Remembering the Chilean Coup Forty Years Later

Chile_Junta001Before 9/11 (2001), September 11 was remembered most often as the day of the Chilean coup of 1973. Today marks the fortieth anniversary of that day. On September 11, 1973, Chile’s three armies launched an attack on the government of President Salvador Allende, the first democratically-elected socialist president of Chile. Supported by years of CIA financing, training, and anti-Allende propaganda-spreading, the armies attacked the La Moneda, the presidential palace. Inside, Allende refused to resign his office. Shortly after Chilean Air Force aircraft bombed the palace, Allende committed suicide. The U.S.-supported coup, intended to staunch the growth of Communism during the Cold War, ironically launched the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The months following the coup saw some of the most infamous human rights violations cases and more killings than any other year of Pinchoet’s dictatorship.

Duke University Press has published a range of titles that consider Chile's history in the wake of those fateful events. Steve J. Stern’s The Memory Box of Pinochet’s Chile trilogy provides a comprehensive
Remember chile and sensitive account of how Chileans have come to terms with the legacy of Pinochet’s rule. Remembering Pinochet's Chile, Battling for Hearts and Minds, and Reckoning with Pinochet  offer individual and collective accounts of battles over memory in the wake of human right atrocities. Other Duke Press works place Chile’s unrest within the context of global memory. Leigh A. Payne’s Unsettling Accounts considers what happens when perpetrators of acts of authoritarian state violence publicly admit or discuss their actions. Also edited by Payne and Ksenija Bilbija, Accounting for Violence explores the politics of memory in Latin America, discussing the “memory markets” in Chile and other Latin American countries that emerged from authoritarian rule in the 1980s and 1990s.

Salt in sandLessie Jo Frazier, in Salt in the Sand , takes a broad historical perspective on Chile’s political culture. She challenges the conventional periodization of modern Chilean history, particularly the idea that the 1973 military coup marked a radical break with the past. Other Duke books consider the economic ramifications of the September 11 coup. In Victims of the Chilean Miracle, Peter Winn examines how Pinochet’s neoliberal model began, finally, to promote economic growth in the mid-1980s. Yet these essays suggest that the Chilean miracle may not be as miraculous as it seems: real wages stagnated, the expected restoration of labor rights faltered, and gaps in income distribution continued to widen. They not only show how neoliberalism has affected Chile’s labor force in general but also how it has damaged the environment and imposed special burdens on women.

Duke published the first bilingual edition of Chilean poet and Duke University Professor Ariel Dorfman’s
220px-DorfmanA1 work, In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land. These poems bear witness to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of personal and social damage in the aftermath of terror. Always an eloquent voice against the ravages of inhumanity, Dorfman’s poems, like his acclaimed novels, continue to be a searing testimony of hope in the midst of despair. Check out Dorfman’s recent New York Times op-ed piece here.

978-0-8223-5360-7_prFinally, for a diverse account of Chile’s history, we will release The Chile Reader edited by Elizabeth Quay Hutchison, Thomas Miller Klubock, Nara B. Milanich, and Peter Winn, in November 2013. Most of the selections are by Chileans; many have never before appeared in English. Perfect for the student or traveler, The Chile Reader covers more than 500 years of Chilean history, with an emphasis on the past half-century. Its many selections include interviews, travel diaries, diplomatic cables, cartoons, and photographs.

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