Lucia Hiriard, the powerful wife of the Chilean dictator, has died at the age of 98

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Lucia Hiriard, the wife of Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet, has died in the Lo Barnechea area of ​​Santiago on Thursday. She is 98 years old.

His death was announced by his son Marco Antonio Pinochet.

Ms. Herriard is one of Chile’s most defined figures of the 20th century, but opinions about her are mixed. Her longevity and her role in her husband’s rule led many to despise her as a vicious, cruel figure known as the “old woman.” Others say he was an outstanding philanthropist who dedicated his life to the service of the Chilean people.

Her health has been kept secret since her husband died in 2006, and she is rarely seen in public.

Ms. Herriard wielded extraordinary power in the presidential palace, La Moneta, during her husband’s 17 – year dictatorship.

General Pinochet acknowledged that he had played a role in the dismissal of ministers, and that when he was head of the Armed Forces he pushed him to take part in the 1973 coup that ousted Socialist President Salvador Allende of Chile. .

“One evening my wife took me to the bedroom where our grandchildren were sleeping,” General Pinochet wrote in a memoir, “Camino Recorrido, Memorias de un Soldado.” “She turned to me and said, ‘They’re slaves because you can not make decisions.'”

Thereafter, General Pinochet signed a coup attempt that ousted President Allende in the September 11, 1973, rapid attack on La Moneta. He was appointed head of the military junta, and his dictatorship ruled Chile until the country returned to democracy in 1990.

When the Army, the four divisions of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Police, agreed to rotate the leadership following the coup, Ms. Hariard pushed her husband to become the first head of the military junta. That is the role he will not give up.

“During the dictatorship, La Moneta acted more or less like a monarch, with Heriard and Pinochet as queen and king,” Chilean journalist Alejandra Modus said in an interview with Ms. Heriat’s author of the unrecognized autobiography “Dona Lucia”. .

“Lucia Hiriard created the ‘Pinochet dictator’,” Ms Madhus said, “because if he had not conspired with her, he would not have even given his support to the coup.”

Maria Lucia Herriard Rodriguez was born on December 10, 1923, in Antofagasta, on the arid north coast of Chile. She is the eldest daughter of Oswaldo Herriard and Lucia Rodriguez, influential politicians of the Basque-French tradition who briefly served as Chile’s interior minister in the 1940s.

The family later moved to the district of San Bernardo, south of the capital, Santiago, where he met Augusto Pinochet in 1941, where he served for eight years as a senior military officer. To the displeasure of his family – he belonged to an oppressed social class – they got married two years later.

Ms. Herriard helped define a philanthropic role for herself as Chile’s first lady. But she quickly developed a strong desire and a demanding reputation.

Diego Portals in Santiago had more than 20 aides across the 17th floor of the building, which was initially the executive branch after the coup.

In 1981, he relocated his offices to A.C. Section of La Moneta, above the Press Center.

He later ordered Italian marbles to decorate the floors of a $ 14 million mansion built for the couple in the foothills of the Andes, out of sight of the capital. The 5,000-square-meter house, with swimming pool, tennis courts and underground bunker, was not provided for the couple; Following public protests, it was handed over to the Armed Forces and used as a ploy by the authorities.

Ms. Hariard has been charged on several occasions with tax evasion, fraud and misappropriation of public funds.

She assumed the leadership of Centro de Madress Chile (CEMA Chile), a trust representing the interests of Chilean mothers, which she oversaw until 2016. When she and her husband lived in southern England in the 1990s, money was used for the general. Pinochet’s living and health expenses were allegedly snatched from the organization by Chilean lawyers.

The investigation into CEMA Chile was closed in 2013, and no member of the Pinochet-Hiriard family has been charged. When CEMA Chile ceased operations in 2019, it handed over 108 assets worth 7.6 billion pesos to the state.

In a series of corruption investigations, Chile’s Inland Revenue Service has filed a lawsuit against Ms Harriard and her five children in connection with possession of more than $ 21 million in 125 accounts at Ricks Bank in Washington in 2005, tax evasion charges and various aliases.

Ms. Hariard was never found guilty at that trial or at any other trial.

In addition to her son Marco Antonio, Ms. Herriard’s survivors include four children, Ines, Augusto, Maria Veronica and Jacqueline Marie; And many grandchildren.

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