Watching 2001’s “I Love Pinochet” Documentary, in Trump’s 2020

The Cursed Legacy of “Whataboutism”

Image cropped from IMDB source. The film was made for a European audience and shown on French television.

How could the people of democratic Chile allow a military regime to rule for nearly two decades?

After it ended, why did so many Chileans believe that the dictatorship was good for their country? Why did some Chileans even want to extend the dictator’s rule?

First, Some Historical Context

A pro-Pinochet pamphlet for the 1988 plebiscite.
A pro-Pinochet pamphlet for the 1988 plebiscite.
A pro-Pinochet pamphlet for the 1988 plebiscite. Pinochet and his wife Lucía Hiriart pose with their grandchildren. Translation: “Chile starts in your family. ‘Yes’ to your family. ‘Yes’ to Chile.” Source: Wikipedia

Whataboutism Meets Pinochetism

The working-class Arcos family watches Father Raúl Hasbún.

What about…?

Back to Father Hasbún, the “what about”-er

Father Raúl Hasbún used to deliver “spiritual commentary” on the Catholic University channel’s Friday evening news (source: National Catholic Reporter).

Whataboutism and Fairness

But maybe Pinochet’s supporters weren’t totally wrong?

“[T]he Pinochet Case was momentous because — for the first time — sovereign immunity was not allowed to become sovereign impunity”. (qtd. in Evans)

One Final “What About”

So where does that leave us, in Trump’s America?

“Si dices que no exista la verdad… a qué vienes a la universidad?” It’s unclear to me if the word Paideia here is merely recalling the general concept of “paideia” or if this poster is related to an on-campus organization. Comments welcome.

The Pinochet regime lasted nearly two decades thanks to the Chileans who actively supported him while aware of his crimes; thanks to those who believed without question the government propaganda spread through the TV, newspaper, and radio; and thanks to those who preferred to keep their heads down and not get involved.

Resources

Writer. Hija de inmigrantes. She/her. Visit my personal website at https://ginaisabel.com/.

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