By Patricio Navia | Posted September 11, 2013, 6:10 pm ET
On 11 September 1973, dreadful images shocked the world. The bombing of the Chilean presidential palace and the suicide of President Salvador Allende, the first Marxist president to be democratically elected in the world, remain among the most dramatic experiences even of the cold-war years with its many military coups across the globe. Chile was not the only country to see its democratic government overthrown in this era, and its military had been far from the most notorious violator of human rights even in Latin America; but the violence perpetrated by Chile's armed forces in deposing a democratically elected government and imposing its rule made Chile a symbolic case of democratic breakdown.
Today, forty years on, Chile is a very different country. The dictatorship of the coup leader Augusto Pinochet, which lasted from 1973-90, left three overwhelming legacies: human-rights violations, an institutional set-up intended to constrain the emergence of democracy, and an economic model that has allowed for rapid economic growth with high levels of inequality.
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