"I am not a dictator, I just have a grumpy face"
49 years after the Military coup of Pinochet in Chile, the crimes committed by the authoritarian regime, as well as, its financial plan, remains an open wound for the Chilean people today.
The phrase from the title above is rightly attributed to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. During his reign, he implemented a brutal regime, which was advised on economical issues by the prominent school of Chicago, a known advocate of capitalism and creator of neo-liberal ideology. His regime was praised openly by politicians like Margaret Thatcher and economists like Milton Friedman. With many neo-liberal politicians still being nostalgic of the policies of his era. Milton Friedman explained in one of his interviews that even though he is not a fan of dictatorial regimes, he called the case of Pinochet's Chile as a success story of economic reforms. While he was also organizing meetings with general Pinochet and even teaching classes at that time in Chile. A military Junta which ended 150 years of democracy and overthrew the democratically elected leader at that time,Allende . A regime that imprisoned and tortured thousands of students, politicians and artists, was implementing radical policies of a capitalist economy. And if someone is sceptical about the level of authoritarianism in Chile at that moment, remember the appalling scene of the World Cup organized Chile, next to prisons, in which political dissidents were tortured with the most barbaric of methods. With their voices of despair covered by the cheers of the crowd. Pinochet, under the influence of the free-market-oriented "Chicago Boys", implemented a capitalist economic model, with the removal of taxes for big private corporations and the privatization of social security and hundreds of state enterprises, along with the privatization of the pension system and the independence of the national central bank. Apart from that, his regime was also known for its amount of corruption between the authoritarian leadership and the private sector(Pinochet's Economists the Chicago school of economics in Chile -The Pinochet's Case, 1998). Fortunately for the people of Chile, the capitalist regime came to an end. Pinochet’s dictatorship, will be a timeless example of how a brutal regime became the favourite guinea pig for radical capitalist policies.
Now, even though the country can be characterized as a liberal Democracy is still suffering from its political past and facing many financial problems even today. The country remains one of the most unequal ones in Latin America". While in the last three decades due to neoliberal policies Chile, one of South America's wealthiest countries has the 1% of the population controlling 26.5% of the country's wealth, while 50% of low-income households access 2.1%. People struggling to make ends meet because of the high costs of privatized education and health system, while the costs of rents and utilities keep rising. Pinochet’s privatised pension system is being widely rejected by the majority of Chileans because of its low and often delayed payouts.
With protests erupting in the majority of the country there were also concerns regarding the excessive use of force by the police and the military with Human rights organisations receiving several reports of violations conducted against protesters, including torture, sexual abuse and rape by both the police and army.
The truth is, Chile is unequal, even though it reduced poverty from 1989, the time of the democratic transition, until today, from 40% to 16%. There are several reasons for the protests. One is the most proximate cause, which is the increase in subway fares, but that doesn’t explain the underlying tensions. One of those tensions is despite reductions in poverty, social mobility remains a large problem in Chile. It remains a very elitist country with limited social mobility. So, poverty may be reduced, but the likelihood that someone in the working middle class would reach the upper middle class has always been an. unfulfilled dream
About the author
With a small backpack and without a plan,I have been living all around Europe.For my Philosophical studies,for work and mostly fun, I have been living the chapters of my life,in Thessaloniki, Dublin,Sheffield,Copenhagen,Helsinki and London.