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European Solidarity with Chile – 1970s – 1980s


Edited By Kim Christiaens, Idesbald Goddeeris and Magaly Rodríguez García

The overthrow of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende and the coming to power of a military regime led by Augusto Pinochet on 11 September 1973 drew worldwide attention towards Chile. The political repression shook the world and ignited one of the largest social movements of the 1970s and 80s. Hundreds of solidarity committees and a gamut of human rights and justice organizations mobilized thousands of people. This volume offers a compelling insight into the exceptional impact that the Chilean crisis made in Western and Eastern Europe. In doing so, it provides a new and broader perspective into the history of the Cold War, transnational activism, and human rights.
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The Difficult Quest for Chilean Allies: International Labor Solidarity Campaigns for Chile in the 1970s and 1980s


Kim Christiaens

During the dictatorship of general Augusto Pinochet, Chilean trade unions were pivotal in staging opposition, and ipso tempore constituted one of the principal targets of the junta’s repression.1 In their struggle for the return to democracy and respect of human and trade union rights, however, they were not limited to domestic avenues of resistance. Abroad, the 1973 coup and the subsequent large-scale repression of dissidence aroused solidarity campaigns in trade union circles worldwide. In various countries and at the international level, trade union organizations took a high profile in the organization of solidarity campaigns in support of the Chilean opposition. Accordingly, Chile became one of the most important causes of international labor solidarity campaigns in post-war history, along with those against apartheid in South Africa and the support for the Polish trade union Solidarnosc in the 1980s.2 Just as in other international campaigns run by Western European trade unions, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labor (WCL), the two most important international trade union bodies of the non-communist world during the Cold War, functioned as coordinating organizations, steering international labor campaigns against Pinochet.3 In the 1970s and continuing in the 1980s, the social democratic/liberal ICFTU and the Christian-inspired but secularized WCL were by dint of their international networks and the support of a financially and politically strong Western European membership able to stage various solidarity campaigns for Chile. These resonated at the international, national, and even local...

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