Truths of the Dictatorship: Chile’s Rettig and Valech Commissions as State-Sponsored History

  • Onur Bakiner


This chapter investigates the sources of variation in truth commissions’ historical narratives. Contrasting Chile’s 1990 National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation and 2003 National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture, it examines the social and political determinants of writing history through truth commissions. Chile’s 2003 commission has been much more daring in its portrayal of the military coup as a morally and politically questionable act. Whereas the 1990 Commission blends in sensitivity towards human rights with a right-leaning historiography that blamed the coup’s onset on the political crisis during the socialist Allende government (1970–1973), the latter Commission refuses to make rhetorical concessions to the right-wing narrative. What explains this fundamental difference in historiography? Pinochet’s 1998 arrest in London weakened the conservative grip on Chile’s politics and state-sponsored historiography, however, other forces were also at play: long-standing activism on the part of left-wing historians, the intergenerational transformation of memory struggles, and the election of a socialist-dominated government in 2000 were all crucial causal factors.


Truth commissions Transitional justice Chile 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Onur Bakiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Seattle UniversitySeattleUSA

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