Salvador Allende Gossens was the forerunner of an important “left cycle” that shook Latin America. What the Popular Unity Government accomplished was a feat in a country surrounded by right-wing dictatorships and brutally attacked by the United States. He was an extraordinary man of Our America, an uncompromising anti-imperialist, and an exemplary Latin American.
Under these circumstances and as Fidel Castro described it, this revolutionary process was unprecedented and an almost unusual event, and it also ended in an unusual way.
It is an unusual attempt to diminish the global recognition and admiration that President Allende enjoys. Nevertheless, as Atilio Borón said, it is sad to see that over the years his personality has not yet received the high regard it deserves, even among some parts of the left inside and outside Chile. His rich and clean political career shows that his actions are consistent with his principles, ideas, and commitments to the best social causes in Chile and Latin America.
Salvador Allende was born on June 26, 1908. He completed his primary and secondary studies at the Liceos de Tacna and Valdivia. In 1926, he did his military service in the Coraceros Regiment of Via del Mar. In the same year, he entered the medical faculty of the University of Chile, where he qualified as a surgeon in 1932.
He worked as a doctor for the public assistance of Valparaiso and as an anatomical pathologist in hospitals in Puerto Montt. During his student years, he served as president of the Medical Student Center and the Chilean Student Association.
In 1933, he participated in the founding of the Socialist Party of Chile and later served as Minister of Health, Welfare, and Social Assistance during the government of Pedro Aguirre Cerda.
He was elected senator in the parliamentary elections of March 1945 and was re-elected to this position in 1953, 1961, and 1969, ending a parliamentary career that had lasted almost thirty years. Throughout his life, as a social and parliamentary leader, he always cared about the rights, welfare, and interests of the large, disadvantaged majority.
Allende was a great friend of Cuba and faced many voices inside and outside his country who criticized him for his unconditional support for our revolution.
The CIA recognized early on the threat his figure posed to U.S. interests. Since the night of September 4, 1970, Washington has rejected the possibility of Allende assuming the presidency. A few days after the Chilean elections, on the 15th of the same month, President Richard Nixon called Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser, to his office, along with Richard Helms, the director of the CIA, and other of his followers, to develop the policies to be followed to prevent Allende from being ratified by Congress. “Let us send the best men we have”; “Immediately make the economy scream. Neither a nut nor a bolt for Chile,” Nixon said. It even went so far as to assassinate the constitutional chief of the army, General Schneider.
However, as we know, the People’s Unity Government was established. For the first time in the history of the Western world, a Marxist candidate became President of the Republic through elections. An important and unprecedented transformation effort began within the framework of so-called bourgeois democracy but amid a series of violent events from the right, interventionism, diplomatic pressure, and political and economic harassment by the United States.
All this was spiced up by a media campaign fueled with plenty of money from the CIA and transnational corporations, programmed shortages of basic needs to foment unrest and anger among the population, the organization of the middle sector to fight against the government (in the case of the truck driver union, one of the most important), and the channeling of enormous resources to finance parts of the counter-revolutionary opposition, recruit paramilitary groups, and recruit military officers to the cause of the coup.
Considering the new imperial adventures, it is obvious that the operational manual of the CIA and other US government intelligence agencies has changed little in the last fifty years.
We will not be content with the adventures of the interesting process of these three years of popular unity and its successes amid the precarious unity of the social base on which it was based and the polarization of all the forces of the left before the coup in a catastrophic confrontation between radicals and moderates.
The Allende government attempted to establish socialism through peaceful elections, or the Chilean Road to Socialism. Important achievements in the short period of three years in the areas of housing, education, health, culture, salaries that accounted for over 50% of GDP, and the return of 150,000 hectares to Mapuche communities during the Popular Unity Government In July 1971, Congress passed legislation to nationalize large copper mines. In the economic sphere, a policy of increased income redistribution and reactivation of the economy was established. The agrarian reform law passed during the presidency of Eduardo Frei Montalva allowed him to rapidly advance the expropriation of large lands. He took the first steps toward building the social ownership sector of the economy, skillfully using legal procedures that did not call into question the legality of the current system.
The policies of Allende and Popular Unity, as well as the mistakes made, can be analyzed objectively, but it is completely inappropriate to attribute the main responsibility for the coup to Allende himself and the governing coalition. Likewise, it is questionable whether the Government of Popular Unity failed or whether it could have been consolidated, but the fact is that it was defeated: defeated by treason, the military coup, the extent of manipulation, and the accumulation of Forces that the right has achieved. and imperialism.
These days mark the 50th anniversary of Allende’s death in this brutal military air and ground attack on the Palacio de la Moneda. You must not lose sight of the meaning and true significance of the facts. It is important to emphasize that he was not a passive victim but a fighter who was exposed for four hours, in very unfavorable conditions, to the attack of the Chilean armed forces, which responded and was supported by the political right, the multinational corporations, in an active context that became interventionism. UNITED STATES.
Allende was not only an example of courage and dignity but also of a revolutionary with a great sense of the transcendence and importance of the moment in which he lived in those hours and aware of the paradigm he was setting for the future of his country and the world community. He was also aware of the ridicule that his victim directed at the dictatorship that would succeed him and at the traitors and coup plotters who tried to bring about his capture and humiliation.
His behavior, his composure, and his boldness in this dramatic moment only confirmed his beliefs, words, and promises. Allende had repeatedly stated in speeches and private communications that only death could prevent him from fulfilling his mandate, but compliance with these verbal statements required not only strong convictions but also tireless courage.
Let us remember his words at the farewell ceremony for Fidel and the Cuban delegation on December 4, 1971:
“I tell you calmly, with absolute calm: I have neither the material of an apostle nor the material of a Messiah. I don’t have the conditions of a martyr. I am a social warrior fulfilling a task that people have given me. But let those who want to go back into history and ignore the majority will of Chile understand it: without the flesh of a martyr, I will not take a step back. Let them know: I will leave La Moneda if I fulfill the mission given to me by the people.”
On September 11, he angrily and courageously rejected every coup attempt and every ultimatum. He was responsible for organizing the best possible armed resistance to the military siege, which the limited military resources made possible.
In order to adequately assess the scope and human and political significance of the Ptofinal sacrifice, it is not enough to know how he died; it is also necessary to understand his personality, his political ideas, his moral principles, and values, as well as the consistency of his convictions, which gave rise to the determination and vision that he displayed at the moment when his figure grew and when, even in defeat and in extreme circumstances, he acted with control of the situation and his destiny. There are few deeds of greater dignity and worth.
They carried out the coup d’état, followed by the bloodiest dictatorship in Chile’s history, which would last 17 years and more because the empowerment of a reactionary oligarchic elite persisted and continues to exercise considerable dominance to this day. Then followed thirty years of disappointing transition and economic growth, exacerbating the inequalities of Chilean society and its external dependence.
It’s been 50 years now. The experience of this attempt to pacify socialism in the “Chilean way” and its subsequent liquidation through the military coup represented a catalyst and a sad but enriching experience for critical thinking and revolutionary action.
The Alamedas are not yet fully open, but there are increasing signs that the Chilean people are getting there, as he said: “Sooner rather than later, the great Alamedas will reopen where the free man passes, to build a “better” society.”