Former UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reflects on the 50th anniversary of Salvador Allende winning the presidency in Chile and his Popular Unity government which followed.
My first visit to Chile was in 1969. Popular Unity was assembling its programme, the May Day March was full of hopeful talk of the Left coming together to elect a president who would lead the transformation of Chile. A year later Allende was elected and assumed office.
The message around the globe was electric. A socialist platform to transform society in favour of the many was being implemented. The flowering of art, imagination, protest, demand had resulted in new homes, schools, access to university and real hope for millions. The opposition in Chile, conservative and bitter were emboldened by the resources of the very biggest corporations and the the worlds most powerful state, the USA. Three years of solidarity from millions and opposition from millionaires led to the coup of 1973. British supplied planes bombed the president. The reign of terror set in. Thousands were murdered.
The only way to remember this is the heroism of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Of the naked power of the richest and most powerful to retain their privilege and wealth. Fifty years on Allende is remembered and revered for the decent visionary socialist he was. Pinochet and the Generals are detested for the violent thugs they were. The songs of Victor Jara and the poetry of Neruda will never go away. That is because there are millions of us as determined as ever to create that decent world of equality, peace and justice.
The above text will be read at an event on Friday 4 September entitled Seminario Internacional » a 50 años del triunfo de la UP. More information about the event, which will be streamed online in Spanish, here.
Alborada’s next Alborada Online event on Thursday 10 September explores what the Popular Unity meant for its supporters and the historical context in which it arose and was ultimately defeated. Attendance is free but you need to register beforehand. You can register for tickets here.