Yesterday, September 11, marked the 41st anniversary of the coup in Chile. On September 11, 1973 the democratically-elected left-wing government led by Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. Several thousand people were murdered during the coup and tens of thousands imprisoned and/or tortured in its aftermath. Pinochet remained in power until 1990, but held on as head of the Chilean Army until 1998. Even after that he was a senator for life. He was subsequently charged, however, with 300 offences relating to human rights abuses, tax evasion and embezzlement. He died in 2006, before going on trial. During his time in power he amassed a fortune estimated at $US28 million (about 40 million NZ dollars) and carried out a set of ruthless ‘new right’ economic reforms, a number of which were mimicked by the fourth Labour government in NZ in the 1980s.
The 1973 coup came as the Chilean ruling class and its supporters, especially in the United States, worried about the growing class conflict in the country and the rise of new forms of workers’ power.
Read about the forms of popular power that were emerging here.
On the coup, see Remembering the September 11 terrorist bloodbath.