Augusto after overthrowing President Salvador Allende. Economic

Augusto Pinochet was the Dictator of
Chile for 17 years from 1973 until 1990 after overthrowing President Salvador
Allende. Economic and political circumstances in Chile under Allende played a
major role on the creation of the Pinochet dictatorship. While the dictatorship
has been known for its repression and violence, Pinochet was able to maintain
his regime for seventeen years due economic prosperity and military strength.
However, Pinochet would eventually meet the end of his rule due to human rights
violation by the regime beginning to be exposed and protests by civilians for
Democracy. Pinochet would relinquish his seat as President after 17 years
however would remain commander chief of the army and grant himself complete
immunity for anything done during his rule. The Pinochet dictatorship has led
to controversial views praising the regime for establishing what Chile is
today, one of the strongest economies in South America. Pinochet led his
country to economic growth and prosperity however at the expense of human
rights of the Chilean people and many others.

Before Pinochet came into power,
Salvador Allende was the President of Chile. Allende was the head of the
Popular Unity coalition and a socialist who planned to reform Chile and make it
a socialist society. Allende socialist reforms were only successful in for the
short term as he increased wages and kept basic goods at a low price which
helped stimulate the economy for a little. In the long term (Ensalaco, 2000).
These reforms caused high inflation, shortage of consumer goods, and a black
market that would only grow under Allende. Other socialist policies include
nationalizing of many industries and that did not weigh well with Chileans and
Congress. Nationalization of the copper, bus, and truck industries would lead
to protests against Allende (Ensalaco, 2000). Nationalization of these
industries would halt the use of them until Allende is overran in September of
1973. Chileans would suffer economically which would lead to them turning on
Allende as well. Policies implemented by Allende would continue to lead Chile
to economic struggles that included high unemployment and the loss of
international support. The problem with Allende was he was unable to control
his socialist political views. He did not seem to recognize the destruction it
was causing his nation and his people. The final straw for Allende was
expropriating American-owned copper industries without compensation. This would
lead to the involvement of the United States and Richard Nixon by supporting
Allende political opponents and cutting off international lines of credit to
Chile. Allende radical left wing politics and poor communication also led to a
tense relationship between Congress and military officials (Ensalaco, 2000).
With Chile continuing to decline after 3 years of Presidency, it was clear in
the eyes of congress and the military that it was time for a change from
Salvador Allende.

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Eventually a military coup was
launched on September 11th, 1973 under General Augusto Pinochet and his
military. They would overthrow the Chilean government under Salvador Allende
and his Popular Unity coalition. Allende would commit suicide during the
military coup and so would begin the Dictatorship of Chile ran under Pinochet
for 17 years.

would establish his dominance in this first months of his regime with violence
and terror. Pinochet made it clear early that it planned to establish political
stability in Chile however this would come at a price for many Chileans. After
Pinochet took control, thousands of suspected leftist believers were rounded
up, tortured, and in several cases killed (Sigmund, 2011). One early act of
terror would be known as ‘Caravan of Death’, it was a military operation which
aimed to completely eliminate political opposition in the north of the country
at any means, usually death and torture (Ensalaco, 2000). Pinochet implemented
totalitarian tactics that sought to eliminate civilian political behavior and
party politics that previously existed to establish political stability.
However, this political stability would sole revolve around Pinochet and his
views as he enacted Decree Law 527 to transfer absolute power to his own hands
(Ensalaco, 2000). This also led to the banning of political parties, Congress
shutting down, and censoring the news (Ensalaco, 2000).  Establishing dominance early, allowed
Pinochet to implement his own reforms for Chile’s government and economy, which
would improve in the early years of his regime.

After overthrowing Allende and
setting up his military government, Pinochet focused on bringing political
stability and fixing the Chilean economy. In order to fix the Chilean economy,
Pinochet sought help of economic graduates from the University of Chicago
(Ensalaco, 2000). Pinochet would implement their idea for a neoliberal economy
that would help modernized Chile. This plan completely reversed the social
reforms Allende attempted to implement. It would free up market forces, allow
the privatization of many industries. This model no longer allowed the state to
be in complete control of the country’s economic and social changes (Oppenheim,
1999). This model effectively benefitted the Chilean economy, it allowed the
purchases of imported consumer goods, established multinational corporation in
the country, and modernized agriculture. Pinochet showed major improvement in
the Chilean economy in his first few years, allowing Chile to be in a position
it has never been in before, the top economic country in South America during
this time. Economic reforms implemented during this time would carry-on for
years even through economic struggles and Pinochet’s departure (Oppenheim,
1999). Pinochet helped Chile get out of an economic gutter it was in for
decades, this economic success allowed Pinochet to maintain his control of
Chile for years to come.

The reformation of the Chilean
Constitution however played the biggest role for maintaining the Pinochet
regime. The reformed constitution would address Chile’s government and
political powers. The constitution has been viewed as illegitimate due to the
fact all those assign to contribute were handpicked by Pinochet himself and
included no oppose of Pinochet (Couso, 2011). Nonetheless, the constitution
would establish an “authoritarian democracy” as said by Pinochet to help bring
political stability to Chile. The constitution would also establish Pinochet
and its regime to rule Chile for at least the next 8 years. Chile was thriving
economically before the reformed constitution in the regime, Pinochet took the
economic prosperity as an opportunity reform the constitution to his liking and
would then put it to a vote, bringing back a sense of democracy (Oppenheim,
1999). The reformed constitution would gain the majority of the vote needed and
so the Pinochet regime would continue for another 8 years. However, democracy
and stability would be far from what Chile would experience.

The fact that the Pinochet regime
remained in power for so long can be due to the political stability it created.
Before Pinochet, Chilean governments hardly lasted longer than a decade.
Pinochet managed to last 17 years, this shows that stability was indeed a
factor in the maintenance of this regime. Implementation of the constitution
enacted in 1980 furthers demonstrates the strength of the regime. The
constitution would remain unreformed for the most part until 2005 (Couso, 2011)

Despite the economic growth and
stability Pinochet provided, the methods used by the regime to implement these
reforms has left the Pinochet dictatorships one of the most controversial. The
major problem with the Pinochet rule was that it was built on repression. As
mentioned before, Pinochet repressed opposing political parties, congress, and
civilian political participation simply to gain complete control of the
government (Sigmund, 2011). Pinochet went to great lengths to ensure that these
issues were dealt with. The creation of National Directorate of Intelligence
(DINA) computerized files and was responsible for eliminating those who opposed
the regime. DINA is responsible for thousands of deaths and “disappearances”
while under Pinochet (Ensalaco, 2000). While for the most part these type of
organizations and their responsibilities would be kept under wraps, the
exposure of these evil acts would help lead to the decay of the Pinochet

While the Pinochet regime thrived
very well economically for Chile, the prosperity under these new economic
reforms would encounter numerous problems. For example, the neo-liberal
economic system that initially helped the prosperity of Chile’s economy has
been argued to only benefitted a minority of the Chilean population as wages in
1989 were lower than they were in 1970 (Diaz, 2010). The reforms were also held
responsible for creating a more polarized society with greater income and
wealth disparities, including a considerable growth in the number of poor
(Oppenheim, 1999). Things would only get worse for Pinochet and his reforms in
1982, the Chilean economy completely collapsed. It has been said that this was
due to a region wide debt that went unnoticed due to lack of wage and money
regulation eventually leading to the collapse of the banking sector (Diaz,
2010). This also led to unemployment soaring to above 20 percent and cuts of
government social services (Diaz, 2000).

As these economic crisis would
continue to ensue throughout the 1980s, several more events would question the
actual stability Chile was in under Pinochet. As the economic crisis continued,
multiple protests and strikes would commence throughout the country, including
strikes from the Copper Miners Union, these protest resulted in deaths and many
injuries (Ensalaco, 2000). Overall, Pinochet repressive tactics caught up to
him and was not sitting well among many Chileans. During this time Pinochet would
begin to lose many of his followers. A combination of being exposed as a
monster, murder, liar, and failure caught up to Pinochet by 1990. It was at
this time that Pinochet decided to resign as ruler of Chile and implemented
elections for the next President bringing back actual democracy to Chile.
Pinochet would leave himself Commander of the Chilean Army and granted himself
immunity for anything he did during his rule. Human rights activists eventually
would go after Pinochet and expose his entire regime. Pinochet would face
trials against Human Rights Violation for the rest of his life until his death
in 2005.

In conclusion, Augusto Pinochet was a Chilean
dictator that took over a country that was already in turmoil for years. With
Chile’s recent economic struggles before Pinochet, it is clear why he was able
to rule Chile for long. He initiated his dominance from the start and used that
to establish himself and his economic and political beliefs. While extreme
measures were taken during his regime, Pinochet was one of the longer
government to control Chile in recent years. It is clear that Pinochet did lift
up Chile from where it use to be, however, this came at a great cost with
repressive tactics and the elimination of all those who opposed him.


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