Many Chileans refer to "the other 9/11" — the September 11, 1973, coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, against the democratically elected government of Socialist Salvador Allende. The coup left thousands of Chileans dead, tortured or "disappeared." Allende died, apparently by suicide. The ensuing 17-year-long dictatorship was embraced then, and even now, by a large segment of Chilean society, as is made chillingly clear in the new documentary The Judge and the General. But many Chileans resisted Pinochet — at first covertly and then more openly — even as the regime was increasingly isolated abroad.
Sensing the waning of their military rule in the late 1980s, Pinochet and his colleagues engineered a transition to civilian government intended to guarantee them a heavy hand in succeeding governments — and immunity from prosecution. The Judge and the General is the unusual story of the man who challenged that immunity, Juan Guzmán, a modest, conservative judge who had long been a Pinochet supporter. But he is also an idealistic man whose courage in unearthing the truth of the Pinochet years — including his own blindness to that truth — has unleashed a whirlwind of repressed emotions in Chile and written a new chapter in human rights law for Chile and the world.