You are on page 1of 11



Pinochet's ghost

..................On Sunday 9th of July at 18:00 hours, Paris time, the poet
Armando Uribe initiated the reading of his conference Pinochet's ghost,
in the great anfi-theatre of La Sorbone, before an audience of 800
people. Uribe was one of two special guests to dictate conferences in
the framework of the General States of Psychoanalysis, international
gathering of the most noticeable practitioners of this discipline in 36
countries. The other was the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who
presented on the cruelty, of interpersonal relationships in society in
general and amongst States. Rocinante publishes in these pages the
initial part of Uribe's work.

In disorderly files, in newspaper clippings of diverse languages, books,
photographs and manuscripts, I conserve since the night of September
11 1973 until today the omnipresent memories that Pinochet has
embedded in the lives of the Chileans and other peoples of the world.
None of these days and these nights stop printing in our lives his
image and actions. I do not know any Chilean that hasn't had a dream
and nightmares in which his figure appears; or that have not had the
fantasy to feel him seated on the head, with his testicles hanging.

Many have said in the country and in exile: one must recognize that we
all have a small Pinochet inside. Even in Europe, in France, the word
pinochet, written in lower-case, has been considered a serious offense,
object of complaint, criminal; and the judges have condemned such
offense. (Case of M. Chirac plaintiffs at the end of the 70s).

What is Pinochet?
There are entire books about his person and his acts in a number
of modern languages. I personally published one in 1974, in Editions
du Seuil (translated to more than half a dozen languages); and another
in 1999 call Pinochet the accident in Castilian. And I should confess
that in the 80s I wrote yet another unpublished one, that compared the
funerals of Pinochet with the one of the author (sadly both still alive).
I have been during 26 years and ten months a permanent
“pinochetologist” (in English: a “pinochet-watcher”).
Does this constitute a personal mania?
Unfortunately, not.

..................In all this time, almost 27 years, the newspapers of my
country have been occupied every day, without exception, by what
occurs to Pinochet; and the television and the magazines and the
And the minds of the Chileans.
They will be able to say that the same thing occurs with other
personalities in the world: who exercise power over long periods, be
they tyrants or not.

..................I would respond that yes this phenomenon, which I will try
to explain now in relationship to Pinochet does occur.
I will do it like a layman who has certain experience; utilizing
some words or phrases in French or English or German (difficult to
translate to Castilian), jargon of the psychology of the depths.
I do this clamouring “de profundis”.
I use a wild although learned species of psychology, and a
likewise wild sociology, and a more serious political science since I
have been for decades professor of those last arts in this Sorbone. And
I cite from the “Standard Edition” of the works of Freud, and the edited
version published by the great writer Masud R. Khan.

For us Pinochet is “umheilich” or “uncanny”, and produces in us
“unites inquiétante étrangeté”; but at the same time corresponds to
something that we feel our own since ancient; we perceive it darkly,
with displeasure and ambiguous pleasure.

It is a mystery of the Chilean psyche (and perhaps from other
places other epochs).
There are countries that have collective conscience, a sort of
historical national identity, a common psychology. This is been
recognized for European countries for centuries by a number of literary
authors, and it is attributed also to Greco-roman political formations of
the antiquity and to ancient empires such as the Chinese.

Though historians and political philosophers, for example
Montesquieu and Gibbon, specified it already in the Century of Lights,
it was more frequent in the XIX and XX centuries. To illustrate this
banality, I will cite Stendhal and Elías Canetti, and even Proust who
compare the reactions of countries in the Great War to those of a
single human being.

If there is a national collective conscience, then it corresponds
that there should be an unconscious collective of the same group or
mass? The book of Freud that in English is called Group psychology
has the title in German of Psychology of the masses and analysis of
the I. As is well known, in there he extends to the collective the
libidinal structure and other forms of the subjective psyche. The
studies of precise cases refer to “Two artificial groups: the Church and
the Army” (chapter V), and in the VI considers nations amongst the
“larger units” with collective psyche. Similarly he speaks in other
works of metapsychology of the “wish phantasies of whole nations”;
without mentioning the extension of the Unconscious of the Hebrew
people in Moses and Monotheism nor Totem and Taboo. To add to this
the unpublished text in 1985 of Freud's 1915 Vue d´ensemble of
neuroses of transfert, where he talks about the “psichologie of
peuples”. And in 1919, when he writes in An enfant est battu: “Ce qui
form it noyau of l´inconscient psychique est l´heritage archaïque of l
´etre humain”

I understand that Freud is referring to the true nations; that is to
say something more than numerous conglomerates of people who
inhabit the same territory and enjoy or suffer (or not) a State
recognized by the community of nations.
What other sign supposes the real existence of a nation?
Without entering into this problem which has broken the heads
of intellectuals - from historians to philosophers - during the past
centuries (and has broken the bones of millions of victims in wars and
persecutions), let's reduce this now to its main characteristic – to my
judgment - that Renan indicates in Qu´est ce qu´unites nation? (1882)
: “L´essence d´unites nation est that tous them individus aient
beaucoup of choses in commun, et aussi that tous aient oublié well of
choses ” In our word: a memory and common conscience and -
attention!- likewise collective oversights.

Oversights, “refoulement”, an Unconscious collective.
We believe that is the case of Chile.

This country has had this name for more than four and a half
centuries, and its population is formed by Europeans, mainly Hispanic,
and native ethnic groups in good part half-cast, besides minority
immigrants of other parts of the world in its majority mixed with
families that already were in the territory. It can be argued that the
same thing occurs with other regions of America. Yes; but Chile has
two or three particular characteristics that have given the country its
own character.

First of all, it was the most distant place from Europe in all the
continent; and also the most distant one for those who entered the
continent via the strait that today we know as Bering in the extreme
north of what decades of millenniums later was called America. The
word Chile has in the etymology of the native tongue the following
meaning: “where land ends” (Cf. Benjamín Subercaseux: “Chile or a
crazy geography”).
A great deal more than a “last European Thule”, Chile has been,
for the aborigines of the continent and the foreigners arrived with the
discovery, the Conquest and immigration, literally “finis terrae”.
Where land ends, where the fire ends, the last tip – Cabo de Hornos
where the land disperses the Land of Fire. Those who arrived to Chile
did so to stay; they did not have where else to go. That, for
millenniums, and 450 years more.

A second peculiar characteristic: in this sheath of land (it was
called by a Spanish columnist in 1575), there was a warrior people that
could not be dominated by the Conquerors and the armies of this
Indiana section of the Spanish Crown, nor by the Republic that followed
at the beginning of the XIX century, but after three centuries of armed
war: the mapuche, whom the Conqueror Alonso de Ercilla author of the
largest epic in Castilian verse (a fact recognized also by Voltaire in his
prologue to the Henriade), named Araucanians. This did not occur in
the rest of the continent. Chile is the only country of America whose
origin was sung in verse and celebrated in an epic of the XVI century,
when in Europe epic heroic songs were no longer written.

Am I boasting when I characterize my country in this way?
If there is any boasting, that would be yet another characteristic
of the Chileans that in great measure descend from warrior conquerors
and a people who have fought with weapons during centuries. During
more than one hundred years (until 1662) the war was continuous in
the south, and for another two hundred years sporadic but always
present. Moreover, to arrive in Chile to remain obliged, and to fight
secularly, well can be considered psychic and physical sources of
tension in a geographical environment that required difficult economic
work. Lands often more ungrateful than others of the Americas, mines
mostly in the hard and high mountain range, before an ocean so vast
that Oceania and enormous Asia are found at the other side, to an
equivalent distance of almost half the globe. Lands and mountains of
earthquake. Precarious life that imposes persistence and stubborness.

Before the crisis of nature, the war and the politics, situations of
life or death, and in every case pains, Chileans have given proof of
secular stubbornness, no matter the place or side in which they be
situated; a great deal more than in the creole periods of daily rest.

They will say: all this occurs in other parts of the world.
Nevertheless a sharp columnist of the XX century, collecting what
other writers and politicians had sensed, said in wild psychological
terms: Yes, what happens in Chile also happens in other parts of the
world, but here with twenty percent of exaggeration. (Joaquín Edwards
Beautiful, dead in 1968). This is another national characteristic. But
we will not continue with these brushstrokes. Let's reduce this to the
War of Arauco, that marked the country since its birth as such.
Original causality of its birth and duration; a germ contained in other
external wars (three in the XIX century), and very present in the
internal clashes.

Shortly after the coup D'etat of 1973, President Frei Montalva,
who was the president until 1970, explained this in 1974 in New York
to one of his former ministers who was a high officer in the United
Nations: “All the history of Chile consists of avoiding that the Indians
cross the Biobío river (the border of war with the Araucanians); with
the government of Allende and the Popular Unit, the Indians crossed it;
¡this is what produced the Coup!”

Naturally this is a metaphor; very interesting because the son of
a Swiss, Mr.Frei, qualified the Chilean people whom Allende
represented as Indians, and the left which certainly contains
descendants of Conquerors and immigrants half-cast or not, and had
also ancestors of local ethnic groups. The main Chilean historian of the
XX century, Mario Góngora (considered such by Pierre Chaunu), wrote
in 1982:
“The first and fundamental image of Chile constitutes, within the
Spanish Empire in the Indias, a border of war, a land of war”.
The openning sentence in the South American novel, La
Vorágine could be said of us: “I Played my heart at the roulette of
fortune and Violence gained it from me”.

There is a matrix epic scene in La Araucana (1569) of the
Spanish Ercilla in Chile: the native chief Caupolicán is captured by the
Conquerors and subjected to the agony of impalement by a spear
through the anus. His woman Fresia, outraged by the defeat and the
prison of his man the leader, faces him, and in disdain of her husband
throws to his feet their common son. Impalement of the father and
abandonment of the son by the mother, that treats this man as
“effeminate” and shouts “that I do not want title of mother of the
infamous son of the infamous father”.

Primordial scene of violence in the cradle of the country of war.
Internal violence in the family, violence of torture and death in the
rising country. They will be able to say: it is the scene of a dramatic
poem. Yes; some verses that have been memorized generation after
generation. Those of a Conqueror that was witness; and generations

Chilean brutality is famous in South America. The anthropologist
and “philosopher” Kayserling in his South American Meditations of the
1930s noted, amongst another national characteristic: the worship of
the ugly in Chile.

The country was born and lived in the ugly violence, and learnt
that it was “necessary”; and that it should be justified bylaw.

The conquest of America, its colonization by Spaniards and other
foreigners, the relations with the native inhabitants, the work of lands
and mines, was meticulously regulated by laws that formed an
extensive legal “corpus”, called the Indiano Rights. The Catholic Kings,
Carlos V, Felipe II and their successors, were occupied in a way not
comparable to other colonial empires to legitimize the Public Rights in
America Indiana. The first matter was the recognition that the natives
were members of the human race, decided in a famous controversy of
theologians and jurists (including the father of the Right of Peoples
Francisco of Vitoria) in Valladolid before the presence of the monarch
himself (1550-51).

In spite of the law, but taking refuge in it to justify violence, the
first gigantic genocide was practiced (anachronistic word for that
epoch) since the European Renaissance to our days. Let's hear at the
Oidor Santillán of the Real Audience of Chile in the XVI century: “The
Indians are scandalized (...); of the ones that more scandal have
conceived, are those in the provinces of Chile, because the most
cruelties and excesses have been used against them (...), killing a
great sum of them under peace and without giving them to understand
what its Majesty says should be cautioned (- without them knowing
about the law - A.U.), and other burning and whitewash (- with
empalements - A.U.), cutting feet and hands and noses and breasts,
stealing their estates, estuprándoles their women and daughters (- in
rapes and sexual crimes - A.U.), putting them in chains with loads,
burning all their towns and houses, drilling their potato plantations,
from which great illness came, and large numbers of people died, of
cold and hardship and by eating herbs and roots, and of those who
survived, out of pure need took for custom to eat each other of hunger,
which further reduced almost all the people that had escaped from all
the other ” (Cfr. José Toribio Medina, 1888; Lewis Hanke: The fight for
Justice in the Conquest of America).

Of such native race originates the Chilean collective; and also
from those who committed such depravations, among which the
Spanish authority indicates two Conquerors as the worst in Chile:
Francisco of Villagra and Francisco of Aguirre, ancestors of many
Chileans (the second one had various legitimate children, and more
than fifty bastards whom he recognized as his and many more not
recognized). Pinochet Ugarte descends from them, according to
meticulous genealogies published in the country; and likewise the
author of the present study.

Families' stuff, clans, fierce ancient hordes of relatives against
each other. Bad metaphor imagined Sigmund Freud, when he wanted
to see himself as a “Conquistador”. Against the Right of Peoples in
America, the violence under the law wants to be legitimized in history.
The law that “is observed but not complied” sacramental phrase used
really in America and Chile for centuries as to receive the laws and to
accept them but never to execute them.

Hegel wrote of us in 1842: “Chile, country (...) where the force is
law ” (Cf. Encyclopedia of Philosophy in scientific principles). And a
French of the XX century came to say: the Chilean legal institutions are
the greatest esthetic creation of the dominant class in Chile.

This country is understood by its neighbors as the most
“legalistic” of the region. This was reiterated in Argentina this past
June before the Court order which revoked Pinochet's privileges so that
he could be trialed for horrendous crimes. And Pinochet defends
himself with legal arguments, as he has done in the name of his
government since September 11, 1973 to 1990, and since then as
Commander in Chief of the Army, and then since 1998 as senator, and
during the 503 days he was detained in London, and after his return to
Chile before more than one hundred and ten complaints still pending
for criminal judgment. He has been submitted to judgment in more
than half a dozen of countries, and continues being pursued out of
Chile by international orders of arrest, originating from European

I believe that it will be admitted that at least in Europe, the word
and the person of the individual Pinochet has the character of an
international penal symbol.
Symbol of what?

Many have been the dictatorships in America and the world in
this last half century. Why the figure of Pinochet is emphasized? It is
not only a phenomenon of “mass media”.
It represents something peculiar in contemporary psychology.
Is literature alone capable to respond to this?
The Chilean poetry of the XX Century considered of high quality
in Castilian. Maybe poetry can give answers about the conscious and
unconscious psychology of the Chilean?
For the Chilean collective, Pinochet is more than a symbol. I
want to be rigorous in the vocabulary. I wasn't always in the past with
respect to Pinochet, despite that I prowled around what now I present
here. For example, in the article published in It Monde Diplomatique of
August 1986.
It was written in past participle, as a necrology. Its title is: Esquisse
pour a éloge funèbre. (A month later, Pinochet was victim of a mortal
attack that was frustrated, with use of long range weapons and
missiles and five dead people).

Which is the truthful biography of this disturbing personality?
I will cite some paragraphs of that essay of 15 years ago in

The first Pinochet was called Guillaume. Once arrived in Chile
this name was granted to him: “Guillaume of Pinochet, baptisé à Saint
Bad, France”. He came, in fact, from Britain, with merchandise in
liquidation, fleeing the famine of the beginning of the 1700s, epoch of
the war among the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs for the succession of
the crown of Espagne, they opened the coasts of the Hispanic empire
to the French and they caused famine in France. He must have been a
strong immigrant, that went barefoot from a bad hotel to another and
from pigpen to bar, with a big bag full of junk obtained by chance on
the roads. It is known that he arrived at the beginning of 18th Century
at Concepción, a city that a Breton could not know without thinking
about the Immaculate one. He married there in 1722 with Ursula de la
Vega, neighbour of the city, she had lands. Without intending to paint
a portrait of all their genealogy, it suffices to note that the Pinochets
were people of the interior, of the country during the 18th and 19th
centuries and that they produced a white grayish cheese, of strong
smell, known in Chile under the name of cheese Chanco and unknown
by the rest of the world.

The grandfather of August Pinochet had six children (of which
one natural?) The last one was called Augusto and was the father of
the dictator. If he was the bastard, he didn't inherit land. In any case
he went to Valparaíso at the beginning of the 20th century and worked
in customs. In 1914, married Ms Avelina Ugarte, of creole family,
who's just died in Santiago with more than 90 years of age. Mr.
Pinochet and Mrs Ugarte had seven children. For what is known, Mss.
Ugarte was a woman of imperious character: “He is so timid, el Tito, so
sensitive, it was heard that he said in 1974, that he needed to kill his
enemies to impose himself to the others. He never kills enough. He's
always been like this”.

Augusto Pinochet Ugarte married Mrs Lucía Hiriart Rodríguez.
The father of the “first lady”, Osvaldo Hiriart – of Basque-French
background - was a lawyer and “he became minister” in his 40s. The
mother of doña Lucía, as she is called in Chile, was a lady Rodriguez
Adura, she accepted this son-in-law as somebody who's doing a favour.

The young Pinochet was enrolled in Los Padres Franceses in
Valparíso, which the small employee of customs that was his father
paid with much difficulty. He did his studies without glory and at the
age of fourteen years old he entered the Military Academy. From then
on his career as a soldier is well known because since his arrival to
power, he hurried to divulge his biography and even he added it as an
annex to the book that he published under the title of The decisive
day, 11 of September of 1973. He was a cadet, became a general, he
was appointed commander in chief of the armed forces on August 24,
1973 by President Salvador Allende, whom he overthrew.

Since his enrolment in a school that was expensive even for the
children of the rich, during the 20s and up to September 11, 1973, the
distinctive characteristic of his life was his social climbing (arribismo).
His schoolmates and also the military school have said this clearly, in
various terms.

Another characteristic, long time ignored, today notorious, is his
“catholicism” somewhat fundamentalist and rough, although it is
known for some months now that, when he was a young lieutenant, he
entered the freemasonry where he lasted little time. Under his
government a priest has seemed admirable to him: father Raúl
Hasbún, fundamentalist, that speaks by radio and television, writes in
the newspaper El Mercurio and is cited often by Pinochet.

Has Pinochet been influenced by his first name? August. (I
remit myself to the importance of names according to the work of
René Major, Of l¨Election).

Pinochet seems fascinated by the imperial symbols. His name
predestinated this. Is this a foolishness? Pinochet possesses several

The intelligence for power, that manifested in his preparations of
the coup d'etat when he imposed himself upon others who had
prepared him before and that seemed as his equals. In government he
knew how to play in a sarcastic way with politicians, with his followers
and his opponents. Episodes such as the intended opening for
dialogue in 1983 show an exceptional political capacity. He lasted
longer in the power that any another government of Chile since the
independence, in the 19th century; he even beats the record of
longevity so much during the colonial epoch as even before the Chile
of the 16th century. Some see in him, the best example of all the
Chilean 20th Century of somebody who dabbles in politics.

Last strokes of the man that would become Pinochet. One must
sink the nails. There are four. The first one is on the order of the
ghost. When interviewed, Pinochet presents himself as a balanced
man, full of good sense, well installed in his body and in his regular life,
clock in hand (fifteen minutes of reading, half an hour of gymnastics).
The inflexible Pinochet is a subtle Pinochet. A good number of his
political shifts cannot be attributed to his knowledge neither to his
intelligence, but they are successful, have struck just right, with
opportune measures that have made him last; and can only but be
attributed to his unconscious. He does not trust anybody but has
confidence in his/their interior depths.

The second nail has a double head: August Pinochet utilizes a
double oral language. A cheap one to the point of vulgarity
(“politicians go back to your hovels”, “the former parlamentarians are
treacherous hogs”); the other scrapes the lyrical metaphor (“In this
country not even a leaf moves if I don't move it”). When he privately
receives dignataries, the cardinal archbishop of Santiago, the generals
of the armed forces, foreign authorities, the ambassadors and others
Pinochet, with his high pitched voice and borrowed words using a more
cultivated tone that in Chile could be referred to as: prissy military

The third: his distressed fear, quite uncommon. He can be even
noble: does not want to do less than Allende at the moment of his
death. He knows - who doesn't?- that he is going to die, probably as
violent death: he has the moral certainty that he would not flee as
Ferdinando Marcos, not so much because he would not have a place of
refuge but mostly because, as he betrayed Salvador Allende, he is
condemned to be identified with him. At the moment of the fall, he
cannot do less than Allende.

And the fourth? How to describe it? With the words of a French:
“An unprecedented humor (...) horrible (...) because in the evilest man
there is a poor innocent horse that suffers, a heart, a liver, arteries in
which there is not trace of malice and that also suffer. And at the hour
of the beautiful triumphs it is damaged because there is always
someone that suffers”. (Letter of Proust on the general that
condemned Dreyfus).

Rocinante August 2000
Translated by Claudia Raddatz
Pablo Neruda Cultural Committee (Adelaide)
Chilean Popular and Indigenous Network.
September 2003