Remembering Chile’s U.S.-backed Coup, 50 Years On

Fifty years on, overcoming the legacy of Pinochet and the coup remains extremely difficult. Explore NACLA's coverage.

September 10, 2023

1973 NACLA issues on Chile.

On September 11, 1973, the Chilean military overthrew the socialist government of President Salvador Allende in a CIA-supported coup, installing a ruthless 17-year dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet. As the U.S.-backed military junta killed or forcibly disappeared more than 3,000 people and tortured more than 40,000, the country became the laboratory for neoliberal policy with sweeping privatization and aggressive free market reforms.

At the time, the NACLA was at the vanguard of the solidarity movement with Chile. The Latin America and Empire Report—renamed the NACLA Report on the Americas in 1977offered research and analysis of the economic and political interests in overthrowing Allende; denounced U.S. involvement in the coup and the destabilization leading up to it; condemned human rights abuses at the hands of the U.S.-backed regime; and amplified the positions of the Chilean Left for an international movement of solidarity activists.

Fifty years on, overcoming the legacy of Pinochet and the coup remains extremely difficult. The constitutional process born out of popular protest in 2019 and aimed at burying a cornerstone of Pinochet’s legacy—the 1980 Constitution—has suffered serious setbacks curtailing its potential. The “economic counterrevolution” of Chile-style laissez-faire capitalism that NACLA critiqued in the 1970s remains in force today with devastating consequences of extreme inequality.


Chileans March for Memory as Wounds Remain Open 50 Years After the Coup
Lucía Cholakian Herrera
Scenes from Santiago capture the ongoing struggle for truth and justice, half a century after the beginning of a reign of state terror under Pinochet's dictatorship. Read more.

Chile Still Wrestling With Demons 50 Years After the Coup
Carole Concha Bell
Amid right-wing backlash and setbacks in the historic effort to rewrite the dictatorship-era constitution, Pinochet's shadow still hangs heavy. Read more.

Remembering the Women Victims of the Pinochet Dictatorship in Chile
Hillary Hiner
As emboldened far-right denialists dismiss the horrors of state terrorism, seeking truth and justice for systematic sexual political violence remains urgent, 50 years after the 1973 coup. Read more.

“A Heavy Past”: Filmmaker Patricio Guzmán Reflects on Chile’s 1973 Coup
Manuela Badilla with Patricio Guzmán
Fifty years after documenting the Allende government and the events of 1973, Guzmán says that if he were to make a film about Chile today “it would be a film of questions.” Read more.

“It’s Not 30 Pesos, It’s 30 Years”
Terri Gordon-Zolov and Eric Zolov
Fifty years on from the coup that installed dictatorship and neoliberalism in Chile, protest art from the streets of Santiago underlines the present reverberations of an authoritarian past. Read more.

Chile’s Coup d'État as a Refoundational Project
Claudio Fuentes S. / Ciper Chile
Days after the bombing of La Moneda on September 11, 1973, the military junta set a priority that would define Chile’s trajectory for decades: drafting a new constitution. Read more.

From the NACLA Archives
In the 1970s, NACLA was at the vanguard of the solidarity movement with Chile. This collection revisits NACLA’s coverage before and after September 11, 1973 with a focus on news and analysis in the year following the coup. Available open access for a limited time.


Like this article? Support our work. Donate now.