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Did Pinochet Really Bring Chile Stability?

Did Pinochet Really Bring Chile Stability?

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Published by Samuel D Barnard
An analysis of the political economy in Chile
An analysis of the political economy in Chile

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Published by: Samuel D Barnard on Aug 18, 2013
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08/18/2013

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ʻ
The Pinochet regime brought Chile political stability and economic improvement, wherebefore there had been political and economic chaos.
ʼ
Discuss.
#
The statement under discussion makes a claim regarding four epochs of Chile
ʼ
sdevelopment. I shall examine the political and economic (in)stability of each of theseperiods to decide whether or not the statement can be upheld. These are:
Pre-1970:
the conditions which led to Allende
ʼ
s election.
1970-1973:
Allende
ʼ
s presidency.
1973-1990:
Pinochet
ʼ
s dictatorship.
1990-present day:
the return to democratic elections.
#
My analysis cannot ignore the tactics of oppression which were used by Pinochet tomaintain and exercise power, the continued effect this has had on the ability of politicalorganisation to happen outside of the power structures of the political elite, and theinfluence that the constitution put in place by the Pinochet regime has had or continues tohave. The initial statement also implies that without the coup Chile would have remained ina situation of economic and political instability, an assertion which must be assessed.
#
Finally this analysis must establish an understanding of what stability really means.Economic stability cannot be taken as a truth simply from analysis of spreadsheetsshowing rising GDP. Political stability does not necessarily exist when there is littleargument or contestation within the legislature. Tactics to silence dissent, such as torture;murder; and exile, are destabilising in general, though they may solidify the position anddefend the actions of those in power. Those targeted by repression cannot be externalisedfor the sake of simplicity but must be viewed as a part of a
gestalt 
. It is a fallacy to say thatsuppressed voices were not heard and therefore stability exists
de facto.
Civil unrest,namely student protest movements, suggests that only more recently have organisationsfound room to contest underlying political, economic, and social problems (Cabalin, C.,
 
2011.) That such movements have only recently surfaced should not be misread as a signthat true stability had been achieved; more accurately it should be recognised that unresthad been successfully suppressed from surfacing (Galtung, J., 1969.) As the coup is amatter of history, the main focus will be given to how today
ʼ
s political system in Chilereflects the policies of Pinochet and also the extent to which it is truly stable.
#
In 1949 a process of expanding the electorate began with the enfranchisement ofwomen voters. This was noted to have had a substantial effect in the election of JorgeAlessandri in 1958 (Power, M., 2008.) Accessibility to the vote was expanded over the nexttwo decades, culminating in 1970 with the reduction of the voting age to 18 and theremoval of literacy requirements. Countryside constituencies were also opened up toparticipate freely in elections. From 1949 to 1973 the number of votes increased from lessthan a million to over four million. In doing so the rural vote, previously dominated byparties of the right, opened up to the left-leaning
Partido Demócrata Cristiano 
1
 
(P.D.C.)and Marxists (Alemán, E., 2009.) At the same time Chile was experiencing massurbanisation with the population of Santiago tripling from 1960-70, surpassing 3 million,causing inadequate access to education, healthcare, and basic amenities such as drinkingwater (Valdes, C.C., 2001.)
#
The U.S. was concerned that, after the Cuban revolution, a democratic socialistgovernment would both inspire and legitimise groups which threatened their political andeconomic hegemony in the region (Hove, M., 2009.) To this end, in 1964, the C.I.A.launched a campaign of “anti-Communist propaganda [which] filled the airwaves, walls,and newspapers of Chile and promoted an atmosphere of hysteria” (Power, M., 2008, p.938) during the 1964 election in which Frei Montalva defeated Allende. U.S. exertion ofinfluence over Chilean politics did not end there, intending to exploit a constitutional
1
Christian Democrat Party.
 
loophole in 1970 which would have led to a repeat of the elections, to enable Alessandri
ʼ
sre-election. Alessandri refused to participate (Clough, K., 2012.)
#
During the
ʻ
60s, Chile
ʼ
s
hacienda 
system of food production led to “… theconcentration of 80 per cent of the land in 7.5 per cent of the properties … Some 70 percent of Chile
ʼ
s peasant families earned less than $100 U.S. annually …” (Winn, P. & Kay,C., 1974, p.135.) High unemployment and low income for peasants meant that they wereunable to engage with the Chilean market as consumers, contributing to the stagnatingindustry (Winn, P. & Kay, C., 1974.) The P.D.C. encouraged activism and unionismamongst peasants, promising land reforms which Frei Montalva (elected on a P.D.C.ticket) proved unable to deliver. Instead, Frei Montalva
ʼ
s land reforms created a hierarchyof peasants which benefited those with permanent employment on certain estates whichwere expropriated, only 21 thousand of the 2.5 million Chilean peasants (Alemán, E.,2009, and Winn, P. & Kay, C., 1974.) At the same time Frei Montalva was removingpowers for legislators to amend bills, restricting their ability to achieve funding, centralisingpower to the presidency, and breaking down networks of influence and cooperation(Alemán, E., 2009.)
#
Allende and
Unidad Popular 
 
(U.P.) inherited this situation in 1970. Both the judiciaryand legislature were controlled by the opposition, unlike Frei Montalva
ʼ
s presidency (Winn,P. & Kay, C., 1974.) The U.P.
ʼ
s policy on greater land reforms, grounded in an ideology that“problems of the peasantry could not be solved in isolation, but only within the context of asocietal reform … The peasantry was to be integrated into the nation, but as a class, notas consumers or individuals.” (Winn, P. & Kay, C., 1974, p. 140) gave confidence forpeasants to seize land themselves, beginning with the Mapuche (indigenous population) tothe south and spreading upwards. However, without strong influence outside of the
2
Popular Unity.

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