World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Military dictatorship of Chile (1973–90)


Military dictatorship of Chile (1973–90)

Republic of Chile
República de Chile

Flag Coat of arms
Himno Nacional de Chile
Capital Santiago
Languages Spanish
Government Military dictatorship
 -  1974–90 Augusto Pinochet
President of the Junta
 -  1974–81 Augusto Pinochet
Legislature Government Junta
Historical era Cold War
 -  Coup d'etát September 11, 1973
 -  Constitution March 11, 1981
 -  Plebiscite October 5, 1988
 -  Transition to democracy March 11, 1990
 -  1973 est. 10,095,485 
 -  1980 est. 11,178,817 
 -  1990 est. 13,187,821 
Currency Chilean escudo (1973–75)
Chilean peso (1975–90)

The military dictatorship of Chile (Spanish: dictadura militar de Chile) was an authoritarian military government that ruled Chile between 1973 and 1990. The dictatorship was established after the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by a CIA-backed coup d'état on 11 September 1973. The dictatorship was headed by a military junta presided by General Augusto Pinochet. The perceived breakdown of democracy and the economic crisis that took place during Allende's presidency were justifications used by the military to seize power. The dictatorship presented its mission as a "national reconstruction".

The regime was characterized by the systematic suppression of political parties and the persecution of dissidents to an extent that was unprecedented in the history of Chile. Over-all, the regime left over 3,000 dead or missing[1] and forced 200,000 Chileans into exile.[2] The dictatorship shaped much of modern Chile's political, educational and economic life. In 1980, it replaced the Constitution of 1925 with a a new one crafted by regime collaborators. The constitution was approved in a highly controversial referendum in 1980, but Pinochet's plans to remain in power were thwarted in 1988 when the regime admitted defeat in a referendum that opened the way for democracy to be reestablished in 1990. Before the regime relinquished power, an amnesty law was passed, preventing most members of the military from being prosecuted by the subsequent government.

On the economical plane the dictatorship implemented long-lasting neoliberal reforms in collaboration with various economists dubbed the "Chicago Boys". The regime not only re-privatized some previously expropriated property but also privatized part of the education and healthcare system. Despite neoliberal reforms mining company Codelco remained under state control providing a substantial part of the state income.


  • Rise to power 1
  • Suppression of political activity 2
    • Human-rights violations 2.1
    • State terrorism 2.2
  • Constitution of 1980 3
  • Opposition 4
    • NGOs 4.1
    • Armed groups 4.2
    • Political parties 4.3
    • Exiled community 4.4
  • Economy and free market reforms 5
    • 1973-1981 5.1
    • Deflation policy 5.2
    • 1982-1983 5.3
    • 1984-1990 5.4
    • Evaluation 5.5
    • Social consequences 5.6
  • Foreign relations 6
    • Relationship with the U.S. 6.1
    • Relationship with the U.K. 6.2
    • French support 6.3
    • Foreign aid 6.4
    • Cuban involvement 6.5
  • Cultural life 7
  • Plebiscite and return to civilian rule 8
  • Legacy 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Rise to power

Since 1970, after he narrowly won a three-way election, Chile was ruled by President Salvador Allende, the first Marxist to become president of a Latin American country through open elections. The United States government actively attempted to destabilize the Allende government, with U.S. President Richard Nixon ordering extensive use of economic warfare for this purpose.[3] The Nixon administration also used the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to mount a major destabilization campaign.[4] As the CIA revealed in 2000, "In the 1960s and the early 1970s, as part of the US Government policy to try to influence events in Chile, the CIA undertook specific covert action projects in Chile ... to discredit Marxist-leaning political leaders, especially Dr. Salvador Allende, and to strengthen and encourage their civilian and military opponents to prevent them from assuming power."[5] The CIA worked with right-wing Chilean politicians, military personnel, and journalists to undermine socialism in Chile.[6]

On 15 April 1973, workers from the El Teniente mining camp had ceased working, demanding higher wages. The strike lasted 76 days and cost the government severely in lost revenues. One of the strikers, Luis Bravo Morales, was shot dead in Rancagua city. On June 29, the Blindados No. 2 tank regiment under the command of Colonel Roberto Souper, attacked La Moneda, Chile's presidential palace. Instigated by the anti-Marxist militia Patria y Libertad, the armoured cavalry soldiers hoped other units would be inspired to join them. Instead, armed units led by generals Carlos Prats and Augusto Pinochet quickly put down the coup attempt. In late July, 40,000 truckers, squeezed by price controls and rising costs, tied up transportation in a nationwide strike that lasted 37 days, costing the government US$6 million a day.[7] Two weeks before the coup, public dissatisfaction with rising prices and food shortages led to protests like the one at the Plaza de la Constitución which had been dispersed with tear gas.[8] Allende also clashed with Chile's largest circulation newspaper El Mercurio. Tax-evasion charges were trumped up against the newspaper and its director arrested.[9] The Allende government found it impossible to control inflation, which grew to more than 300 percent by September,[10] further dividing Chileans over the Allende government and its policies.

On August 22, 1973, the Chamber of Deputies passed, by a vote of 81 to 47, a resolution calling for President Allende to respect the constitution. The measure failed to obtain the two-thirds majority in the Senate constitutionally required to convict the president of abuse of power, but the resolution still represented a challenge to Allende's legitimacy. The military seized on the widespread discontent and on the Deputies' resolution to then launch the September 11, 1973 coup d'état; as troops surrounded La Moneda Palace, Allende died later that day in uncertain and controversial circumstances. The military installed themselves in power as a Military Government Junta, composed of the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabineros (police). Once the Junta was in power, General Augusto Pinochet soon consolidated his control over the government. Since he was the commander-in-chief of the oldest branch of the military forces (the Army), he was made the titular head of the junta, and soon after President of Chile. The coup received active support from the CIA, and once the junta had taken over, the United States immediately recognized the new regime and helped it consolidate power.[4]

Suppression of political activity

Book burning in Chile following the 1973 coup that installed the Pinochet Regime

Following their takeover of power in 1973, the Government Junta formally banned the socialist, Marxist and other leftist parties that had constituted former President Allende's Popular Unity coalition. On September 13, the junta dissolved the Congress and outlawed or suspended all political activities in addition to suspending the 1925 constitution. All political activity was declared "in recess". Eduardo Frei, Allende's predecessor as president, initially supported the coup along with his Christian Democratic colleagues. Later, they assumed the role of a loyal opposition to the military rulers, but soon lost most of their influence.

Meanwhile, left-wing Christian Democrats like Radomiro Tomic were jailed or forced into exile.[11][12] The Catholic Church, which at first expressed its gratitude to the armed forces for saving the country from the horrors of a "Marxist dictatorship" became, under the leadership of Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, the most outspoken critic of the regime's social and economic policies.

The composition of the military junta underwent some changes during the late 1970s. Due to disagreements with Pinochet, General Gustavo Leigh was dismissed from the junta in 1978 and replaced by General Fernando Matthei. In 1985, due to the Caso Degollados scandal ("case of the slit throats"), General César Mendoza resigned and was replaced by General Rodolfo Stange.[13]

Human-rights violations

The military rule was characterized by systematic suppression of all political dissidence. Scholars later described this as a "politicide" (or "political genocide").[15] Steve J. Stern spoke of a politicide to describe "a systematic project to destroy an entire way of doing and understanding politics and governance."[16]

The worst violence occurred within the first three months of the coup, with the number of suspected leftists killed or "disappeared" (desaparecidos) reaching several thousand.[17] In the days immediately following the coup, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs informed Henry Kissinger that the National Stadium was being used to hold 5,000 prisoners, and as late as 1975, the CIA was still reporting that up to 3,811 were still imprisoned there.[18] Between the day of the coup and November 1973, as many as 40,000 political prisoners were held there.[19][20] 1,850 of them were killed, another 1,300 are missing since then.[20] Some of the most famous cases of desaparecidos are Charles Horman, a U.S. citizen who was killed during the coup itself,[21] Chilean songwriter Víctor Jara, and the October 1973 Caravan of Death (Caravana de la Muerte) where at least 70 persons were killed. Among the most infamous methods of murder involved Pinochet's henchmen dropping pregnant women out of aeroplanes. He believed this was a way of avenging soldiers killed by Allende's supporters. He was quoted to have said "If you kill the bitch, you kill off the offspring."[22] Other instances of systematic murder include Operation Colombo and Operation Condor.

Some funeral urns of political activists executed by the Chilean military dictatorship, from 1973 to 1990, in the cemetery of Santiago

Following the 1988 plebiscite, the Rettig Commission, a multipartisan effort by the Aylwin administration to discover the truth about the human-rights violations, listed a number of torture and detention centers (such as Colonia Dignidad, the ship Esmeralda or Víctor Jara Stadium), and found that at least 3,200 people were killed or disappeared by the regime. Later, the 2004 Valech Report confirmed the figure of 3,200 deaths but reduced the estimated number of disappearances. It tells of some 28,000 arrests in which the majority of those detained were incarcerated and in a great many cases tortured.[23] Some 30,000 Chileans were exiled,[24][25][26] particularly to Argentina; however, they were followed in their exile by the DINA secret police, in the frame of Operation Condor which linked South American dictatorships together against political opponents.[27] Some 20,000–40,000 Chilean exiles were holders of passports stamped with the letter "L" (which stood for lista nacional), identifyng them as persona non grata and had to seek permission before entering the country.[28] According to a study in Latin American Perspectives,[29] at least 200,000 Chileans (about 2% of Chile's 1973 population) were forced into exile. Additionally, hundreds of thousands left the country in the wake of the economic crises that followed the military coup during the 1970s and 1980s.[29] In 2003, an article published by the International Committee of the Fourth International claimed that "Of a population of barely 11 million, more than 4,000 were executed or 'disappeared,' hundreds of thousands were detained and tortured, and almost a million fled the country."[30]

Rudolph Rummel estimates 10,000 killed during Pinochet's regime, with 30,000 being the highest possible number.[31] Rummel notes an estimate by Sivard that 3,000 miners were killed by the Chilean army in a dispute in 1987.[32] Other sources place the number of all the victims of the dictatorship as high as 15,000 killed and 2,000 disappeared.[33] In 1996, human rights activists announced they had presented another 899 cases of people who had disappeared or been killed during the dictatorship, taking the total of known victims to 3,197, of whom 2,095 were reported killed and 1,102 missing.[34] In 2011, the Chilean government officially recognized 36,948 survivors of torture and political imprisonment, as well as 3,095 people killed or disappeared at the hands of the military government.[35]

Leftist guerrilla groups and their sympathizers were also hit hard during the military regime. The MIR commander, Andrés Pascal Allende, has stated that the Marxist guerrillas lost 1,500–2,000 fighters killed or disappeared.[36] Among the killed and disappeared during the military regime were at least 663 MIR guerrillas.[37] The Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front stated that 49 FPMR guerrillas were killed and hundreds tortured.[38]

According to the Latin American Institute on Mental Health and Human Rights, 200,000 people were affected by "extreme trauma"; this figure includes individuals executed, tortured, forcibly exiled, or having their immediate relatives put under detention.[39]

State terrorism

Profs. Michael Stohl and George A. López have accused the U.S. of state terrorism for having instigated the coup d’état against the democratically elected Allende.[40]
In The State as Terrorist: The Dynamics of Governmental Violence and Repression, Prof. Michael Stohl writes:

In addition to non-terroristic strategies ... the United States embarked on a program to create economic and political chaos in Chile ... After the failure to prevent Allende from taking office, efforts shifted to obtaining his removal. Money for the CIA's destabilization of Chilean society, included, financing and assisting opposition groups and right-wing terrorist paramilitary groups such as Patria y Libertad (Fatherland and Liberty)

Prof. Gareau writes:

Washington's training of thousands of military personnel from Chile, who later committed state terrorism, again makes Washington eligible for the charge of accessory before the fact to state terrorism. The CIA's close relationship, during the height of the terror to Contreras, Chile's chief terrorist (with the possible exception of Pinochet himself), lays Washington open to the charge of accessory during the fact

Prof. Gareau argues that the fuller extent involved the US co-ordinating counter-insurgency warfare among all Latin American countries:

Washington's service as the overall co-ordinator of state terrorism in Latin America demonstrates the enthusiasm with which Washington played its role as an accomplice to state terrorism in the region. It was not a reluctant player. Rather it not only trained Latin American governments in terrorism and financed the means to commit terrorism; it also encouraged them to apply the lessons learned to put down what it called “the communist threat”. Its enthusiasm extended to co-ordinating efforts to apprehend those wanted by terrorist states who had fled to other countries in the region . . . The evidence available leads to the conclusion that Washington’s influence over the decision to commit these acts was considerable.[41] Given that they knew about the terrorism of this régime, what did the élites in Washington during the Nixon and Ford administrations do about it? The élites in Washington reacted by increasing U.S. military assistance and sales to the state terrorists, by covering up their terrorism, by urging U.S. diplomats to do so also, and by assuring the terrorists of their support, thereby becoming accessories to state terrorism before, during, and after the fact[42]

Thomas Wright identifies Chile as an example of open state terrorism without a civilian governance façade. In State Terrorism and Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and International Human Rights, he argues:

Unlike their Brazilian counterparts, they did not embrace state terrorism as a last recourse; they launched a wave of terrorism on the day of the coup. In contrast to the Brazilians and Uruguayans, the Chileans were very public about their objectives and their methods; there was nothing subtle about rounding up thousands of prisoners, the extensive use of torture, executions following sham court-marshal, and shootings in cold blood. After the initial wave of open terrorism, the Chilean armed forces constructed a sophisticated apparatus for the secret application of state terrorism that lasted until the dictatorship’s end . . . The impact of the Chilean coup reached far beyond the country’s borders. Through their aid in the overthrow of Allende and their support of the Pinochet dictatorship, President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, sent a clear signal to all of Latin America that anti-revolutionary régimes employing repression, even state terrorism, could count on the support of the United States. The U.S. government, in effect, gave a green light to Latin America’s right wing and its armed forces to eradicate the Left, and use repression to erase the advances that workers — and in some countries, campesinos — had made through decades of struggle. This ‘September 11 effect’ was soon felt around the hemisphere[43]

Prof. Gareau concludes:

The message for the populations of Latin American nations, and particularly the Left opposition, was clear: the United States would not permit the continuation of a Socialist government, even if it came to power in a democratic election and continued to uphold the basic democratic structure of that society[42]

Constitution of 1980

Chile's new constitution was approved in a national plebiscite held on September 11, 1980. The constitution was approved by 66% of voters under a process which has been described as "highly irregular and undemocratic."[44] The constitution came into force on March 11, 1981.



Armed groups

Political parties

Exiled community

Economy and free market reforms

After the military took over the government in 1973, a period of dramatic economic changes began. The Chilean economy was still faltering in the months following the coup. As the military junta itself was not particularly skilled in remedying the persistent economic difficulties, it appointed a group of Chilean economists who had been educated in the United States at the University of Chicago. Given financial and ideological support from Pinochet, the U.S., and international financial institutions, the Chicago Boys advocated laissez-faire, free-market, neoliberal, and fiscally conservative policies, in stark contrast to the extensive nationalization and centrally-planned economic programs supported by Allende.[45] Chile was drastically transformed from an economy isolated from the rest of the world, with strong government intervention, into a liberalized, world-integrated economy, where market forces were left free to guide most of the economy's decisions. [45]

From an economic point of view, the era can be divided into two periods. The first, from 1973 to 1982, corresponds to the period when most of the reforms were implemented. The period ended with the international debt crisis and the collapse of the Chilean economy. At that point, unemployment was extremely high, above 20 percent, and a large proportion of the banking sector had become bankrupt. But this was a worldwide crisis, and as shown in the graph showing growth in GDP per capita did not have a long lasting effect on the Chilean economy. During that first period, an economic policy that emphasized export expansion and growth was implemented. However, some economists argue that the economic recovery of the second period, from 1982 to 1990, was due to an about-face turn around of Pinochet's free market policy and the fact that, in 1982, he nationalized many of the same industries that were nationalized under Allende and fired the Chicago Boys from their government posts.[46]


Chile's main industry, copper mining, remained in government hands, with the 1980 Constitution declaring them "inalienable," [47] but new mineral deposits were open to private investment.[47] Capitalist involvement was increased, the Chilean pension system and healthcare were privatized, and Superior Education was also placed in private hands. One of the junta's economic moves was fixing the exchange rate in the early 1980s, leading to a boom in imports and a collapse of domestic industrial production; this together with a world recession caused a serious economic crisis in 1982, where GDP plummeted by 14%, and unemployment reached 33%. At the same time, a series of massive protests were organized, trying to cause the fall of the regime, which were efficiently repressed.

Deflation policy

Chronic inflation had plagued the Chilean economy for decades when Pinochet took power, and was threatening to become hyperinflation. Between September 1973 and October 1975, the consumer price index rose over 3,000%. In order to combat this persistent problem and pave the way for economic growth, the Chicago Boys recommended dramatic cuts in social services.[48] The junta put the group's recommendations into effect, and cumulative cuts in health funding totaled 60% between 1973 and 1988.

The cuts caused a significant rise in many preventable diseases and mental health problems. These included rises in typhoid (121 percent), viral hepatitis, and the frequency and seriousness of mental ailments among the unemployed.[49]

Exchange rate depreciations and cutbacks in government spending produced a depression. Industrial and agricultural production declined. Massive unemployment, estimated at 25% in 1977 (it was only 3% in 1972), and continuing inflation eroded the living standard of workers and many members of the middle class to subsistence levels. The under-employed informal sector also mushroomed in size.


In 1982-1983 Chile witnessed a severe economic crises with a surge in unemployment and a meltdown of the financial sector.[50] 16 out of 50 financial institutions faced bankruptcy.[51] In 1982 the two biggest banks were nationalized to prevent an even worse credit crunch. In 1983 another five banks were nationalized and two banks had to be put under government supervision.[52] The central bank took over foreign debts. Critics ridiculed the economic policy of the Chicago Boys as "Chicago way to socialism".[53]


After the economic crisis, Hernan Buchi became Minister of Finance from 1985 to 1989, introducing a more pragmatic economic policy. He allowed the peso to float and reinstated restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country. He introduced Bank regulations, simplified and reduced the corporate tax. Chile went ahead with privatizations, including public utilities plus the re-privatization of companies that had returned to the government during the 1982–83 crisis. From 1984 to 1990, Chile's gross domestic product grew by an annual average of 5.9%, the fastest on the continent. Chile developed a good export economy, including the export of fruits and vegetables to the northern hemisphere when they were out of season, and commanded high prices.


Chilean (orange) and average Latin American (blue) rates of growth of GDP (1971–2007).

Initially the economic reforms were internationally praised.

With the economic crises of 1982 the "monetarist experiment" was widely regarded a failure.[54]

The pragmatic economic policy after the crises of 1982 is appreciated for bringing constant economic growth.[55] It is questionable whether the radical reforms of the Chicago boys contributed to the past 1983 growth.[56] According to Ricardo Ffrench-Davis, consultant of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the 1982 crises as well as the success of the pragmatic economic policy after 1982 proves that the 1973-1981 radical economic policy of the Chicago Boys harmed the Chilean economy.[57]

Social consequences

The economic policies espoused by the Chicago Boys and implemented by the junta initially caused several economic indicators to decline for Chile's lower classes.[48] Between 1970 and 1989, there were large cuts to incomes and social services. Wages decreased by 8%.[58] Family allowances in 1989 were 28% of what they had been in 1970 and the budgets for education, health and housing had dropped by over 20% on average.[58][59] The massive increases in military spending and cuts in funding to public services coincided with falling wages and steady rises in unemployment, which averaged 26% during the worldwide economic slump of 1982–85[58] and eventually peaked at 30%.

In 1990, the LOCE act on education initiated the dismantlement of public education.[47] According to economist Manuel Riesco:

"Overall, the impact of neoliberal policies has reduced the total proportion of students in both public and private institutions in relation to the entire population, from 30 per cent in 1974 down to 25 per cent in 1990, and up only to 27 per cent today. If falling birth rates have made it possible today to attain full coverage at primary and secondary levels, the country has fallen seriously behind at tertiary level, where coverage, although now growing, is still only 32 per cent of the age group. The figure was twice as much in neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay, and even higher in developed countries—South Korea attaining a record 98 per cent coverage. Significantly, tertiary education for the upper-income fifth of the Chilean population, many of whom study in the new private universities, also reaches above 70 per cent."[47]

The junta relied on the middle class, the oligarchy, huge foreign corporations, and foreign loans to maintain itself.[60] Under Pinochet, funding of military and internal defence spending rose 120% from 1974 to 1979. Citation for both of these claims covered under Remmer, 1989--> Due to the reduction in public spending, tens of thousands of employees were fired from other state-sector jobs.[61] The oligarchy recovered most of its lost industrial and agricultural holdings, for the junta sold to private buyers most of the industries expropriated by Allende's Popular Unity government.

Financial conglomerates became major beneficiaries of the liberalized economy and the flood of foreign bank loans. Large foreign banks reinstated the credit cycle, as the Junta saw that the basic state obligations, such as resuming payment of principal and interest installments, were honored. International lending organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank lent vast sums anew.[58] Many foreign multinational corporations such as International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), Dow Chemical, and Firestone, all expropriated by Allende, returned to Chile.[58]

Foreign relations

Having come to power with the self-proclaimed mission of fighting communism, Pinochet found common cause with the military dictatorships of Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and later, Argentina. The six countries eventually formulated a plan that became known as Operation Condor, in which one country's security forces would target active Marxist subversives, guerrillas, and their alleged sympathizers in the allied countries.[62] Pinochet's government received tacit approval and material support from the United States. The exact nature and extent of this support is disputed. (See U.S. role in 1973 Coup, U.S. intervention in Chile and Operation Condor for more details.) It is known, however, that the American Secretary of State at the time, Henry Kissinger, practiced a policy of supporting coups in nations which the United States viewed as leaning toward Communism.[63]

The new junta quickly broke off the diplomatic relations with Cuba that had been established under the Allende government. Shortly after the junta came to power, several communist countries, including the Soviet Union, North Korea, North Vietnam, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia, severed diplomatic relations with Chile (however, Romania and the People's Republic of China both continued to maintain diplomatic relations with Chile).[64] The government broke diplomatic relations with Cambodia in January 1974[65] and renewed ties with South Korea in October 1973 and with South Vietnam in March 1974.[66] Pinochet attended the funeral of General Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain from 1936–75, in late 1975.

Chile was on the brink of being invaded by Argentina (also ruled by a military government) as the Argentina Junta started the Operation Soberania on 22 December 1978 because of the strategic Picton, Lennox and Nueva islands at the southern tip of South America on the Beagle Canal. A full-scale war was prevented only by the call off of the operation by Argentina due to military and political reasons.[67] But the relations remained tense as Argentina invaded the Falklands (Operation Rosario). Chile along with Colombia, were the only countries in South America to criticize the use of force by Argentina in its war with the U.K. over the Falkland Islands. Chile actually helped the United Kingdom during the war. The two countries (Chile and Argentina) finally agreed to papal mediation over the Beagle canal that finally ended in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina (Tratado de Paz y Amistad). Chilean sovereignty over the islands and Argentinian east of the surrounding sea is now undisputed.

In 1980, Chile's relationship with the Philippines, then a dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos became strained when that country, due to U.S. pressure, refused to allow Pinochet's plane to land in the country, even though Marcos had invited the General to visit the country. Marcos' move was under U.S. guidelines which sought to isolate Pinochet's regime.[68]

Relations between the two countries were restored only on 1986 when Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency of the Philippines after Marcos was ousted in a non-violent revolution, the People Power Revolution.

Relationship with the U.S.

The U.S. provided material support to the military regime after the coup, although criticizing it in public. A document released by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2000, titled "CIA Activities in Chile", revealed that the CIA actively supported the military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet's officers into paid contacts of the CIA or U.S. military, even though some were known to be involved in human rights abuses.[69]

The U.S. was significantly friendlier with Pinochet than it had been with Allende, and continued to give the junta substantial economic support between the years 1973–79, while simultaneously expressing opposition to the junta's repression in international forums such as the United Nations. The U.S. went beyond verbal condemnation in 1976, after the murder of Orlando Letelier in Washington D.C., when it placed an embargo on arms sales to Chile that remained in effect until the restoration of democracy in 1989. Presumably, with international concerns over Chilean internal repression and previous American hostility and intervention regarding the Allende government, the U.S. did not want to be seen as an accomplice in the junta's "security" activities. Prominent U.S. allies Britain, France, and West Germany did not block arms sales to Pinochet, benefitting from the lack of American competition.[70]

Relationship with the U.K.

Chile was officially neutral during the Falkland War, but the Chilean Westinghouse long-range radar deployed in southern Chile gave the British task force early warning of Argentinian air attacks, which allowed British ships and troops in the war zone to take defensive action.[71] Margaret Thatcher said that the day the radar was taken out of service for overdue maintenance was the day Argentinian fighter-bombers bombed the troopships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, leaving approximately 50 dead and 150 wounded.[72] According to Chilean Junta and former Air Force commander Fernando Matthei, Chilean support included military intelligence gathering, radar surveillance, British aircraft operating with Chilean colours and the safe return of British special forces, among other things.[73] In April and May 1982, a squadron of mothballed RAF Hawker Hunter fighter bombers departed for Chile, arriving on 22 May and allowing the Chilean Air Force to reform the No. 9 "Las Panteras Negras" Squadron. A further consignment of three frontier surveillance and shipping reconnaissance Canberras left for Chile in October. Some authors suggest that Argentina might have won the war had she been allowed to employ the VIth and VIIIth Mountain Brigades, which remained sitting up in the Andes mountain chain.[74] Pinochet subsequently visited Margaret Thatcher for tea on more than one occasion.[75] Pinochet's controversial relationship with Thatcher led Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair to mock Thatcher's Conservatives as "the party of Pinochet" in 1999.

French support

Although France received many Chilean political refugees, it also secretly collaborated with Pinochet. French journalist Videla's junta in Argentina and with Augusto Pinochet's regime in Chile.[76]

Green deputies Noël Mamère, Martine Billard and Yves Cochet on September 10, 2003 requested a Parliamentary Commission on the "role of France in the support of military regimes in Latin America from 1973 to 1984" before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly, presided by Edouard Balladur. Apart from Le Monde, newspapers remained silent about this request.[77] However, deputy Roland Blum, in charge of the Commission, refused to hear Marie-Monique Robin, and published in December 2003 a 12 pages report qualified by Robin as the summum of bad faith. It claimed that no agreement had been signed, despite the agreement found by Robin in the Quai d'Orsay [78][79]

When then Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin traveled to Chile in February 2004, he claimed that no cooperation between France and the military regimes had occurred.[80]

Foreign aid

The previous drop in foreign aid during the Allende years was immediately reversed following Pinochet's ascension; Chile received US$ $322.8 million in loans and credits in the year following the coup.[81] There was considerable international condemnation of the military regime's human rights record, a matter that the United States expressed concern over as well after Orlando Letelier's 1976 assassination in Washington DC.(Kennedy Amendment, later International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976).

Cuban involvement

After the Chilean military coup in 1973, Castro promised Chilean revolutionaries "all the aid in Cuba's power to provide." Throughout the 1970s, MIR guerrillas and several hundred Chilean exiles received military training in Cuba.[82] Once their training was completed, Cuba helped the guerrillas return to Chile, providing false passports and false identification documents. Cuba's official newspaper, Granma, boasted in February 1981 that the "Chilean Resistance" had successfully conducted more than 100 "armed actions" throughout Chile in 1980. By late 1980, at least 100 highly trained MIR guerrillas had reentered Chile and the MIR began building a base for future guerrilla operations in Neltume, a mountainous forest region in the extreme south of Chile. In a massive operation spearheaded by Chilean Army Para-Commandos, security forces involving some 2,000 troops, were forced to deploy in the Neltume mountains from June to November 1981, where they destroyed two MIR bases, seizing large caches of munitions and killing a number of MIR commandos. In 1986, Chilean security forces discovered 80 tons of munitions, including more than three thousand M-16 rifles and more than two million rounds of ammunition, at the tiny fishing harbor of Carrizal Bajo, smuggled ashore from Cuban fishing trawlers off the coast of Chile.[83] The operation was overseen by Cuban naval intelligence, and also involved the Soviet Union. Cuban Special Forces had also instructed the FPMR guerrillas that ambushed President Augusto Pinochet's motorcade on 8 September 1986, killing five bodyguards and wounding 10.[84]

Cultural life

Charango, a musical instrument banned by the dictatorhip.

The coup brought Chilean cultural life into what Soledad Bianchi has called a "cultural blackout".[85] The government censored non-sympathetic individuals while taking control of mass media.[85] The formerly thriving charango and quena were banned.[85]

The 1980s saw an invasion of Argentine rock bands into Chile. These included Charly García, Los Enanitos Verdes, G.I.T. and Soda Stereo among others.[86]

Contemporary Chilean rock group Los Prisioneros complained against the ease with which Argentine Soda Stereo made appearances on Chilean TV or in Chilean magazines and the ease they could obtain musical equipment for concerts in Chile.[87] Soda Stereo was invited to Viña del Mar International Song Festival while Los Prisioneros were ignored despite their popular status.[88] This situation was because Los Prisioneros were censored by media under the influence of the military dictatorship.[87][88] Los Prisioneros' marginalization by the media was further aggravated by their call to vote against the dictatorship on the plebiscite of 1988.[88]

Experimental theatre groups from Universidad de Chile and Pontifical Catholic University of Chile were restricted by the military regime to performing only theatre classics.[90] Some established groups like Grupo Ictus were tolerated while new formations like Grupo Aleph were repressed. This last group had its members jailed and forced to go into exile after performing a parody on the 1973 Chilean coup d'état.[90] In the 1980s a grassroots street theatre movement emerged.[90]

Plebiscite and return to civilian rule

According to the transitional provisions of the 1980 Constitution, a plebiscite was scheduled for October 5, 1988, to vote on a new eight-year presidential term for Pinochet. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the plebiscite should be carried out as stipulated by the Law of Elections. That included an "Electoral Space" during which all positions, in this case two, (yes), and No, would have two free slots of equal and uninterrupted TV time, simultaneously broadcast by all TV channels, with no political advertising outside those spots. The allotment was scheduled in two off-prime time slots: one before the afternoon news and the other before the late-night news, from 22:45 to 23:15 each night (the evening news was from 20:30 to 21:30, and prime time from 21:30 to 22:30). The opposition No campaign, headed by Ricardo Lagos, produced colorful, upbeat programs, telling the Chilean people to vote against the extension of the presidential term. Lagos, in a TV interview, pointed his index finger towards the camera and directly called on Pinochet to account for all the "disappeared" persons. The campaign did not argue for the advantages of extension, but was instead negative, claiming that voting "no" was equivalent to voting for a return to the chaos of the UP government.

Pinochet lost the 1988 referendum, where 55% of the votes rejected the extension of the presidential term, against 43% for "", and, following the constitutional provisions, he stayed as President for one more year. Open presidential elections were held on December 1989, at the same time as congressional elections that would have taken place in either case. Pinochet left the presidency on March 11, 1990 and transferred power to political opponent Patricio Aylwin, the new democratically elected president. Due to the same transitional provisions of the constitution, Pinochet remained as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, until March 1998.


Following the restoration of Chilean democracy and during the successive administrations that followed Pinochet, the Chilean economy has prospered, and today the country is considered a Latin American success story. Unemployment stands at 7% as of 2007, with poverty estimated at 18.2% for the same year, both relatively low for the region.[91]

The "Chilean Variation" has been seen as a potential model for nations that fail to achieve significant economic growth.[92] The latest is Russia, for whom David Christian warned in 1991 that "dictatorial government presiding over a transition to capitalism seems one of the more plausible scenarios, even if it does so at a high cost in human rights violations."[93]

On his 91st birthday on 25 November 2006, in a public statement to supporters, Pinochet for the first time claimed to accept "political responsibility" for what happened in Chile under his regime, though he still defended his 1973 coup against Salvador Allende. In a statement read by his wife Lucia Hiriart, he said, Today, near the end of my days, I want to say that I harbour no rancour against anybody, that I love my fatherland above all. ... I take political responsibility for everything that was done.[94] Despite this statement, Pinochet always refused to be confronted to Chilean justice, claiming that he was senile. He died two weeks later while indicted on human rights and corruption charges, but without having been sentenced.


  1. ^ "Country profile: Chile". BBC News. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  2. ^ Wright, T.C.; Oñate, R. (2005), "Chilean Diaspora", in I., Skoggard, Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World II, pp. 57–65 
  3. ^ Peter Kornbluh. "Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973". 
  4. ^ a b Winn, Peter (2010). Grandin & Joseph, Greg & Gilbert, ed. A Century of Revolution. Duke University Press. pp. 239–275. 
  5. ^ CIA Activities in Chile. Central Intelligence Agency. September 18, 2000.
  6. ^ Gabriel Garcia Marquez. "Why Allende had to die". The New Statesman. 3 April 2013.
  7. ^ Historical Dictionary of Chile, Salvatore Bizzarro, p. 34, Scarecrow Press, 2005
  8. ^ "The Bloody End of a Marxist Dream". Time Magazine. 24 September 1973.
  9. ^ Authoritarian Regimes in Latin America: Dictators, Despots, and Tyrants, Paul H. Lewis, p. 204, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006
  10. ^ Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution, Thomas C. Wright, p. 139, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001
  11. ^ [1] Pinochet Forms Panel to Consider Return of Chileans Sent Into Exile
  12. ^ [2] Radomiro Tomic, político chileno
  14. ^ Pinochet is history: But how will it remember him? National Review Symposium, December 11, 2006
  15. ^ [4] The legacy of human-rights violations in the Southern Cone
  16. ^ Stern, Steve J. Remembering Pinochet's Chile. 2004-09-30: Duke University Press. pp. 32, 90, 101, 180–81.  
  17. ^ [5] BBC: Finding Chile's disappeared
  18. ^ Thinking About Terrorism: The Threat to Civil Liberties in a Time of National Emergency, Michael E. Tigar, pp. 37-38, American Bar Association, 2007
  19. ^ Gómez-Barris, Macarena (2010). "Witness Citizenship: The Place of Villa Grimaldi in Chilean Memory". Sociological Forum 25 (1): 34.  
  20. ^ a b "El campo de concentración de Pinochet cumple 70 años".  
  21. ^ [6] New Information on the Murders of U.S. Citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi by the Chilean Military
  22. ^ [7] BBC: Caravan of Death
  23. ^ [8] Valech Report
  24. ^ Augusto Pinochet's Chile, Diana Childress, p.92, Twenty First century Books, 2009
  25. ^ Chile en el umbral de los noventa: quince años que condicionan el futuro, Jaime Gazmuri & Felipe Agüero, p. 121, Planeta, 1988
  26. ^ Chile: One Carrot, Many Sticks, Monday, Aug. 22, 1983.TIME MAGAZINE.
  28. ^ Chile since the coup: ten years of repression, Cynthia G. Brown, pp.88-89, Americas Watch, 1983.
  29. ^ a b Wright, Thomas C.; Oñate Zúñiga, Rody (2007). "Chilean political exile".  
  30. ^ The lessons of Chile—30 years on, By Mauricio Saavedra and Margaret Rees, World Socialist Website, 17 September 2003
  31. ^ RJ, Rummel. "Table 4: Democide Rank Ordered (1970-1979)". 
  32. ^ Table 15.1A in Rummel, RJ (1997). Statistics of Democide. Charlottesville: School of Law, University of Virginia. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  33. ^ Graham, 1990; cited in Johnson 2006, pg. 85
  34. ^ Sun-Sentinel wire services, August 23, 1996
  35. ^ Controversial victims on Chile's official list, By Eva Vergara, Omaha World-Herald, August 18, 2011
  36. ^ Los Allende: con ardiente paciencia por un mundo mejor, Günther Wessel, P. 155, Editorial TEBAR, 2004
  38. ^ Aquellos que todo lo dieron. El Rodriguista, 11 Años de Lucha y Dignidad, 1994
  39. ^ Vasallo, Mark (2002). "Truth and Reconciliation Commissions: General Considerations and a Critical Comparison of the Commissions of Chile and El Salvador". The University of Miami Inter-American Law Review 33 (1): 163. 
  40. ^ The State as Terrorist: The Dynamics of Governmental Violence and Repression by Prof. Michael Stohl, and Prof. George A. López; Greenwood Press, 1984. Page 51
  41. ^ State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism by Frederick H. Gareau, Page78-79.
  42. ^ a b State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism by Frederick H. Gareau, Page 87.
  43. ^ Wright, Thomas C. State Terrorism and Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and International Human Rights, Rowman & Littlefield, page 29
  44. ^ Hudson, Rex A., ed. "Chile: A Country Study." GPO for the Library of Congress. 1995. March 20, 2005
  45. ^ a b K. Remmer (1998). "Public Policy and Regime Consolidation: The First Five Years of the Chilean Junta". pp. 5–55. Journal of the Developing Areas. 
  46. ^ Valenzuela, Arturo (2002). A Nation of Enemies. New York: W. W. Norton.  p. 197-8
  47. ^ a b c d Manuel Riesco, "Is Pinochet dead?", New Left Review n°47, September–October 2007 (English and Spanish)
  48. ^ a b K. Remmer (1998). "The Politics of Neoliberal Economic Reform in South America" 33. pp. 3–29.  
  49. ^ Contreras, 1986
  50. ^ Sebastián Edwards, Alejandra Cox Edwards: Monetarism and Liberalization: the Chilean Experiment. University of Chicago Press, 1991, S. xvii.
  51. ^ Karin Fischer: The Influence of Neoliberals in Chile before, during, and after Pinochet. In: P. Mirowski, D. Plehwe (Hrsg.): The Road from Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, Harvard University Press, Cambridge/London 2009, S. 305–346, hier S. 329.
  52. ^ Karin Fischer: The Influence of Neoliberals in Chile before, during, and after Pinochet. In: P. Mirowski, D. Plehwe (Hrsg.): The Road from Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, Harvard University Press, Cambridge/London 2009, p. 305–346, hier S. 329.
  53. ^ Robert G. Wesson: Politics, policies, and economic development in Latin America. Hoover Press, 1984, ISBN 0-8179-8062-8, S. 8.
  54. ^ Carlos Fortin: The Failure of Repressive Monetarism: Chile, 1973–1983. In: Third World Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 2 (Apr., 1984), p. 310–326; Sebastian Edwards: Monetarism in Chile, 1973–83: Some Economic Puzzles. In: Economic Development and Cultural Change. vol. 34, no. 3 (Apr.,1986), p. 535. Vgl. auch die Nachweise bei Jean Drèze, Amartya Kumar Sen: Hunger and Public Action. Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 231.
  55. ^ Enrique R. Carrasco: Autocratic Transitions to Liberalism: A Comparison of Chilean and Russian Structural Adjustment. In: Law and Contemporary Problems, Bd. 5, S. 99–126, hier S. 101, Fn. 5.
  56. ^ J. M. Albala-Bertrand: Monetarism and Liberalization: The Chilean Experiment: With a New Afterword. In: The Economic Journal, vol. 102, no. 414 (Sep., 1992), p. 1258–1260, p. 1259f; Jorge Nef: The Chilean Model Fact and Fiction. In: Latin American Perspectives. vol. 30, no. 5, (Sep., 2003), p. 16–40; Eduardo Silva: From Dictatorship to Democracy: The Business-State Nexus in Chile’s Economic Transformation, 1975–1994. In: Comparative Politics vol. 28 (1996), p. 299–320; Ricardo French-Davis: Economic Reforms in Chile: From Dictatorship to Democracy. University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbour, 2002.
  57. ^ Helmut Wittelsbürger, Albrecht von Hoff: Chiles Weg zur Sozialen Marktwirtschaft. (PDF; 118 kB); Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung -Auslandsinfo. 1/2004, p. 97, 104.
  58. ^ a b c d e  
  59. ^ Sznajder, 1996
  60. ^ [10] Chile under Pinochet: recovering the truth
  61. ^ Remmer, 1989
  62. ^ Operation Condor
  63. ^ [11] The Kissinger Telcons: Kissinger Telcons on Chile
  64. ^ J. Samuel Valenzuela and Arturo Valenzuela (eds.), Military Rule in Chile: Dictatorship and Oppositions, p. 317
  65. ^ El Mercurio, 20 January 1974
  66. ^ El Mercurio, 6 April 1975
  67. ^ See Alejandro Luis Corbacho "Predicting the probability of war during brinkmanship crisis: The Beagle and the Malvinas conflicts" about the reasons of the call off (p.45): The newspaper Clarín explained some years later that such caution was based, in part, on military concerns. In order to achieve a victory, certain objectives had to be reached before the seventh day after the attack. Some military leaders considered this not enough time due to the difficulty involved in transportation through the passes over the Andean Mountains. and in cite 46: According to Clarín, two consequences were feared. First, those who were dubious feared a possible regionalization of the conflict. Second, as a consequence, the conflict could acquire great power proportions. In the first case decisionmakers speculated that Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil might intervene. Then the great powers could take sides. In this case, the resolution of the conflict would depend not on the combatants, but on the countries that supplied the weapons.
  68. ^ Helen Spooner, Soldiers in a narrow land: the Pinochet regime in Chile, url
  69. ^ Peter Kornbluh, CIA Acknowledges Ties to Pinochet’s Repression Report to Congress Reveals U.S. Accountability in Chile, Chile Documentation Project, National Security Archive, September 19, 2000. Accessed online November 26, 2006.
  70. ^ Falcoff, 2003
  71. ^ Margaret Thatcher Foundation. Speech on Pinochet at the Conservative Party Conference. October 6 1999.
  72. ^ The Falklands Conflict Part 5 - Battles of Goose Green & Stanley HMFORCES.CO.UK
  73. ^ Mercopress. September 3rd 2005.
  74. ^ Nicholas van der Bijl and David Aldea, 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands , page 28, Leo Cooper 2003
  75. ^ "Pinochet death 'saddens' Thatcher". BBC News. December 11, 2006. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  76. ^ Conclusion of Marie-Monique Robin's Escadrons de la mort, l'école française (French)/ Watch here film documentary (French, English, Spanish)
  77. ^ MM. Giscard d'Estaing et Messmer pourraient être entendus sur l'aide aux dictatures sud-américaines, Le Monde, September 25, 2003 (French)
  78. ^ « Série B. Amérique 1952-1963. Sous-série : Argentine, n° 74. Cotes : 18.6.1. mars 52-août 63 ».
  79. ^ RAPPORT FAIT AU NOM DE LA COMMISSION DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES SUR LA PROPOSITION DE RÉSOLUTION (n° 1060), tendant à la création d'une commission d'enquête sur le rôle de la France dans le soutien aux régimes militaires d'Amérique latine entre 1973 et 1984, PAR M. ROLAND BLUM, French National Assembly (French)
  80. ^ Argentine : M. de Villepin défend les firmes françaises, Le Monde, February 5, 2003 (French)
  81. ^ Petras & Morley, 1974
  82. ^ Cuba's Renewed Support of Violence in Latin America
  83. ^ The Day Pinochet Nearly Died.
  84. ^ Castro's Secrets, Brian Latell, p. 125, Macmillan, 2013
  85. ^ a b c d e Morris, Nancy. 1986. Canto Porque es Necesario Cantar: The New Song Movement in Chile, 1973-1983. Latin American Research Review, Vol. 21, pp. 117-136.
  86. ^ Torres Quezada, Rodrigo Guillermo. 2007. El imaginario de rebeldía y disconformidad a través de la música rock en los años ´90. Desadaptados/as chilenos/as dejan su mensaje.
  87. ^ a b Fuentes, Jorge. La histórica rivalidad de Los Prisioneros y Soda Stereo, ¿quién ganó?, retrieved on December 12, 2012.
  88. ^ a b c Leiva, Jorge. "Los Prisioneros". La enciclopedia de la música chilena en Internet. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  89. ^ Sol y Lluvia on a live recording of their song "Voy a hacer el amor"
  90. ^ a b c Richards, Keith (2005), Pop culture Latin America!: media, arts, and lifestyle, pp. 121–122 
  91. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  92. ^ "Australian Slavonic and East European Studies: Journal of the Australian and ... - Google Books". 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  93. ^ Christian, 1992
  94. ^ (BBC)


  • Christian, D. (1992). "Perestroika and World History", Australian Slavonic and East European studies, 6(1), pp. 1–28.
  • Falcoff, M. (2003). "Cuba: The Morning After", p. 26. AEI Press, 2003.
  • Petras, J., & Vieux, S. (1990). "The Chilean 'Economic Miracle': An Empirical Critique", Critical Sociology, 17, pp. 57–72.
  • Roberts, K.M. (1995). "From the Barricades to the Ballot Box: Redemocratization and Political Realignment in the Chilean Left", Politics & Society, 23, pp. 495–519.
  • Schatan, J. (1990). "The Deceitful Nature of Socio-Economic Indicators". Development, 3-4, pp. 69–75.
  • Sznajder, M. (1996). "Dilemmas of economic and political modernisation in Chile: A jaguar that wants to be a puma", Third World Quarterly, 17, pp. 725–736.
  • Valdes, J.G. (1995). Pinochet's economists: The Chicago School in Chile, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Steve Anderson Body of Chile's Former President Frei May Be Exumed, The Santiago Times, April 5, 2005

External links

  • Literature and Torture in Pinochet's Chile
  • Criminals of the military dictatorship : Augusto Pinochet
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.