Belgium: The Chilean Factor and the Changing Dimensions of Solidarity Activism
The overthrow of the Unidad Popular provoked numerous reactions in Belgium. The issue continued to move Belgian society over several years, although with varying degrees of intensity. Indeed, in retrospect, the solidarity campaigns for Chile were among the most important mobilizations of Belgian society with an orientation to the Third World, along with the campaigns against the Vietnam War, those against apartheid, and the solidarity with Central America during the 1980s. Yet, the mobilization also displayed a remarkable variety in character and outlook. As this contribution will make explicit, activism followed a variable trajectory over the years, reaching a peak only months after the coup in 1974, and marked in the following years by a gradual diminuendo with some short spikes. Not only did the external dimensions vary over the years, but so also did the ways in which activists gave shape to their solidarity.
To date, most accounts have approached Chile solidarity from a perspective that centers on the agency of the donors.1 The emergence of this solidarity, then, is explained by referring to a variety of factors that propelled Western activists into action, such as human rights concerns, concern about the fate of the Chilean refugees, disaffection with the policy of their governments towards the military regime; or political loyalties. Furthermore, most of the accounts have used national frameworks of analysis, focusing on the mobilization within the confines of one single country. Consequently, solidarity campaigns in Belgium as well as...
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