The Rise and Fall of Chile’s “Authoritarian Democracy” (1970-2020)

Symposium, 23 April 2021, online

On October 25, 2020, Chileans voted overwhelmingly to annul Augusto Pinochet’s 1980 constitution. Following a year after mass protests, the country’s citizens are thereby on a path to fully recovering the public sovereignty lost ever since Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état against Salvador Allende in 1973. The present symposium sets out to explore the ideological origins of Chile’s so-called “Authoritarian and Protected Democracy,” its rendition into the infamous 1980 Constitution, the mobilization and resistance to this alleged democratic state model within and outside Chile, and its ultimate decline. If successful, this mini-conference could become a basis for an original, and indeed timely, special issue on Chile’s 1980 Constitution in a Latin American history/Latin American studies journal.

In this symposium, we seek to touch on the following interconnected themes:
- The national and international right-wing ideologies and networks informing Pinochet’ brand of authoritarianism.
- The influence of Chilean authoritarianism in Latin America during the Cold War.
- The national and international contexts of the 1980 constitutional process (human rights violations; changes in the Cold War balance and in USA foreign relations)
- The Chilean transition to democracy and the efforts to either modify or invalidate the 1980 constitution, 1980-1992.
- The political, legal, and social consequences of the 1980 Constitution (the “authoritarian clauses”); the Constitution as a basis for the Chilean political, economic and social order).


15:00 Opening Remarks

15:15 Panel 1
1) “Revolution and Counter-revolution in Latin America. The political project of Pinochet’s dictatorship” (José Manuel Castro Torres, University College London)
2) “Historical analysis of the constituent process of the Chilean military civil dictatorship, 1973-1980” (Jorge Olguín, Universidad Central de Chile)
Commentator: Marianne González le Saux, Universidad de Chile

16:45 Panel 2
1) “‘A country where the government didn’t meddle with the economy’”: Advertising and Neoliberalism in Chile” (Pablo Pryluka, Princeton University)
2) “Las relaciones exteriores del régimen de Pinochet con Escandinavia, Medio Oriente y América Central. Los casos de Suecia, Irán y Nicaragua (1973-1990)” (Fernando Camacho Padilla, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
3) “Institucionalización and Chilean foreign policy: the 1980 constitution as a model for the Latin American Extreme Right” (Molly Avery, The London School of Economics)
Commentator: Daniel G. Kressel, LAI, Freie Universität Berlin

18:30 Panel 3
1) Art. 4º Chile es una república democrática”: El impacto social de la Constitución chilena de 1980 bajo el lente de la prensa de oposición (Claudia Stern, LAI/Universidad de Buenos Aires, FADU-UBA)
2) “The Constitution of 1981 and changes in the Chilean dictatorship’s strategy to counter international human rights criticism.” (Philipp Kandler, LAI, Freie Universität Berlin)
3) “Democracy without Qualifiers: Battles over the Concept of Democracy in Pinochet’s Chile.” (Alfonso Salgado, Universidad Diego Portales)
Commentator: Tanya Harmer, The London School of Economics

20:15 Roundtable
Isabel Torres (Universidad de Chile), Camila Vergara (Columbia University), Marieke Riethof (University of Liverpool)
Moderator: Stefan Rinke (LAI, Freie Universität Berlin)

21:15 Final words and conclusion



Philipp Kandler