The National Democratic Institute (NDI) was awarded a medal by the President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, in recognition of its role in supporting the 1988 plebiscite that ended the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet and enabled the country’s return to democracy.
President Boric highlighted the international solidarity and contributions of institutions whose work in the defense of human rights and democracy was essential to raise awareness about the Chilean reality and contribute to the recovery of democracy. In addition to NDI, the Institute for Policy Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Washington Office on Latin America were also recognized.
NDI’s Vice Board Chair, Hattie Babbitt, received the medal on behalf of the Institute. “I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious award that recognizes NDI’s unwavering commitment to supporting democracy, empowering citizens, and strengthening democratic processes,” she said. “Chile's path to democracy is a testament to the resilience and determination of its people. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the coup, let us remember the sacrifices made and celebrate the progress achieved. May Chile continue to thrive as a beacon of democracy and hope for the world."
In 1988, NDI worked to help Chilean activists and local citizen observers organize around the historic democratic opening that the plebiscite represented. As part of these efforts, NDI arranged for former Prime Minister of Spain Adolfo Suárez to lead a delegation of international election observers. The delegation shared with key officials the results of the “quick count”, conducted with NDI’s assistance, which showed that the “NO” vote requiring General Pinochet to step down had won. Knowing that the international community was aware of the results, the leadership of the rightist National Renewal Party, who supported the “YES” campaign, urged the immediate public release of an accurate official result. This turning point led to Pinochet’s eventual acceptance of the results and initiated the country’s return to democracy with the 1989 elections.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.