Funeral speech by commander in chief of the army, general Óscar Izurieta Ferrer at the funeral ceremony for Augusto Pinochet on the military academy Escuela Militar del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins in Santiago December 12th 2006.
(TV transmission of the speech can be seen below.)
As the representative for The Chilean Army and in execution of the military tradition it is my heavy duty as commander in chief to be in charge of the farewell to the earthly remains of capitán general Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, in his function as commander in chief of The Army from August 23rd 1973 to March 10th 1998.
We express the deepest compassion for the irreplaceable loss that his esteemed wife, Mrs. Lucía Hiriart de Pinochet, his children, grandchildren and grand-grandchildren, all the members of his numerous family - that he all loved - suffered.
We share their grief and joins in the funeral. We pray to God to ease their pains and to give them the strength to go through this with faith in eternal life and with the hope that his death can contribute to the alleviation of the emotion in the Chilean society connected to his person and his work.
Let us leave to history to conduct an objective and just examination with regard to his political, economic and social work.
We now witness the ending of a life in public service for a man who at a time had to trespass the border of his profession to take over the government of his country.
Therefore, his military career, especially as a general, cannot be demarcated from the political dimension of his acts, for it was the very background for both the soldier and the head of state.
On March 3rd 1933 General Augusto Pinochet was enrolled on the military school and was one of the soldiers, who in 1936 were appointed to the infantry.
His years as a First Lieutenant passed with education, exercises and the conduct of courses for officers.
He served on the infantry school and at the regiments »Chacabuco« in Concepción and »Maipo« in Valparaíso; the latter gave him the opportunity to meet old friends and teachers at Sagrados Corazones de Los Padres Franceses, with whom he had continuous contact in mutual respect and devotion.
On January 29th 1943, while officer at the military school, he married miss Lucía Hiriart Rodríguez. This marriage resulted in five children; Lucía, Augusto, Verónica, Marco Antonio and Jacqueline.
His family life was marked by the responsibility and work in military life and the family's adaption to that particular life with shifting places of employment and constant professional challenges.
In 1946, as a captain, he was dispatched to Infantry Regiment No. 5, »Carampangue«, with garrison in Iquique. At this place of employment he god a thorough knowledge about the historic and military tradition in this region.
Here his interest for the studies of the campaings in The War of The Pacific was started, a work he later published the results of, and that by the way continued for the rest of his life.
In 1949 he was enrolled at Academia De Guerra, and he was appointed staff officer in 1951. He later served on the military school, and later in Infantry Regiment No. 4, »Rancagua«, in Arica, where he was promoted to major.
At an early stage General Pinochet showed academic aspirations towards military geography and geopolitics. As an educator on the military academies of the Army and the Air Force he contributed to later departments in these subjects.
It was the result of this persistence that became texts that in these years turned into books that were used at the various institutes in the military profession.
In 1956 he was, together with other distinguished officers, appointed to serve as a teacher at the military academy in Ecuador, a service that stretched to 1959, during which he participated in the reorganisation of this institution for higher learning.
This faze of his professional and private life, far away from mother country, he reminded in his memoirs with a special kind of nostalgia, writing: »Ecuador for me personally meant, besides the birth of two of my children, a period of intense studies and hard word for almost four years, a time that allowed me to get to know the locals of this dear neighbouring country thoroughly.«
After the end of this duty he was commissioned as an advisor for the general staff in The First Division of The Army, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Months later, in January 1960, he was appointed leader of The Seventh Infantry Regiment, »Esmeralda«, one of the most renowned units in The Army. He stayed on this post till 1964, which allowed him to work in close contact with society in Antofagasta.
He accomplished this task to full satisfaction and in February of 1964 was appointed sub director at the Academia de Guerra, where he further developed his calling as a lecturer at the education of officers to be.
With the promotion to colonel he was appointed chief of staff in The Second Division of The Army in Santiago. At the same time he had his academic activities, a task he did not neglect despite the other responsibilities.
In 1969 he was promoted to brigadier general and appointed Chief of The Sixth Division of The Army, serving in Iquique.
As a member of the high command and in his function as a general he became commander in chief at the garrison of The Army in Santiago in 1971 and Chief of Staff in The Army, thus at various occasions in 1972 and 1973 acting at Commander In Chief of The Army. On August 23rd 1973 he was appointed Commander In Chief of The Army.
Speaking of Augusto Pinochet's career, we speak of a course that, due to exceptional circumstances, stretched over more than 60 years in The Army.
His military career — like for nearly all — was formed in the institutions tradition: Constant studies and the close knowledge of the Chilean people and its history.
Without any doubt the most difficult decision in General Pinochet's life as a soldier was — in consulting with The Navy, The Air Force and The Carabiñero Corps — to take responsibility of the conduct of the nation facing the deep constitutional crisis the country was in. On September 11th 1973 – without ceasing to be Commander In Chief of The Army – he was appointed president of the junta and later president of The Republic, which he in accordance with the constitution was till March 11th 1990 when succeeded by Don Patricio Aylwin Azócar.
It is not for me to judge the military government. Nor is it my intention to lay out a detailed account of the circumstances the Commander In Chief were faced with, that made him act like he did. However I do believe it is inevitable – to shed light on a very complex era with The Cold War as a setting – that I mention that The Army, too, was a victim of the political movements that posed a threat to its unity. The same happened to the other branches of the national defence with the dangers it created with regard to the survival of the nation.
When General Pinochet decided to act on September 11th 1973 he did so convinced that there were no other possibilities to solve the crisis.
Years later he wrote about this time in his life: »I till the last minute kept from taking action despite the cries from the people that we ought to intervene. I put – not out of fear, but out of deep hope – my faith in that this institutional crisis could be solved by peaceful means.«
It is for others to judge this faze of his life, with all its bright and dark sides.
In this regard General Pinochet is a testimony to an era, that the nation had to live through because of errors committed in the previous government and in the time of his own government.
From at strictly military point of view I want to mention some aspects of his government that had influence on The Armed Forces and The Army in particular.
His government had a preference for peace in the region and for solving prolonged controvercies. The handling of the international crisis's, that Chile stood in in 1974 and 1978 gives us evidence of his understanding of the catastrophical consequences of a war against other nations, whichprolonged animosity and hindered the development and cooperation in Chile in a world, which would soon become globalized.
It is also shown in the vision and the zeal that he and the organization under his command, had for progress and development of for instance the work on the highway going through the nation, that thanks to his perseverance and stamina now makes it possible to view the physical connection of the parts of the nation.
Significant was also the new division of the nation into political-administrative regions.
This made obvious the importance of The Army's contribution to overcome the lacking development internally, not only by making road work, but by the physical seizure of the country and the establishment of military units in the periphery of the country.
In the later years of his career as Commander In Chief of The Army, he laid the ground for the future project of institutional modernization, especially with regard to educational and instruction aspects and the inclusion of the women in the military profession.
In compliance with the regulations in the constitution he resigned as Commander In Chief of The Army on March 10th 1998 to become a senator for life.
In this new faze of his life, as retired, he was confronted with a line of legal claims deriving from his acts as head of state, claims that continued to the day of his death.
Circumstances with regard to Human Rights are the most controversial in connection to his reign. He condoled there sufferings years later. Just recently, in November of 2006, he assumed full political responsibility for everything happened during his government.
General Pinochet died without having evaded steps from court, in agreement with the rule of law in the country at that.
In this regard and in accordance with what he maintained during his detainment in The United Kingdom, he recognized the Chilean courts only to judge him.
As far as The Army is concerned, out position is clear and known with regard to the respect for Human Rights, which has been made clear by my two predecessors.
As commander in chief of all Chilean's army I today confirm this principle. This has made is possible to move forward with regard to the reunification of our society.
Honoured Mrs. Lucía, The Family Pinochet-Hiriart, attending persons of public authority, my ladies and gentlemen:
We stand at a man's coffin, a man who played one of the most influential roles in Chile's recent history.
His work shall have effect some more time before a balances and sober judgement of it's influence with the clear light of time that is offered to the writing of history, before it — without pressure and expectations from outside — can fullfil it's instructive purpose.
As long as that hasn't happened, I recommend that we shield what we already know, and unite so that we avoid repeating the mistakes in the past, that did so much harm to our society.
At the hour of the honours at his funeral The Army recognizes general Pinochet as a soldier who loved his country very much. It was this feeling that led his entire military life. His true passion was revealed as he expressed: »I love Chile above everything else and not even the most sad of circumstances hinder that I even at a distance with the full force of my soul once and thousand times repeat: Chile live!«
AUGUSTO PINOCHET UGARTE, CAPITÁN GENERAL, EX-COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMY: REST IN PEACE!
This TV clip published on Youtube is from the direct transmission of the funeral speech above by commander in chief of the army, general Óscar Izurieta Ferrer, at Augusto Pinochet's funeral on the military academy Escuela Militar del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins in Santiago December 12th 2006.