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Judi Lynn

(159,808 posts)
Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:22 PM Feb 2013

How Do You Defeat a Dictator When He Gets to Write the Rules?

How Do You Defeat a Dictator When He Gets to Write the Rules?
By Larry Ladutke
February 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM

I didn’t think it was possible. As a student at Rutgers in 1988, I sarcastically asked my friends, “Who do you think is going to win the referendum in Chile? Pinochet or Pinochet?”

Following his bloody overthrow of the democratically elected Allende Government in 1973, Pinochet murdered thousands of dissidents and outlawed opposition parties. Like many dictators, he legitimated his rule by holding a plebiscite on a “constitution” that gave him unchecked power in 1980. He was able to do so, of course, because the climate of fear and impunity guaranteed his victory.

Facing growing international pressure to step down, General Pinochet tried to pull this same trick again in 1988, by offering a pseudo-election in which Chileans could vote to either let Pinochet remain in office for another eight years or hold a presidential election the following year. Given that he was writing the rules again, how could human rights activists and other opposition groups possibly win? It seemed hopeless.


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(36,418 posts)
1. Pinochet's business model wasn't working out - the Bush Admin. decided to pull the plug on El Jefe.
Mon Feb 11, 2013, 02:30 PM
Feb 2013

It really comes down to that.

"I pushed them out the cabin door, like this, Maggie"


(36,418 posts)
3. The business class get golden parachutes. The rest, eh, as Augusto shows us, they get a lesson in
Mon Feb 11, 2013, 03:51 PM
Feb 2013

unrestrained gravity and new uses for kitchen appliances.

Peace Patriot

(24,010 posts)
4. You left me breathless for the next paragraph...
Tue Feb 12, 2013, 01:57 PM
Feb 2013
"...how could human rights activists and other opposition groups possibly win? It seemed hopeless.

"But it wasn’t! No!, an Oscar-nominated film, tells the story of the brave and creative Chileans who helped their fellow citizens stand up and say, “NO!” to repression. This movie opens in New York and Los Angeles on February 15. You can find a list of theatres and dates for other cities by clicking here. (LINKS)"


Creative and courageous political activism!

Latin America has provided us with many examples of how to bring about progressive change in what seemed to be hopeless circumstances. Chile is arguably the first of a series of truly remarkable transformations, that have turned South America, in particular, into a democracy hotbed. I tend to think that election reform comes first, THEN democratic policy in other areas (economic, for instance).

I don't know the story of election reform in Chile--and I hope that "No!" (the documentary referred to, in the article) provides details about this. I look forward to seeing it. Election reform must have been critically important to Chileans throwing Pinochet out.

I do know that election reform has been key to the establishment of truly representative government in other countries, such as Venezuela, and that the Carter Center has been very active in helping to set up, and to monitor, fair and transparent election systems, in Venezuela and other LatAm countries. It is one of the most energetic groups. (The OAS and the EU also have had good election monitoring groups working in Latin America, though the OAS blessing on the Lopez-Obrador vs. Calderon election in Mexico, a few years ago, was questionable, and the U.S. has certainly done its best to undermine the integrity of the OAS election group.)

But the most important element are the citizens and voters themselves, in individual countries, who have done the hard civic work of setting up honest vote counts and good election systems. They are the unsung heroes of the democratization of Latin America.

I wonder how Chile's democracy could have produced its current rightwing--and very unpopular (25% approval rating, last I saw)--president, Sebastián Piñera. Probably it is a story such as our own, of the corruption of democracy by the corporate rulers. It certainly seems to be true that democracy (I mean, real democracy) has to be re-won by every generation. I hope that "No!' helps to inspire the current generation in Chile to re-win theirs. It is not an easy thing to do, once transglobal corporations have their claws into a country, in conspiracy with the local fascist elite.

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