Pinochet still calling the shots

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The Independent Online
Old soldiers never die and some, such as Chile's Augusto Pinochet, refuse to fade away. The general, 82, who oversaw the death of 3,000 opponents over 17 years before handing over to a civilian government in 1990, is still calling the shots.

Due to retire as army commander this month, he has postponed his departure to an unspecified date. Constitutionally, he can remain until 11 March but his view of the constitution is not necessarily that of your average democrat: he overthrew the elected Marxist government of Salvador Allende in 1973. And he pushed through a constitutional change which allows him to serve, without election, as a senator for life. His pending switch from army chief, and still a powerful force behind the throne of President Eduardo Frei, to senator created uproar this week, including in parliament, which broke off in chaos. It was then that Gen Pinochet said he would prolong his army career.