I long flattered myself in believing that I was aware of the great movers and shakers of the modern world but I had never heard of Lucia Hiriart before I read her obituary in THE TIMES on 24th December 2021.
She was not only a bit-player but a super-bitch player, described by the paper as the “Unapologetic first lady of Chile;Lady MacBeth figure to her dictatorhusband Augusto Pinochet and ‘soulmate’ of Margaret Thatcher”.
In June 1973, the paper tells us, the General, preoccupied by a monumental decision he needed to take, told his wife that he was headed for bed. She stopped him and and led him to the children’s bedroom where their two youngest children were sleeping. “They will live under communist tyranny, and it will be your fault, because you dare not act” she said.
Three months later Pinochet led the coup against the democratically elected President Allende who had appointed him head of the Army. The story put out by the mutinous junta and its western sponsors is that Allende committed suicide.
According to THE TIMES, the junta murdered “at least 3,000 political opponents and thousands more were tortured.” In 1988 the Chilean people, who had voted for the restoration of democracy in a referendum, were accused by Lucia of being ungrateful.
Lucia “advised” her husband on appointments and dismissals, and was recognised as more dictatorial than he was. He hated public speaking and she relished it, and would sometimes speak on his behalf,
From a wealthy and privileged background, she would audibly correct his lapses in etiquette.
In 1980 the couple were on their way to the Philippines on an official visit . and flying half-way across the Pacific, when President Marcos radioed them to persuade them to turn back, as he feared that he, Imelda and their guests might be assassinated. The General was embarrassed and infuriated. Lucia suggested he sack his Foreign Minister as a scapegoat. And she took on the role of an envoy herself, privately meeting Nancy Reagan in the White House, a reminder that her husband could count on the discreet support of the Washington, come what may.
Lucia, a beauty queen in her teens, was always immaculately and expensively dressed, usually in Chanel or Christian Dior. Like Imelda Marcos. she owned hundreds of pairs of shoes. In 1975, when she and her husband went to Madrid for the funeral of the dictator Francisco Franco , the city’s boutiques specially opened their doors for her, despite the fact that Spain was officially in mourning. Press reports claimed she spent US$1,000,000 that weekend.
She robbed her country blind. An 8,000 square metre plot was secretly acquired in the most prestigious part of Santiago, a modernist architect employed, and marble shipped from Italy for her and her husband’s retirement. The plans included a cinema, a pool and a bomb-proof centre.
The cost soared to US$70,000,000, about 5% of Chile’s public works budget in the mid 1980s.
After General Pinochet stepped down from the Presidency in 1990 he became a Senator for Life, believing himself immune from prosecution for crimes against humanity. He flew to London for medical treatment but a Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant and while he sought its rejection by British courts he was held under house arrest. He was visited by Margaret Thatcher who thanked him for the information and support he gave her during the Malvinas/ Falklands War. Lucia felt that she had found a soul-mate in Thatcher.
After a year and a half, with no resolution of the Spanish extradition request, Pinochet was allowed to return to Chile on health grounds and was charged there with several crimes.
He died in 2006 without being convicted. The next year Lucia and all her children were arrested in connection with allegations that the family had helped the late President to steal US$27,000,000 of public funds and conceal them in foreign banks.
The above is a fair summary of the OBITUARY in THE TIMES of DECEMBER 24th 2021
By coincidence that very same day (December 24th 2021) my BLOG – “WRONG SORT OF VOTERS, WRONG SORT OF PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS? remarked that THE TIMES was perturbed because citizens of Latin American countries were electing leaders resistant to dictation from Uncle Sam.
Perhaps the spectre of a Latino Frank Sinatra Doctrine is haunting Washington and all its little Satraps from London to Canberra?
In the last few days I read that a propaganda section of Britain’s Foreign Office has for many years surreptitiously fed false anti-democratic “news” to the Chilean population.
The very same section which, masterminded by Sir Andrew Gilchrist primed the murderous 1965 coup in Indonesia which slaughtered up to three million unarmed men, women andchildren and handed the country’s vast resources to blue-chip Western corporations.. My source on the Indonesian Coup is John Pilger’s “THE NEW RULERS OF THE WORLD”which has gone into a number of editions, names many names and has never been challenged in a court of law.