The Rise and Rule of Pinochet in Chile, 1973

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The IB History examination is very keen that students learn to compare and contrast the methods and conditions which led to the rise to power of single party state rulers - sometimes insisting that they are from different parts of the world.

As a result, I follow my detailed treatment of the Rise of Mao in China with a shorter unit on Pinochet in Chile. Students then conclude this study by writing an essay on the subject of "Compare and contrast the methods and conditions which led to the rise of Mao and Pinochet".

Combined with their studies of the Rise of Franco in Spain and Rise of Stalin in the USSR, this means that students go into the exam equipped with two left-wing dictators (each from a different part of the world) and two right-wing dictators (each from a different part of the world).

Rise of Pinochet

Powerpoint Starter

Students are presented with a series of images from which to draw their own initial deductions. They are then told what each one represents. A good introduction to the topic.

Domestic causes: How popular was Allende with his own people at the time of his overthrow? | Completed teacher version

In this task, students consider how far the Chilean coup can be explained in terms of domestic factors - in particular, whether it is accurate to say that Allende precipitated his own overthrow with divisive and unpopular policies.

Diplomatic causes: To what extent was President Nixon responsible for the overthrow of democracy in Chile? | Primary sources pack | Completed teacher version

In this second part of the study, students investigate whether the USA was responsible for engineering both Allende's failures and Pinochet's coup.

Factual Test

A detailed analysis of the causes for Pinochet's rise to power presented as a "Fill the Blanks" quiz. There is a completed teacher version available.

Compare and Contrast the Rise to Power of Two Single Party State Rulers

With the research on Pinochet completed, the students now move on to compare and contrast his rise to that of Mao in China. This worksheet provides them with structured guidance on how to go about this process. As a popular format of question in the IB examination, this is a very useful exercise.

Feedback: Comparing and Contrasting the Rise of Two Single Party State Rulers

Students then get into pairs and small groups to compare their approaches to the previous task. There is a lengthy list of "discussion points" provided too in this worksheet designed to get them thinking more (e.g. the USA opposed Mao, but failed to prevent his rise; but they favoured Pinochet, who succeeded. Why the difference?). There are some teacher notes to help with this exercise too.

Essay Writing

This short study unit should end with students writing an essay on the subject of "Compare and Contrast the Rise to Power of Two Single Party State Rulers" (focusing on Mao and Pinochet). I have written a model essay on this subject myself which is available in the teacher resources area.

Evaluate the political and economic impact of military rule in Chile between 1973 and 1989

A model essay by RJ Tarr, ideal for revision purposes.

Fling the Teacher Quiz: The Rise of Pinochet

I give students 10 minutes at the start of the lesson to try to complete the quiz. Anyone completing the quiz within the available time gets a score based on the amount of minutes left on the clock. They can then move on to the first lesson task, whatever that happens to be, whilst the other members of the class continue to play. I build up a 'leaderboard' of scores over the numerous lessons we have during revision time to build up momentum!

Rule of Pinochet

Starter Activity: Dialogue Poem

After a study of the 1973 Chilean Coup, and before/during a study of Pinochet's rule of Chile, ask two female students to read out the following dialogue poem to the class as a powerful starter activity. For further ideas about using "Dialogue Poems" in class, follow this link on Tarr's Toolbox:

"Backward Essay Planning" - the Rule of Pinochet

In this activity, students are presented from the outset with a model essay on the subject of the Rise of Pinochet. They then go through this reading it carefully for style and content, highlighting off key features and discussing their thoughts with the class. Next, each student is given a different key term or event to research which isn't currently covered in the essay and decide how to incorporate this into the essay most effectively. These thoughts again are shared so that the essay develops and improves further. Finally, they are given a factual test on the rule of Pinochet and write a timed essay on a different title relating to the same topic:


Recommended Film

"Santiago, capital of Chile during the Marxist government of elected, highly controversial president Salvador Allende. Father McEnroe supports his leftist views by introducing a program at the prestigious "collegio" (Catholic prep school) St. Patrick to allow free admission of some proletarian kids. One of them is Pedro Machuca, slum-raised son of the cleaning lady in Gonzalo Infante's liberal-bourgeois home. Yet the new classmates become buddies, paradoxically protesting together as Gonzalo gets adopted by Pedro's slum family and gang. But the adults spoil that too, not in the least when general Pinochet's coup ousts Allende, and supporters such as McEnroe" (from



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