30 Years Ago: Chileans Vote “No”

I am watching CNN Chile on YouTube to learn Spanish better, and I came across an interesting news item that refers back to Chile’s history. On October 5th, 1988, Chileans voted “No” on a new 8-year term for Augusto Pinochet, and this week Chileans celebrate the decision to end a brutal dictatorship and go on a path back to democracy. For many days leading up to the vote, at 10:45pm Chileans could watch 15 minutes of content for “Yes” and 15 minutes of content for “No”. Instead of focussing on the human rights abuses and lack of democracy from the regime, the main slogan of the “No” campaign was a positive message, “Chile, la alegría ya viene” (Chile, joy is on its way). It was believed impossible for a government willing to disappear dissidents, cataloged by human rights organizations around the world as a “dictatorship”, to accept an electoral defeat. Against all odds, the “No” campaign won by 10 percentage points.


Here is a shorter article and longer article (with good pictures) about it. (In Google Chrome, right-click to translate to English). Here is a short video from a few years ago that describes the significance. (Sorry, it’s in Spanish, but watch it for the images). The movie, “No,” was released in 2012 about this monumental vote.

On September 11, 1973, the democratically-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by a CIA-backed coup d’état. During this time, the country was ruled by a military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet. In the first 3 months of the coup, thousands of leftists where “disappeared” (desaparecidos), i.e. dead or missing. Over the time of the dictatorship, over 200,000 Chileans were driven into exile. [1] [2]. The movie, “Missing,” was released in 1982 about an American writer who was “disappeared” during the 1973 coup. Here is a New York Times article that summarizes the important events between the 1973 coup and the 1988 vote.

Augusto Pinochet

1 thought on “30 Years Ago: Chileans Vote “No”

  1. I got to see the movie “NO” when I was in flight on an airplane for one of our trips. So glad I was able to see it, reminded me of the incredible spirit of the people of Chile.


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