The military ruled through a junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. It immediately suspended the constitution, dissolved Congress, imposed strict censorship, and banned all political parties. In addition, it embarked on a campaign of terror against leftist elements in the country. Tens of thousands were arrested, and nearly all those arrested were tortured. Thousands were executed or exiled, while still others languished in prison or simply disappeared. For the next few years the junta retained its iron grip on the country, although some token relaxation could be seen toward the end of the decade.
In 1976 Chilean opposition leader and former foreign minister Orlando Letelier and his U.S. secretary were killed by a car bomb while in Washington, D.C. At the time, the assassinations were widely believed to have been ordered by Chile’s secret police. The state of siege was lifted in 1978 (although a state of emergency remained in effect), and more civilians were added to the cabinet. Chile, however, remained a police state. A new constitution, accepted by a referendum on the seventh anniversary of the military coup, legalized the regime until 1989, and Pinochet began another eight-year term as president in March 1981. Economically, the Pinochet government, with its austere controls, slashed inflation and stimulated production between 1977 and 1981.
Starting in 1982, however, a worldwide recession, declining copper prices, the burden of paying interest on Chile’s huge foreign debt, and the government’s heavy military spending plunged Chile’s economy into a depression. There were large-scale protests against the government in 1983, followed by a wave of bombings in major cities. Rising popular unrest and continued economic deterioration led Pinochet to reimpose a state of siege in 1984. After an unsuccessful attempt on Pinochet’s life in 1986, he launched new repressive measures. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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