30 years after Chile coup: revolution in Venezuela
stuartmunckton at yahoo.com.au
Mon Sep 8 03:19:04 MDT 2003
The article below is from the latest Green Left Weekly
using the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of the
Allende government to compare those events with the
current situation in Venezuela and how the different
strategy of the Chavez leadership has prevented the
same outcome (so far).
Fred Feldman in another post made a reference to the
position of the US SWP towards Allende - another
bourgeois politician reacting to pressure from below.
The extent of my knowledge and contact with that
position is in a pamplet 'The Tragedy in Chile' that
is made up of an article by Peter Camejo, Gerry Foley,
and an appendix by some Argentinian Trotskyist group
that criticises the MIR for centrism, or some kind of
misunderstanding of the nature of the capitalist
The DSP has published this in the past and I read it
as a new member. It taught me lessons about the state
and the why the struggle failed, which was useful.
But, in my opinion , it also taught to have a
checklist, abstract approach to revolutionary
The main focus of the pamphlet, the first article by
Camejo being written before the coup, is to tick off
all the points which prove the Allende government
isn't really socialist. Allende said this about the US
then, that proves etc etc. You could take the same
approach to the Chavez government and draw the same
conclusions, despite very different dynamics at work.
I learnt a lot more about the real dynamics of the
struggle from the brilliant documentary 'The Battle of
Chile'. The lessons were starkly drawn out and you
didn't have to put up with 'know it alls' thousands of
kilometres away whose main concern with the living
battle seemed to be, at least from what you can judge
by that pamplet, going 'tsk tsk' at the mistakes of
The fact that a number of the criticisms were accurate
doesn't change much. What is the point in some people
intervening into your struggle from the major
imperialist power trying to destroy to tell you 'I
told you so' once it fails? Obviously, making analysis
on the nature of a struggle, and drawing conclusions
from a defeat or victory is a useful thing - that was
the positive things I got from the pamphlet. The
negative was the relatively abstract checklist
approach which was how they went about it.
30 years after Chile coup: Revolution in Venezuela
BY JORGE JORQUERA
My only vivid childhood memories are from Chile in
September 1973 the gunfire, the burning of documents
and the waiting. Like thousands of Chilean workers, my
father did not return home from work on the afternoon
of September 11. In his factory, like in hundreds of
workplaces, the workers debated what to do. His
factory had ample supplies of petrol and some workers
argued to use this in an attempt to engage in armed
battle with the tanks and soldiers invading the
streets of Santiago.
Hundreds of thousands of class-conscious workers
heeded President Salvador Allende's call that morning:
I call on all workers to occupy their workplaces...
the people must be alert and vigilant. You should not
allow yourselves to be provoked nor to be massacred
but you must also defend your gains.
Allende's words encapsulated the impotence of the
Popular Unity (UP) leadership in the face of the
generals' coup. In his first announcement at 7.55 am,
Allende still assured the workers that loyal [armed]
forces respecting their pledges to the [government]
authority, together with the organised workers, will
squash this fascist coup that threatens the nation.
By the time of his final radio announcement at 9.10
am, Allende had resigned himself to the tragedy now
awaiting the Chilean workers.
In their factories the workers hung on every word from
Allende. He told them he would not resign and would
pay with his life defending the Chilean revolution.
The workers waited for direction how were they to
resist? Allende sent a message through his daughter,
Tati, to Miguel Enriquez, general secretary of the
Chilean Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR).
It's the hour of Miguel, Allende said.
It was far too late. The MIR, the only consistently
revolutionary party-organisation of the Chilean
working class. was not strong enough on its own. Its
members tried desperately to activate their networks
to provide the leadership the Chilean workers so
Enriquez had met early that morning with leaders of
the Chilean Socialist Party (PS) and Communist Party
(PC), the two largest organisations in the UP. The PS
leadership and its ranks had increasingly radicalised
throughout the period of the UP government. They were
disposed to struggle but they lacked the cadre
organisation to effect this in such a crisis.
The far better organised PC told the MIR that it would
wait to see if the leaders of the military coup would
close parliament before deciding on a course of
Workers were left without recourse many fought
valiantly for the socialism they believed they had
begun to construct with the UP government. Thousands
died in hand-to-hand combat defending their factories.
Most went into hiding to fight another day, only to be
arrested, tortured and jailed.
On September 17, General Augusto Pinochet's military
dictatorship criminalised the national trade union
federation (CUT). On September 24, it dissolved
parliament. On October 1, it replaced all university
rectors with military personnel and on October 8 it
criminalised all left parties.
The PC and sectors of the PS and of other components
of the UP, such as the Radical party and Movement of
Popular Unitary Action, maintained the view that the
left's strategy should centre on winning the
democratic bourgeois away from supporting Pinochet
and that any form of armed resistance should be
avoided so as not to scare off such support. The
reformist leaders who had dominated the UP government
continued with the same strategic perspective that had
led to this historic defeat.
In April 2002, the government of left-wing Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez also faced a right-wing military
which, like that launched against Allende 30 years
ago, was strongly supported by the country's
capitalist business elite. However, thanks to the
radically different strategy pursued by Chavez and his
close associates, the Venezuelan Pinochets and their
backers in Washington were dealt a stunning
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