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Chile, protests and military coup, 1973

Uta Wagenmann

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place South America » Chile

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics army, coup d'etat, democracy, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00340.x


The 1973 military coup did not only eliminate Unidad Popular (Popular Unity, UP), the only elected government in Chile dominated by Marxist parties. Beyond interpretations concerning Chilean society, it can be seen as a landmark within the global process of reframing fascist methods in terms of “freedom” and “democracy.” Moreover, the putsch was the starting point for a momentous historical change: under Augusto Pinochet, Chile – a veritable laboratory of class struggle – became the first factory of neoliberalism. On September 11, 1973, Chilean armed forces launched an all-out offensive to seize power. Some 100,000 soldiers were mobilized to overthrow the government led by socialist president Salvador Allende . After the Chilean navy had stationed marines throughout the central coast, radio and television stations were either shut down or bombed by the air force. Around 9 a.m., all of Chile was controlled by the armed forces, with the exception of some parts of Santiago. It took about six more hours, a few tanks, and an air force bombardment to defeat the small group of civilians who were defending the presidential palace, La Moneda. Allende, who refused to resign, died when the building was invaded by troops. However, it took much more to destroy the socialist project. Armed resistance against the military forces continued about 36 hours in some working-class areas of Santiago, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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