News Release

Role of Former High Official in Pinochet Dictatorship Is Now Subject of Pointed Questions in United States

WASHINGTON — While former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet continues to face the possibility of prosecution in Spain for human-rights abuses, a former high official in his regime is the subject of growing controversy in Washington.

An article published Tuesday (Dec. 22) in Investor’s Business Daily condemns Jose Pinera’s role in Chile and raises questions about his current relationship with the Cato Institute, a prominent Washington think tank.

“It strains credulity why top officials at that well-heeled organization have continued to embrace” Pinera, says the newspaper article, which was written by the directors of two U.S. organizations, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Pinera, currently co-chair of the Cato Institute’s Project on Social Security Privatization, was Chile’s Minister of Labor and Social Security from 1978 to 1980.

Noting that today “Pinera is a Cato luminary,” the article says that while he worked as a top official in the Chilean dictatorship, “Chile was under Pinochet’s boot, with the legislature having been shuttered and laws made by decree.” Human-rights groups have documented that the Pinochet regime engaged in widespread political imprisonments, torture and murder. “The fact that Cato even hired Pinera is a puzzlement,” the article comments, given that “at the heart of its ideological prattle are heated professions against intrusive government, the definition of which presumably doesn’t include torture.”

After the 1973 coup, which overthrew a democratically elected government, Chile privatized its pension system. In recent years, officials at the Cato Institute and other advocates of privatizing Social Security in the United States have cited Chile as a model.

For more information:

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy

Contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020