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Chile under Pinochet

Ten years after he seized power, Chilean president Augusto Pinochet is marking the anniversary with carefully orchestrated celebrations. But with the recent return of political exiles and the middle classes feeling the pinch from a failing economy, opposition to Pinochet's iron-fisted rule is on the rise. In this 1983 documentary for CBC-TV's The Journal, former general Gustavo Leigh says the protests will not stop and that people are tired of a regime that has resulted in the deaths, imprisonment and torture of upwards of 100,000 people.

• Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was born Nov. 25, 1915, in Valparaiso, Chile.  On Aug. 23, 1973, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the army under president Salvadore Allende. On Sept. 11 of that year, he led the armed forces in a U.S. CIA-backed coup against Allende, and was named head of the junta governing council.

• Pinochet became president on Mar. 11, 1981, and remained so until March 11, 1990, when Patricio Aylwin was elected during the country's first free elections in 19 years.

• General Gustavo Leigh (Guzman) was fired on July 24, 1978, after making public his growing disagreement with the policies of Pinochet.

• According to a Facts on File article published May 18, 1979, an international refugee organization reported that it had, since Oct. 6, 1973, taken 19,002 political prisoners and other asylum seekers out of Chile. 

• During the 1970s there was a noticeable increase in the number of Chilean immigrants to Canada.  In the decade before the 1973 coup 2,135 were recorded, but by 1976, 4,600 had arrived as part of a special government-initiated Special Chilean Movement, and a majority of Chilean political refugees came to Canada via Argentina.

Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Sept. 12, 1983
Hosts: Barbara Frum, Keith Morrison
Reporter: Russ Froese
Guest: Gustavo Leigh Guzman
Duration: 20:53

Last updated: September 12, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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