Mining for the Nation

The Politics of Chile's Coal Communities from the Popular Front to the Cold War

By (author) Jody Pavilack

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 July 2012

Length of book:

416 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271037707

The dramatic story of Chile’s coal miners in the mid-twentieth century has never before been told. In Mining for the Nation, Jody Pavilack shows how this significant working-class sector became a stronghold of support for the Communist Party as it embraced cross-class alliances aimed at defeating fascism, promoting national development, and deepening Chilean democracy. During the tumultuous 1930s and 1940s, the coal miners emerged as a powerful social and political base that came to be seen as a threat to existing hierarchies and interests. Pavilack carries the story through the end of World War II, when a centrist president elected with crucial Communist backing brutally repressed the coal miners and their families in what has become known as the Great Betrayal, ushering Cold War politics into Chile with force. The patriotic fervor and tragic outcome of the coal miners’ participation in Popular Front coalition politics left an important legacy for those who would continue the battle for greater social justice in Chile in the coming decades.

“The research in Mining for the Nation is highly original. It fills a gap in Chilean labor and mining history, both in English and in Spanish. The book offers a reinterpretation of the Popular Front experience in Chile and the first serious book-length political history of the coal region and the role of the Communist Party there from the 1930s to 1952. Additionally, it serves as a very readable history of the complex connections among local, regional, national, and international politics in 1930s–1950s Chile.”

—Brian Loveman, San Diego State University