European Solidarity
with Chile



International History Conference

1-3 June 2011

K.U.Leuven, Belgium








During the Cold War, Western Europe witnessed the emergence of various social movements with an orientation to Latin America. One of the most important mobilizations for Latin America was without any doubt the movement in solidarity with Chile, which already emerged in support for the Allende government (1970-1973) but especially gained strength after the military coup of 1973. Indeed, the overthrow of the Unidad Popular government in September 1973 and the subsequent repression by the Chilean military dictatorship inspired a wave of protest and solidarity in Western Europe, which lasted until the end of the regime of Pinochet in 1990. Support for the Chilean resistance and for the many refugees which had crossed the ocean was concretized in the establishment of hundreds of Chile solidarity committees and in the action of a variety of other organizations, including trade unions, church groups and NGO's. The Chilean political opposition and refugees played an active role in this solidarity, although internal political tension proved to be an important obstacle for the Western European solidarity movements.

To date, the grand-scale Chile mobilization has received limited attention from historians, and still is a largely unexplored phenomenon. This conference not simply aims at comparing the networks, ideas and praxis of Chile solidarity movements in various European countries, it also wants to breach some persistent watersheds. While most of the studies of Third World activism have hitherto only used national frameworks, the conference's starting point is a transnational frame of analysis which will give attention to cross-border interaction and networks. Secondly, it also aims at breaching the Cold War watershed between East and West by including Eastern European solidarity movements with Chile and by comparing them with their counterparts in Western Europe.

Key Questions

* Which groups and organizations were key in the mobilization for Chile? What were their motives, and how did they give shape to their solidarity?  
* What was the impact (political, cultural,...) of the presence of Chilean refugees?  
* Chilean opposition movements tried to mobilize Western European activists. Isabelle Allende for instance regularly toured through Western Europe in search for support. Was this strategy successful? Which groups were contacted?  
* Both 'old social movements' (trade unions and churches) and 'new social movements' were engaged in Chile solidarity. How was their mutual relationship, and did they have similar approaches toward the developments in Chile?
* What was the relationship between Chile movements and other Third World solidarity movements, such as the movement in support of Nicaragua in the 1980s? Can we also see interaction with social movements with an orientation to Eastern Europe and with the peace movement?

Scientific Committee

Prof. Dr. Idesbald Goddeeris,  K.U.Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Werner Thomas, K.U.Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Guy Vanthemsche, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Committee of Organization

Drs. Kim Christiaens, K.U.Leuven, Belgium
Dr. Magaly Rodríguez García, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Idesbald Goddeeris, K.U.Leuven, Belgium
Jens van de Maele, K.U.Leuven, Belgium