On the 30th anniversary of the historic plebiscite in Chile, the National Security Archive today posted key documents revealing General Augusto Pinochet’s secret plans to “use violence and terror” to annul the October 5, 1988, referendum and sustain his dictatorship in power. The Pinochet plot was thwarted when key officials of his own regime revealed it to U.S. intelligence agents and election monitors, and then refused to implement it in the face of overwhelming opposition by the Chilean people to a continuation of military rule.
As part of Chile’s anniversary commemoration of the 1988 plebiscite, the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago incorporated these documents into its permanent, and newly renovated, exhibition on the “Restoration of Democracy.” The documents had previously been on display at the museum as part of a larger, temporary exhibit of declassified U.S. records called “Secrets of State,” curated by Peter Kornbluh who directs the National Security Archive’s Chile Documentation project.
“The Chilean plebiscite remains one of the most dramatic examples of the forces of democracy peacefully bringing an end to one of the most infamous, and entrenched, military dictatorships in recent history,” as Kornbluh characterized the victory of the “NO” in the 1988 referendum on Pinochet’s rule. “It remains immediately relevant today as a model for political movements and must be remembered for generations to come.”