Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism

Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism

Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism

Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism


The preeminent book on Chilean history, Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism has been thoroughly updated throughout. Among its many new features are an analysis of the global developments in Chile during the last two decades; a new chapter that focuses specifically on the transition from a military to a civilian government; and extensive coverage of human rights as well as of environmental, economic, and social policies implemented since 1990. Insightful and clearly written, this new edition also includes twenty-six new photos that bring this exciting text to life.


When the second edition of this book appeared in 1988, Chileans still lived under a military dictatorship. In 2001, as the third edition comes off the press, Chileans have completed a decade of civilian rule. The third elected president since the transition from military rule took office in March, 2000: Ricardo Lagos, a socialist who had participated in the Unidad Popular government (1970–73) and vigorously opposed the dictatorship from exile. Lagos spearheaded the anti-Pinochet forces during the 1988 plebiscite that defeated the dictator. Nevertheless, more than ten years after restoration of civilian government, the military-imposed 1980 constitution remained in place, and the legacy of the military regime (1973–90) continued to influence everyday life in many ways.

In the preface to the second edition of this book, I indicated that the "proper conclusion of the last chapter," the end of the military government, had not yet occurred. As I was preparing the third edition, the ex-military dictator was detained in England, at the request of a Spanish judge who requested his extradition to Spain on charges of violating international law regarding human rights (October, 1998). In Chile his supporters claimed that international communism was taking its revenge on him for "defeating communism." They also claimed that his arrest violated Chilean sovereignty. In contrast, human rights organizations and his political opponents applauded the British and Spanish authorities who sought to bring the general to justice—a justice they believed could never be done in Chile.

General Pinochet's detention in England altered Chilean political history, and perhaps that of the international human rights movement. His eventual return to Chile in March 2000, when the British authorities decided that he was too ill to be deported and stand trial, provoked new controversies over his congressional immunity as a "senator for life" and his potential accountability before Chilean courts for human rights violations. By mid-July 2000, an infirm, eighty-four year old Pinochet potentially faced over 140 separate criminal cases. He lost his immunity from prosecution in a decision of the Santiago Court of Appeals in June 2000. His lawyers appealed the decision to the Chilean Supreme Court. As Chileans awaited the Supreme Court's decision, numerous other military officers were called as witnesses in outstanding criminal cases or were charged with crimes committed during the military dictatorship.

Despite the government's inability to repeal or annull the 1978 amnesty decree or to fundamentally reform the 1980 constitution, the officers who had carried out the 1973 coup and their successors witnessed a mounting attack on their impunity and even on their version of their salvational role in Chilean history. In early July 2000, inauguration of a monument to ex-president Salvador Allende (1970–73) in the Plaza de la Constitución—in front of the Ministry of Justice and the La Moneda Palace, where he died on September 11, 1973—testified symbolically to the shifting political conditions in the country, and to the mounting pressures for further political reform.

In July 2000, Pinochet was too ill to stand trial, whatever the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court regarding his congressional immunity. He would play no significant . . .

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