Alternate History

1989 Chilean coup d'etat (Napoleon's World)

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The 1989 Chilean coup d'etat was a nonviolent military and political event in which the Chilean Army moved tanks and two divisions of infantry into the government district of Santiago on February 15, 1989, against the backdrop of massive popular protests and the rehabilitation of former exiles, with the fall of the ruling Communist Party clear at this point. With "the true believers" having been purged from army ranks in the preceding weeks and the coup's leadership largely conservatives who favored democratic institutions, the coup set the stage for the formal collapse of the Communist Party the next day.

The generals leading the coup ordered the Communist Party to formally relinquish power over to a "provisional transition government" and demanded the resignation of the Cabinet. A brigade of loyalist soldiers initially barricaded the way into the Congress, threatening violence, but Ernesto Platera ordered them to stand down, realizing that the government's time had ended. Numerous Communists fled Santiago and two dozen were arrested. President Platera was placed under house arrest in the Presidential Palace and the army declared the Communist state void.

On February 16, moderates such as Patricio Aylwin and Arturo Alessandri Besa arrived to accept the resignations of numerous Cabinet members and members of the Congress. Besa was declared an interim President of the Provisional Transition Government with the support of the army, and a few days later a more formal government was declared, with Besa retaining that role. Leaders in the coup such as Ronaldo Bexar, Enrique Montes and Javier Delgado Mencia received prominent roles in this new semi-civilian government, with Bexar serving as Defense Minister and Mencia taking on the role of Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army. This Chilean coup is one of few coup d'etats in history that resulted in an army immediately transferring power to civilians and that would lead to a democratic transition. It is often called the "Quiet Battle" in Chile.

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