In the past year, Chile has experienced the largest civil uprising since the Pinochet dictatorship ending in 1990. This study was conducted in order to better understand the deep-seated motivations behind the mass protests. Due to the relatively recent nature of these demonstrations, little research has yet to be published. Scholarly literature indicates that Pinochet’s neoliberal policies—especially within the education, housing, and social security sectors—have prevented real progressive change and are structured to mainly benefit the business elites. Even 30 years after Pinochet’s authoritarian regime, left-leaning administrations attempted to improve the economic and social situations of the lower classes but could not due to the structural inequalities at the base of the Chilean economy and society. Foundationally, Pinochet’s neoliberal legacy has yet to be completely dismantled which is also echoed throughout the interview data.
Interviews were analyzed using content analysis in order to complement the literature and provide for new explanations. These interviews were collected through online news and firsthand reports of actual protesters and academics reflecting on the protests. Interviews from Chileans provide a window into the perspective of protesters in their own words. After coding the transcriptions of the first-hand reports, the primary findings of these sources show anger about human rights violations during the protests, frustration with the neoliberal economic structure, and current disconnection between the government and the people. This study found that Pinochet’s economic legacies implemented through his authoritarian dictatorship can help explain the 2019 civil uprising.