The 40th Anniversary of Pinochet’s Rise to Power in Chile

By:  Warren Mass
The 40th Anniversary of Pinochet’s Rise to Power in Chile

Chileans observe their own anniversary on September 11, as today marks the 40th anniversary of the military coup that removed the revolutionary Marxist President Salvador Allende from office and replaced him with General Augusto Pinochet.

At the time of the coup, the Allende government had completely nationalized the Chilean economy and was in the process of consolidating power to form a Cuban-style communist regime.

On the anniversary of this momentous event in Chile’s history, BBC News and other sources report that some demonstrations remembering the coup have turned violent as those opposed to — or supportive of — the change in power 40 years ago have clashed in the streets. BBC cited a police statement that they had arrested dozens of people for erecting barricades and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.

The government deployed 8,000 police officers in the capital city of Santiago to deter violence.

Chile’s Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said on Wednesday that “up to this moment the reports have been very positive compared to what we were expecting.”

Chadwick said that “major troublemakers were trying to take advantage of the occasion,” but he assured Santiago residents that the city was functioning normally.

BBC reported that the official ceremony marking the anniversary was held on Monday, September 9 at the presidential palace. During the ceremony, President Sebastián Piñera (described by BBC as “center-right”) criticized the “violent coup that started a 17-year period of military rule.”

However, Piñera conceded, the coup was “the predictable outcome” after “repeated violations of the rule of law” under Allende.

One prominent Chilean who boycotted the official ceremony was former president Michelle Bachelet, who will again seek the presidency in Chile’s November 17 election. (Chile’s constitution bars Piñera from seeking uninterrupted reelection.) A former member of the Socialist Youth, Bachelet is running on the New Majority coalition ticket, which consists of the Socialist Party of Chile (PS), the Christian Democratic Party of Chile (PDC), the Party for Democracy (PPD), the Social Democrat Radical Party (PRSD), the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh), the Citizen Left (IC), the Broad Social Movement (MAS), and various leftist independents.

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Photo: General Augusto Pinochet

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