Chile: Thirty Years Later

The historical importance of Salvador Allende's Popular Unity (UP) coalition, which governed Chile following its electoral triumph in 1970 until its overthrow by Chile's military on September 11, 1973, cannot be overstated. The Popular Unity government represented the first attempt anywhere to build a genuinely democratic transition to socialism-a socialism that, owing to its origins, might be guided not by authoritarian bureaucracy, but by democratic self-rule. On this, the 30th anniversary of the coup led by General Pinochet and underwritten by the Nixon White House, we remember the UP project, assess its legacy, and examine some of the central aspects of Chile today.



The historical importance of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity (UP) coalition, which governed Chile following its electoral triumph in 1970 until its overthrow by Chile’s military on September 11, 1973, cannot be overstated.

Open Forum

Garry M. Leech
The Bush administration’s propaganda machine has taken advantage of Fidel Castro’s recent crackdown on his country’s dissident movement by cranking up the ever-present U.S. demonization of Cuba.


Luis Campos Muñoz
The past two decades have seen increasing conflict between Chile’s indigenous peoples—particularly the country’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuche—and a series of Chilean governments over questions of land rights and development.
Rachel Schurman
Chile’s economy has been transformed over the three decades that have elapsed since the 1973 coup that imposed a bloody end to the country’s experiment in democratic socialism. Under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, the model of “import-substitution industrialization” that had characterized Chilean economic life for nearly half a century gave way to a radical experiment that would be emulated throughout the region during the 1990s and beyond.
Philip Oxhorn
As Chileans and progressives around the world mark the 30th anniversary of the violent military coup that overthrew Chile’s socialist president Salvador Allende, Latin America is arguably in the midst of a new resurgence of the left. After three failed presidential bids, Brazil’s first elected leftist president, Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, assumed office this year.
Fred Rosen
We can get a better sense of what the privatizing, austerity-driven Washington Consensus for the South is all about if we remember the market-based economic programs put in place in the North over two decades ago by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
Peter Kornbluh
“It is not a part of our country’s history that we are proud of.” —Secretary of State Colin Powell, answering a question about the morality of U.S. policy toward the September 11, 1973 military coup in Chile and its relevance to the invasion of Iraq.
Katherine Hite
“This radio station will be silenced and my quiet voice will no longer reach you. But it does not matter; you will continue to hear it. I will always be with you, remembered as a man of dignity who was loyal to his nation.”
Manuel Cabieses Donoso
Salvador Allende, hardened by his long fight for the unity of the left, would probably feel deceived—but in no way surprised—if he saw today’s debilitating fragmentation of the people’s forces. Indeed, “the people” is not even used anymore, replaced by “the public,” “civil society” and other euphemisms that seek to dilute the potent political phrase and the very democratic system from which it is derived.
Carlos A. Molina Bustos
On the 30th anniversary of the military coup that toppled the Popular Unity (UP) government of Salvador Allende, we have both a political and a moral obligation to uncover the historical origin of the great political and ethical crisis that currently convulses our country.

In Brief

Leslie Schuld
San Salvador—El Salvador’s nine-month health care workers’ strike against the privatization of the public health system came to an end on June 13.


Fred Goff
NACLA History Congratulations to NACLA and Fred Rosen on the 35th anniver- sary piece. It is an extraordinary contribution to the ongoing effort to capture and learn from the past, and honor those who helped cre- ate it.