...but right wingers in Poland, including many in the present government, will not be too happy about the demise of ‘our bastard’.
When Pinochet was arrested in London for human rights violations during a trip in 1998 to see old British buddies like Margaret Thatcher, Marek Jurek – the current Speaker of the Polish parliament - and other rightist MPs, sent a letter of protest to the British government demanding Pinochet be set free.
A group of right wing journalists from the now defunct Zycie newspaper (who have political links with the present Polish government) went to England to give support to the man who ‘battled against communism’.
Aleksander Kropiwnicki of Zycie wrote at the time:
"The decision to detain Pinochet was political. The independence of the judiciary branch--a cornerstone of democracy in this supposedly most law-abiding country in Europe and possibly in the world--suffered a heavy blow."
Tomasz Wolek, the then Editor-in-Chief of Zycie, wrote breathlessly:
"He was the first person in the second half of the 20th century brave enough to put an effective stop to worldwide communist expansion. He saved not only his own country, but all of Latin America,"
In the end, they got their way, and Pinochet was allowed to go home - though only to face trial there (which is where he should have been judged, of course). But the Zycie journalists and conservative POlish politicians were simply following the old Cold War logic that, ‘Maybe he is a bastard, but at least he is our bastard’.
That kind of attitude was rife on both sides during the Cold War and led to Washington and London’s support of various tyrants – Saddam Hussein included – who could do their bidding in regional hotspots around the world. The Cold War, most of the time, was a war fought by proxy, through and between these dictators.
Well, Pinochet looks like he will never be prosecuted in Chile, as his illness will kill him before a judge has a chance to charge him. And in this post-cold war world few tears should be wasted on that.