They lived it: General Pinochet’s coup d’état
A France Culture podcast available on the Radio France platform
On September 11, 1973, the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, had to publicly announce a referendum on his economic policy. He did not have time: at 9 a.m., the presidential palace of La Moneda was besieged by the army, placed under the command of General Pinochet. Since 6 am already, the sound of helicopters flying over Santiago hints at the beginning of the coup.
Those who experienced this historic moment remember, for some, the fear which ran through the left movements, for others, the strange joy which the opponents of President Allende showed. Everyone remembers the terror that reigned shortly after…
“The dictatorship causes deaths, injuries, disappearances”
One of the first victims of the coup is President Allende himself. A few seconds before committing suicide using an automatic weapon, he addresses the population to express his disappointment and convince himself that his “sacrifice will not be useless”. After him, thousands of others will follow. In less than twenty-four hours, “the dictatorship caused deaths, injuries and disappearances”.
Almost hour by hour, those who were there unfold the thread of events. They bear witness to the immediate censorship of the newspapers, of which only two are authorized to appear; and radios all placed under the control of the army. On September 11, 1973, industries stopped, businesses did not lift the iron curtain. The next day, 10,000 men were taken prisoner in the National Stadium. 30,000 more will follow. Many of them will be tortured there, some will die there.
Punctuated with archives and insights provided by Michel Pomarède, producer of the show, the testimonies that constitute the common thread of the story respond to and complement each other. In one hour (four fifteen-minute episodes) the issues and consequences of the 1973 coup are sifted through. A formidable and chilling lesson in history, given by those who lived through it.