Allende was not a pacifist and he didn't have any principled objection to armed struggle. Figueroa notes that Allende, visiting Cuba a few months after the revolution, was given a copy of Che Guevara's Guerilla Warfare, in which Che had written: "To Salvador Allende, who seeks the same ends by different means. Yet Allende understood that the regional balance of forces did not favour a traditional revolutionary model in Chile.
Workers benefited from increases in social security payments, an expanded public works program, and a modification of the wage and salary adjustment mechanism which had originally been introduced in the s to cope with the country's permanent inflation , while middle-class Chileans benefited from the elimination of taxes on modest incomes and property. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Originally the visit was supposed to be one week; however, Castro enjoyed Chile and one week led to another. Archived from the original PDF on 16 November Friedrich Engels.
Having been caught off-guard by the Cuban revolution, the CIA was policing its "backyard" with extreme vigilance. Meanwhile, Chile's functioning bourgeois democracy, its particular configuration of political forces and its relatively mature working-class leadership led Allende and others to believe that the best chance to start a process of revolutionary change was via the ballot box. In just three years of government Popular Unity made some bold steps forward, including the nationalisation of the country's key economic resources, halving unemployment, socialising education and healthcare, initiating a wide-ranging land reform, promoting the rights of women and the indigenous population and bringing Chile into the socialist and non-aligned camp.
But ultimately Allende's dream of a peaceful road to socialism ended in its opposite. From on, General Pinochet's forces used the most despicable violence to wipe out the left and pave the way for a programme of Chicago School capitalist fundamentalism.
Could Allende have done more to prevent counter-revolution? Should alternative armed forces have been built?
Should the army's conservative elements have been rooted out? Or should the far left have closed ranks with Allende and worked harder to build unity with the centre? With hindsight, such questions may seem easy to answer but at the time there were no simple formulas.
Allende knew very well that the revolution needed to be protected but he also knew that, if he moved too fast, he would undermine the very fragile alliance that was allowing the working-class, indigenous and oppressed people to exercise some meaningful political power for the first time in Chile's history.
The fact that Popular Unity was able to achieve so much and leave such a lasting legacy is a reminder that revolution comes in many different forms and each one must take into account thousands of unique factors. As Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban parliament, stated in a recent interview: "For a long while now, one of the fundamental errors of socialist and revolutionary movements has been the belief that a socialist model exists If socialism is to be created, it must respond to realities, motivations, cultures, situations, contexts, all of which are objectives that are different from each other, not identical.
What the fall of Allende does show is that revolutions do not exist in isolation and that sometimes the prevailing regional and global conditions simply do not allow them to survive. And yet Allende's legacy lives on, most prominently in the ongoing socialist experiments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and elsewhere.
Well written and thoroughly researched, Salvador Allende: Revolutionary Democrat is an important contribution to a crucial debate and pays due tribute to a great leader of the left. List of Maps ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 1.
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About the Book For a thousand days in the early s, Chileans experienced revolution not as a dream but as daily life. From Our Blog. About the Author Marian E. Grassroots initiatives of participatory democracy created experiences beyond the vanguardism and sectarianism that weighed more heavily in Santiago—and in historical narratives of the Allende era.
Schlotterbeck writes with rare eloquence and deep empathy.