Chile Under Pinochet

Chile Under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth

Mark Ensalaco
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Chile Under Pinochet
    Book Description:

    "When the army comes out, it is to kill."-Augusto Pinochet Following his bloody September 1973 coup d'état that overthrew President Salvador Allende, Augusto Pinochet, commander-in-chief of the Chilean Armed Forces and National Police, became head of a military junta that would rule Chile for the next seventeen years. The violent repression used by the Pinochet regime to maintain power and transform the country's political profile and economic system has received less attention than the Argentine military dictatorship, even though the Pinochet regime endured twice as long. In this primary study of Chile Under Pinochet, Mark Ensalaco maintains that Pinochet was complicit in the "enforced disappearance" of thousands of Chileans and an unknown number of foreign nationals. Ensalaco spent five years in Chile investigating the impact of Pinochet's rule and interviewing members of the truth commission created to investigate the human rights violations under Pinochet. The political objective of human rights organizations, Ensalaco contends, is to bring sufficient pressure to bear on violent regimes to induce them to end policies of repression. However, these efforts are severely limited by the disparities of power between human rights organizations and regimes intent on ruthlessly eliminating dissent.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0186-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Chapter 1 The Victors and the Vanquished
    (pp. 1-21)

    President Salvador Allende began to receive disturbing reports of troop movements in and around Santiago late on the night of September 10. His advisors placed calls to senior military officers for explanations, but their answers were evasive or deceptive. Chile was plunged in the midst of a profound political crisis, and the breakdown of its vaunted democracy seemed inevitable and imminent.¹ These rumors could be the first reports of an impending coup d’état.

    But the main elements of the Chilean navy had left the port of Valparaíso on the evening of September 10 to rendezvous with a U.S. task force...

  5. Chapter 2 An Invented War
    (pp. 22-46)

    The Chilean nation’s motto, “By Reason or Force,” was never more apropos than on September 11. Politics had become a deadly serious business during the three years of Allende’s Popular Unity government, although the origin of the crisis can be traced back much farther. Political discourse verged on irrationality, and the failure of reason inevitably meant that the victors would be those who possessed sufficient force to overwhelm their political enemies. This was the logic of war.

    Armed forces exist to wage war, and once the Chilean military was drawn into the political conflict the men and officers of the...

  6. Chapter 3 The New Order
    (pp. 47-68)

    Only hours after the body of Salvador Allende was removed from the charred Moneda palace, the men who had deposed him appeared on television to justify their actions and to declare their intentions. Until that moment they were obscure figures. Three of them had assumed the senior leadership positions of their respective services in the final weeks of August, when the National Security Cabinet collapsed under the weight of the truckers’ strike. The fourth wrested control of his post on the morning of the coup, while his nominal commander stood beside Allende in the besieged Moneda. One of these men,...

  7. Chapter 4 A War of Extermination
    (pp. 69-97)

    Only a few months before the coup a brash Miguel Enríquez issued a warning on which he could not make good:

    The levels of activity, organization, consciousness and readiness to fight that the working class have achieved are immense. The working class is today a constituted army, determined to fight for its interests and to resist the onslaught of the reactionaries. The working class and the people from the factories and the country estates, the neighborhood commands and the peasant councils, have already served notice to their political leaders that the struggle has left the aisles and the parliament and...

  8. Chapter 5 The Court of World Opinion
    (pp. 98-124)

    In one of history’s small ironies, the decision to create the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was made in Santiago, Chile in 1959. Thereafter the historical relationship between Chile and the IACHR seemed almost fated. In 1972 the Commission returned to Chile to hold its twenty-seventh annual meeting in Viña del Mar on the invitation of beleaguered President Salvador Allende. Less than two years later, in July 1974, the IACHR would again convene its annual session in Chile; the thirty-third meeting of the region’s inter-governmental human rights organization would coincide with its fact-finding mission to Pinochet’s Chile. In June 1976...

  9. Chapter 6 A War of Resistance
    (pp. 125-155)

    By the time Pinochet and his most fervent supporters celebrated the fourth anniversary of the coup d’état in 1977, the transformation of Chile was well underway. The security forces had all but eliminated the most dangerous elements of the left; neo-liberal economists had redefined the country’s role in the international economic order; and a small group of constitutional scholars, led by Jaime Guzmán, had sketched the contours of a new order. Pinochet would defiantly preside over the new order for another decade, despite misgivings from within and criticisms from abroad. Events over the next three years made it all possible....

  10. Chapter 7 The Peaceful Way to Democracy
    (pp. 156-180)

    The simmering three-year crisis between 1983 and 1986 had economic causes, but it was paramountly political. The crisis became an opportunity to challenge the regime at its core and to initiate in Chile a process of democratization that was already culminating in the other countries of the Southern Cone. Consequently, the crisis became a test of the regime’s institutional resilience, a test that centered on the timing and circumstances of the transition as set down in the 1980 constitution. Pinochet felt pressures from three sources, the United States, the United Nations, and his domestic opposition. Pinochet succeeded in resisting each...

  11. Chapter 8 Recovering the Truth
    (pp. 181-211)

    The inexorable reality of Chilean politics in 1990, given the trajectory of that nation’s democratic transition, was the latent antagonism between the first democratic government in more than seventeen years and the armed forces still firmly controlled by Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet had been repudiated, but he remained a formidable actor in Chilean politics and had managed to place enormous constraints on the new government. “Everyone is aware of the fact that the previous government in tended to remain in power for eternity,” President Patricio Aylwin Azócar told the audience assembled in the National Stadium for what was tantamount to his...

  12. Chapter 9 The Politics of Human Rights
    (pp. 212-238)

    As one of his first acts as president, Patricio Aylwin assigned the National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation four tasks in order to satisfy a set of moral and national imperatives. When the commission delivered its report to Aylwin in February 1991, it had substantially accomplished three of those four tasks. The commission had established a reasonably complete picture of the most serious human rights violations committed during the years of the dictatorship; it had recommended a set of creative measures aimed at just reparation; and it had likewise recommended sweeping constitutional, legal, and institutional reforms which, if adopted, could...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 239-260)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-268)
  15. Index
    (pp. 269-278)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 279-280)