By Rufus Tyler

 

In September 1970 Salvador Allende was elected into government at the head of a left-wing coalition, the Unidad Popular (UP). Even though the coalition was reformist, the bourgeoisie still feared the revolutionary potential of the UP government:

 

The possibility that the industrial cordons (suburbs surrounding Santiago and other cities where factories were concentrated) would react to the military maneuvers and launch themselves into combat in defense of the revolution represented one of the main fears for the Chilean coup-plotters. But such a response never happened.

 

La posibilidad de que los Cordones Industriales reaccionaran a las maniobras militares y se lanzaran al combate en defensa de la revolución representó uno de los mayores temores para los golpistas chilenos. Pero tal respuesta nunca llegó. A continuación, un fragmento de Chile 1970-1973. Mil días que estremecieron al mundo (LOM ediciones, 2016): 

 

As highlighted by the historian Maria Angelica Illanes: “the topic of the history of the Unidad Popular and the industrial cordons should be, more appropriately, be called that of the unarmed insurgency of the Chilean way. A topic that truly makes up the great question of the workers' movement history in Chile.

 

Como lo subraya la historiadora María Angélica Illanes: «El tema de la historia de la Unidad Popular y de los cordones industriales debiera ser, más bien, el de la no-insurreccional idad armada de la vía chilena. Tema que en realidad constituye la gran pregunta sobre la historia del movimiento obrero en Chile».

Understanding the end of the UP in 1973 means looking at the preparations and machinations of the political opposition, business magnates, paramilitaries and military coup plotters as well as the corresponding measures undertaken by the left and the workers in the industrial cordons.

 

Following the “Tanquetazo” counter-revolutionaries launched an intensive ideological campaign against the government: the idea was to couple this with the opposition's “Winter Strategy” in order to prepare the ground for military intervention. The campaign used to speak of imminent, or ongoing, revolution, one which would have “nefarious” results, carried out by agitators, provocateurs, utopian revolutionaries, professional revolutionaries. The campaign aimed to validate and reinforce national values, while repudiating the “threat to democracy” of “the Marxist dictatorship”.

The campaign frightened a population already weary because of everyday concerns: the petty bourgeois had used their economic power to undermine the government. The truckers strike, and the related taxi drivers' strike (both financed and organised by the CIA) had brought the country to a  standstill: in addition to refusing to carry goods from suppliers to factories and markets, meaning workers were idle and shelves were looking bare, they physically blocked roads preventing people from getting to work, stopping sympathetic truck drivers(especially ones working with co-operatives) from carrying loads, and so on.

In 1973 the memory of these employers' strikes was fresh in people's minds. At the same time shopkeepers were destroying their wares in order to create an artificial scarcity: they would pour cooking oil and milk down the drain, they'd leave meat and chicken out without any refrigeration, spoiling them on purpose. Presumably they were doing the same with other food as well.

This caused an unprecedented panic among middle class people who were used to buying whatever they wanted. For the first time ever they experienced what it was like to be poor. The right insinuated that there was an armed, organised, effort on behalf of workers to undermine existing power structures. The effort was framed as a foreign intervention trying to destroy Chile (whatever that means). According to the right wing press the industrial cordons were revolutionary hotbeds of activity arming themselves for a 'popular takeover', ready to implement a workers' dictatorship.

The campaign was very successful, petty bourgeois types were truly scared of what was to come. My own father was a conscript in the army at the time, his unit was deployed to guard shipments of potatoes. This was totally unnecessary as no one wants to steal potatoes – they are virtually worthless in dollar terms. Still, the deployment had the desired effect: my father's family was terrified that he would be killed by an extremist looking to nick a few spuds for the sake of destabilising the country.

It was exactly these sorts of folks, my father's family, who supported the coup because they feared repression. In the end they too were caught up in the military dictatorship's repression: our family had been gun owners, these arms were confiscated(with no compensation) despite the fact that they had been staunch right wing supporters. They had to suffer curfews, checkpoints, car searches and other indignities just like everybody else.

Right wingers had exaggerated the risk of the industrial cordons, also playing up the fear that cities would be cut off by these cordons, starving them. The cordons were represented as a tool through which Marxism would be able to exercise control over the means of production, residential areas, learning institutions, and, in general, exercise control over all civilian activity in Greater Santiago. 

The press continued to play up these baseless fears and, without pretense, advocated for an armed response against Allende's government. Que Pasa magazine, April 1973:

 

En una emergencia, la ultra izquierda puede dejar a Santiago sin servicios públicos: agua, luz, correos, teléfono y telégrafos y locomoción del Estado. Ferrocarriles y LAN no serán tan fácilmente paralelizables, pero ello también se conseguiría en definitiva mediante la acción de los campamentos y cordones». 

In an emergency, the ultra-left can leave Santiago without public services: water, power, the post office, telephone and telegraphs and public transport. Railways and the national airline would not be so easily paralised, but that too can definitely be achieved through the actions of informal settlements and the cordons. 

 

The constant attack against the cordons was also led by DC (Christian Democrat) labour leaders who were, and still are, in league with existing power structures. They railed against the rising revolutionary sentiment of “people power”, and tried to curb and undermine it at every stage.

 

The press, especially the paper of record, El Mercurio, owned by the Edwards family, did its part by constantly talking of the possibility that the government would be overrun by extremists. This was clearly meant to terrorise the population.

 

En su editorial del 5 de agosto de 1973, El Mercurio escribe que «la acción de grupos armados continúa, pese de los esfuerzos de los militares por contener esta acción subversiva». 

 

In its August fifth, 1973 editorial, El Mercurio wrote:”the actions of armed groups continues, despite military efforts to to contain these subversive actions”

 

 According to Que Pasa magazine the answer was obvious: only the military was able to stand up to the danger the cordons represented. To top off this onslaught, in August 1973 the Chamber of Deputies (lower house) approved a constitutional charge that the government had overstepped its mandate. This text served to justify the coup while explicitly denouncing “people power”. Its end goals were to substitute legitimately acquired powers  and to serve as an ideological base for a totalitarian dictatorship.

 

Until the last moments of the UP government, most of its constituents kept repeating the mantra: “no to civil war” without realising that the war had already begun. Just days before the coup the Communist Party harangued its militants by affirming: “just like the legality of the government is a force against the coup, so too is the professional spirit of the rank and file of the Armed Forces”

 

One of the military's biggest lies was that the left was ready, well armed and well prepared to carry out a “self-coup”, aiming to do away with democratic institutions. Part of this was the fictitious “Plan Z” which claimed that there were 15,000 dangerous, foreign guerrilla fighters in the country. This spooky vision was ever present in the dictatorship's white paper which was edited by the reactionary historian Gonzalo Vial.

 

All these allegations were disproven by subsequent investigations, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 1990. Its investigation uncovered that there had been virtually no armed resistance on the day of the coup. Most witnesses testified that none of the political parties had any inkling of the widespread violence that the coup would unleash.

 

Today, Carlos Altamirano (Senator 1969-1973, General Secretary of the Chilean Socialist Party 1971-1979) states: “I maintain that, fundamentally, the great oversight, the great error of our government...was attempting to carry out a revolution without weapons. An unarmed revolution” This very same “historic oversight” was at the centre of self analysis of the CP from 1977 onwards. The left's tactic before 1973 was to respect the internal workings of military institutions.

 

Allende and other gradualists proposed maintaining the military's monopoly on weapons in order to maintain its cohesion, looking to integrate them into a civil-military cabinet which would peacefully carry out social reforms. This plan was in contrast to the MIR's (Leftist Revolutionary Movement) and the CP which tried to do some clandestine political work among junior officers and enlisted men. However, their military capacity was severely limited and they achieved little.

 

At the time most leftists, including the CP, believed that the vast majority of the armed forces would support the government in case of a coup. (tancazo e.g.) The UP placed all its hopes on the very military which overthrew it. According to Adonis Sepulveda, a socialist senator in 1973 the party didn't and couldn't do any combat planning on its own, its response was tied to that of the government. The government prepared defense plans which were directed by Pinochet as Commander-In-Chief.

 

The dictatorship's white paper claimed that there were thousands upon thousands of pistols, revolvers, machine-guns, flamethrowers and anti-tank cannons. Altamirano testified that there were less than 1500 people with any military training. That training amounted to being able to fire a light weapon ie, not a crew serviced weapon like a heavy machine gun.

 

Allende had a Personal Guard which consisted of 150 well armed men. They would have formed the core of a paramilitary plan to defend the UP government against a military plot. The idea was for these men to join up with workers from the industrial cordons and loyal soldiers to slow down the advance of the coup through the Santiago suburbs. Theoretically slowing down the advance would destroy their momentum, lowering morale while giving time for loyalists to react. It was meant to take the wind out of their sails for long enough to stall them. I'm not sure it was a sound plan.

 

Lessons To Be Learned From the Chilean Coup in 1973

 

The UP government misplaced its trust in the army, an institution which was established to protect the interests of the local bourgeoisie. The only way for civilians to defeat an army as disciplined and determined as the Chilean army would be to defund it into oblivion. 

 

In a South  American context not having a traditional army is problematic in and of itself: Chile has boundary disputes with all three of its neighbours, and has been at war with them in the past. Argentinian, Bolivian and Peruvian boog are champing at the bit to shed some blood. Any perceived sign of weakness would be an invitation to war. The ruling class of these three countries use Chile as a sort of bogeyman to sow fear among the populace. To them Chile is the external threat that unites and distracts the proletariat.

 

If Chile didn't have an army because it had been abolished by a progressive government, this would be framed abroad as some sort of transgression against the natural order of things – the people are entitled to an institution that both defends them and provides a chance for social mobility. The end result would be war.

 

In conclusion: the UP government was stuck between a rock and a hard place. If it kept the armed forces they would actively work against it, if it banned them it would be defenceless in the event of aggression from foreign bourgeois. The way forward for even a gradualist, reformist govt like the UP would be to foster cooperation among socialists of all countries. Internationalism is the only answer.

 

As long as capital exists, it will do everything in its power to undermine and destroy even moderate efforts to improve the conditions of the working class.

 

(Key source was El Porteño.)

 

The bourgeois had opposed Allende since at least 1958 election, when the americans funded Alessandri in order to beat him. The sixties brought about increased spending by the american intelligence services. The money went into anti-Allende propaganda and to fund Frei's campaign:

 

from 1962 through 1964, the CIA spent $3 million in anti-Allende propaganda "to scare voters away from Allende's FRAP coalition", and spent a total of $2.6 million to finance the presidential campaign of Eduardo Frei.(Wikipedia)

The FRAP (Spanish: Frente de Acción Popular, Popular Action Front) was a Chilean left-wing coalition of parties from 1956 to 1969. It presented twice a common candidate, Salvador Allende, for the 1958 and the 1964 presidential elections.(google)

 

Frei was a Christian Democrat, he came from a prominent family. Alessandri was barred by the constitution from serving two consecutive terms as president, otherwise he would have been the oligarchy's favourite candidate for the 1964 election. At first the funding was to be kept secret from voters and high-ranking CD officials.

 

Covert support for Frei's Christian Democrats began in April 1962, at the suggestion of Kennedy aide Richard Goodwin and the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, with a series of secret payments on "a non-attributable basis"--meaning that the source of the funds was kept a secret from Frei and his party officials (NSA archive, September 25, 2004  Updated: September 27, 2004 )

 

Later, it became more blatant, and CD officials themselves asked for extra funding

 

The documents record that on March 26, 1964, Frei's campaign managers met with U.S. embassy officials to go over their campaign budget of $1.5 million for which the party only had $500,000. A memorandum recording the meeting noted that "The Chileans suggested that the U.S. government make up this difference which amounts to one million dollars for the period from now to election time." The "Special Group" which approved covert actions met on April 2 in the White House situation room and authorized CIA financing of the campaign and a compromise with the CIA in which the U.S. source of the secret funding "would be inferred" but with "no evidence of proof." 

 

On May 14, the Special Group approved an increase in covert spending to $1.25 million to allow the Christian Democrats to "campaign at its full potential." On July 23, the Johnson administration approved another $500,000 for Frei to "maintain the pace and rhythm of his campaign effort." 

 

The CIA spent a total of $2.6 million directly underwriting the campaign. An additional $3 million was spent on anti-Allende propaganda activities designed to scare voters away from Allende's FRAP coalition.   (NSA archive, September 25, 2004  Updated: September 27, 2004 )

The American government spent over $USD5 million in the 1964 election to keep Allende from power. As a result, Frei became president. The Christian Democrats were, and still are, the ruling class' main way of co-opting working class votes. The CDs had an almost identical platform to Allende's Unidad Popular coalition in the 1970 election (Chilean presidential elections are held every six years). These included: agrarian reform and banking reform. The Christian Democrats were the main tool the capitalists used to undermine the UP. The "Christian Democrats" uses the promise of reform to get the masses to vote for them, even to this day. Their results are dismal, making small gains here and there for a few select families, gains that are wiped out wholesale every time an extreme right-wing government comes to power.

 

The Allende government was elected with a plurality, the bourgeois used this as a way to discredit the UP, and it was the thing they used to try to prevent the UP from taking power. The way they did this was to highlight that they didn't have a majority and accused the UP of being undemocratic. In a similar way, the venezuelan opposition continues to undermine the democratic process in Venezuela by boycotting elections - which they were doomed to lose - and then claiming that the elections were not representative. 

 

The ruling class efforts to prevent Allende from taking power continued with a plot to kidnap General Schneider - more on that later.

Capitalists then set different kinds of conditions and provisos: the UP would only be allowed to take power if they jumped through hoops. When there was no outright majority in elections, congress decided who became president. Normally they chose the candidate with the most votes, this had happened three times since the 1930s without any issues. Allende had to sign a  constitutional convention. Under the insistent pressure of Corvalan (General Secretary of the Communist Party) and Co., Allende reached agreement with the Christian Democracy and accepted the so called "constitutional guarantees pact". The acceptance of the "constitutional guarantees pact" by the leaders of the Popular Unity meant a compromise, on their part, not to arm the working class and not to touch any part of the repressive apparatus erected by the bourgeoisie(marxixt.com). The UP could have appealed to the masses to make their voice heard, asked them to intervene in their behalf through mass demonstrations. Instead the UP chose to appease the booge. Allende himself was an idealist, he wanted to work within the existing power structures and he believed that he could compromise with the ruling class. In the end he was proven wrong. 

 

According to Allan Woods, in Lessons of Chile 1973 (written in 1979):

 

Nevertheless, the whole of history, and above all the history of Chile, shows that the ruling class is prepared to tolerate the existence of democracy only within certain clearly demarcated limits. In the moment when the bourgeoisie sees its power and privilege threatened, it does not hesitate to break unilaterally with the "rules of the game" (rules established by them in defence of the power and privileges) and destroy the democratic conquests of the working class. 

 

That is exactly what happened in 1973. Many local socialists and communists were aware of the trap. If the UP had achieved 50.01%, or even 55%, of the vote the reactionaries would have still plotted to overthrow them with a coup.(paraphrase from Adonis Sepulveda, Chilean socialist and one-time senator)

 

The bourgeois make increasingly outrageous demands today in Venezuela. The Bolivarian government's ongoing compromises viz-a-viz these demands make the revolution unstable. Appeasing existing power structures through monetary policy has brought about hyperinflation.

Similar tactics were waged against Allende's government in the seventies. It is economic warfare. 

 

The playbook remains the same as we can see with the manner in which Venezuela has been dealt with: 

 

  1. Divest from the economy, 

 

(Nixon's quote about Chile in 1970: "Make the economy scream") Nixon was afraid that Allende would nationalise the telecoms; ITT - which had been his corporate client when he worked as a lawyer - lobbied his government to take action against Allende. Earlier this year in Venezuela, In a statement issued by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, the government denounced "the repeated aggression of the U.S. Government against the people."

 

"The Trump Administration has blocked bank transactions, purchases of food and medicine, and has carried out countless actions in order to deny the Venezuelan people their sovereign will and force a change of government through unconstitutional means,"(telesur english)

 

The US government has confirmed it will divert money away from humanitarian aid programmes in Central America and channel it towards the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaido.

The move follows Donald Trump’s decision earlier this year to suspend all future humanitarian aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras until they do more to stop migrants heading north to the US border.(FT  July 18, 2019 )

  1. Fund opposition groups: 

 

Both through overt, legal means and covert, illegal methods, (it used to be the CIA that funded opposition groups, now the National Endowment for Democracy is used, to create plausible deniability.)

 

National Endowment for Democracy is at the center of a dispute in Venezuela. President Chavez says the endowment's involvement proves US interference in Venezuela, while the NED says it is just promoting democracy.

 

The United States is using a quasi-governmental organization created during the Reagan years and funded largely by Congress to pump about a million dollars a year into groups opposed to Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, according to officials in Venezuela and a Venezuelan-American attorney.

Some 2,000 pages of newly disclosed documents show that the little-known National Endowment for Democracy is financing a vast array of groups: campesinos, businessmen, former military officials, unions, lawyers, educators, even an organization leading a recall drive against Chávez. Some compare the agency, in certain of its activities, to the CIA of previous decades when the agency was regularly used to interfere in the affairs of Latin American countries. 

 

One organization, Sumate, which received a $53,400 grant in September, is organizing the recall referendum against Chávez. Chris Sabatini, the endowment’s senior program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, acknowledged the organization is handing out $922,000 this year, largely to groups opposed to Chávez, and gave out $1,046,323 last year. He said pro-Chávez groups have not received funds because they didn’t ask for any or they rejected the National Endowment’s overtures. Many analysts contend the National Endowment for Democracy was created in 1983 to replace some CIA activities -- covertly supporting political parties, unions, newspapers, book publishers, student groups and civic organizations -- after the agency’s work was reined in by Congress following revelations it carried out everything from assassinations to economic sabotage. 

The NED’s own Web page traces the group’s origins to the late 1960s when lawmakers first proposed creating an institution that would replace the “covert means” U.S. policymakers employed in post-World War II Europe -- including CIA assistance -- with “overt funding for programs to promote democratic values.” (venezuelanalysis.com Apr 2nd 2004 at 9.16pm)

 

  1. Wage a propaganda blitz

 

(BBC headline: 5 July, 2019)  United Nations (UN) accuses Venezuela of using death squads:

Extrajudicial killings and the planting of evidence are used to remove opponents, a report alleges.,

Sabre-rattling, 

 

(NY Post May 1, 2019 headline) Pompeo says US prepared to take military action in Venezuela.

 

  1. Sanctions,

 

(BBC) Venezuela crisis: US announces sanctions against Maduro's son 28 June 2019 The United States has announced new sanctions against the son of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro...The sanctions will freeze any US assets Nicolasito has and bars US firms and individuals from working with him... Announcing the move on Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said they were punishing him for serving his father's "illegitimate regime".

 

  1. Sabotage,

 

Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez claimed the power cut was caused by an "electromagnetic attack".  (BBC Venezuela blackout: Power cuts plunge country into darkness,23 July 2019)  

FtS 07-24: Venezuela: Forth electromagnetic attack so far.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_WgRkxqg38&list=PLNAlnQ4hvLtS36YAUv_3xmLTkvMmNRyCK&index=17&t=0s)

 

  1. Enabling capital flight.

 

All these actions destabilise the economy; it is, as always, the working class who suffers the most.

Having support among high-ranking armed forces officers is crucial for the imperialist powers' plan to succeed. Look for changes in general-level personnel, like the 1970 kidnapping of General Rene Schneider. Schneider was the constitutionalist commander in chief of the Chilean army who was abducted, and killed, by a group of army officers who wanted to stop Allende from taking power. Schneider was comitted to upholding the constitution, the kidnappers wanted to remove him from the chain of command to facilitate a take-over. Although the CIA denies any prior knowledge of the plot, it handed out USD$35,000 to the kidnappers after the fact, to keep them quiet, to maintain goodwill and for "humanitarian reasons".

 

(https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/chile/index.html#15). 

 

On page 64 of Nixon, Kissinger, and Allende: U.S. Involvement in the 1973 Coup in Chile (2009) Lubna Z. Qureshi says that the CIA offered USD$50,000 each to general Viaux and an admiral. Viaux and his co-conspirators carried out a failed kidnapping attempt on the 20th of October. Two days later Schneider was abducted. He would be replaced by general Prats, who was also a constitutionalist. Ultimately, Schneiders' death made the 1973 coup inevitable. It showed disgruntled army officers that the US would back them against Allende and it showed them what would happen to officers who stood up for the constitution.(Qureshi)

 

One crucial event in Allende's presidency was the ("tancazo") tank putsch of 1973. Disgruntled officers moved on the presidential palace with tanks, intending to depose Allende. Officially, Commander-in-Chief General Prats acted decisively and put an end to the insurrection. According to marxist.com the people of Santiago mobilised onto the streets to back the government, showing the plotters that they did not have the support they needed to take over.

 

Prats would resign in August 1973 after a protest by officers' wives outside his home. It would convince him that he'd lost the support of his fellow officers. Two other generals in key troop command positions resigned in solidarity. Generals Mario Sepulveda and Guillermo Pickering were constitutionalists as well. Pinochet, thought to be loyal to the Allende administration, became the Commander in Chief of the army. 

 

Another key moment in the Allende administration was the trucker's strike. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it was funded by the CIA. The truckers themselves need to move freight in order to get paid, they were only able to down tools because they were funded.  According to the September 20, 1974, Page 1 of The New York Times Archives:  

 

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 —The Central Intelligence Agency secretly financed striking labor unions and trade groups in Chile for more than 18 months before President Salvador Allende Gossens was overthrown, intelligence sources revealed today.  They said that the majority of more than $8‐million authorized for clandestine C.I.A. activities in Chile was used in 1972 and 1973 to provide strike benefits and other means of support for anti‐Allende strikers and workers.the Central Intelligence Agency, by using the Chilean black market, was able to increase the basic buying power of the $7‐million estimated to have been spent on clandestine efforts between 1970 and 1973. The unofficial exchange rate, sources said, was as much as 800 per cent higher than the official rate, indicating that the C.I.A.'s cash could have had a local impact of more than $40‐million.

William E, Colby, Director of Central Intelligence, had no comment when told of The Times's information.

 

The strike brought the country to a standstill: the roads were blocked so travel was severely restricted; factories and workshops had no inputs, no raw resources to work, there was no transport available for finished goods anyway; supermarkets shelves were bare. This is a clear example of a "strike of capital". The main reason shelves were bare was because shopkeepers were hoarding goods - dairy owners tipped cooking oil and milk down the drain, to instigate a shortage, but their stated reasons were that they feared that the people were going to simply loot the shops, shopkeepers elected to destroy their goods rather than allowing the people to have them 

It is similar to Venezuela today, where shortages that are blamed on the government are actually caused by the bourgeoisie - they control the means of production and distribution.

 

The 1972 trucking companies' strike was defeated by a grassroots movement. The populace came out onto the streets to support the Allende government, that pressure ended the strike.

A significant outcome of the strike of capital was that middle-class chileans experienced hardship for the first time: now they knew what it was like to be a working-class person. This undermined the government's support among these folks, some of whom had been sympathetic to the government up until that point.

 

The following year the strike returned stronger than ever. At its peak, the 1973 strikes (the taxi drivers' and shopkeepers' strikes) involved more than 250,000 truck drivers, shopkeepers and professionals who banded together in a middle‐class movement (NY Times) in a country of 10.1 million people (google). 

One thing to remember is that Chile's foreign aid endowments for civil projects went down during Allende's administration, while simultaneously its military aid budget skyrocketed. It was a way for the US intelligence services to fund local supporters directly and to build good will among the officers necessary for the coup.

 

The ruling class was unhappy with the UP, they called the government's agrarian reform "unconstitutional". Some of the farms had been taken over illegally. The UP sent the police in to deal with those extra-legal occupations. Some commentators have said that if instead of protecting existing property relations, the UP had organised the workers' occupations, the revolution would have fared better. Despite trying to uphold existing property rights, these illegal farm take-overs were held up by the opposition as a sign that the government was acting unconstitutionally. It was the pretext needed by the CD to stop its feeble and conditional support for the UP coalition, setting them up for the fall.  

 

The end of Allende's administration came in September 1973. The CIA found out about the coup two days before it happened, they did nothing to discourage the plotters. When the president learned that there was an insurrection, he refused to arm the workers. Instead he repeatly tried to telephone Pinochet who refused to pick up. Some had floated the idea of abandoning the presidential palace(Palacio de la Moneda) and organising a resistance from the "industrial belt" that surrounds the capital, but Allende insisted on sticking to his "constitutional guarantees pact". He believed, right until the end, that Pinochet was loyal, and that the General had been arrested by the plotters. As recently as six months before the coup, Pinochet had declared himself loyal to the government and a friend to Allende.

 

Something no-one ever mentions about the Pinochet dictatorship is the cultural damage it did to Chile. All of the leading actors, playwrights, musicians and artists were either killed or left the country with the sole exception of Nobel laurate Pablo Neruda. Neruda's high profile did not save him - he died of cancer, it is a widely-held belief in Chile that he was poisoned with radioactive material that caused his illness. The dictatorship lasted seventeen years, it put the country back, culturally, about twenty years. Throughout that time Chile's artistic output was stunted. When censorship let up after the end of the regime, the artworks produced locally had to deal with the trauma of the previous seventeen years. It is impossible to say where chilean art would be today if it wasn't for all that repression and psychological damage. 

 

The repressive methods used by the dictatorship have not gone away: today Carabineros (national gendarmerie police) oppress the native Mapuche in southern Chile in much the same way they repressed all workers during the Pinochet years. I personally feel like they're lying in wait, just dying to roll out the same treatment to everyone at the drop of a hat. Oppressing the indigenous population is a dress rehearsal for the next fascist takeover.

 

To sum up: The UP government failed largely because of US intervention, Allende himself must shoulder some of the blame together with other UP leaders. They allowed themselves to be hamstrung by guarantees that their opponents flouted. In Venezuela today the Bolivarian revolution is hamstrung by its indecisiveness: the revolution is going to fail as long as it continues trying to placate the ruling class. Appeasement didn't work out in 1930s Europe, it didn't work in 1970s Chile and it probably won't work in today's Venezuela.

 

The only way forward for Venezuela today is to carry out a wholesale nationalisation of the economy; including, most importantly both the means of food production and distribution as well as  the banking sector. Without these policies their revolution will amount to nothing sooner or later.