General Augusto Pinochet established his dictatorship in Chile in 1973, when, with crucial support from the Central Intelligence Agency, his military forces assassinated democratically elected President Salvador Allende Gossens and ousted the socialist government. Since then, this admirer of Adolf Hitler has maintained control of Chile by nurturing a privileged military class that in turn suppresses the general population.
Examining the possibilities for progress in this troubled country, Timerman applauds such nonviolent Chilean organizations as the Catholic Vicariate of Solidarity and the Sebastian Acevedo Movement, charging that violent demonstrations only provide the well-entrenched military with a rationale for increased brutality. Citing the political transition which occurred during the last years of the Franco government in Spain, he finishes by suggesting that the Chilean right wing can also lead the country to an economically secure democracy by renouncing extremist ideologies and practices of both the government and the opposition.
Himself a victim of imprisonment and torture in Argentina, Timerman has voiced his concerns regarding institutionalized cruelty and injustice in two previous works, the autobiographical PRISONER WITHOUT A NAME, CELL WITHOUT A NUMBER, and THE LONGEST WAR, a criticism of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In these earlier books, and in CHILE: DEATH IN THE SOUTH, he shows himself to be a perceptive analyst of current political dilemmas and an impartial spokesperson for all victims of violence.
As in his other books, the author eschews straightforward analysis in favor of a ruminative, impressionistic voice which often rings with bitterness and irony. Although sporadically marred by murky reasoning, CHILE: DEATH IN THE SOUTH offers significant observations by this important political commentator, who supplements his narrative with the testimony of victims of the Pinochet regime.