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On September 11 1973, after economic war was ordered by Richard Nixon against the democratically elected socialist government of Chile, and its president Salvador Allende, a group of military officers led by General Augusto Pinochet and backed by the Central Intelligence Agency, seized power in a coup, ending civilian rule.
Allende’s tenure, aside from ending not because an electoral loss but a US-backed coup, was notable for its successful application of scientific socialist planned economies that, as study after study validates, accelerated progressive policy and freedoms through technological advancements in the form of the Cybersyn program.
Socialism was not only working in Chile, it was working so well that only military coup for power at the behest of corporatists, with the help of the US to install a fascist dictator (one of many installed by the CIA), Augusto Pinochet, could prevent Chileans from emboldening effects of social policy electorally, and keep socialism from proliferating, and doing so against the wishes US interests in the region.
Fast forward through 15 years of brutal dictatorship, the international community, historically cool with US-backed regime change as a signifier of legitimacy (lol), successfully urges Pinochet to hold a referndum on whether or not to grant him another 8 years of rule. It is assumed that he will not honor a result that does not favor him, assuming a popular rebuke of him is even possible without being suppressed.
A film about this campaign against Pinochet (whose campaign had, at one point, simply planned to invoke an OAS-style audit to "screw" the opposition, representing a popular democratic result), No (2012), details the struggle of the opposition campaigners. They were faced with a decision: rely on well-known framing of abuses to argue that Pinochet needed to be removed in favor of some theorhetical lesser evil, or vote for removing him in reaffirmation of what could be.
It's a beautiful, inspiring film, and one that speaks to the abuses of neoliberal-veneering of fascism, always right below the surface to stomp on anyone correctly identifying the true direction of public sentiment, even with a public in full awareness of the interests of the CIA in overriding for 15 years their democratic self-determination, which in this film, takes the form of reminding those against Pinochet that they weren't merely voting against an oppressive dictator, they were voting for, again, what was taken from them in 1973.
This is why the campaign needed to be made; it wasn't a decision to mitigate, and excise Pinochet, by theorhetically tolerating some lesser evil, they'd elected an effective, and increasingly progressive, left-wing government popularly before, against the wishes of a well-connected class of power elite working in concert with the US intelligence community. Chileans knew the abuses, they saw them all the time, and needed to be reminded that the potential for terror in a new election was not equal with that of voting Yes, even if the realistic fear of reprisal (despite promises to the contrary) for voting No was too everpresent for many.
The outcome of the campaign speaks to much of this, and the stunted nature of the resulting democracy speaks to the reality of why a campaign for a better outcome would always far outweigh the desire for harm reduction when not necessary.
Ultimately, Pinochet is removed, and democracy established. However, Pinochet remained influential even after his defeat in the referendum, and this speaks to the lasting damage to a society afraid of retribution by fascists for the crime of, again, self-determining that socialism has a place in their political future; in the case of Chile, a place that was, demonstrably, improving for the ordinary citizen, not its power elite, who could only be satified by profiting at their expense. The incoming president's attempts to reassert these values were blocked by the fear engendered by continued influence of Pinochet, who was legitimized by honoring the result of the referendum and never being held accountable for his regime's abuses. This, likely, had the effect of preventing another coup to reinstall him (as we would have seen, for example, with Batista in Cuba after facing a risk of losing an election to reinstall him to power before the revolution), but tempering the ability of Chileans to self-determine their own political economy.