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By Pamela Lowden (auth.)

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Extra info for Moral Opposition to Authoritarian Rule in Chile, 1973–90

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The beginnings of quite what that meant was then indicated by the first of the panoply of States of Exception that were to characterise the regime's rule. Also on 11 September, DL 3 declared a State of Siege, augmented by DL 4 adding that of Emergency, which allowed for the designation of Chiefs of Military Zones throughout the country, and was used, among other things, to control or close all news media. Going yet another, and important, step further was DL 5 which added that the country was in a 'State or Time of War', which was used to hold military War Tribunals (Consejos de Guerra) to convict and sentence the vanquished.

First, there was the shock and consternation felt by key religious leaders at the brutal nature of the immediate wave of repression. Their particular sensitivity as to what was happening came in large part from being petitioned for help by the victims. The fact that this happened has, in turn, to do with the massive nature of the repression, which closed almost all other avenues of assistance, and also with people's perception of the Church: it was the natural place for many to go. This last point bears testimony to the importance and relative prestige, as a 'neutral' and charitable institution, of the Church in Chilean society at this time: in neighbouring Uruguay and Argentina the Church did not receive the same level of petitions during their waves of repression because the people's anticipation of what they could expect from the Church was not what it was in Chile.

22 Their immediate legacy was equally considerable support for a period of military rule to restore what could be termed order. Furthermore, the respect in which the military were traditionally held gave them a certain capital of legitimacy and greater margin of freedom to act as they chose. Not only that, the new authorities were careful to invest their actions with the character of law, however dubious the premises on which those laws were conceived and regardless of the fact that the junta was the sole legislative body.

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