Asymmetry. You could call it that. You could also call it injustice. And a real shame.
Over 14 years ago, when a former Chilean head of state went to London for surgery, he was arrested by Interpol and charged with crimes against humanity. More specifically, he was arrested at the request of the then-Socialist Spanish government for violations of the human rights of some Spanish citizens in Chile. Around the very same time, Fidel Castro visited Spain and was given the red carpet treatment. Never mind the hundreds of Spanish citizens tortured and executed by him in Cuba. One of those Spaniards was my cousin Fernando.
The news of Pinochet’s arrest was greeted with loud cheers by those who control the flow of information in the so-called “free” world. And the information was conveyed with more than a hint of indignation at the dictator, and no small amount of glee over his capture. It was clear to all who covered the story that the man arrested in London was some kind of monster. Take, for instance, this archival gem:
From The Guardian, U.K. 17 October 1998
General Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator who presided over a 17-year reign of terror and ordered foreign assassinations, was arrested at a London hospital on Friday night by police acting on a request from Spain.
Pinochet, 82, was arrested at the London Bridge hospital on a warrant – an Interpol Red Notice – which alleges that between 1973 and 1983 he committed atrocities against Spanish citizens. He was held as he was convalescing after minor surgery to his back.
The news of Pinochet’s seizure by Scotland Yard officers was greeted with euphoria by Chilean exiles and former victims of his torture. Among them was the former personal doctor of President Salvador Allende, who perished in Pinochet’s coup. “It is a great triumph of justice,” said Dr Oscar Soto. “Pinochet must now give account for more than 3,000 deaths, exiles and tortures in the 17 years of his dictatorship.”
Now, here we are in 2013. A dictator who has presided over a 54-year reign of terror, either as head of state or as head of the military, and who has also ordered many more foreign assassinations than Pinochet ever did, arrives in Chile and he is not arrested. Add to this the fact that this dictator is suspected of ordering the assassination of Chileans abroad, and that some in Chile want him charged with these murders. Never mind all his other victims, Cuban and non-Cuban, or the tortures endured by hundreds of thousands.
The press calls him “president” rather than “dictator” and makes no mention of his atrocities. Not only that, the press cooly reports that this dictator will be serving as president of the international council CELAC, where many view him with admiration. Those news outlets that bother at all with this story also poke fun at those who call for justice. The Associated Press sneers with the headline: “Castro’s Arrival Irks Chilean Right.” This headline is multiplied in the hall of mirrors that is the main stream media, from the Huffington Post to The Miami Herald. The Washington Post goes further, reporting that “The Arrival of Cuba’s Raul Castro in Chile summit angers far-right party. ”
Yeah, those irrational, evil right-wingers, far-right lunatics who are constantly prone to angry outbursts and atrocities. How dare they take umbrage at this visit.
Stop and ask: Why is the reporting so unbalanced ? Why is there no equal justice?
The answer? Because, as far as those who control of the news are concerned, the world is divided into two camps: right and left. The left is virtuous and can do no wrong; the right is evil and hateful, and everything they do is a crime. It’s that simple to the news monopolists. And guess what? It becomes equally simple to most of their audience.
Of course there is also a theological answer to this painful conundrum. That answer is at once simple and complex, and goes down like a bitter pill:
It’s all due to the fact that the Devil has the world by the short nether hairs.