Monday, June 3, 2013

Who was Salvador Allende, really?

Continuing from the immediately preceding post, Georgie Anne Geyer begins to realize that there's something rotten in the state of Chile.  Particularly in the southern parts, around the city of Concepcion.  She tells the results of her investigation in Buying the Night Flight;
 ...there was the question of who was supporting and abetting a far leftist activist group called the MIR....This was a group of fanatic leftist guerrillas and activists in the South....In sharp and total contradiction to everything that President Allende...was saying about obeying Chilean law, the MIR in the South was ruthlessly taking over small farms, terrorizing people, and driving out the small middle class and small farmer class that was the backbone of Chile....Allende was angrily denying over and over in Santiago that he was a dangerous Marxist.
Geyer goes to Concepcion and informally meets with the leadership of Allende's Socialist party there.  She asks, directly, of Rafael Merino, if they are behind the tomas (the illegal land takeovers).  Merino, the local party head as well as a professor of philosophy at the university there, freely admits they are. I.e., Allende is lying when he denies it in Santiago.

She then travels all over the province and uncovers more evidence that Allende's Socialist party is indeed behind everything happening.  She talks her way into a prison in the city of Nuble to interview a leader of the MIR named Ugarte.  He tells her, 'We have to exterminate the patrones....Soon the fight is not going to be only for land. Now we are preparing for war. Civil war. The type in Spain or Indonesia.'

She talks to their victims too. They are clearly fearful, willing to meet with her only in secret and looking over their shoulders to see who might be listening.  She visits small--10-12 acre--farms and sees the 'lines of hostile-looking men'.  There is always one spokesman, 'the Socialist organizer'.  She asks rhetorically, 'This was a spontaneous revolution?'

She also says that she saw something else; the Chilean army wasn't ignoring what was going on.  They were hanging back, as long as Chile was still a democracy, but they wouldn't wait forever; 'As awful and as reprehensible as was the rightist dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which was to come, anyone who could not see that Allende's policies were leading directly to that certainly knew nothing of political dynamics.'

Noting that, 'Ironically' the traditional Communist Party of Chile wanted nothing to do with Allende's tactics.  They knew what the dynamics would be. 'In the winter of 1972' she's told by Volodie Teitelboim, the 'ideologue and thinker' of the CP of Chile that if Allende continues on his road, there will be a military coup, 'About eighteen months from now'.

That coup came in September 1973. And it happened because the country had completely broken down, it was in the 40th day of a nationwide strike by transport workers who were objecting to Allende's attempted takeover of their small businesses--trucking, taxis.  In addition to the truckers, over 200,000 small shopkeepers, the nation's doctors and dentists, and the housewives were also striking and demonstrating.  Allende was defiant, claiming the only way to get rid of him was 'impeachment'.  Well, not exactly.

One reason Allende might have been so confident was that he'd created a private army 10,000-12,000 strong of foreign Marxists, heavily armed with weapons from Cuba and the Soviet Union.  Those foreign troops were the people Pinochet's forces were after in the wake of the coup.  Jamie Galbraith's  'socialists, communists, poets and musicians.'

[more to come]

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