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Chile 🇨🇱 is a South American country which mostly practices Cristianity. Censorship was pervasive during the military rule of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990)

General censorship[]

  • Since the 1973 coup d'état which commenced the military rule of Augusto Pinochet, the newly installed Government Military Junta started a systematic process of censorship of any work and thought of left-wing inspiration, starting a political persecution of the oppositors of the regime and a military repression. In the regime's first years, the systematic destruction of different artistic and social works created during the government of Popular Unity (led by the ousted Salvador Allende).
  • The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respected these rights. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of speech and of the press. Although the independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction, the 2013 Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders reports expressed concern with media concentration, whereby most media outlets are in the hands of two major family companies, Copesa and El Mercurio, and the unregulated distribution of government funded advertising. No legal framework exists to guarantee fair distributions of frequencies to different broadcast media. The penal code carries criminal sentences of six months to five years in jail for libel or slander. Press freedom groups called on the government to modify antiterrorism laws to limit their use on Chilean and foreign reporters, for example, on those who covered issues concerning Mapuche communities.

Book censorship[]

Book burnings between 1973 and 1990[]

Book burning carried out by the military of Chile in 1973.

Between 1973 and 1990, many books deemed subversive, included leftist books and books which did not fit the regime's ideology were burned by the military junta, as part of Pinochet government's campaign to "extirpate the Marxist cancer".

After the coup, the military began raids to find potential opponents of the new regime, who were then held and some of them executed at the National Stadium in Santiago and other places. In addition to this, large numbers of books gathered and burned by the military during the raids: not just Marxist literature, but also general sociological literature, newspapers and magazines. Moreover, such books were withdrawn from the shelves of bookstores and libraries. In some instances, even books on Cubism were burned because soldiers thought it had to do with the Cuban Revolution. The creators of said works had to opt for the clandestine traffic of their works to avoid detention.

The book burning attracted international protests: the American Library Association condemned them, arguing that it is "a despicable form of suppression" which "violates the fundamental rights of the people of Chile."

Sporadic book burning occurred throughout the junta's regime which lasted until 1990.

Censored books in Chile[]

  • How to Read Donald Duck - this book-length essay by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart that critiques Disney comics from a Marxist point of view as capitalist propaganda for American corporate and cultural imperialism was banned in Chile under Pinochet's rule. Any copy of the book was publically burned by the Chilean Army.
  • The House of the Spirits - this novel written by Isabel Allende was banned in 1982, when Chile was still ruled by Pinochet.
  • Clandestine in Chile - this novel by Gabriel García Márquez, which narrates the Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littín’s clandestine visit to his home country after 12 years in exile, had almost 150,000 of its copies seized by the customs authorities, to be later burned by the military in Valparaiso on 28 November 1986, along with copies of books of essays by Venezuelan presidential candidate Teodoro Petkoff.
  • El libro negro de la justicia chilena (The Black Book of the Chilean Justice) - this book written by journalist Alejandra Matus, which tackles the history and the malpractices of the judiciary power in Chile, was confiscated during the day of its release, 14 April 1999, and its author was accused of contempt (crime typified by the article 6-B of the Chilean Law of State Sceurity) by the minister of the Supreme Court . As of this, Matus decided to exile herself in the United States, where she received political asylum. However, after the Press Law (which abrogated the article about contempt) interposed a writ of protection in favour of Matus (which allowed her to return to Chile after two years of exile), on 19 October 2001, Santiago Rubén Ballesteros (the then-minister of the Court of Appeal of Santiago) lifted the ban of the book's circulation, with the confiscated copies being returned to the publisher to commercialize it. The book was later released with a corrected and expanded version on October 2016.
  • Impunidad diplomática (Diplomatic impunity) - this book written by Francisco Martorell, which dealt with the scandalous circumstances which led to the dismissal of the Argentina's embassador to Chile during Carlos Menem's government, Oscar Spinosa Melo (who was accused of extorting several public figures and Chilean businessmen after participating in parties where drug use and libertinism predominated), was banned in Chile after the sustainment of a writ of protection interposed by the businessman Andrónico Luksic Craig (who was mentioned in the book), who presented said writ before the Court of Appeal of Santiago on the same day of the book's publication, the latter issuing an order to stay, banning Impunidad diplomática from being entered, distributed and circulated in Chile, which was confirmed on 31 May 1993.

Internet censorship[]

Movie censorship[]

In 1974, during General Augusto Pinochet's military regime (1973–1990), a film censorship decree allowed the banning of films. During the years when film censorship existed in Chile, 1092 films were banned in the country. The Chilean film censorship system has not changed significantly until November 1996 after United International Pictures requested that The Last Temptation of Christ be rated, the film was allowed for audiences over 18. However, an ultra-conservative religious group filed an injunction to reverse the decision and in June 1997 the Supreme Court banned the film. In September 1997 a civil liberties group took the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In February 2001 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that Chile was in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights and that it should lift the ban on the film and modify its legislation to comply with the convention. In August 2001 a constitutional reform eliminated film censorship and the film appeared on video stores. In January 2003 a new film rating law was published and the film was given an "over 18" rating. The film premiered on 13 March 2003 at a theater in Santiago.

  • Last Tango in Paris - this film was initially banned in 1972, due to obscene content. The ban was lifted in 1990.
  • Missing - this biopic about Charles Hormann, an American journalist who disappeared in the aftermath of the September 1973 coup d'état which ousted the then-president Salvador Allende, was banned in 1982 by the regime of Augusto Pinochet for criticism of his regime and the violent actions during the coup. The film was later unbanned in 1990.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ - this film was banned in 1987 by Pinochet government due to blasphemic themes. During the 1990s, it became a symbol of the fight against censorship and conservatism in Chilean society. As stated above, the film had its ban overturned in 2003, premiering in Santiago.

Television censorship[]

In Chile, television operations are overseen by the Consejo Nacional de Televisión (National Television Council) or CNTV, a government agency created in 24 October 1970. Since 1992, the CNTV has been composed of 11 members, one of whom, appointed by the president of the republic, presides over the Council and the rest are designated by agreement of the Senate.

The directors must be persons of relevant personal and professional merits. In addition, the law requires pluralism both in the selection of directors and in the functioning of the body. The CNTV due to its powers, has been accused of censoring content on television.

During the Pinochet government, several media, such as newspapers, radios and television networks were subjected to military intervention. In the case of TVN (Television Nacional de Chile), the military came in and destroyed part of its film archive.

  • Holocaust - this 1978 American Emmy-winning NBC miniseries was banned in Chile in 1982, when TVN acquired the series, shelving it instead in the network's video archive instead of airing it, as a form of self-censorship. The censorship of the series sparked an internal conflict in the network, resulting in the sacking of Arturo Vodanovic, who was the then-programming director of TVN. However, in 1990, after the fall of the Pinochet government and the election of Patricio Aylwin, the show could be aired on TVN.
  • Confesiones de un asesino (Confessions of a murderer) - This reportage aired in 1993 on the TVN investigative journalism show Informe especial featuring former secret agent Michael Towney, who told during an interview with journalist Marcelo Araya, how the former assassinated and tried to assassinate enemies of the military regime, was suspended from broadcast on 3 and 5 August 1993, after the government led by President Patricio Aylwin, sent a petition to the channel to not broadcast the reportage under the pretext of not putting to test the fragile Chilean democracy, which was restored 3 years before. The suspension resulted in protests from political groups and journalist unions. It was reported that the government asked to postpone its broadcast due to a trial against Manuel Contreras, director of the DINA (National Intelligence Directorate, the Chilean secret police under Pinochet) who was involved in the murder of the former Socialist chancelor Orlando Letelier, being held. After the broadcast, TVN dismissed Informe especial's editor Patricio Caldichoury and warned the journalists Marcelo Araya, Santiago Pavlovic and Guillermo Muñoz, who worked in said show.
  • Un país serio (A serious country) - this documentary TV show which registered and analysed the festive and leisure activities in Chile was originally scheduled to be aired by Canal 13 between April and June 2009. However, the network renounced due to the show's contents were out of the network's editorial line (Canal 13 historically was owned by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile), resulting to the CNTV forbidding Canal 13 to present its own projects to the succeeding competitive fund. The show later was broadcast on 22 May 2010 by La Red on Saturday at 00:00 P.M.

Video game censorship[]

External links[]

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