Santiago de Chile Historical Analysis of Urbanization

Santiago and the Dictator

How Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year Reign shifted the Development of Santiago de Chile

Mathew Dodds | 301245530 Simon Fraser University



Just how much can political extremism affect the development of a city? There is no better place to study this than in Santiago de Chile. This city, Chile’s Capital, has been central to some of Latin America’s most interesting political history of the 20th century. It was the epicentre of a vicious 1973 Coup D’état which overthrew the world’s first democratically elected Marxist. This coup lead to a startling 17-year national dictatorship that has forever changed the country and, just as remarkably, Santiago as a city. The dictator Augusto Pinochet had a conservative agenda in lieu of the ongoing Chilean Cold War. He oversaw the enactment of various neo-liberal economic policies encouraging foreign trade, privatization, urban cleanliness, and other policies that would typically please the Chilean political right. Pinochet’s actions have been heavily criticized by many western countries, including the UK and Spain, who together had him arrested in May 2000 for human rights violations that took place during his regime. On the contrary, Pinochet’s actions have been praised by Chile’s conservative population, as well as by notable economist Milton Friedman, who credited Pinochet for Chile’s rich economy today. This radical polarization, one can imagine, has been ongoing in the streets of Santiago from Pinochet’s first moments in power. With ongoing competing views on whether Pinochet was good for Chile as a whole, the footprint of his Regime on Santiago as a city has yet to be critically analyzed. My research on his regime extrapolates Pinochet’s urban influence from various academic studies that cover his decisions, policies, notable events, and personal life. What I discovered was that Pinochet’s decision-making led three major facets of Santiago’s development: a) Santiago’s housing geography is economically uneven, b) Santiago’s urban space reflects neoliberalism and modernity, and c) Santiago’s people are socially divided. His power in essence remains present in the city as a vivid memory. Santiago de Chile’s timeline from 1973 until 1989 was one of powerful stories, immense emotion, and rapid change. This paper will start by outlining the historical events just before Pinochet’s regime, to explain the political tensions of Chile at the time. The relationship between Pinochet’s governance and the city of Santiago from 1973 to 1990 will then be chronologically analyzed and discussed. Neo-liberalism as an influencer of urban development will be discussed, with Santiago and Pinochet as the case study- reflecting on modernity, uneven development, and social inequality.