In this book, Angela Vergara tells the story of the labor movement in Chile through the experiences of workers in copper mines owned by Anaconda, a major multinational corporation. Relying on archival sources, newspapers, and oral histories, she recounts the workers’ economic, political, and social struggles over the forty-five-year period when the Cold War dominated politics.
The labor movement, Vergara argues, was a progressive force instrumental in the introduction of national reforms and the radicalization of politics. In Chile its role is critical to understanding the expansion of the welfare state in the 1950s, the introduction of social reforms in the 1960s, and the Chilean road to socialism in the early 1970s. The book reveals the historical origin of the implementation of neoliberal policies, the erosion of labor rights, and the emergence of the so-called Chilean economic model championed by the “Chicago boys.” Many of the changes undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s, the book shows, had their impetus in the crisis of the import-substitution effort of the late 1950s.