"He may be a sonofabitch but he’s our sonofabitch" was a favourite soundbite of the Cold War era. As the west attempted to ‘contain communism‘ we formed alliances with regimes that had dubious human rights records. One of those regimes was that of General Pinochet of Chile, who has died today. Pinochet’s admirers recognise his Friedmanite reforms whilst dictatorial ruler, the fact that he resigned once a democratic government had been elected and that he built a nation which remains one of the most prosperous in Latin America. His more numerous critics remember concentration camps and more than two thousand deaths at the hands of his security apparatus. It certainly was not a happy time for the Conservative Party when Margaret Thatcher celebrated her Falklands War ally during his period of house arrest in the UK.
Tomorrow sees Tory MPs William Hague and Gary Streeter launch the first annual report of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission. It will be interesting to see if the Commission is willing to criticise human rights abusing nations in the world today that are otherwise partners for Britain in economic and political matters. Sam Coates will be submitting a full report on the CPHRC’s work tomorrow.