Politics: Allende, Pinochet, and Current

Allende Pinochet Story.. or at least our understanding of it



Key to understanding Chile is to understand their politics from 1969 to 2006. It’s another example of a leader with Socialist leanings gaining power after the gulf between rich and poor becomes too substantial. That was Allende. His military leader, Pinochet, with the help of business interests on the “right”, overthrew Allende and instituted military rule with no freedom of information or expression, and many people disappeared. This continued until 1990 when Pinochet was voted out of office. (This election is covered by the Academy Award



nominated movie,” No”). However, while in office, he had changed the constitution so that he could continue to be head of the military or a senator, so he continued to be a dominant character until his death in 2006.

Politics Now

In the recent election there were 9 candidates. Two women emerged with the highest number of votes, so there will be a re-match between them. The expected winner is a mid-left politician with a lot of financial backing, and the other is a far right politician. We have been told that most of the “left” and “right” in Chile are fairly “middle”, and that the politicians come from a small group of families with wealth and business ownership, so in general the political interests in the country are favorable to business.
We had a long discussion (lecture maybe) from a hostal owner who is also an Economics professor here. It was of course in Spanish, so we feel proud that we understood most of it! He explained many trends in politics here, including the concentration of political power. He also explained other issues, which include the inequality of wealth distribution, the uncertain future of the pension system, rising costs of education (making it impossible for people without money to get one), and high costs of being insured for health care. Maybe we understood the lecture, because the context is so familiar!


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