PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A number of Patriot Prayer supporters, including group leader Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, wore t-shirts at the Saturday protest in Portland that read: Pinochet did nothing wrong.

Who is Pinochet?

Augusto Pinochet was the leader of the military junta that overthrew Chile’s President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. For the next 16 years, Pinochet was the head of Chile’s military government.

Thousands of his regime’s opponents were tortured and during his nearly 17 years in charge he moved to crush Chile’s liberal opposition. During the first 3 years of his regime, about 130,000 people were arrested.

Former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet is shown in Santiago, Chile, March 10, 1998 (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin, File)

“Pinochet was determined to exterminate leftism in Chile and to reassert free-market policies in the country’s economy. His junta was widely condemned for its harsh suppression of dissent.”

“Pinochet permitted no meaningful political opposition, but he fulfilled his constitutional obligation to hold the plebiscite scheduled, which took place earlier than mandated, in October 1988. The result was a “no” vote of 55 percent and a “yes” vote of 43 percent. Although rejected by the electorate, Pinochet remained in office until free elections installed a new president, the Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, on March 11, 1990.”

“Later in 2000 Pinochet was stripped of his immunity from prosecution—which he had enjoyed as a former president—and was ordered to stand trial on charges of human rights abuses (in Chile immunity is lifted on a case-by-case basis). The charges were dropped in 2002, however, after Chile’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that he was mentally incapable of defending himself in court.” 

“In 2005 the Chilean Supreme Court voted to remove Pinochet’s immunity for illegal financial dealings as well as for a case involving the disappearance and execution of at least 119 political dissidents whose bodies were found in 1975 in neighbouring Argentina. He was ruled fit to stand trial for those crimes. Pinochet died the following year, however, without ever having been tried for the human rights abuses that occurred while he was in power.”