1. Park Chung Hee – South Korea
Usual claim to fame: Kidnapping political opponent and future South Korean president Kim Dae Jung from Japan in broad daylight and taking him out for a ride on a boat.
Kim Dae Jung came within minutes of “sleeping with the fishes” and certainly would have if not for immediate US diplomatic pressure.
The Dictator Park was known for allowing torture, the creative use of electric shock was a specialty during his rule.
Above all he turned South Korea into corporate oligarchy mainly concerned with the needs of a few ‘chaebol’ mega-companies. Funny how they never seem to mention that both North and South Korea were dictatorships for decades.
Not Pure Evil?: Park despite his abuses is commonly credited with getting things done and putting the infrastructure in place that has allowed South Korea to become the economic superpower it is today.
Bonus: His daughter is now the president of South Korea.
2. Augusto Pinochet – Chile
Usual claim to fame: Made thousands of political opponents “disappear.”
Not Pure Evil?: Pinochet turned around Chile’s economy overnight using his dictatorial power to simply get things done. Ever since, Chile has consistently been the most prosperous and stable country in South America.
Bonus: His look has had enduring influence.
Also, the only of these 3 dictators to die from old age…in his 90s.
3. Rafael Trujillo – Dominican Republic
Usual claim to fame: Rose to power as a US puppet who was installed to collect debts the Dominican Republic had defaulted on. Soon he owned most of the country’s economy and was more than willing make opponents “disappear.”
Not Pure Evil?: Like the other two dictators Trujillo is credited with strengthening the economy and infrastructure of the Dominican Republic despite making the country into an oligarchic nepotocracy.
Perhaps more remarkable is Trujillo’s establishment of a system of national parks, regulation of logging and slash and burn farming.
Somehow people end up paying more attention to these kinds of regulations when there’s a ruthless dictator enforcing them…
The results of Trujillo’s policies speak for themselves.
Here’s a picture of the border of Haiti and the Dominican republic.
Bonus: How many dictators could be marketed to the green and “fair trade” crowd? Couldn’t you envision him with that trademark smug smirk on the front of a bag of organic coffee?