The hard question is why at least one third of Chile’s total population backed the dictatorship, even though, for most, life wasn’t easy, and even adherents of the military government lived in fear. Repression was far-reaching, although there’s no doubt that the poor and the leftists suffered most. Everyone felt he was being spied on, no one could say that he was completely safe from the claws of the state. It is a fact that information was censored and brainwashing was the goal of a vigorous propaganda machine; it is also true that the opposition lost many years and a lot of blood before it could get organised. But none of this explains the dictator’s popularity.
Isabel Allende over de gevolgen van het Pinochet-regime
In Chile, where friendship and family are very important, something happened that can be explained only by the effect that fear has on the soul of a society. Betrayal and denunciation snuffed out many lives; all it took was an anonymous voice over the telephone for the badly named intelligence services to sink their claws into the accused, and, in many cases, nothing was ever heard of that person again. People were divided between those who backed the military government and those who opposed it; hatred, distrust, and fear poisoned relationships. Democracy was restored more than a decade ago, but that division can still be felt, even in the heart of many families.