Saturday, July 2, 2011
What dictator crushed a massive general strike in his country on July 2, 1986?
On July 2, 1986, three years of protests in Chile against the iron-fisted rule of General Augusto Pinochet and his military junta culminate in a nationwide strike. The protests are violently crushed by Pinochet’s regime—leaving at least 10 people dead. Reports indicate that during the violent suppression, a photographer is burnt to death on a Santiago street, while a woman, doused with petrol and also burnt alive, survives the assault. Pinochet, who came to power in Chile after leading a 1973 military coup against the government of former President Allende, gained a reputation as as a harsh dictator, responsible for ordering the execution of 3,000 opposition supporters, in addition to ordering the torture and forced exile of thousands of others. Soon after the military coup, General Pinochet names himself president. He rules for 17 years before reluctantly stepping down. In 2004, A Chilean judge indicts Pinochet on human rights abuses and in 2006 the Chilean Supreme Court strips him of his immunity. However, in December of 2006, Pinochet dies of a heart attack before a final ruling is reached in the case. Pinochet is given a military funeral.
Last Thursday, in Santiago, Chile, police use tear gas and water cannons against at least 100,000 demonstrators calling for educational reforms. The protests are the largest in months in the capital of Chile. Thirteen participants are arrested. Reports indicate that angry protestors responded to police by throwing rocks, sticks and metal objects. At the core of the protests is a push by Chilean teachers and students to have the the Chilean government retake control of the Chilean public school system. Under Pinochet’s rule, control of public schools was ceded to the local municipalities.