Swent: Well, the prosperity is something to see.
Haldeman: We owe that to the general.
Swent: General Pinochet?
Haldeman: Yes. He was convinced that a market economy had to be
established here for the country to get ahead. He was smart
enough, like many great leaders, to get good young people around
him and let them go. They made a couple of mistakes, but they
didn't repeat them, and he prevailed. He didn't have to go
through Congress. He had his boys go out and canvassed the
world to find out what we had to do to be competitive in mining,
exports, quality control. Write the law, and he would sign it.
[Pinochet said] Labor- -what do we need in labor? Take all
the labor laws, which are all political laws and such a mess you
couldn't understand them. Just put them all to one side. All
of these laws were superseded by very simple legislation. You
can strike, and if you don't get a settlement by sixty days, the
employer has a right to hire new people and start all over
again. The first time it happened, nobody believed it and went
to see the minister, who said, "I'm sorry; it's the law." On
the fifty-ninth day, they signed up.
The employers started abusing the thing a little bit, and
the president said, "Now, come on. If you're going to abuse it,
we're going to doctor it and give the workers a better break.
What do you want?" He called in a pow-wow, a jawboning the
Central Workers' Confederation, the biggest union; the head of
the national manufacturing society; and the head of the mining
association, and private sector. They sat with the ministers of
finance, economy, and labor, and said, "You have to teach your
people properly. As the economy goes up, you--business--trickle
down. If you don't, I'm going to legislate."
So the bosses started to open up the trickle valves. We
haven't had a strike here in I don't remember when. Everything
is booming. In fact, we have trouble because there is just too
much purchasing power here. We can't get the inflation down to
a single digit just because the economy is doing too well.
Wouldn't you like to have that in the States? [laughs] Butdon't shoot holes in it down here.
Index to Haldeman Interview