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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Lessons of the fascist coup in Chile

The Presidential Palace -- in which Salvador Allende fought to the death -- is bombed during the fascist coup, September 11, 1973.

Released in English on September 12, this is an excellent statement from the Party of Labour of Austria on the lessons of the 50th anniversary of the fascist coup in Chile on September 11, 1973:

Today, 11 September, marks the 50th anniversary of the 1973 military coup in Chile. The Popular Front government led by the democratically elected president Salvador Allende, which had been in office since 1970, was overthrown on 11 September 1973 by a coup d'état of the military under General Pinochet, and Allende was assassinated. The US government and its secret service CIA were decisively involved in the action. Pinochet and the Chilean oligarchy, with the support of US and Western European imperialism, established a fascist dictatorship that lasted until 1990. Tens of thousands of Chileans were abducted, maltreated, imprisoned or killed, some managed to escape into exile.

The popular front government of the Unidad Popular (UP) consisted essentially of the united front of the Socialist and Communist parties, supported by the trade union centre CUT, social democrats, left liberals and Christian leftists. The aim of the UP was to implement anti-imperialist and anti-monopolist measures in favour of the people in order to optimise the conditions for the struggle for socialism. The reactionary, counter-revolutionary and fascist forces, in alliance with US imperialism and its monopoly capital, did not allow this and, after previous attempts at destabilisation and sabotage, they undertook a bloody military coup on 11 September 1973. Chile became the drill ground of "neoliberal" imperialism, under the conditions of maximum exploitation and oppression.

Today, 50 years after the coup, we remember the victims and honour the fighters in the resistance against fascism and imperialism. We condemn the shameful fact that the main criminals – Pinochet, Nixon, Kissinger or Bush Sr – have never been held accountable, nor have the banks and corporations from North America and Western Europe working in the background. We denounce the anti-working class and anti-peoples system of imperialism and capitalism, which denies peoples democratic sovereignty and the free choice of the path of development by barbaric and murderous means.

But we also draw our lessons from the fate of Chile's Unidad Popular. A revolutionary government cannot succeed by purely reformist means, because the power and anti-democratic ruthlessness of monopoly capital, the oligarchy and the counter-revolution prevent this – in case of doubt with all available violent means of fascist coups and dictatorships. The socialist revolution cannot simply take over the bourgeois-capitalist state apparatus and use it for its own purposes – it must overcome and smash it as a monopoly capitalist instrument of domination, replace it with revolutionary workers' and people's power and the socialist state. In this there must be no hesitation and no halt; persisting in stage goals inevitably leads to defeat. This must be taken into consideration with regard to alliance and people's front policy.

The fact of the class character of the armed formations of the bourgeois state can not be overlooked. Even if the mass of soldiers is inevitably recruited from the working class and the peasantry, the army under the leadership of the generality always remains an instrument of the ruling monopoly capital and thus a counter-revolutionary tool. As long as the rank and file soldiers themselves are not revolutionised, or at least relevant sections of the army and police can be neutralised, the working class and the revolutionary movement must be able to defend themselves. A entirely unarmed revolution will not be able to be victorious. It needs the people's armament or at least military capacity of the people's power to be able to successfully defend itself against internal and external counter-revolution. This is a lesson of the defeat of the Unidad Popular in 1973 too.

Long live the heroic struggle of Unidad Popular and the Chilean people!

Against imperialism and fascism! For self-determination and socialism!

The united people will never be defeated!



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