SANTIAGO, Chile - Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who terrorized his opponents for 17 years after taking power in a bloody coup, died today, putting an end to a decade of intensifying efforts to bring him to trial for human rights abuses blamed on his
Supporters saw Pinochet as a Cold War hero for overthrowing democratically elected President Salvador Allende at a time when the U.S. was working to destabilize his Marxist government and keep Chile from exporting communism in Latin America.
But the world soon reacted in horror as Santiago's main soccer stadium filled with political prisoners to be tortured, shot, disappeared or forced into exile.
Pinochet's dictatorship laid the groundwork for South America's most stable economy, but his crackdown on dissent left a lasting legacy: His name has become a byword for the state terror, in many cases secretly supported by the United States, that retarded democratic change across the hemisphere.
Pinochet died with his family at his side at the Santiago Military Hospital on Sunday, a week after suffering a heart attack.
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