Did the Chilean military dictatorship commit genocide? The Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (known as the Informe Rettig) documented some 3,200 victims over the course of the 17-year dictatorship ushered in by the 1973 military coup which overthrew the left-wing government of Salvador Allende; yet it avoided using the term genocide.1 In Argentina, the Report of the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP), which documented some 9,000 victims, also avoided it;2 yet in that country the accusation of genocide is gaining increasingly wide acceptance in official documents and sources.3 Should the same happen in Chile? Chile is an ambiguous case because state-directed killing in and of itself does not necessarily constitute genocide. Further, the victims in Chile were primarily political actors and groups rather than ethnic, “racial,” national, or religious groups as has been the case in most genocides.4 To evaluate whether the political killings in Chile may be considered genocidal we must review the debates in the literature on genocide studies over how to define genocide and how these debates can help illuminate the status of the Chilean case. Like others in the social sciences, genocide is a highly contested concept about which scholars in the field continue to strongly disagree. Unlike most social science concepts (with the exception of those in law and criminology), genocide is also a legally codified crime in international and domestic law. It has also become a normative label that victims of human rights abuses wield to draw attention to their suffering, and that perpetrators deny in their own efforts to neutralize accusations that they have committed the most heinous of crimes. It is for these reasons that there is no one widely accepted definition of genocide against which we can measure the Chilean experience. Rather, we must evaluate the Chilean case in the context of three key debates in the literature over how to define genocide. These debates revolve around the identity of the victim group (who are the victims of genocide?), the intention of the perpetrators (does genocide require a specific “intent to destroy”?), and the extent and methods of destruction (is there a numerical or proportional threshold of destruction and/or manner of destruction that is unique to genocide?). Our review of these debates suggests that the violence directed by the Chilean regime against its opponents was closer to genocide than commonly assumed.