Augusto Pinochet died over the weekend. I don’t know much about his time in power beyond what wikipedia tells me. But reading up on it led me to other despots and tyrants. Let’s do a rundown:
- Idi Amin ruled over Uganda from 1971 to 1979. His self-appointed title was “His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.”
Not a man known for brevity. I like the part about the beasts and fishes.
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current President of Iran. An engineer by training, he’s hosting a conference for holocaust deniers this week in Iran.
I wonder if they’ll opine on whether or not the moon landing happened as well?
- Kim Jong-il, leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as North Korea.
Kim’s father Kim Il-sung holds the title of “Eternal President of the Republic,” but he’s had troubles providing effective leadership ever since his death in 1997. I was close to North Korea (north east China) this past summer and blogged some thoughts. It’s a fascinating place due to the Kims’ megalomanic rule.
- Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe. From the start of Mugabe’s rule in 1980, Zimbabwe has gone from the bread basket of Africa to hyperinflation (1204.6% in August 2006).
A few years ago I read the story of Roy Bennett, a white farmer who opposed Mugabe when he started to appropriate land from white farmers to give to his war veterans. Roy became an MP in the Zimbabwe parliament to try to change things. His time in parliament ended with his imprisonment on charges of assault of another MP (captured in Hansard). It makes for some surreal reading.
And these are just the tip of the iceberg. More kooks and genuinely evil chaps can be found on Wikipedia’s list of dictators.
Makes you wonder at the things we inflate to crises in Canadian politics …