Tory MP has "huge admiration" for Augusto Pinochet

Andrew Rosindell declares his support for the brutal dictator.

Trigger warning for sexual violence and rape. This post contains graphic descriptions of acts of torture.

Political Scrapbook has been running a series of posts on Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, mostly focusing on the £36,000 of free travel he has claimed in the last year alone, as varies countries paid for his trips to the Cayman Islands, Taiwan, Lebanon, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and more. But today, they've revealed his astonishing comments about the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

Defending one of his councillors joining the "Augusto Pinochet Fan Club" on Facebook, Rosindell told the Romford Recorder that:

Pinochet ousted a communist regime in Chile that was butchering its people. Compared with the rest of Latin America during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Chile turned into a free society where people were able to prosper.

If [the councillor] happened to join a group, then so what? I would happily be a member of that group. I have huge admiration for General Pinochet.

These are some of the actions of the man Rosindell has huge admiration for:

In January 1974, Chilean Air Force troops deposited the body of a seventeen-year-old boy, an MIR party member, in a town south of Santiago. Part of the boy's abdomen had been subjected to vivisection. Both his legs were broken, and also his left arm. His entire body was covered with holes made by cigarette burns. He had also been castrated. . . There were a lot of women as badly beaten up as the men were. They bad also been brutally raped; they had internal ruptures and were bleeding profusely. One kept moaning. The torturers had inserted a sharp object in her vagina, and it had cut through the peritoneum. Some of the people there said they had recognized the interrogators: they were Navy infantrymen trained at the American bases in Panama. [Robinson Rojas Sandford, The Murder of Allende and the End of the Chilean Way of Socialism]

The methods of torture described in the preliminary reports from COPAHI, the "Cooperative Committee for Peace in Chile" are the following:

  • Application of electrical current in various parts of the body, usually the gums, genitals and anus.
  • Blows.
  • Blindfolding or hoods.
  • Burning with acids or cigarettes.
  • Immersion in gasoline or water.
  • Whipping in general.
  • Incarceration in unhealthy conditions or with vermin.
  • Being forced to participate in or witness sexual activities [62].
  • Being rolled over rocks.
  • Being forced to witness torture.
  • Ingestion of excrement.
  • Rack.
  • Hanging by the neck.
  • Deprivation of water for a week.
  • Deliberate fracture of a wounded arm.
  • Being thrown from a height blindfolded.
  • Knives inserted under fingernails or toenails.
  • Cutting on the hands.
  • Being exposed naked to the sun.
  • Not identified (caused death). [María Eugenia Rojas, La represión politica en Chile: los hechos]

In some camps, routine sadism was taken to extremes. At Villa Grimaldi, recalcitrant prisoners were dragged to a parking lot; DINA agents then used a car or truck to run over and crush their legs. Prisoners there recalled one young man who was beaten with chains and left to die slowly from internal injuries. Rape was also a reoccurring form of abuse. DINA officers subjected female prisoners to grotesque forms of sexual torture that included insertion of rodents and, as tactfully described in the Commission report, "unnatural acts involving dogs." [Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability]

"I have huge admiration for General Pinochet".

Chilean crossing a street in Santiago, behind a military tank which is on its way to the Presidential Palace, Santiago, 30 June 1973. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Like it or hate it, it doesn't matter: Brexit is happening, and we've got to make a success of it

It's time to stop complaining and start campaigning, says Stella Creasy.

A shortage of Marmite, arguments over exporting jam and angry Belgians. And that’s just this month.  As the Canadian trade deal stalls, and the government decides which cottage industry its will pick next as saviour for the nation, the British people are still no clearer getting an answer to what Brexit actually means. And they are also no clearer as to how they can have a say in how that question is answered.

To date there have been three stages to Brexit. The first was ideological: an ever-rising euroscepticism, rooted in a feeling that the costs the compromises working with others require were not comparable to the benefits. It oozed out, almost unnoticed, from its dormant home deep in the Labour left and the Tory right, stoked by Ukip to devastating effect.

The second stage was the campaign of that referendum itself: a focus on immigration over-riding a wider debate about free trade, and underpinned by the tempting and vague claim that, in an unstable, unfair world, control could be taken back. With any deal dependent on the agreement of twenty eight other countries, it has already proved a hollow victory.

For the last few months, these consequences of these two stages have dominated discussion, generating heat, but not light about what happens next. Neither has anything helped to bring back together those who feel their lives are increasingly at the mercy of a political and economic elite and those who fear Britain is retreating from being a world leader to a back water.

Little wonder the analogy most commonly and easily reached for by commentators has been that of a divorce. They speculate our coming separation from our EU partners is going to be messy, combative and rancorous. Trash talk from some - including those in charge of negotiating -  further feeds this perception. That’s why it is time for all sides to push onto Brexit part three: the practical stage. How and when is it actually going to happen?

A more constructive framework to use than marriage is one of a changing business, rather than a changing relationship. Whatever the solid economic benefits of EU membership, the British people decided the social and democratic costs had become too great. So now we must adapt.

Brexit should be as much about innovating in what we make and create as it is about seeking to renew our trading deals with the world. New products must be sought alongside new markets. This doesn’t have to mean cutting corners or cutting jobs, but it does mean being prepared to learn new skills and invest in helping those in industries that are struggling to make this leap to move on. The UK has an incredible and varied set of services and products to offer the world, but will need to focus on what we do well and uniquely here to thrive. This is easier said than done, but can also offer hope. Specialising and skilling up also means we can resist those who want us to jettison hard-won environmental and social protections as an alternative. 

Most accept such a transition will take time. But what is contested is that it will require openness. However, handing the public a done deal - however well mediated - will do little to address the division within our country. Ensuring the best deal in a way that can garner the public support it needs to work requires strong feedback channels. That is why transparency about the government's plans for Brexit is so important. Of course, a balance needs to be struck with the need to protect negotiating positions, but scrutiny by parliament- and by extension the public- will be vital. With so many differing factors at stake and choices to be made, MPs have to be able and willing to bring their constituents into the discussion not just about what Brexit actually entails, but also what kind of country Britain will be during and after the result - and their role in making it happen. 

Those who want to claim the engagement of parliament and the public undermines the referendum result are still in stages one and two of this debate, looking for someone to blame for past injustices, not building a better future for all. Our Marmite may be safe for the moment, but Brexit can’t remain a love it or hate it phenomenon. It’s time for everyone to get practical.