Salvador Allende, who fought and failed | Political economics


sensitivity to the claims of the peoples is indeed the only way we have of contributing to the solution of the great human problems – because no universal value is worth its name if it cannot be applied at the national or regional level and to the local living conditions of each family. Allende

Patrice Lumumba marked the history of the Congo by confronting the colonial regime with its brutalities and paid for the “daring” with his life. This saga repeated itself in South America. This time the victim was Salvador Allende, Chile’s first socialist president.

His full name was Salvador Allende Gossens. He was born on June 26, 1908 in Valparaíso. After leading a turbulent life, he died on September 11, 1973 in Santiago.

Like several other South American countries, Chile was a Spanish colony for nearly 300 years until Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquest of Spain weakened the country’s imperial hold over its South American colonial possessions.

Under Spanish colonial rule, northern and central Chile were part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Allende was born into an upper-middle-class family when Chile’s fortunes were in the doldrums. In a situation of extreme uncertainty, Allende obtained a medical degree, but instead of practicing medicine he opted for a political career. In 1933, he participated in the founding of the Chilean Socialist Party, which has a Marxist ideology.

Success did not come to Allende instantly. He had to strive for a long time and he tried diligently. America was already struggling to fight Fidel Castro in Cuba after he came to power in 1959. Another socialist-led regime could not be tolerated.

Internal and external plots to overthrow the government began to surface immediately after Allende came to power. After being elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1937, he served (1939-1942) as Minister of Health in the left-liberal coalition of President Pedro Aguirre Cerda. Allende won the first of his four Senate elections in 1945. He first ran for president in 1952 but was temporarily expelled from the Socialist Party for accepting support from outlaw communists; he placed last in a four-way race.

He ran again in 1958 – with the support of the Socialists as well as the support of the then legal Communists – and was just behind the Conservative-Liberal candidate, Jorge Alessandri. With the same support, he was definitively beaten in 1964 by the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei.

For his successful 1970 campaign, Allende ran as the candidate for Popular Unity, a bloc of socialists, communists, radicals and a few dissident Christian Democrats, leading a three-way race with 36.3% of the vote. voice.

Thus, he ran for president three times unsuccessfully before narrowly winning in 1970. Despite the narrow margin to keep him in power, he attempted to restructure Chilean society along socialist lines while retaining democracy, civil liberties and due process. He reformed the education system and provided free milk to children. He also organized the distribution of land among landless farmers. Allende was opposed to foreign companies that took natural resources, such as copper, from the country.

Despite his good intentions and well-meaning efforts to create an egalitarian society by redistributing wealth, he faced stagnant production, food shortages, rising inflation, and widespread strikes. The American media and the Chicago school of economists under the tutelage of Milton Friedman have pointed to rising inflation and labor strikes with extraordinary zeal.

Some of his problems can be blamed on his coalition partners, who did not allow Allende to carry out the reforms as he wanted. In neocolonial states, colonial structures and the forces that support them fiercely resist any steps taken to reform society or the state. In some cases, leaders vying to undertake reforms are summarily deposed. Some are physically devastated like Lumumba and Allende and demonized by false narratives.

The US government believed with great dismay that Allende would move closer to socialist countries like Cuba and the Soviet Union. They feared that he would push Chile towards socialism and that all American investments in copper-rich Chile would be lost.

A document published by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States in 2000, titled, CIA activities in Chilerevealed that the CIA actively supported the military junta after Allende’s overthrow and recruited many Pinochet officers as paid CIA or US military contacts.

That said, it should not be forgotten that Allende’s coalition, Unidad Popular, was faced with the problem of being in the minority in Congress and prey to factionalism. September 11, 1973, a success cut led by General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the government. It is claimed that Allende also played a role in the process by appointing Augusto Pinochet to replace General Carlos Prats, although Pinochet’s appointment was strictly in accordance with military rules, procedures and ranks. Pinochet had until then been a constitutionalist and defender of the Allende government. Allende was an unfortunate victim of circumstances. He fought, failed and died.

During a concerted attack on the presidential palace, Allende died, and the circumstances of his death became a matter of controversy. Military officials claimed he committed suicide. Others believed he had been killed and that evidence of an apparent suicide had been planted.

Long years of atrocious rule by General Pinochet followed.

Allende had the support of many workers and peasants; his electoral coalition had won 44% of the vote in the Congressional elections of March 1973.

The author is a professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts, National University Beaconhouse, Lahore

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