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State

Capital

Chile

Santiago

Currency unit

Peso

Connections

Argentina

Military

Ozone

South America

Torture

War

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Chile is believed to have been rather sparsely inhabited before Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, except for the northernmost area which was part of the Inca empire.

The Spaniards settled it with a landowning class who became an aristocracy, as in many other parts of Latin America.

Independence came in 1818 after a war with Spanish imperial forces, under Bernardo O'Higgins the descendant of an Irishman - one of the Wild Geese expelled from Ireland.

Constitutional government was commoner than military dictatorships, though several rulers tried to establish dictatorship - during the 19th century Balmaceda provoked a civil war (1891), and in the the 20th there was dictatorship again 1924-32.

The country maintained the forms of democratic government until 1973 when an army coup overthrew the Marxist (but non-Communist) President Salvador Allende (elected 1970). This revealed that the officer class came from the aristocracy and did not believe in democracy. They were originally trained by Prussians which is reflected in the uniforms and methods of training and discipline. They had considerable help from the United States whose government was opposed to Allende's nationalizing American owned industries - and feared a "domino effect" which might ally South America with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The new regime under Auguste Pinochet murdered many people and maintained a government similar to those found in 1930s fascist Europe. During the 1970s and 1980s there was an agreement with the military governments of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to capture and return dissidents from the other countries. Thus there was a tacit alliance between these regimes.

Pinochet left political power in 1989 and a democratic regime followed but the armed forces still have an influence by their very existence. Pinochet remained commander of the military and for a period could not be removed by the civilian government. The elected government's actions were limited by the need to look over their shoulders at the officers. They could not, for example, reduce the size of the army which is clearly larger than a country like Chile needs for national defense (and owns part of the energy industry). The police also were reported to be beyond the control of the civilian government. The agreement between the military regime and the democratic regime included a prohibition of prosecutions for atrocities committed during the dictatorship.

Languages

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Politics

A democratic system is being re-established cautiously after a long military dictatorship by extreme right wing officers. At present the elected government has to look over its shoulder to avoid offending the military who threaten to return if their prejudices are offended.

In the transitional system the Military (Pinochet) appointed eight senators. The electoral system was skewed to favor right wing politicians in the senate.

As in many Latin American countries the military have been an autonomous force with their own industries. Their income is thus not dependent on the government. Civilian attempts to reduce their size are met with resistance and attempted coups, despite there being no real defense needs. It is therefore a question to be argued whether the civilian government is more than a facade to lend respectability to a country actually controlled by the military still headed until recently by the former dictator, Auguste Pinochet. There is a National Security Council to represent military views to the government, in effect a military veto on the government.

Pinochet's policy was to maintain the division between wealthy and poor and prevent any attempt to reduce it. This divide is in the long run unstable and could encourage a desire among the poor to do something about it.

The military wish to prevent any prosecution of human rights offenses committed during the dictatorship. Elections in December 1993 resulted in victory for a center left coalition headed by Eduardo Frei whose father was president in the 1960s. More elections in 2000 resulted in a peaceful handover to a socialist member of the same alliance, the Concertacion.

The 2005 elections produced Latin America's first elected woman head of state (Isabel Peron had inherited Argentina as vice president when her husband died in office) the socialist Michelle Bachelet. Gradually the civilian regime is gaining power. In 2000 Pinochet was arrested in London while on a health visit. The arrest was at the request of a Spanish prosecutor who wanted to investigate the murder of Spanish citizens during his regime. Although released at that time on health grounds Pinochet lost his immunity from prosecution and some of the human rights abusers have been tried and convicted. The military are losing their power.

Pinochet died in December 2006 having successfully resisted court appearances, but recent evidence had shown him to have been involved not just in torture but also in embezzlement and fraud while in office.

A successful presidential election took place in 2009 with a change in party from the centrer left to the center right.

John Rector - History of Chile


The History of Chile (Palgrave Essential Histories)


Collier - History of Chile

Historia de Chile, 18081994 (Spanish Edition)

A History of Chile, 18082002 (Cambridge Latin American Studies)


A History of Chile, 18082002 (Cambridge Latin American Studies)

Espanol - euros
Historia de Chile, 1808-1994

John Dinges - the Condor Years


The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents


Terror internacional. (Operación Cóndor, libro del periodista John Dinges)(supuestos atentados del gobierno de Estados Unidos contra chilenos izquierdistas en México): An article from: Proceso

 History

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 Climate

Economics

The economy was damaged first by the Allende regime which tended to spend too much on welfare and on inefficient state controlled industries. During the last months of the Allende government a professional boycott by small businessmen such as transport owners also damaged the economy (this was believed to have been assisted by United States' agencies). Then under the military regime Chile was used by disciples of Milton Friedman - the Chicago School - as a testbed for ideas about a pure free market system without any welfare provisions. The result was a considerable impoverishment of the ordinary people and an intensification of the gap between rich and poor. Moreover, it has increased the foreign ownership of the economy. Much of the industry collapsed.

Milton Friedman also inspired a similar program in Britain, but this proved that it can only be carried through in a dictatorship.

The contrast between Chile's alleged economic progress under the Pinochet dictatorship, and Cuba's success in health and welfare shows one the main dilemmas in development economies. Cuba has had successes in education but failed to increase the productivity of the economy (hindered by the US embargo on trade); Chile's economic growth has been at the expense of social welfare, and the creation of a large gap between the wealthy, the main beneficiaries of growth, and ordinary people (as in the United States).

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Green/Ecology

Southern Chile is one of the areas worst affected by the depletion of Ozone over the Antarctic. Blind sheep and rabbits have been reported as well as skin damage in outdoor workers. But this has been refuted by Weather Underground

Serious earthquake took place in March 2010. However, as Chile is a modern developed state, modern buildings were generally constructed with earthquake resistant designs.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

During the military regime an estimated 200,000 people were tortured or killed in secret concentration camps. Political prisoners are now believed to have been released and exiles have returned home. But the army remained powerful enough to prevent prosecution of those responsible for the atrocities until recently. In 2000 the former dictator was arrested in Britain on a warrant issued in Spain, requesting extradition for crimes against Spanish citizens during the dictatorship. He was allowed to return to Chile on grounds of age and ill health. Some of his associates have been convicted of human rights offences and jailed.

Pinochet has since died.

The loyalty of the gendarmerie, the armed police force, is in doubt - that is, they are believed to ignore orders by the minister in charge. Thus the rule of law cannot yet be said to be in place.

There is a total ban on abortion for any cause whatsoever.

Climate effects

One degree
Loss of glaciers with downstream water problems.

Two degrees
Arid desert spreading in northern provinces Drift of agriculture towards the south. Warmer Tierra del Fuego.

Last revised 26/11/11


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