"You brought democracy to Chile"
September 11, 2023 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the September 11, 1973 Chilean coup that ended the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, and inaugurated the 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Pablo Larraín's newest film, El Conde, satirizes the life of Pinochet as a 250-year old vampire and swindler suffering an existential crisis, receiving both accolades and critique. More below the fold for a history and docu-binge before the film is release on Netflix September 15th.

Following up on "No" (2010), starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the advertising executive who's campaign defeated Pinochet in Chile's historic 1988 "Yes/No" referendum to remove a dictator, Lorrain explains of El Conde, "I have spent years imagining Pinochet as a vampire, as a being that never stops circulating through history, both in our imagination and nightmares. Vampires do not die, they do not disappear, nor do the crimes and thefts of a dictator who never faced true justice...." and places himself among the strong tradition of Chilean filmmakers exploring the effects of Pinochet on Chilean society.

Patricio Guzmán was among the first and most prolific, documenting the events leading up to the coup in "The Battle of Chile" (1975) (wiki), and with additional films on the 1998 arrest and release of Pinochet in London on "charges of genocide and terrorism that include murder" in "The Pinochet Case" (2001), and the effects of the dictatorship on Chile's national identity, in films such as "Obstinate Memory" (1996), "Nostalgia for Light" (2010), and "The Cordillera of Dreams" (2019) and "My Imaginary Country" (2021) (more on OVID).

Chile has also seen a resurgence of pro-Pinochet revisionism, as seen in "Pinochet" (2012) (youtube).

The title quote comes from Margaret Thatcher in her 1998 defense which prevented the extradition of Pinochet to Spain, as seen in "The Pinochet Case." It serves as a reminder of the Thatcher & Reagan administrations' mutual commitment to the ideological underpinnings of the Pinochet government, as well as the long standing military training that gave rise to the coup (School of the Americas) and sustained support of right-wing dictatorships in South America (Operation Condor).
posted by rubatan (6 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Can't turn left in General Pinochet's CAdillac

Sorry that there are no bee references. But authoritarians, amiright.
posted by Windopaene at 1:59 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]

I can't make bee jokes here either.

Of the shameful bloodbaths that "our" side wrought in the cold war, the destruction of democracy in Chile and resulting terror was one of the most cruel and wasteful...... and that's saying something.


The long search for the remains of Pinochet’s victims

Pinochet’s dictatorship casts a lengthening shadow

Chile president gives staunch defence of democracy, 50 years after Pinochet coup


“¡Nunca más!”
posted by lalochezia at 2:04 PM on September 11 [7 favorites]

General Pinochet at the Bookstore Santiago, Chile, July 2004.

The general's limo parked at the corner of San Diego street
and his bodyguards escorted him to the bookstore
called La Oportunidad, so he could browse
for rare works of history.

There were no bloody fingerprints left on the pages.
No books turned to ash at his touch.
He did not track the soil of mass graves on his shoes,
nor did his eyes glow red with a demon's heat.

Worse: His hands were scrubbed, and his eyes were blue,
and the dementia that raged in his head like a demon,
making the general's trial impossible, had disappeared.

Desaparecido: like thousands dead but not dead,
as the crowd reminded the general,
gathered outside the bookstore to jeer
when he scurried away with his bodyguards,
so much smaller in person.

-Martín Espada
posted by clavdivs at 2:23 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]

I know a Chilean family who fled the country not long after the coup, emigrating to Canada with their four young children. One of their daughters grew up to marry a classmate, bandmate, and roommate of mine; she is still one of my dearest friends to this day, and I am godfather to her son.

For this small thing coming out of terrible turmoil, I am thankful.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:16 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]

Ah, yes. The Pepsi Revolution.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 4:59 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]

The Chicago Reader has a feature article on this by Michael Spencer.
posted by zenon at 6:35 PM on September 11

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