The Communist Era in Chile refers to the 24-year period in which Chile was ruled by a Communist government. The Communists came to power as a result of a popular electoral revolution in 1964-65 due to widespread unemployment in the wake of the 1958 Chilean financial crisis, the 9,5 earthquake in 1960, and a drought in 1962, as well as frustrations by the lower classes over the wealth and power of a select few in the higher echelons of society.

The Communist Revolution came shortly after the 1964 elections, when Salvador Allende and the Communist Party outlawed rival political parties and purged right-wing conservatives from the military and promoted young, sympathetic officers to high positions. Due to Allende's preference for the French geopolitical bloc, the rise of Communism in Chile resulted in American efforts to shore up other governments in Latin America throughout the 1970's and 1980's.

Allende en Parada Militar

Dictator Allende during a Military Parade in 1975. Along with him some of his ministers and Army officials, including Jose Toha (Minister of Defense) and Carlos Prats (Army's Commander).

The rise of communism also ended the reputation of Chile as South America's most stable state and one of the oldest democracies in the Americas alongside the United States, which had been a point of pride for the Chilean middle class. Despite frustrations with the wealthy and the institutional elite during the early 1960's, by the middle of the 1970's the powerful Chilean middle class had grown even more sour of the Communist Party and the country's poor economy, which had been strong prior to 1958.

Following a devastating famine in 1979, mass riots plagued Chile in the early 1980's and right-wing guerrilla movements as well as mainstream opposition began to emerge. After the national embarrassment of the 1984 World Cup loss to Argentina along with the various riots, rolling blackouts and infrastructural debacles that came with the sporting event, the Communist government instituted desperate reforms in 1985, but fell shortly after Allende's death and open elections were held for a constitutional committee and an interim National Congress in 1989 and the Presidency in 1990.

The communist era in Chile is regarded as a bizarre anomaly for its times - during the 1960's, a fear of left-wing populism shifted most Latin American countries towards right-wing military-backed governments (Peru, Brazil, Paraguay). It also occurred simultaneously with the last dying breaths of the Spanish Marxist regime, which itself collapsed in 1985 following an embarrassing loss to Portugal in the Third Iberian War. Modern Chilean historians regard it as the "24-year hiccup" and most economists agree that Chile's lengthy economic depression in the 1960's was the result of an over accumulation in wealth that would have righted itself, and that the communist era set Chile a generation behind where it could have been economically otherwise.

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