Breaking News: Former Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet Dead at 91

| Sun Dec. 10, 2006 2:26 PM EST

Augusto Pinochet, the man who ruled Chile with an iron fist for 17 years and who defied all attempts to bring him to justice for the crimes against humanity that happened during his reign is dead. He had a heart attack a week ago, but his condition worsened suddenly according to news reports.

From the SF Chron:

Pinochet will be most remembered for leading a military coup that toppled the world's first democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, on Sept, 11, 1973. Allende had named Pinochet commander-in-chief of the armed forces just 18 days before the coup.

In recent years, declassified U.S. government documents have shown that the Nixon administration began a program to destabilize the Allende government, which had earned President Richard Nixon's wrath by nationalizing U.S. copper mines and other foreign-controlled businesses, rural estates and banks and recognizing Cold War foes of the United States such as Cuba, North Korea and North Vietnam. Led by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Washington financed labor strikes, propaganda and military plotters, paving the way for Pinochet's rise to power, some historians have argued. "It is not part of American history we are proud of," former Secretary of State Colin Powell said in 2003.

Here's some coverage from Mother Jones over the years about the attempts to prosecute him (including a comparison between Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon (who tried to get Pinochet using international law) and Ken Starr!

Also, don't forget it was a Pinochet protegee who helped convince Bush to try and privatize social security. (There are a 120 other stories in our archives, if you really want to go nuts.)

Finally, here's a nice slide show/history lesson from the BBC.