From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya: Marxist-Humanist Archives

Remembering Allende, 1973


September 11 marks the 30th anniversary of the vicious U.S.-engineered overthrow of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected leader of Chile.  In this coup, thousands of workers, peasants and women were killed by Chilean military forces supported by U.S. imperialism.

Below we publish a letter written by Raya Dunayevskaya to News and Letters Committees on Sept. 13, 1973, just two days after Allende was assassinated and his government toppled and replaced by the regime of Gen. Pinochet. It has been edited for publication.

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This is the most tragic day in the history of Latin America. In 1970 when Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile, it appeared that Cuba would by no means be the only country that was able to defeat American imperialism and Batista. Now the bloody victory of the military coup and the horrible murder of Allende [are] a victory of counter-revolution that, though it falls mainly on the Chilean masses, will by no means end there. Indeed, it is a start of counter-revolution not only in Latin America, but in U.S. imperialism’s continued stranglehold on Latin America.

Already, before ever he was officially designated as secretary of state, Henry Kissinger had put his suave but very dirty imperialistic hands into the cauldron of counter-revolution. As if his calling upon the U.S. ambassador in Chile, Nathaniel Davis, “a month ago” (though he appeared on the scene in Washington this Saturday and returned to Santiago to be present during the coup), meant that U.S. imperialism was not involved in this massacre going on in Chile now!

The fact is, as everyone knows, even before Watergate, the International Telephone and Telegraph Company (ITT) offered the Republican Party one million dollars to stop Allende’s election in 1970. After Allende’s election, not only did ITT not stop its attempt to topple the regime, but Nixon went so far as to carry out the most vicious economic boycott of Chile so that it could not even draw money from the world bank. At the same time, he had the U.S. Navy in Latin American waters, and we may be sure that Kissinger isn’t waiting for official confirmation before he has a whole list of “erudite” alternatives to assure the military coup’s victory.

The tragedy, unfortunately, has become fact, not only because of the oligarchy that resisted Allende’s agricultural reforms, the comprador bourgeoisie which was in collusion with U.S. imperialism against the nationalization of basic industries, and the fascistic Patria y Libertad (Fatherland and Liberty), but also because of the grand illusion of reformism. Because Allende gained power through a popular election and parliamentary means, he thought he could rule with the military intact as if they would obey him just because he was the duly elected “commander-in-chief.”

Worse still, he did not create a workers’ militia for self-defense for coping with the counter-revolution that was preparing its coup ever since he gained power, for making sure that workers’ control of production and not just the nationalization of industry would be the only guarantee of socialism. This was a sure way of guaranteeing that instead of a civil war, we would have a massacre.

As usual with Communists, they were instrumental in keeping the workers unarmed, in making sure that everybody lived under democratic delusions by having as their central slogan, “No Civil War.”

Now the masses--peasants, granted some agricultural reform; the workers, freed from imperialist stranglehold in the industries that would now be controlled by strong unions; and the poor in general--will fall into the greatest crisis and retrogression, not excluding death. At least 1,000 died just in the attack on the palace. How many are being shot without anyone knowing? How many are being rounded up for prison, for exile, for terror, for mutilation? What about no less than 10,000 revolutionaries and general dissenters who found refuge in Chile from the horrors of the military regimes in Latin America? What about Hugo Blanco, the famous peasant leader of Peru, a Trotskyist, who had been sentenced to no less than 25 years simply for organizing peasant unions, who was released after eight years but exiled and is living presently in Chile? What about the Party which so deluded itself about democracy that it has not prepared any underground way of functioning? When will the massacre stop?

And how, exactly, will Nixon-Kissinger-ITT-Anaconda Copper ameliorate inflation that so cut into the living, poor living, in Chile that was so aggravated by all the machinations of the native counter-revolutionary forces, including the small owners of trucks and their middle-class wives? Will anyone in the Left learn not just to be against what is...by creating such foundations for human relations that cannot succeed without unifying theory and practice, philosophy and revolution, workers’ rule unbound by coalition governments with the bourgeoisie.

It is impossible at this particular moment to develop any more comprehensively the analysis of the immediate situation. The one good immediate response we heard from our New York local was that they had just participated in a very militant demonstration of 1,000 against the Chilean counter-revolution and U.S. imperialism’s participation in it. There was also a demonstration of several hundred before the White House in Washington. Everyone should be on the lookout in every locality and participate actively in all opposition movements against what is happening in Chile and American imperialism’s participation in it...

I should also like to call to your attention--I do hope some of you own a bound volume of CORRESPONDENCE--to my editorial on the counter-revolution the U.S. engineered in Guatemala in its July 24, 1954 issue. You will find the following: “If the Communists played any role at all in this revolution, they saw to it that peasants and workers did not take things into their own hands, did not form committees outside government channels, nor arm themselves to defend their few gains.”

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