Chile 1970-73

The Brutal Repression of Workers Power


  • Mike Gonzalez University of Glasgow


On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet, flanked by the leaders of the armed forces of Chile and backed by the Cardinal, appeared on television to announce that they had seized power in a military coup. Hawker Hunter planes had already bombarded La Moneda, the presidential palace in the capital, Santiago, where Salvador Allende, the president elected in 1970, was trapped with his closest supporters. He died later that morning. Part of the political mythology of Latin America is that military coups are frequent. It is true of some countries, but Chile had a reputation as a stable bourgeois democracy, with regular elections and a professionalised army. Since 1973, Chile has become synonymous with repressive military regimes that torture and murder trade unionists, peasant farmers and students, like those of Uruguay and Argentina in the 1970s. Chile, it seemed, was a model to be followed.