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Fear In Chile
by Barbara Carey

BLANCA WENT into hiding after escaping from a firing squad, and for several years didn't dare contact her children to let them know that she was still alive. Carlos is a student activist whose experiences of police repression on campus convinced him that "violence is necessary" for selfdefence. Juan, a mayor and retired army officer, believes that the 1973 military coup was "the best thing that could have happened" to Chile. These are just three of the 14 people whose testimonies comprise Fear in Chile: Lives Under Pinochet (Pantheon (Random House), 245 pages, $27.50 cloth), a fascinating and often moving record of life under a dictatorship. Patricia Politzer, a Chilean journalist, interviewed a broad range of subjects from the regime's staunchest defenders to its most outspoken opponents. There are some similarities in people's experiences, but the accounts never seem repetitious, perhaps because the varied personalities of the subjects come through so well, thanks to a fine translation from the Spanish by Diane Wachtell. This past December, after more than 16 years under military rule, Chileans went to the polls to elect a new government (though under the terms of Chile's protected democracy," some leftist parties were barred from participating). The age of General Augusto Pinochet is over, but it's clear from this book that deep scars and divisions remain -- and they will affect the transition to democracy. As one of Politzer's interviewees puts it, "I have been trying for 10 years to forget what happened to me, and I cannot."

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