THEY DANCE ALONE
By Jan Chavez
By Jan Chavez
In November 1970, Chile had her first popularly elected Marxist head of state in Latin American history. He was Salvador Allende. Within a year of his administration, he had expropriated the copper properties and was acquiring, through purchase, control of other mining operations and all private banks. Land reform was accelerated.
However, in September 1973, after weeks of nationwide strikes and economic chaos, the socialist experiment came to a violent end. Allende was overthrown in a military coup, and he reportedly committed suicide.
The junta, led by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, pledge to "eliminate" Marxism and "reconstruct" the country. Pinochet took the title chief of state in June 1974 and that of president in December. A state of siege was declared, and before it was replaced in 1978 by a state of emergency, political parties had been banned and the government had been condemned by the United Nations General Assembly for its violation of human rights. A new constitution, approved in 1980, permitted Pinochet to retain power until 1998.
There followed a period of political repression and guerrilla activities. By 1982, more than 400 cases of torture had been presented to the courts without a single conviction.
This Chilean scenario is the topic of the very political singer-songwriter Gordon Summer, a.k.a Sting, in his song "They Dance Alone" from his 1987-released album Nothing Like The Sun.