13 Dec 2006

A Tale of Two Bad Guys

I confess I had not read the Washington Post's excellent editorial on the death of Pinochet when I got to wondering about the following political poser:

Pinochet's 1973 coup against a communist take-over of Chile had 3000 killed (on both sides) and over 10,000 detentions. Yet it turned Chile into South Americas most successful economy to this day. He resigned in 1988 after 15 years in power when he lost a referendum on his rule. Chile is now South America's healthiest democracy. Everywhere he went in later life, he was hounded by human rights activists and judges. Would Chile be in the same place today if the communist coup had succeeded?

Castro's 1959 coup against an odious Cuban right-wing dictator resulted in 17,000 killed and a gulag of over 150,000 prisoners. Cuba developed a complete basket-case economy, which remains to this day. Three million have fled. Everywhere, even internationally, he gets standing ovations and mass adulation from the media. Castro has never had a referendum on his rule and will only resign in his coffin. The country remains a totalitarian state. Would Cuba be in the same place today if Castro had resigned in 1974?

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