The General's Slow Retreat: Chile after Pinochet

The General's Slow Retreat: Chile after Pinochet

The General's Slow Retreat: Chile after Pinochet

The General's Slow Retreat: Chile after Pinochet

Synopsis

In her acclaimed book Soldiers in a Narrow Land, Mary Helen Spooner took us inside the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Carrying Chile's story up to the present, she now offers this vivid account of how Chile rebuilt its democracy after 17 years of military rule--with the former dictator watching, and waiting, from the sidelines. Spooner discusses the major players, events, and institutions in Chile's recent political history, delving into such topics as the environmental situation, the economy, and the election of Michelle Bachelet. Throughout, she examines Pinochet's continuing influence on public life as she tells how he grudgingly ceded power, successfully fought investigations into his human rights record and finances, kept command of the army for eight years after leaving the presidency, was detained on human rights charges, and died without being convicted of any of the many serious crimes of which he was accused. Chile has now become one of South America's greatest economic and political successes, but as we find in The General's Slow Retreat, it remains a country burdened with a painful past.

Excerpt

The Chilean presidential palace, La Moneda, began life as a Spanish colonial mint in 1805, five years before the country was even a republic. During Chile’s brutal 1973 coup, the palace survived a military bombardment, which destroyed the beams supporting the upper floors and reduced much of the Italian-designed edifice to a shell. For several years afterward La Moneda was boarded up, until General Augusto Pinochet, having won a dubious referendum extending his rule for another nine years, moved his headquarters into the palace in 1981.

La Moneda continued to project a grim image: the previous occupant, socialist president Salvador Allende, had committed suicide there during the coup, shooting himself after instructing his most loyal staffers to leave the building. His corpse was removed by soldiers and firefighters through a side door, which had been the private entrance for Chilean . . .

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