Pinochet and the military rule in Chile
For a substantial part of the twentieth century, elections in Chile were highly ideological transactions that gave voters a clear philosophical choice between left, right, and center. At least twice before, these bitterly contested affairs saw left-wing coalitions edge into office: in 1938, with the victory of the Popular Front, and in 1970, with Salvador Allende's Popular Unity. The typically narrow margin could generally be attributed to the Chilean electorate's even division among these ideological orientations. The Pinochet dictatorship of 1973-1990, however, changed the nature of both the state and politics in Chile. By destroying the so-called "three-thirds" system (which Pinochet and the right blamed for authorizing Allende's election) and replacing it with a binomial system, Pinochet hoped to promote the creation of large electoral blocs intended to increase the chance of center-right success at the polls. In 1970, Senator Salvador Allende won. Allende was a Marxist and a member of Chile's Socialist Party, who headed the "Popular Unity" (UP or "Unidad Popular") coalition of the Socialist, Communist, Radical, and Social-Democratic Parties, along with dissident Christian Democrats, (Movimiento de Action Popular Unitaria or MAPU), and Acción Popular Independiente (Popular Independent Action). Allende's program included advancement of workers' interests; a thoroughgoing implementation of agrarian reform; the reorganization of the national economy into socialized, mixed, and private sectors; a foreign policy of "international solidarity" and national independence; and a new institutional order (the "people's state" or "poder popular"), including the institution of a unicameral congress. The Popular Unity platform also called for nationalization of foreign (U.S.) ownership of Chile's major cooper mines. An economic depression that began in 1967 peaked in 1970, exacerbated by capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank deposits by those opposed to Allende's socialist program. Production fell and unemployment rose. Allende adopted measures including price freezes, wage increases, and tax reforms, which had the effect of increasing consumer spending and redistributing income downward. The coup of September 11, 1973, brought to a close the deep economic, social, political, and constitutional crisis that followed Salvador Allende's 1970 election as president and the Popular Unity government's attempt to lay the foundations of socialism through democracy. The intervention was extremely violent from the very beginning. The rebels surrounded the La Moneda Palace with tanks and infantry troops and bombed it with Hawker Hunter fighter jets. The president and some of his aides were besieged in the palace. Allende refused to surrender, and addressed the nation for a last time in a potent farewell speech. The armed forces deposed Allende, declared a state of siege, imposed military control throughout the country, dissolved Congress, and initiated a vicious crackdown on government officials, leftist parties, and social organizations. The worst violence occurred in the first few months after the coup, with the number of suspected leftists killed or "disappeared" soon reaching into the thousands. In the days immediately following the coup, the National Stadium was used as a concentration camp holding 40,000 prisoners. The armed forces arrogated the supreme command of the nation and constituted a new junta. The original creation of this Government Junta can be traced to an Act of Constitution signed on September 11, 1973. The new junta was made up of General Gustavo Leigh representing the Air Force, General Augusto Pinochet representing the Army, Admiral Jose Toribio Merino representing the Navy, and General Cesar Mendoza representing the Carabineros (uniformed police). Government Junta of Chile (1973-1990) was the organization established to rule Chile following...
Bibliography: • Kornbluh, Peter, „The Chile coup – the US hand", Socialist Voice, October 25, 1998.
• Volk, Stevens, "The new right in Chile, 1973-97", Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Winter 200.
• Remmer, Karen L., "The politics of military rule in Chile, 1973-1987", Comparative politics, vol. XX, pp. 149-170.
• Chile: Country Studies, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress – www.loc.gov
• Constitution of Chile – www.constitution.org
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