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Principles in PowerLatin America and the Politics of U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy$
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Vanessa Walker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501713682

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501713682.001.0001

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The Chilean Catalyst

The Chilean Catalyst

Cold War Allies and Human Rights in the Western Hemisphere

(p.15) Chapter 1 The Chilean Catalyst
Principles in Power

Vanessa Walker

Cornell University Press

This chapter traces the rise of the Movement — an influential coalition of left-liberal human rights actors targeting U.S. policy in Latin America — in response to the 1973 Chilean coup. It reveals the centrality of Latin America in 1970s human rights activism and formulation of human rights foreign policy mechanisms, including foreign aid legislation and bureaucratic structures in the State Department. Unlike human rights violations in the Soviet sphere, U.S. advocates viewed human rights abuses in Chile as a product of U.S. political dysfunction resulting from Cold War paradigms of national interest and excessive concentration of power in the presidency. Coming in the wake of the Watergate scandal and the failures of Vietnam, U.S. complicity in the Chilean coup and the subsequent repression underscored the antidemocratic nature of Cold War foreign policy, highlighting the connections between foreign human rights abuses and U.S. policies. Using the information generated by South American advocates, newly organized and vocal human rights groups in the United States and their congressional partners advanced a slate of legislative initiatives targeted at the nexus of foreign repression and U.S. policy, challenging the logic and substance of Cold War alliances.

Keywords:   U.S. human rights policy, Latin America, 1973 Chilean coup, human rights activism, human rights foreign policy, Cold War foreign policy, human rights groups, foreign human rights abuses, Chile, Movement

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