A coup in September 1973 led to seventeen years of repressive military rule, which was marked by widespread illegal detentions, extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances targeting those the military perceived as ‘left-leaning subversive forces’.

After General Augusto Pinochet lost a plebiscite to remain in power in 1988, elections were held which returned power to a civilian president in 1990. However, the early years of the transition to democracy were tightly controlled by the armed forces.

In response to the military’s adoption of a general self-amnesty, truth commission processes were set up in 1990-1991 and 2003-2005. Successive governments also implemented reparations programmes for victims of the military regime. Victims’ groups were progressively successful in bringing court cases against members of the military regime, most notably against Pinochet himself in 1998.

Chile is presently a stable democracy with strong rule of law, though fragilities persist as a result of social inequalities, economic grievances from ethnic minorities and limitations to citizen participation in public affairs.


  • 05/08/2015. Valerie Arnould’s field research in Chile. Elizabeth Rhoads. In July 2015, Valerie Arnould conducted research and interviews in Santiago for the TJDI Project. She met with academics, journalists and activists involved in truth commission processes. For more on her initial observations, please follow the link above.
  • 20/08/2014. Chandra Sriram’s Fieldwork in Chile. Elizabeth Rhoads. Prof. Chandra Sriram recently completed fieldwork in Chile. Click on the link to view photographs and read notes on her preliminary findings.