Date with history: Pinochet is arrested in London

Felipe Agüero, a survivor of the Chilean dictator’s regime, recalls the day Augusto Pinochet was detained on October 16, 1998.

The World Today Updated 29 September 2022 Published 27 September 2022 3 minute READ

Felipe Agüero

Professor of International Relations, University of Chile

The day Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London, I landed in San Diego for an academic conference to debate what was called the ‘Chilean model’ of democracy. This was supposed to describe the results of Chile´s democratic transition eight years earlier, when the reins of government were taken from the all-powerful dictator after 17 years in power. Paradoxically, his dictatorship was defeated by a referendum.

Newly elected officials ushered in a decade of unprecedented growth, poverty reduction and expanded freedoms. The Chilean process was praised as a model to be emulated. A new democratic ‘consensus’ appeared to have emerged, pressed by the fear of conflict with a military still holding many levers of power.

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