International Influences on Democratic Transitions: The Successful Case of Chile

Working Papers

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CDDRL Working Papers

July 2008

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What was the international impact on the Chilean transition to democracy?  How much influence was there from international aid both from countries themselves as well as from organizations outside Chile?  Where was this aid coming from, how was it manifesting itself, and what was its goal and to whom did it go?  How significant was the organizational power of the opposition groups?  Did they cooperate?  Were they efficient? In the academic literature on the Chilean transition, we find that these questions have not been answered satisfactorily.  The bias toward internal phenomena due to the influential lead roles played by local actors has caused interest to wane in regards to the international impact.  Institutions from European countries, the United States, and Canada concentrated their efforts in conjoining the opposition to combat a regime that no longer had international legitimacy.  Therefore, if we were to venture an explanation on this phenomenon we could see that there was a correlation between the internal and external events that assisted in inducing three elements that today are recognized as having been influential on the Chilean transition:  a) the coordination between two sectors, which prior to the coup, were strongly antagonistic (the Socialist Party and Christian Democrats), b) the creation of a strong and functional organization of private research centers, which acted in parallel to the institutions that the regime interfered with (e.g.: universities), and c) the coordination between those who were exiled and those who were in the country, with the aim of preparing the transition to democracy. 

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