• Short Summary

    Five years ago, on
    September 11th, 1973, the armed forces in Chile overthrew the elected Marxist
    government of Salvador Allende.

  • Description

    Five years ago, on
    September 11th, 1973, the armed forces in Chile overthrew the elected Marxist
    government of Salvador Allende. President Allende himself died int he coup.

    Since then, the country has been ruled by military officers, headed by General
    Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. His government has been widely criticised as one of the
    most repressive in Latin America. Its stability was threatened recently by
    dissension within the military junta itself; but by dismissing his Air Force
    commander, General Gustavo Leigh, two months ago, President Pinochet appeared to
    regain full control.

    SYNOPSIS: The presidential palace in Santiago -- bombed by the Chilean air force
    when President Allende refused an ultimatum to resign. Realising that further
    resistance was useless, with troops in control of all the country's principal
    cities, Senor Allende committed suicide.

    The man who took over was Augusto Pinochet Ugarte -- a professional soldier who
    has become Army Commander in Chief. He headed a four-man junta representing all
    the armed services and the police. They proclaimed the coup on the grounds that
    a grave economic, social and moral crisis was destroying the country, and that
    the Allende government had done nothing to prevent it.

    Thousands of arrests were made. The national football stadium became a detention
    centre. Among the prisoners were foreigners who has sought asylum in Marxist
    Chile from other South American military regimes. Many detainees wee later
    released, and fled abroad. The government says there are now no political
    prisoners in Chile. But many more died or simply disappeared. The Soviet Union
    refused to play a World Cup match in the stadium on the grounds that it had been
    a concentration camp and an arena of torture and execution.

    Over the years, President Pinochet -- as he had become by decree -- consolidated
    his position until he felt confident in facing the electorate. He called a
    referendum last January to prove his popular support, and provide an answer to
    his critics abroad.

    There were some complaints about the form of the question, which made a vote for
    the Pinochet regime a question of patriotism, in the face of what was described
    as "international aggression". Opponens made the point with the slogan: "No to
    Pinochet; Yes to Chile". Some minor clashes took place int he streets of
    Santiago without provoking more than routine police reaction.

    The outcome was never in doubt. President Pinochet received a 75 per cent vote
    in his favour. He now plans a new constitution, which will be submitted to a
    plebiscite; but no return to party politics.

    In July, a United Nations Human Rights Commission was allowed to enter Chile --
    after trying fro nearly three years. One of the members said the government had
    promised that there would be no reprisals against anyone who spoke to them.

    Luis Corvalan, the Chilean Communist Party leader, was released in exchange for
    a Soviet dissident, and has continued, with Senora Hortensia Allende, the late
    president's widow, to campaign abroad against the Pinochet regime. And protest
    still goes on inside Chile itself. More than a hundred people -- most of them
    the wives of missing men -- went on a hunger strike in church

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
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