Pinochet rose to power following a U.S.-backed, violent coup by the Chilean army on Sept. 11, 1973, which ousted the country’s democratically-elected president, the … You had groups of people, one for example which was taking no sides on the plebiscite outcome or not, but was saying it was Chileans’ obligations as citizens to vote. You may need to download version 2.0 now from the Chrome Web Store. General Augusto Pinochet, who ruled Chile as a dictator for 17 years, is dead. Both the opposition and the shadow reform elements in the government wanted to build bridges not only with Europe but also with Southeast Asia. Learn how to update your browser. Augusto Pinochet, the son of a customs official, was born in Chile on 26th November 1915. How you vote is up to you, but vote. They didn’t act triumphant, because no one, not even the old-line Communists, wanted the country to suffer more suicidal feuding. He was interviewed by Kennedy beginning in April 2001. Interested in Recording Your Oral History, Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training. The Communist party believed that only armed conflict could end the dictatorship. And speaking of interference in another country: sending hit men to assassinate a foreign minister in the U.S. capital was about the limit …, Chilean society was fractured under Allende and even more so under most of Pinochet’s reign. Several years after stepping down, he was charged with war crimes concerning his time as president but died in 2006 before being convicted on any charges. • The Constitution provided that after eight years there would be an election in which the people of Chile would have a chance to decide whether they wished to have Pinochet continue or be replaced. Theberge kept his distance from the leading opposition figure, Gabriel Valdez, the President of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). • 1990 He steps down as head of state but remains army commander-in-chief and is later made a senator for life. In 1984, a year before the plebiscite, he gave a speech in Antofagasta, a bleak, troubled industrial port about halfway between Iquique and Valparaiso that used to be a mining center. He curried a reputation of being an uncorrupted dictator. He came to power as a member of a council of military leaders after the overthrow of the communist government of President Salvador Allende.Pinochet … A transformation was underway. Pinochet accepted the results and handed over power to a civilian government in 1990. He asked me to arrange a key part of the trip. General Augusto Pinochet (pronounced Pinoshe), an Army general, led it. The Embassy no longer echoed the right’s criticism of the opposition. From a government that was elected by the people, the power shifted to the military officers. It triggered a cutoff of military aid and a decades-long investigation of the role of top officials including Pinochet himself in the assassination. [Fernando] Matthei, the Air Force general was stopped by a reporter and was asked what had happed. Five days before the plebiscite, Monica called me in Valparaiso where I was doing a pre-election assessment. ROE: Kirkpatrick’s 1979 article in Commentary magazine argued that the U.S. should work with authoritarian governments like those of Chile, Argentina and South Africa because they were more likely to lead to democracy than were revolutionary regimes of the left. In 1980, a new constitution was approved, which mandated a single-candidate presidential referendum in 1988, where a candidate nominated by the Junta would be approved or rejected for another 8-year period. One of the things the people of Chile had a chance to approve was that Constitution in a plebiscite in 1980. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government or of ADST. As a result the other three refused to go along, which one could not have predicted at that time. When Chileans elected Patricio Aylwin president in 1989, his government and successive administrations kept in place the bulk of the economic reforms. Harry Barnes served as Ambassador to Chile and recounts the efforts the U.S. made to establish contact with the democratic opposition and to ensure the plebiscite would be free and fair. Losing the plebiscite completely stunned him. ©Copyright 1998-2021 Association for Diplomatic Studies & Training As hope rekindled, the opposition lightened up, making fun of Pinochet as a doddering old man. We opened up close channels with the democratic socialist wing of the opposition, which the U.S. had previously tended to equate with the Allende left. At one point Juan Gabriel Valdez, who later became Chilean Ambassador to the UN, offered to provide sensitive information on the case and I connected him with Ambassador Barnes. As former dictator Augusto Pinochet was preparing to ... Defenders of the dialogue said there was nothing to lose. The 1980 constitution imposed by Pinochet further concentrated his powers. ROE: Another decisive moment happened when the first election results came in. Educated by conservative Marist priests he was twice rejected by Chile's military college. A portion of the Congress was appointed, and the President could not remove the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The pro-Pinochet hawks disseminated a rumor that when Barnes left Chile, it would be in a six-foot box. I made contact with a myriad of political groups. The aspect of the plebiscite one worried about was that if some way the government would find a modality for skewing it or if not worse than that. That decision built confidence. That was a very effective message. Pinochet was involved in Operation Condor, a cooperative effort by several South American governments to remove leftist opposition leaders, often by murder. When my human rights contacts heard I was considering Santiago, they said, “Oh you don’t want to do that. Under the leadership of Monica Jimenez, the head of Catholic University’s School of Social Work, Cívitas mounted a non-partisan voter education campaign to convince people their vote would be counted and to assist them in registering. President Salvador Allende committed suicide that day in La Moneda palace. He said, “I think the “no” vote has won.” He’s very outspoken in general and not liked by Pinochet for that reason. The courts mandated fair, equal time and changed the rules of the game. The human rights officer… Don Knight, who also arrived in the summer of ’85, was the labor and human rights officer. Q: Prior to the plebiscite, how did we see the vote going, provided there was no military interference? The evolving national consensus and the eventual plebiscite victory grew out of tremendous suffering that Chileans had experienced. Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. You can also read about the failed coup, El Tanquetazo, as well as about Argentina’s transition to democracy. Augusto Pinochet is known for being the leader of a military junta that overthrew the socialist government of Pres. BARNES: We thought it could be quite close, because Pinochet had and appealed still to people old enough to remember the Allende era and some of the problems of that era. The Pinochet regime undercut their efforts to get public service announcements and paid television advertising. Pinochet had received 44 to their 56 percent in the plebiscite. Lagos, who was elected President of Chile in 2000, visited the U.S in the pre-plebiscite period. One of the panelists they had on was one of the leading supporters of the “yes” vote. The national debates in the Congress are completely free, open — they’re nationally televised and attract a huge audience.” When I mentioned the vibrant civic life, a few guests looked about ready to have heart attacks on the spot. As for Cívitas, somebody had to go out and help register people. During that panel discussion probably around eleven o’clock or so the panel came on and this particular individual who had been a minister in a previous government years back and had a good reputation, he said, “I think the “no” vote has won.” Still nothing on the government channels. About 56% of the people did not want that. Augusto Pinochet had been in power since the coup he led as Army commander on September 11, 1973. He remained as Army Commander. People felt that Chile had been saved from a terrible path of social and political warfare that would permanently scar the society. Favorite Answer. Beggars held out their hands at every street corner. Ambassador Barnes kept the lines of communication open to both sides, playing such a deft game that Pinochet had to think twice before openly attacking the U.S. Pinochet’s military junta was a quasi-cabinet that also doubled as his legislative counsel. Another turning point came when Ricardo Lagos challenged Pinochet directly. Cloudflare Ray ID: 626416431aead42f Of course, the pundits admitted that you can only implement severe fiscal austerity if you have an iron fist. Within a year of the plebiscite, key opposition forces moved from raw confrontation politics to a willingness to work through the political process. Lagos wanted to let them know that when the “no” vote prevailed, it wasn’t going to hurt the economy, that the opposition leadership was committed to keep the basic economic framework in place and work to humanize it. The night of the plebiscite – what was very strange was that state TV ran only one report about seven o’clock in the evening and the results at that point should that the “yes” vote, the government vote, was ahead . Q: We were deep into the Reagan period. Pinochet, under pressure from other countries was forced to accept the results, and stepped down from power in 1990. No violence, however. General Augusto Pinochet took control of Chile in September 1973 following a military coup which had ousted the previous incumbent Salvador Allende. They rocked people with an upbeat message. He was a bloody dictator. A partial view of the National Stadium, which served as a jail for prisoners during Augusto Pinochet's dictatoship. Cívitas, one of the main civil society organizations, ran a nationwide campaign to re-register all the Chileans who wanted to vote. Ambassador Barnes corroborated this report and determined that it was a plausible threat. Charlotte Roe served as a Political Officer in the U.S. Embassy in Santiago during that time. Chileans felt frustrated and depressed. His Constitution set strong limits on the democratic process. Pinochet ruled with an iron fist. He had the elected President, Salvador Allende, killed to become president. Barnes had a photographic memory. But we saw hopeful signs with the banding together of the democratic opposition, the soul searching that led to them presenting a more credible alternative, a team that could Chile to the rule of law and manage the economic transition. Chile is a legalistic, constitutional country that prides itself on respecting the law. Pinochet had destroyed all the registration rolls and established a national identification system. U.S. assistance to the opposition was non-partisan, because there were no candidates in the plebiscite, just a vote to say “si” or “no” to the regime. Milton Friedman, the guru of the monetarist school of economists based at the University of Chicago, taught and groomed quite a few of Pinochet’s top advisors. Pinochet became the President of the country and ruled it for the next 17 years. It was becoming ungovernable. Our officials in Washington told the envoy bluntly that if anything happened to disrupt the election, the U.S. president would denounce it in the loudest possible terms around the world and that nothing of that kind would be tolerated. Junta members Stange and Matthei also said so publicly.…That killed any possibility of them subverting the process. There was a joyous feeling of release and celebration nationwide. Another way to prevent getting this page in the future is to use Privacy Pass. They adopted those reforms on their terms. These included Socialists, the Radical party, and the Humanists, a left-of-center international organization founded in Argentina that advocates non-violence and the development of human potential; the National party, an older conservative grouping; and Renovación Nacional, a new moderate conservative party with an engaging leader, Andres Allemand, a former national soccer hero of Chile.…. After the coup Augusto Pinochet established himself as the leader of Chile and set up a military dictatorship with the heavy involvement of his army. He outlawed the political parties. The crisis over foreign exchange triggered a sharp recession. Lagos talked back without hesitation and subdued the hecklers. It was brutal,” she said. The opposition had coalesced into what was called the Coordinadora, eighteen political parties under one tent running a single “no” campaign for the plebiscite. The 1988 plebiscite was a plebiscite in the sense it was more of Pinochet, another eight years of Pinochet, or go to a competitive election. Jorge, a medical doctor, was the opposition liaison with the military. We thought the procedural instruments the government had put in place could create the framework for a free and fair election, if the military regime didn’t abort the process. But they refused and Gen. Pinochet had to accept defeat. The Cívitas campaign gained ground. They knew he would be around for a year or two, before the first free elections in 20 years would take place. Santiago, on December 10, 2006) was a Chilean general who became Chile's head of state (or leader) from 1973 to 1990. Presidential and parliamentary elections took place as scheduled on December 14, 1989; Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin won and took office on the following March. The old elite were stuffy and overbearing. We guessed, I guess is the way I would have to put it, based on the polling that had been done by organizations we confidence in, including people who were, what should I say, were very much non-partisan, as well as those inclined one way or the other. People would tell different things to the pollsters based on whether or not they trusted them or thought the balloting would be fair. 4. A national referendum was held on October 5, 1988 to determine whether the Junta, and its leader Pinochet, should stay in power for another eight years. When he went to meet with Pinochet or the members of his junta, he would report every word that was said. However, Pinochet was arrested under an international arrest warrant on a visit to London in October 1998 in connection with numerous human rights allegations. Pinochet led a 11 September 1973 coup which deposed Socialist President Salvador Allende. Concertación candidate Patricio Aylwin (Christian Democrats) won decisively, heading the first democratically elected government in 16 years. I briefed the news reporters on that issue. The 1970s and 1980s were a long, dark time for Chile. A street sign shows the name of the September 11 Avenue in Santiago, renamed during Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship which still remanes. As the 1988 plebiscite loomed, Washington was hungry to find out if there really was any chance for a fraud-free election. Pinochet maintained power by dissolving parliament, banning all political parties and trade unions, and allegedly murdering thousands of Chileans who stood in opposition to his rule. Talking with people in the provinces, I saw a tremendous groundswell of support for the “no” side. So on the Sunday before the election he had the Chilean ambassador to the U.S. called in. But the U.S. Congress kept a close eye on human rights violations, and the Embassy raised its voice on those issues. Though Bolivia was also in turmoil, by comparison this felt like stepping into a cauldron. Well, Chileans didn’t want the CB model imposed by an academic institution in the U.S. or anyone else. They found a way to come together and recover their democratic ethos.…, Pinochet brought a different kind of technocrat into government from the middle class. Augusto Pinochet did not retire-He issued a referendum asking the people of Chile to accept or reject his government.He lost the referendum letting him to lose … That image was greatly padded, and now we’ve seen the revelations about the millions he funneled abroad.…. The message we crafted was: “We have deep, long-standing ties and common interests with Chile and its people. More than 3,000 were killed in the September military onslaught, which began when fighter jets bombed the Presidential Palace while the democratically elected President, Salvador Allende, was still inside. By the time of his death on December 10, 2006, about 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for numerous human rights violations and embezzlement during and after his rule. Late Chilean military leader Augusto Pinochet wanted to hold on to power when he lost a referendum on his rule in 1988, newly declassified documents in the US suggest. A Chilean commission investigating human rights abuses under the former military leader Gen Augusto Pinochet says there are many more victims than previously documented. So it was a fairly dramatic evening. Of course, the plebiscite vote was in favor of the new Constitution. They married the Chicago monetarists to a Chilean version of the New Deal. It would be the last opportunity to fix the results. He led the military coup that overthrew Chile's elected socialist … They resisted Pinochet’s moves to undermine his own constitution. 2 decades ago. Pinochet proclaimed himself president of the military junta(dictatorship) that followed. Chileans began planning for the national elections in December of ’89. I analyzed the implementation of political laws under the 1976 constitution, the emerging civil society organizations and political party dynamics. THE world got its first glimpse of Augusto Pinochet on September 11th 1973. Despite being charged first by a court in Spain in 1998 and then in his native Chile, Pinochet eluded prosecution by claiming he was mentally unfit to defend himself in legal proceedings. It was gloomy, conflicted. Two of the four junta members were asserting their independence from Pinochet – Air Force Commander Matthei and Carabineros Commander Stange. As a result, I follow my detailed treatment of the Rise of Mao in China with a shorter"mini-unit" on Pinochet in Chile. ROE: As we approached the plebiscite, the U.S. provided $1.5 million in assistance to ensure that the plebiscite would have a level playing field. But the TV showed a little after that, a half an hour or so later, were pictures of the other commanders of the Armed Forces, that is, the Air Force, the Carabineros, the Navy going toward the Presidential Palace and obviously a meeting of the junta with Pinochet. BARNES: Pinochet had, as I think he himself said from time to time, had made a gift to the people of Chile in the form of a new Constitution, having done away with the previous one, the Allende and earlier periods. That’s why the first Barnes-Valdez meeting was such a profound shift. The front office tapped me to draft Barnes’ credentials speech. The Coordinadora’s TV ads were brilliant. It wasn’t a huge margin, but it was an adequate margin…. Completing the CAPTCHA proves you are a human and gives you temporary access to the web property. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. In 1988, there was a plebiscite in Chile. So I brainstormed with Jorge Castillo, …a stalwart in the Political section. It was an onerous process. Not having rule of law means you won’t have transparent governance or marketplace; you won’t build investor confidence or have economic sustainability. Tens of thousands were tortured, disappeared, killed or exiled during his campaign against the pro-Allende communists and socialists. He told me later that when the four of them had assembled, that Pinochet had already prepared a draft of a proclamation extending the state of emergency in effect annulling the plebiscite. Pinochet conceded in a dazed, semi-defiant, somewhat disoriented speech. 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