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Government Junta of Chile (1973)

Government Junta of Chile was the political structure established to rule Chile following the overthrow of President Salvador Allende in the Chilean coup of 1973. It was the executive and legislative branch of government until December 17, 1974. After that date, it functioned strictly as a legislative body until the return to democracy in 1990.


On September 11, 1973, the day of the coup, the military officers issued an Act of Constitution. The act established a junta government that immediately suspended the constitution, suspended Congress, imposed strict censorship and curfew, proscribed the leftist parties that had constituted Allende's Popular Unity coalition, and halted all political activity, effectively establishing a dictatorship.

The new junta was made up of General Gustavo Leigh representing the Air Force, General Augusto Pinochet representing the Army, Admiral Jose Toribio Merino representing the Navy, and General Cesar Mendoza representing the Carabineros (uniformed police).



For the military coup see: 1973 Chilean coup d'etat

Once the Junta was in power, General Pinochet soon consolidated his control. Since he was the commander-in-chief of the oldest branch of the military forces (the Army), he was made the head of the military junta. This position was originally to be rotated among the four branches, but was later made permanent. He began by retaining sole chairmanship of the junta as Supreme Chief of the Nation from June 27, 1974 until December 17, 1974 when he was proclaimed President.

When General Pinochet took over as President, following a national plesbicite that approved a new constitution. On March 11, 1981, he resigned his position in the Junta, and was replaced by the most senior General officer from the Army, who was nominated by himself. After that date, the Junta remained only as a legislative body under the presidency of Admiral Merino, until the return to democracy in 1990.

Eventually, General Leigh, head of the Air Force, became increasingly opposed to Pinochet's policies and was forced into retirement on July 24, 1978, in a very tense moment that almost caused a military insurrection. He was replaced by General Fernando Matthei.

In 1985, three communists were found with their throats slit by the side of a road. The guilty party turned out to be the Carabineros' secret service, and the Caso Degollados ("case of the slit throats") caused General Mendoza's resignation on August 2, 1985, being replaced by General Rodolfo Stange.

Human rights record

Immediately after the coup the junta moved to crush their left-wing opposition. In addition to pursuing armed revolutionary groups it embarked on a campaign against opponents and perceived leftists in the country. As a result, according to the Rettig Commission, approximately 3,000 people are known to have been killed, 27,000 were incarcerated and in a great many cases tortured. Many were exiled and received abroad, in particular in Argentina, as political refugees; however, they were followed in their exile by the DINA secret police, in the frame of Operation Condor which linked South-American dictatorships together against political opponents.

See also

Chilean coup of 1973

Chile under Pinochet

Military dictatorship

List of Government Juntas of Chile

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