Salvador Allende and the Villa San Luis: Icons of the Just City
Arts and entertainment, History, Politics and government, General non-fiction
Synthetic audio, Automated braille
Through the history of this housing complex, this book illuminates Salvador Allende’s dedication to the imperative of the right to the city for Chile’s marginalized people. Built in affluent Las Condes in Santiago, on what is arguably the most expensive… parcel of land in Chile, the Villa San Luis was one of Salvador Allende’s most visible and dramatic social projects. Allende’s six-year term was ended in the middle by a military coup d’état on 11th September 1973. Yet, material culture from Villa San Luis remains to convey the legacy of his commitment to providing disadvantaged families with dignified housing. It is a national lieu de mémoire and an iconic space, a reminder of a truly remarkable innovation in social housing and of Allende’s personal and political commitment to making Santiago a just city. Postcoup, the remains of the complex also relate the wider injustice of the Pinochet regime. Many of its families were violently evicted during the dictatorship. Some were dispossessed, taken away from Las Condes in garbage trucks, and dumped in poor communities around Santiago. The land was usurped by Pinochet on behalf of the army and later sold to developers to construct high-rise symbols of a new, neoliberal Chile. Over the decades, however, former residents fought back and, in 2020, they succeeded in making its one remaining structure, remnants of Block 14, a memorialized place of justice and reconciliation. It now a national monument and museum.