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Archives | In 1973, Augusto Pinochet plunged Chile into dictatorship

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September 11, 1973, Augusto's military junta Pinochet takes power in Chile.


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The Americans are not the only ones to have left their mark on September 11th. On this day in 1973, Chile, a democratic bastion in Latin America, fell into a dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet. Our archives preserve the memory of this event and its outcome.

In September 1973, political and social tension was palpable in Chile. For almost three years, a coalition of left-wing parties, led by socialist Salvador Allende, has ruled the country following an electoral victory.

The Popular Unity government has passed a set of reforms that challenge the power of Chilean elites.

The change aims in particular at the dismantling of external control over the Chilean economy. Salvador Allende tackles just about every front.

He nationalizes natural resources and expropriates foreign companies. He corrects labor laws and expands access to education. He imposed an agrarian reform which distributed land to peasants.

By acting in this way, President Allende made sworn enemies, both at home and abroad. outside Chile.

Little by little, the privileged sectors of the Chilean population are turning against the Allende government.

Their opposition becomes so intense that they come to deny the very principle of democracy. Many even openly want the military to dare a coup d'état.

Abroad, the American administration of President Richard Nixon also wants to dislodge the government of popular unity. The United States responds to nationalizations and expropriations with an economic blockade that paralyzes Chile.

For several months, the Army, which remained faithful to the democratic principle, refused to intervene.

But in August 1973, the arrival of a new Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces changes the situation. General Augusto Pinochet ordered the liquidation of the Allende government and his reforms a few weeks after his appointment.

The coup d'état occurred on September 11, 1973 .

That day, first of all, I was woken up by the gunshots . I must tell you that my apartment was opposite La Moneda [the presidential palace].

A quote from Michel Gauthier, journalist

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">The city center was cordoned off. The soldiers were there and that’s how far I was able to go, at the entrance to the city center. And there, it was no longer possible. It was wild.

A quote from Claude Lortie, director

In 2003, journalist Raphaèle Tschoumy found witnesses to the coup d'état who lived in Quebec. Michel Gauthier and Claude Lortie are present in Santiago, the capital of Chile, during the military intervention.

Raphaèle Tschoumy's report is presented at < em>Téléjournal/Le Point of September 11, 2003. Its witnesses noted that the coup d'état was extremely brutal.

It's only a beginning. The first months of the Pinochet regime were characterized by fierce repression against supporters of the former government.

In 17 years of military dictatorship, more than 3,000 people disappear into prisons and mass graves.

This is without counting the tortured opponents and the kidnapped children. More than 200,000 Chileans must flee Chile. This is the equivalent of 2% of the country's population in 1973.

Several of these exiles found refuge in Canada.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">On October 5, 1988, Chile and the world held their breath. General Pinochet ordered a referendum to be held to authorize him to remain in power until 1997. He is counting on the fact that the opposition to his regime is divided to win the consultation.

To the great surprise of Augusto Pinochet, the opposition united and defeated his proposal. Pinochet and the military are obliged to restore democracy.

It is this event that the host Bernard Derome tells us on the Téléjournal of October 6, 1988. We hear following the remarks by Bernard Derome an extract from the dictator's defeat speech.

What is striking in his remarks is that he congratulates the Chileans for exercising their right to vote with great civic-mindedness.

What hurts is that he died a natural death and in impunity

A quote from A Chilean citizen reacting to the death of Augusto Pinochet

Until his death, Augusto Pinochet remained an essential figure of Chilean politics.

This is what the journalist Jean-Michel Leprince tells us, who presented a brief biography of the dictator upon his death on Téléjournal midi on December 11, 2006.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Over time, the old dictator lost support. The Chileans who supported him became more lukewarm when they learned that he had enriched himself illegally. Then there are the hundreds of corpses and persecuted people that he left in his wake.

Many Chileans, in Chile and abroad , did not cry when the old general finally gave up his arms.

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