynina writes for Segodnya.