Chile: 50 years after the military coup, from resistance to an anti-capitalist and socialist proposal to transform everything

In this section, we will compile a series of historical documents, articles by our organization and various other contributions. This space is presented as a terrain of confrontation in the battle for historical memory in a red key and contributing to the construction of a political alternative to take storm the heavens, we invite you to become part of it. 50 years after the military coup, from the resistance to the anti-capitalist and socialist proposal to transform everything. Below this article, you will find the corresponding links.

Next September 11 will commemorate 50 years of the civil-military coup orchestrated by imperialism and the Chilean bourgeoisie, which established a regime of terror at the hands of the dictator Pinochet. 50 years have passed since that dark chapter in the history of our country, which involved a true counterrevolution to establish the laboratory of capital in Chile and implement an extreme liberalization of the economy for the benefit of the capitalists. This action was only possible through the use of force, torture, political sexual violence, exile and the extermination of thousands of people. 50 years have passed and the pillars of Pinochetism remain intact, due to the transitional pacts and the governments of the “30 years,” which have perfected neoliberalism and maintained impunity.

The consequences of the coup are still present due to the will of the political and economic caste that remains entrenched in power. Furthermore, the veil of silence and impunity also pursues a greater purpose: to prevent the red thread of history from resurfacing. In Chile, we experienced one of the most significant labor movements of the 20th century, during which years of history were accumulated that prompted the emergence of large working class and peasant demonstrations, organizations, self-organization and worker’s management of production in the Industrial Cordones that arose in the midst of the revolutionary confrontation before the coup. The Industrial Cordones represented the possibility of radical change at a social level and questioned capitalist stability due to their nature as an incipient case of dual power.

Those years of struggle were fundamental for the development of demonstrations and organizational structures that challenged the bourgeoisie and demonstrated the potential for profound transformations in society, as demonstrated by the youth who explored new cultural and artistic fields in the heat of the latent changes that recognized no borders in a Latin America tinged with uprisings.

These experiences, among many, of the 60s and 70s were the historical context that promoted the arrival of Salvador Allende to power. However, the project of Allende and the UP itself acted as a brake on the transformative force of the revolutionary working class. The utopia of the “peaceful path to socialism” became a dead end when trust was placed in institutions such as Congress and the Armed Forces, which ended up carrying out a coup after constantly being called upon by the government to respect bourgeois institutionality.

The Industrial Cordones, in a letter addressed to President Allende on September 5, 1973, exemplify this situation: “Before, we had the fear that the process towards Socialism was being compromised to reach a central, reformist, democratic bourgeois government that tended to demobilize the masses or lead them to insurrectionary actions of an anarchic type out of an instinct for self-preservation. But now, analyzing the latest events, that is no longer our fear, now we are certain that we are on a slope that will inevitably lead us to fascism.”

This letter reflects the reality of the situation days before the coup and the need to redirect the course and trust in the strength of the working class to stop the imminent coup d’état. It is also a clear manifestation of the limits of the reformist leaderships that acted to the detriment of the revolutionary process, that is, the contradiction between the depth of the process and the limits of reformism was expressed, which tragically allowed the articulation of the military coup with the failure of the peaceful path of Popular Unity.

In 2023, when 50 years have passed since the coup and 4 years have passed since the rebellion that questioned the fundamental pillars of the model inherited from the dictatorship, it is more necessary than ever to carry out an in-depth analysis, promote debate and organization. We must learn the historical lessons of the Chilean revolutionary process and understand the reasons behind the defeat of Popular Unity (UP). It is also essential to recognize that the image of the years of dictatorship is still present in the current institutions and in the impunity that persists in cases of human rights violations both past and present, a regime supervised by the armed forces, as was demonstrated with the systematic violations of human rights during 2019 and the political prisoners that remain behind bars, while the repressive agents pass laws that give them impunity under the current government of Gabriel Boric.

It is for this reason that we inaugurate this section, titled “50 years after the military coup: from the resistance to the socialist and anti-capitalist proposal to transform everything.” We know that from below and the left, we can reconstitute the red thread that the dictatorship and the transitional governments tried to erase. We can recover the best of the working class tradition of the seventies and the popular struggles against the dictatorship, and put it at the service of a new generation that questions everything. In Movimiento Anticapitalista and our international organization, the International Socialist League (ISL), we are committed to this task, facing the challenges of today in a context of capitalist crisis that they are trying to unload on the backs of the working people and that increasingly affects the living conditions of the majority worldwide. The limits of the planet are endangered, leading us towards a catastrophe produced by the irrationality of capital accumulation. Additionally, the already restricted democracy we have is increasingly entrenched with more repression and the sexual and reproductive rights of women and LGBT people are being attacked. We are witnessing a time of crisis of capitalism that announces more war and rebellions. We must prepare.

Meanwhile, the government of the Frente Amplio and the Communist Party follow in the steps of the old Concertación not only governing in the same way, but also administering the state with the same people as always and taking advantage of the state through millions in theft. This policy is the fastest route to the extreme right, opening the doors to the worst of the nostalgic Pinochetist right, by making agreements with them and governing under the program of conservatism with a progressive mantle to add more extractivism, neoliberalism, repression and austerity.

In this section, we aim to bring together a variety of historical documents, articles produced by our organization and various contributions. This space is configured as a stage for debate in the fight to preserve historical memory from a red-key perspective, at the same time that we contribute to the construction of an anti-capitalist, socialist and internationalist political alternative. We extend an invitation to you to join and be part of this process.

* Source texts in Spanish

Revista de América 10

March-April 1973 (before the Pinochet coup)

Revista de América 11

October-November 1973 (after the Pinochet coup)