The Tragedy of Chile

The Tragedy of Chile

The Tragedy of Chile

The Tragedy of Chile


"Robert J. Alexander's new book is relentlessly fair-minded....a detailed and scrupulous political narrative informed through reading in the periodical literature of those years, personal interviews with participants, and the author's own wide experience in Latin America." The American Historical Review


I first visited Chile in 1946-1947, spending almost six months there collecting material for my Ph.D. dissertation, "Labor Relations in Chile." I have subsequently made more than a dozen additional visits and have written several other books dealing in whole or in part with Chile. Until 1973, Chile was my "favorite" Latin American country.

The present book is therefore written with a great deal of personal commitment, and even some passion, although I have tried to keep the latter in check in the writing. I have a point of view about what has happened in Chile in recent years. I see it as a profound tragedy of significance for all of Latin America, and even for the world as a whole. Chile had a kind of society and a quality of life that are rare in the world. It is the disappearance of these that is Chile's tragedy. When Chilean democracy was destroyed, the whole world was the loser.

The tragedy of Chile did not begin on September 11, 1973, when the Military Junta government came to power, but at least three years earlier, when Salvador Allende was elected president. Its roots are still further back in time, in the judgment and policy errors of the leaders of the Christian Democratic party and government, which made it impossible for them to win continuation in office in the 1970 election. In the pages that follow, I attempt to trace how this tragedy came to pass.

Much of what I say here is based on my observations of the country over the years; my judgments and conclusions certainly are. However, I have tried to offer verification for facts and figures from as varied a group of sources as possible.

Of course, I have incurred many debts of gratitude during the writing and publication of this book. First, I owe much to the hundreds of friends and acquaintances, on all levels of society, whom I have in Chile. Over the years . . .

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