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Should a Dictator Be Remembered?

Should a Dictator Be Remembered?

Controversy has erupted as a new museum has opened in Santiago, Chile, dedicated to the late Augusto Pinochet. Military dictator of Chile from 1974-1990, Pinochet was responsible for countless human rights abuses and for the “disappearances” and torture of thousands of citizens who expressed opposition to his regime.

While he is reviled by many Chileans, he is hailed by others as the one who saved the nation from communism, because he replaced Socialist President Salvador Allende in a coup d’etat.

The BBC reports:“The items on display include Pinochet’s black military beret, swords, coins, [medals] and gifts from former U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

“We want to allow Chileans to get to know Pinochet, the man, the general, the president, and what better way to do that than by opening a small, boutique display of his personal effectsw,’ said Major General Luis Cortes Villa, executive director of the President Pinochet Foundation which oversees the museum.” 

Reactions to the museum’s inauguration are mixed. Pedro Matta, who was arrested and tortured under the regime, approves of the museum, commenting, “The fact that they’ve opened a Pinochet museum shows that these days we are free to express our differences.” One commentator on the website of the Chilean newspaper El Mostrador calls it a “macabre joke,” adding that with Pinochet’s medals, “they are mocking the victims that this gentleman left during his Reign of Terror.”

Interestingly enough, current President Michelle Bachelet, who herself was a detainee in one of Pinochet’s camps, has announced plans for a human rights museum in the capital of Santiago.

What do you think? Does a museum dedicated to Pinochet condone his actions or does it instead mark a dark yet important time in Chile’s history? Does the planned human rights museum balance it out? Let me know in your comments below. 

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27 comments

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9:45AM PST on Jan 8, 2009

from lisa medina "Bush is a dictator & has saved us from nothing. He's not a literal dictator, but is one in every sense of the word itself. I most certainly don't think he deserves a museum in his honor" Do you know and understand the word hate? Do you know and understand the word Dictator? You need to read both pages of the Bush presidency such as no child left behind and his increased funding of Aid in Africa. It is people like you who instead of calming the waters only churn them up more. If Bush is a Dictator then Obama is one before he even gets in
office - after all he bought his victory with lots of unknown and purportedly illegal donations to his campaign. But you will ignore that and his inability to produce his certificate of birth as opposed to the certification of birth. He doesn't need to certify he was born, we can see that. He needs to certify WHERE he was born as required by law. There are those out there who show hate in their words when talking about those they believe who have done wrong. Where do you get the right to condem others as hateful when you are being hateful as well. Get a life!!!

9:24AM PST on Jan 6, 2009

Irene is 100% on the money..I was going to say something very different but I now have a new perspective.... For those peoples lives that he destroyed remember Evil so that we can make peace...

4:42PM PST on Jan 4, 2009

Yes,He should be remembered for all his evil ways and his total disregard for human rights.I hope soon the world will rid its self of all evil dictators.

7:32PM PST on Jan 3, 2009

Personally, I don't care what he saved them from. A dictator is a dictator no matter what he's "saving" the people from. No matter what party he's from, whether he was poor/rich as a kid, if he's done wrong then he's done wrong & that doesn't make him any better then his rival & the havoc they would have raught upon the people had said rival won instead of him. Bush is a dictator & has saved us from nothing. He's not a literal dictator, but is one in every sense of the word itself. I most certainly don't think he deserves a museum in his honor & Pinochet is the same. I think the only way he should be "remembered" would be in the way that Vietnam or Hitler is remembered. They need to be exposed for the debacle (Vietnam)/messed up people (Hitler etc) that they were. They need to be renounced & instead we need to be standing for peace, human rights, & the like. So no, I don't think he deserves a museum in his honor. I do hope that the victims will find some justice in a Human Rights museum though.

5:10PM PST on Jan 3, 2009

It is important to know the good as well as the bad from history - it should be true and honest - it should not be bias.

12:04PM PST on Jan 2, 2009

I am Chilean, I live in Santiago de Chile, and I want to say that this museum was created by the "Fundación Pinochet", so they can "spread his work"; her widow said "I am glad because this is a way to do justice to what he represented and what he did", so I think the purpose of this "memorial" is pretty clear. I think it's horrible, but in democracy we have to tolerate it, because there is a considerable number of chileans who are still adherents to Pinochet's views and politics, and condone what he and his government did.

11:15PM PST on Jan 1, 2009

Those that do not learn from history as doomed to repeat it! I think that its extremely important for families to teach the younger generations of all things that have happened in the past, the positive as well as the negative. If we learn how dictators like Pinochet, Putin, Castro, Musilini, Hitler and others get started maybe we can avoid having such atrocities from repeating themselves over and over again in the future.

8:42PM PST on Jan 1, 2009

For any country to be democratic, including Chile, the people must have the right of free speech. Even if that free speech such as this museum offends some people the person who is creating this place should have the right to do it.

8:08PM PST on Jan 1, 2009

It's an abomination to have a Museum dedicated to a genocidal dictator. There are still many people lost to his regime, that where kidnaped. Where is justice?

2:53PM PST on Jan 1, 2009

While I am not Chilean, I do feel that the museum opens the subject of both dictatorship as well as this particular dictator for discussion in a place where they could not have openly discussed it before. It is saying, in a sense, that it is ok to have an opinion; it is saying that we have truely passed this dark time in our history. I don't think that having a museum dedicated to history is insulting even if that history includes true horrors that happened to you or your family. As long as the museum displays an accurate portrait of history and treats the victims of his violence with the compassion and dignity they deserve, then the museum has every right to exist as a depiction of part of chilean history.

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