August 5, 2023

The dictatorship of Augustus Pinochet and the consequences for the Chilean society

Introduction

Augusta Pinochet was a dictator in the Latin American state of Chile. He was famous for his notorious and brutal measures in continuing his military dictatorship in Latin American history. In spite of such inhuman actions, his rule has continued for 16 years because of his new reformation of Chilean society. 


Practicing the free market economy of US design, he became one of the closest friends of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. His long period of rule in Chile has impacted the societal affairs of Chile. However, in this writing, we will describe Augusta Pinochet’s dictatorial regime and its further effects on Chilean society.


Augustus Pinochet’s dictatorship

 

Unlike many dictators such as Kim Jong-un, Robert Mugabe, and Somoza, the early life of Augustus Pinochet was radically different from that of dictatorial periods. Augustus was born in the great port city of Chile, Valparaiso, on November 25, 1915. 


Though born into a middle-class family, he enjoyed the high social education facilities of very elite institutions. But Interestingly, unlike his mother, Eveline Martinez, every member of his family was depressed about Augustus’s choice of a military career rather than becoming a doctor. 


After being rejected twice, he was finally accepted into the Chilean army. He has been serving the military in the war academy in Santiago, and even during World War II, when the Chilean government declared war against the fascism of Germany, there were military personnel in Santiago for defensive measures.


But the postwar ideological expansion of the USSR and USA over the region was very obvious, particularly the USSR’s communist ideology. Like the other countries, it just spread to Chile too. 


The existing pro-US governments in the region used every tool of repression to contain the ideologies of the USSR. By 1948, the Chilean government was keeping communism in internment camps, and Augustus was appointed to handle one of these camps. There, Pinochet first met with the doctor, Dr. Salvador Allende.


To understand Augustus Pinochet’s early life, it is important to understand the brief history of the doctor Salvador Allende’s life. Dr. Allende was born on June 26, 1908, in the capital city of Chile, Santiago. Unlike Pinochet’s idiosyncratic developments about military rule, Salvador Allende came from a different direction. 


Salvador Allende, during his early life, became much influenced by socialist ideologies by a European cobbler named De Mercy. Consequently, in 1933, Allende cofounded Chile’s first Socialist Party and, in 1945, became one of Chile’s first elected senators. After being elected senator, he planned to participate in the 1952 Chilean government election, but Allende lost. 


In 1958, he ran again and lost it too, though he was very close. In the meantime, the Cuban Revolution happened under Fidel Castro. Castro overthrew the pro-US Batista government and installed a socialist regime in Cuba.


The Cuban Revolution and the establishment of socialist ideology in Cuba influenced the region swiftly. But unlike other dictatorship patterns of governing in the communist world, the Latin American socialist system emphasized taking control of power through elections. 


In Chile, Dr. Allende had lost three consecutive elections but never gave up. In the 1970 election, Allende was confident that he would win the election, and he did. In the 1970s, the Chilean economy was struggling to cope. There was wide-spread discontent and a demand for a change in the ruling. 


Allende’s victory compelled the US administration to think strongly about the region. In Washington, DC, the Nixon administration used the CIA to stop this socialist regime from taking the presidency. Consequently, on October 25, 1970, CIA-backed right-wing paramilitaries tried to overthrow Allende. 


But it became a failure. On November 5, 1970, Salvador Allende took the seat of Chile’s presidency, becoming the first democratically elected Marxist head of state in Latin American history.


In these interim periods, Augusta Pinochet had raised his ranks from head of socialist camps campaigning to head of Santiago army garrisons in 1971. In the future game of Allende vs. Pinochet, the CIA played an important, unseen role as a third party. 


The CIA decided to make the Chilean economy collapse on the ground. Under the banner of “making the Chilean economy again, the CIA suggested their government flow American money into right-wing Chilean propaganda for sabotage and coups. 


But as a dictator with socialist ideologies like nationalization countrywide, Salvador Allende was doing everything as per the Chilean constitution. In 1972, the government incorporated Carlos Prats as the chief of the Chilean army. Prats was not happy with Allende’s presidency but didn’t support any military replacement for it either. 


In 1973, an aborted coup called “Tanquetazo” introduced Pinochet to Prats as a constitutionalist because Pinochet didn’t support others but rather Allende. After two years, Augusta Pinochet was appointed chief of the Chilean Army, a great leap in Pinochet’s career, and the CIA got the ticket.


On September 11, 1973, the Capital Santiago was attacked by bombings from both the air and land under Pinochet’s command. Allende Committed suicide, and Pinochet took power. As the shockwave of the coup spread all over the region, former general Carlos Prats was surprised and fled to Argentina in exile. 


On September 30, Prats was no more because of Pinochet’s planned assassination through car bombings. The Junta government soon instituted a ruling of oppression: no to political parties in Chile; censorship was everywhere; the leftist movement was brutally banned; all leftist media were also banned; around 80,000 people were arrested; and another 200,000 were forced into exile. 


On June 27, 1974, Pinochet consolidated his power with the help of the military and declared himself the Supreme leader of the country. The long Chilean democratic structure of government ended there.


Augustus Pinochet’s legacy in Chilean society:


Pinochet took over the Chilean Presidency under the banner of various problems in Chile, including social, political, and economic, during the Allende regime. Pinochet’s legacy of social reform was fundamentally different from Allende’s. 


However, the present political turmoil in Chile is the legacy of Pinochet’s dictatorial rule from 1973 to 1990. The present president of Chile, Sebastien Pinera, stated that the people have protested against the existing system because it is the direct result of the 1980s Chilean constitution, which was inaugurated by Augusta Pinochet. 


The countrywide protest is mainly aimed at rewriting the constitution, and the present president appreciated the matter. According to the protester, Pinochet’s constitution is built upon the inequality between poor and rich; to enhance this, the new constitution must hold equality in terms of political, social, and economic variation.


The current constitution of Chile was written under the auspices of Chicago boys. A large number of extrajudicial killings, tortures, and forced exiles were legalized by this constitution. The Chicago boys represented the idea of a free market system with the help of Pinochet’s brutal ruling. 


The Chilean economy has become the largest laboratory of the Washington consensus of a liberal free market system. It helps stabilize Chile’s economy, which today’s genius economy is much better than that of the 1990s. 


The post-Pinochet era remains more stable and vibrant in the development history of South America. Even the left-wing government remains consistent in its economic possession. But this consistency has been for one particular group—the rich. A stark class segregation is obvious because of the Chicago guys.


Though I mentioned above that the Chilean economy has been vibrant and stable throughout the Latin American region, this huge economy is less equitable not only in PPP but also in income distribution. 


The society of Chile has been unequal in terms of income distribution compared to that of other countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. Like the US style of Capitalist free market system introduced by the Chicago boys, it has elements of separation in income distribution. 


For example, during 2016, two-thirds of the total Chilean GDP was in the hands of a few people, and it was consistently growing. The statistic shows how Augustus segregated society in favor of his dictatorial rule. 


This huge economic boom is only supported by the rich, who have been the patrons of the present constitution. A lack of security in jobs and wages has been a prime concern for middle- and lower-class people in Chilean society.


Pinochet, through his Chicago boys, ordered the privatization of everything rather than Allende’s nationalization. Those who were against these privatizations were put to death or in exile. Pinochet identified some areas where he prioritized three particular areas, namely health care, retirement, and labor rights. 


Later, he seized the opportunity to exercise these basic rights. Banned over labor unions and employee strikes. He emphasized service-related contractual jobs in private companies and terminated any public facilities. This created a dependency among these low-class people upon Pinochet, and this dependency is still evident in Chilean Society.


Conclusion:


Dictator Augusta Pinochet was one of notorious leader (for his brutality) among the dictators in Latin American history. His early life was very decent, but not the life of a dictatorship. His long presidency and some basic reformations of Chilean society have impacted both the region and the country. 


His new economic development was based on class creation, patronizing the rich, and marginalizing the low and middle income classes of society. His privatization gave a few facilities to lower-income people. 


All of this has been validated through this Pinochet constitution, and the pro- and post-Pinochet eras are struggling and protesting against such an unequal constitution. 


So Chilean society badly wants to reestablish everything with a new constitution where both social, political, and economic development are supposed to get the upper hand.



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