1973: Allende out in Chile

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Down in Chile, they remember a tumultous week or the 46th anniversary of the overthrow of President Allende.      

Allende was elected in a 3-way race in 1970.  His presidency divided the country and created economic chaos, i.e. food shortage, labor strikes and violence was rampant.  

The nation was in turmoil and President Allende had lost control of the situation.    I recall a business colleague of my father who returned from a trip to Santiago totally horrified with the situation.  He called it panic and frustration and he was right. 

Please don’t get fooled with the international left’s romantic and nostalgic recollections of the Allende years.  They were bad for Chile.   

Allende embarked on what he called a “Chilean path to socialism” but he totally misread public opinion.   

General Pinochet took over and it was not easy to turn around a country devastated by the early stages of socialism. Indeed, there were serious human rights violations.   We can not overlook those excesses when we praise the work of “The Chicago Boys” in the economy.  

Where is Chile today?  Chile is the jewel of Latin American economies.  It is no longer a 3rd world country and enjoys a very stable economic and political environment.   

Is Chile better off today?  I say yes but I respect those Chileans who lost loved ones during a very difficult period.    Finally, Pinochet left power after losing big in a plebiscite in 1988.   Chile began its return to democracy the next year and here we are.     

At the end of the day, Pinochet’s legacy is a prosperous and non-communist Chile, as Paul Weyrich wrote when Pinochet died in 2006.      

He saved Chile from turning into Cuba or Venezuela and most locals are probably very happy about that.  

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