When over five thousand women took to the streets of Santiago to protest Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government on December 1, 1971, their March of the Empty Pots and Pans signaled the beginning of a mass opposition movement and prompted the later formation of Feminine Power, a multi-class organization that played a critical role in paving the way for the military coup in 1973. Drawing on extensive interviews with leaders and participants, Margaret Power tells the story of these right-wing women, examining their motives, the tactics they employed, and the impact of their ideas and activity on Chilean society and politics.
The ability of the right to exploit established ideas about gender, Power argues, was key to the opposition’s success, and she explores how conservatives appealed to women as wives and mothers to mobilize them. Power also pays attention to the earlier history of these efforts, including the formation of Women’s Action of Chile in 1963, and to the support provided by the U.S. government. The epilogue examines right-wing women’s reactions to the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in 1998 and their role in the elections of 2000. By focusing on the women who opposed Allende and supported Pinochet, this book offers a fresh look at the complex dynamics of Chilean politics in the last half of the twentieth century.