Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

From one dictatorship to another: Communist Romania and the Chilean refugees crisis

Fri31  Mar12:30pm(20 mins)
Gilbert Scott Room 253


Mioara Anton1
1 'N. Iorga' Institute of History, Romanian Academy, Romania


General Pinochet’s military coup, on 11 September 1973, dramatically ended the "Chilean way to socialism". The violence and political refugees crises that followed provoked a broad international mobilization in order to defend human rights and condemn the torture and execution of political dissidents. Being on a three-week diplomatic tour of Latin America, the Romanian communist leader, N. Ceaușescu, was forced to cancel his official visit to Chile and Argentina. Communist Romania was among the first states to offer to host Chilean refugees.The Chilean crisis was used by Ceausescu to increase his image capital both at the international level and within the communist bloc. According to official documents, in November 1974, communist Romania hosted the largest number of Chilean refugees (approximately 1400 persons), expecting even a greater influx. At the same time, the Romanian authorities kept open diplomatic channels in order to negotiate with the Pinochet regime the release of political prisoniers.Using archival documents and oral history interviews, our paper analyses how the Romanian communist regime expressed, even if for ideological reasons, its solidarity with Chilean refugees. Also, we present how the Chilean refugees tried to get accustomed to a new culture, language, values, norms and also to a political order that became more restrictive as the Ceausescu dictatorship hardened.