Military Dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990) History, Features, Causes & Effects

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Military Dictatorship in Chile, South America

Dictatorial regime established by Chilean General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte in 1973 that lasted until 1990.

The military dictatorship in Chile was a dictatorial regime headed by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, which began on September 11, 1973 and ended on March 11, 1990.

That 17-year period began with a coup that overthrew the constitutional government of Socialist President Salvador Allende, who had ruled since 1970. The overthrow of Allende, who committed suicide during the assault on the Palacio de la Moneda, was instigated and supported by the United States.

The military dictatorship came to an end in 1990, after a plebiscite held in October 1988 denied the dictator the possibility of continuing to lead the government.

Pinochet was forced to call a general election, in which the Christian Democratic candidate Patricio Aylwin was elected. his inauguration, on March 11, 1990, put an end to the military dictatorship in Chile.

Characteristics of the Military Dictatorship in Chile

Among the characteristics of the Chilean military dictatorship the following can be highlighted:

  • He came to power through a violent coup, during which the Palacio de la Moneda was taken by storm, the presidential headquarters located in Santiago de Chile.
  • The government was left in the hands of a Military Junta, led by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Other members of the Board were José Merino, Gustavo Leigh and César Mendoza, representing the Navy, the Air Force and Carabineros, respectively.
  • Was a authoritarian regime, which prohibited the activities of political parties and unions, closed the National Congress, limited freedom of expression, censored cultural activities, and prohibited the right to demonstrate publicly.
  • It institutionalized its actions through the approval of the Constitution of 1980, which reaffirmed Pinochet in the position of president of the regime, while the Governing Board remained at the head of the Legislative Power.
  • Forged an alliance with the government of the United States government and joined the fight against the spread of communism in Latin America.
  • He implemented a repressive action aimed at disciplining society. This repression was in charge of the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), which had the power to detain and confine people. The actions of the DINA (and its successor, the National Information Center) left a balance of 2,300 executed, 1,200 disappeared and 28,200 political prisoners.
  • He participated in the Condor Plan, which coordinated the repressive policies of the South American dictatorships to arrest, kidnap and / or assassinate opponents and left-wing militants. In this context, in 1974 the former Chilean vice president Carlos Prats and his wife Sofía Cuthbert were assassinated in Buenos Aires.

Military Dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990) History, Features, Causes & Effects

The Chilean Military Junta in the Diego Portales building during a celebration of an anniversary of the 1973 coup.

Causes of the Military Dictatorship in Chile

The factors that motivated the establishment of the Chilean dictatorship were the following:

  • The strong influence on the Chilean Armed Forces of the anti-communist ideas spread by the United States government during the Cold War. These ideas were transmitted through the School of the Americas, a Latin American military indoctrination center located in Panama. His teachings, based on the doctrine of national security, integrated psychological warfare, military intelligence, counterinsurgency actions, and interrogation methods that included torture and mock executions.
  • Strong opposition from political, social and business sectors, the Catholic Church and the majority of the media against President Allende‘s attempt to establish a communist regime.
  • The actions of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), a Marxist-Leninist and Guevarist political organization founded in 1965. Starting in 1970, the MIR suspended the armed struggle and encouraged popular mobilization to force President Allende to abandon his attempt to arrive to communism through a legal and institutional route.
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Consequences of the Military Dictatorship in Chile

The actions of the Chilean dictatorship caused political, economic, social, cultural and educational consequences.

Political Consequences of the Military Dictatorship in Chile

The political consequences of the military dictatorship in Chile were:

  • The closure of the National Congress and the prohibition of the activities of all political parties indefinitely.
  • The implementation of a systematic plan to repress and discipline Chilean society, which left some 30,000 victims of torture, disappearances and political imprisonment, in addition to thousands of exiles. The main victims of the Pinochetist repression were trade unionists, former Allende government officials, members of the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the MIR, teachers, literacy workers, artists, etc.

Economic Consequences of the Military Regime in Chile

The economic consequences of the military dictatorship in Chile were:

  • The adoption of neoliberal policies inspired by the ideas of the American economist Milton Friedman, which opened the Chilean economy to free trade, left the initiative in the hands of private companies and subjected the State to a rigorous fiscal balance.
  • The privatization of state companies and the dismissal of public employees.
  • The implementation of a labor reform that limited unionization and sought to increase the flexibility of hiring and firing workers.
  • The implementation of a pension reform, which left the collection of pension contributions from workers and the payment of pensions and retirements in the hands of pension fund administrators.
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Social Consequences of the Military Administration in Chile

The social consequences of the military dictatorship in Chile were:

  • The increase in social inequalities, in such a way that the upper classes increased their participation in the distribution of income.
  • The loss of income by the middle sectors.
  • The precariousness and job instability suffered by the labor sectors.

Cultural and Educational Consequences of the Military Dictatorship in Chile

The cultural and educational consequences of the military dictatorship in Chile were:

  • The control and censorship of all cultural activities, including the publication of books and theatrical presentations.
  • The prohibition of broadcasting by radio and television of songs by artists considered communist or left-wing, such as Víctor Jara (assassinated after the coup), Jorge Peña Hen, Patricio Manns and the musical groups Inti-Illimani and Quilapayún.
  • The deterioration of scientific and educational research.
  • Control of study programs taught in primary and secondary schools.
  • The limitation of access to university studies, the control of the activities of the chairs and espionage activities on teachers and students.

Important facts of the Military Dictatorship in Chile

The most important events of the military dictatorship in Chile were:

Event Date
Overthrow of President Allende by a coup under the command of Pinochet. 1973
Violation of human rights. 1973 – 1990
Augusto Pinochet, after an irregular plebiscite, reaffirms his position as president. 1980
Plebiscite by which the Chilean people refused to accept that Pinochet had a new mandate. 1988
Democratic presidential elections where he obtains the position of President Patricio Aylwin. 1989
Patricio Aylwin becomes president of Chile, putting an end to the military dictatorship. March 11, 1990

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