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Captain General
Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet foto oficial coloreada.jpg
Official portrait, c. 1974
29th President of Chile
In office
17 December 1974 – 11 March 1990
Preceded by Salvador Allende
Succeeded by Patricio Aylwin
President of the Government Junta of Chile
In office
11 September 1973 – 11 March 1981
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by José Toribio Merino
Senator-for-life of Chile
In office
11 March 1998 – 4 July 2002
Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army
In office
23 August 1973 – 11 March 1998
Preceded by Carlos Prats
Succeeded by Ricardo Izurieta
Personal details
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte

(1915-11-25)25 November 1915
Valparaíso, Chile
Died 10 December 2006(2006-12-10) (aged 91)
Santiago, Chile
Resting place Los Boldos, Santo Domingo
Valparaíso, Chile
Political party Independent
(m. 1943)
Children 5, including Inés Lucía Pinochet
Alma mater Chilean War Academy
  • Military officer
Profession Military
Nicknames El Tata, Mi General
Military service
Allegiance  Chile
Branch/service Coat of arms of Chile Chilean Army
Years of service 1931–1998
Rank Insignia of a Captain General of the Chilean Army Captain General
  • "Chacabuco" Regiment
  • "Maipo" Regiment
  • "Carampangue" Regiment
  • "Rancagua" Regiment
  • 1st Army Division
  • "Esmeralda" Regiment
  • 2nd Army Division
  • 6th Army Division
  • Santiago Army Garrison
  • Chilean Army
Battles/wars Cold War
Criminal information
Augusto Pinochet
  • Caravan of Death
  • Assassination of Carlos Prats
  • Operation Condor
  • Operation Colombo
  • Villa Grimaldi
  • Carmelo Soria
  • Calle Conferencia
  • Antonio Llidó
  • Eugenio Berrios
  • Tax evasion
  • Passport forgery
Status Deceased

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (/ˈpnʃ/, UK: /ˈpnəʃ, ˈpɪn-/, Spanish: [awˈɣusto pinoˈ(t)ʃe(t)]; 25 November 1915 – 10 December 2006) was a Chilean general and dictator who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990. His rule remains the longest of any Chilean leader in history.

Early life and education

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte was born in Valparaíso on 25 November 1915. He was the son and namesake of Augusto Pinochet Vera (1891–1944), a descendant of an 18th century French Breton immigrant from Lamballe, and Avelina Ugarte Martínez (1895–1986), a woman of Basque heritage whose family had been in Chile since the 17th century.

Pinochet went to primary and secondary school at the San Rafael Seminary of Valparaíso, the Rafael Ariztía Institute (Marist Brothers) in Quillota, the French Fathers' School of Valparaíso, and then to the Military School in Santiago, which he entered in 1931.

In 1935, after four years studying military geography, he graduated with the rank of alférez (Second Lieutenant) in the infantry.


Augusto Pinochet rose through the ranks of the Chilean Army to become General Chief of Staff in early 1972. He was appointed its Commander-in-Chief on 23 August 1973 by President Salvador Allende.

On 11 September 1973, Pinochet seized power in Chile in a coup d'état, with the support of the US, that ended civilian rule.

In December 1974, the ruling military junta appointed Pinochet Supreme Head of the nation by joint decree. After his rise to power, Pinochet persecuted leftists, socialists, and political critics. As a result, between 1,200 and 3,200 people were executed, up to 80,000 were placed in concentration and internment camps, and tens of thousands were tortured. According to the Chilean government, the number of executions and forced disappearances was at least 3,095.

Pinochet's military government implemented economic liberalization, including currency stabilization, removed tariff protections for local industry, banned trade unions, and privatized social security and hundreds of state-owned enterprises. Some of the government properties were sold below market price to politically connected buyers, including Pinochet's own son-in-law. In economic affairs, Pinochet's rule was influenced by the ideas of Milton Friedman.

The regime used censorship of entertainment as a way to reward supporters of the regime and punish opponents. These policies produced high economic growth, but critics state that economic inequality dramatically increased and attributed to the devastating effects of the 1982 monetary crisis in Chile.

For most of the 1990s, Chile was the best-performing economy in Latin America, though the legacy of Pinochet's reforms continues to be in dispute. His fortune grew considerably during his years in power through dozens of bank accounts secretly held abroad and a fortune in real estate. He was later prosecuted for embezzlement, tax fraud, and for possible commissions levied on arms deals.

Pinochet's 17-year rule was legalized framework through a 1980 plebiscite, which approved a new constitution drafted by a government-appointed commission. In 1988, there was a plebiscite in Chile. The people were asked whether Pinochet should rule for another eight and a half years. About 56% of the people did not want that. Pinochet, under pressure from other countries was forced to accept the results, and stepped down from power in 1990. Patricio Aylwin became the next president.

After stepping down in 1990, Pinochet continued to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army until 10 March 1998, when he retired and became a senator-for-life in accordance with his 1980 Constitution. However, Pinochet was arrested under an international arrest warrant on a visit to London on 10 October 1998 in connection with numerous human rights violations.

Following a legal battle, he was released on grounds of ill-health and returned to Chile on 3 March 2000. In 2004, Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia ruled that Pinochet was medically fit to stand trial and placed him under house arrest. By the time of his death on 10 December 2006, about 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for numerous human rights violations during his 17-year rule, as well as tax evasion and embezzlement during and after his rule. He was also accused of having corruptly amassed at least US$28 million.

Pinochet died on 10 December 2006, without having been convicted of any of the crimes of which he was accused.


Pinochet was publicly known as a man with a lack of culture and this image was reinforced by the fact that he also portrayed himself as a common man with simple ideas.

He was also known for being reserved, sharing little about his opinions or feelings.

Private library

During his lifetime, Pinochet collected more than 55,000 books for his private library, worth an estimated 2,840,000 US dollars (2006–07). The extent of his library was revealed to the public only after a police inspection in January 2006. Pinochet bought books at several small bookshops in the old centre of Santiago and was later supplied with books from abroad by military attachés who bought texts Pinochet was searching after. As ruler of Chile he used discretionary funds for these purchases.

The library included many rare books including a first edition (1646) Historica relacion del Reyno de Chile and an original letter of Bernardo O'Higgins. A significant part of the books and documents of the library of José Manuel Balmaceda was found in Pinochet's library in 2006. Pinochet's library contained almost no poetry or fiction.

Personal life

Pinochet married Lucía Hiriart Rodríguez on January 30, 1943. They had five children together: three daughters named Inés Lucía, María Verónica, and Jacqueline Marie, and two sons named Augusto Osvaldo and Marco Antonio.

In 2005, both Lucía and Marco Antonio Pinochet were sued and subsequently arrested for tax evasion relating to Pinochet’s arms dealings. In 2007, Lucía and all five Pinochet children were arrested on charges of embezzlement and use of false passports in connection to the ‘Riggs Bank’ case.


Feretro Pinochet
Pinochet's funeral

Pinochet suffered a heart attack on the morning of 3 December 2006 and was given the last rites the same day. On 4 December 2006, the Chilean Court of Appeals ordered the suspension of his house arrest. On 10 December 2006 at 13:30 local time (16:30 UTC) he was taken to the intensive care unit. He died of congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema, surrounded by family members, at the Military Hospital at 14:15 local time (17:15 UTC).

In a government decision, he was not granted a state funeral but a military funeral as former commander-in-chief of the Army appointed by Allende. The government also refused to declare an official national day of mourning, but it did authorize flags at military barracks to be flown at half staff, and for the Chilean flag to be draped on Pinochet's coffin.

Pinochet's body was cremated in Parque del Mar Cemetery, Concón, on 12 December 2006, on his request to "avoid vandalism of his tomb", according to his son Marco Antonio. His ashes were delivered to his family later that day, and are deposited in Los Boldos, Santo Domingo, Valparaiso, Chile; one of his personal residences. The armed forces refused to allow his ashes to be deposited on military property.

Interesting facts about Augusto Pinochet

  • According to Pinochet, who was aware of his French ancestry, he was taught the French language by an uncle, although he later forgot most of it.
  • Pinochet admired Napoleon as the greatest among French and had a framed picture of him. Another French ruler he admired was Louis XIV.
  • In 1989 indigenous Mapuche groups representing the "Consejos Regionales" bestowed Pinochet the title Ulmen Füta Lonko or Great Authority.
  • Supporters sometimes refer to Pinochet as my general (the military salutation for a general) while opponents call him pinocho (Spanish for "Pinocchio", from the children's story). A common nickname used by both younger generations is el tata (Chilean Spanish equivalent of "the grandpa").
  • Before wresting power from Allende, Pinochet had written two books, Geopolítica (1968) and Campaña de Tarapacá (1972), which established him as a major figure in Chile's military literature.
  • In Geopolítica, Pinochet plagiarized his mentor general Gregorio Rodríguez Tascón by using paragraphs from a 1949 conference presentation of Rodríguez without attributing them to him.


National honours

  •  Chile:
    • CHL Order of Merit of Chile - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Master of the Order of Merit (1974–1990)
    • CHL Order of Bernardo O'Higgins - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Master of the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins (1974–1990)
    • Cinta Presidente de la República "Gran Oficial".png President of the Republic Decoration
    • 10 Years Service Award
    • 20 Years Service Award
    • 30 Years Service Award
    • Minerva Medal (Army War College)
    • Minerva Medal (Army War College)
    • Decoration of the President of the Chilean Red Cross
    • Grand Knight of the Altiplano of Arica

Foreign honours

  •  Guatemala: Grand Cross of the Order of the Quetzal
  •  Ecuador:
    • Order of Abdon Calderón, 1st Class
    • Official Honorary General Staff Decoration of the Armed Forces of Ecuador
    • Honorary Staff Officer of the Armed Forces of Ecuador
  •  El Salvador: Order of José Matías Delgado
  •  Paraguay: Collar of Francisco Solano Lopez Grade of the National Order of Merit (Paraguay)
  •  Argentina:
    • Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín
    • Grand Cross of the Order of May
  •  Colombia: Commander of the Order of Military Merit José María Córdova
  •  Spain: Crosses of Military Merit

Images for kids

See also

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