US tied to Pinochet, from ascent to demise

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Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who died at a Santiago hospital, was a long-time protege of the United States who backed him in 1973 when he overthrew the Socialist government of Salvador Allende.
Later, he fell out of favor as human rights abuses under his watch got out of hand, including the 1976 assassination in Washington of a former Chilean ambassador, and in 2004 US lawmakers helped build a case of fraud against him.

General Pinochet rose to fame on September 11, 1973, when he led an anti-Allende military coup with the complicity of Chilean right-wing forces and the US government.

Conservatives in Chile and Washington feared Allende's attempts to pave "a Chilean way toward Socialism" would usher in a pro-Soviet communist government.

Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state under then president Richard Nixon, made quite clear what US intentions were after Allende's election.

"The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves ... I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people," Kissinger said at the time.

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