Salvador Allende reader


First Anniversary of the Popular Government

National Stadium, Santiago, November 4, 1971

Addressing an enthusiastic throng, Allende notes that each May 21, Chile's president is obligated to "render accounts" ("dar las cuentas") to Congress. He then announces he intends to break with that old framework by going directly to the people "in this stadium, or in larger places, dialoguing with the people and telling them that they are the fundamental factor in the Chilean revolutionary process." He talks about the difference between achieving the reins of government and achieving real political power. Speaking of achievements during his first year in office, he notes that it is now "our copper, our iron, our nitrates"; that unemployment is way down; and that special measures have been adopted to meet the needs of Chile's Mapuche people and other indigenous groups. He addresses the free milk program for children; agrarian reform; penal reform ("not one political prisoner"); maternity care and other social services; law and order; protection of small and medium-sized businesses; reforestation; the foreign debt; and bureaucratism. He lauds the armed forces and Carabineros (national police). Denouncing the forces of fascism and infantile leftism ("extremism," an implicit reference to "ultraleft" groups), Allende concludes with a renewed plea for unity and a ringing series of "we shall win's."

Chileans, people of Santiago. A year ago in this same big place, I said, "The people said we shall win, and we did."

Today, with authentic pride, the Comrade President also says, "We said we were going to accomplish things, and we did." I was told: "You will not be able to fill the stadium." I was told that the galleries were going to be deserted, that the people were not going to come. I wish our enemies could see this marvelous spectacle of workers, students youth, women, peasants and — thanks also to those fathers and mothers who have brought their children — the children of Chile, to them my affection and consideration.

I greet and am grateful for the presence here of diplomats and representatives of friendly countries who have willingly come to be with us. I greet the members of the Chilean trade union confederation [CUT], its President Comrade Luis Figueroa, and its secretary general who have come to this ceremony.

I greet the representatives of the parties and groups that make up the Popular Unity. I also pay homage to the thousands and thousands of workers who fill the galleries, and those who built floats with their own hands and funds. I greet and I pay homage to an exemplary worker, Comrade Barría. This anonymous worker, with a new awareness and a new spirit, built a new machine at the Andina Mine which has greatly increased production. I greet the new revolutionary awareness of the Chilean workers.

I have come to render accounts to the people. According to the political constitution I am required to inaugurate the regular session of Congress on May 21 and to report to it and to the country on the administrative, economic, social, and political state of the country.

We are breaking in new structures and within one year we shall inform the people in this stadium, or in larger places, dialoguing with the people and telling them that they are the fundamental factor in the Chilean revolutionary process. We attained power in October and on November 3 we assumed the responsibility of governing this country by a popular mandate expressed at the polls and ratified by congressional decision.

Today, I have come to say that slowly but surely we have been gaining power. We have carried out the revolutionary changes of the Popular Unity platform. Chileans have recovered what belongs to them, their basic wealth which was formerly held by foreign capital. We have defeated monopolies and the oligarchy. Both of these advances are essential to break the chains which bind us to underdevelopment, are the only means of destroying the institutionalized violence which exploited the great majorities. That is why we are here to show that we have advanced in the social areas, under the economic program that is fundamental for people's power. We control 90 percent of what was previously private banking. Sixteen banks, the most powerful including the Español, the Suramericano, Crédito de Inversiones, and the Banco de Chile are today the property of the country and the people.

More than 70 strategic or monopolistic enterprises have been expropriated, intervened or nationalized. Today we can speak of our copper, our coal, our iron, our nitrates, and our steel. The fundamental bases for heavy industry are today owned by Chile and Chileans.

We have emphasized and extended the agrarian reform process. A total of 1,300 extensive holdings, 2.4 million hectares, have been expropriated. Some 16,000 people now live there and we plan to settle 10,000 more. If it was important to have extended the agrarian reform to make the soil produce in a different manner, and to change its ownership, it was also important to provide seed and fertilizer to those for whom the land is their daily bread. More than agrarian reform, we have made the peasant feel like a citizen and aware of his great task side by side with the workers and the people, so that the people will have more to eat. Your work is spread throughout the country and will represent more health and welfare for all Chileans. That is why we created the Peasant Councils.

Furthermore, we have been striving to change labor relations. Now, the workers are aware that they are the government, that their attitude has to be different. This is why I say to you that the responsibility assumed by the leaders of CUT is exemplary and point out the importance of their agreement with the government. That is also why the national congress has a bill before it which decrees worker participation in the administration of government enterprises; worker participation in mixed enterprises; and participation in private enterprise cooperation committees. That is also why we have created production committees in nationalized and mixed enterprises, and we will have to create them in private enterprises to deeply impress workers with their responsibility in the process of national production.

To us it is very important that the majority, all the workers, understand that they are the government, and therefore, their attitude toward workers' demands, and readjustments, as well as their own personal attitudes should be different. I went to Chuquicamata and spoke to the copper workers. I visited the different sections and held a meeting at each one. In the late afternoon, after the sun had set, I spoke to more than 4,000 workers for three hours. I expounded on the need to revise their list of demands. I asked them, how could they want a copper strike — which the people's enemies very much wanted — at a time when Chile was facing the problem of indemnification to the previous foreign owners? I asked them, how could they conspire to provoke a strike through a list of demands that the enterprise could not grant? I told them that we should write the list of demands in such a manner that the worker, the poor copper worker would be incorporated in the leadership of the enterprise; that the workers assembly would produce administrators; and that according to the CUT-government agreement there would be union-management committees. There would be a readjustment of the minimum salary and a percentage of the firm's surplus profits would go to the union's funds. The balance would be divided between the investment which should be made by the enterprise to achieve technical progress and social investments made to benefit the workers, to pay salaries and wages in relation to the production and productivity, and to lead the worker to productive progress, because the copper enterprises are Chile's wages, and because the copper workers are the owners of these enterprises when they become part of the process.

From here, looking down at other miners, with their helmets, their lighted headlamps, I call on the Chuquicamata workers to assume their responsibility, and tell them that all Chile awaits their answer. I have faith in the copper workers' answer.

I want to point out that the government has been concerned, through the Agriculture Ministry, about a sector of the Chilean people that has been discriminated against, the Mapuches, the Indians, the roots of our race, who are always forgotten. Your government has taken special interest in them. That is why we have intensified agrarian reform in Cautín. That is why we have created the Mapuche Vocational Training Institute and the Indian Development Corporation. We want the Mapuches to have the same rights and the same laws as other Chileans, and we want to improve their cultural, material and political levels so that they can join us in the great battle for the liberation of our country.

There is another group of Chileans, always forgotten, ignored, and in my opinion unknown in the scope of their role. I had the opportunity to see and appreciate their integrity and their value as humans. They are "afuerinos" [landless peasants]. They are the 150,000 Chilean outcasts in their own country, without homes, without permanent jobs, without families, walking from village to village, sleeping under bridges, and sometimes persecuted by the police. The Moneda [presidential palace] and the Agriculture Ministry have been opened to them for the first time, and I gave an urgent order to schedule an emergency program so that the landless peasant will be another worker, so that he can till the land, have his own home and so that he can stand beside the Mapuche and the worker in the task we have before us in our country.

That is why we have been gaining power; we have been incorporating deprived groups and sectors. We have been concerned with strengthening democracy and expanding liberties through the redistribution of income and economic liberation.

This government wants an authentic democracy and complete freedom for all Chileans. Democracy and freedom are incompatible with unemployment and lack of housing, the lack of culture, illiteracy and sickness. How is democracy strengthened? By creating more jobs, giving better wages, building more homes, providing the people with more culture, education and better health. Workers, let us see what we have done.

This country has been plagued for more than a century by brutal unemployment. In September 1970, we had 8.4 percent unemployed. By September 1971, we had reduced it to 4.8. In December 1970, there were 87,000 unemployed in Santiago. Now, regrettably we still have 51,000. In December 1970 there were 5,000 unemployed in Puerto Montt, now there are only 300. In Temuco there were 9,000 unemployed last year, there are now only 3,000. In the Bío-Bío, Malleco and Cautín areas we have created 12,000 new jobs. Another important factor in cementing democracy is to balance the possibilities and incomes to lessen the immense differences existing in the capitalist system as far as salaries are concerned.

Let us see what have we accomplished. In 1968, 60 percent of the families received 17 percent of the national income. During that same year 2 percent of the families received 45 percent of the national income. We are correcting this injustice. In 1970, wage earners received 50 percent of the national income. In 1971 wage earners are receiving 59 percent of the national income. We have taken a big step. We have taken a bigger step, however, by increasing the workers', peasants', and government employees' family incomes, bringing them closer to private employees' income.

With compassion and kindness, we have concerned ourselves with pensioners, widows, old people and the poor. For the first time in Chilean history we have not seen in the congressional gardens, or around the presidential palace, old Chileans who gave their life's work and who even in their last hours, were not granted the right to die in peace. Today, your government has taken a basic interest in providing justice for these old people....

Listen well: we have increased by 52 percent the delivery of milk to Chilean children, and the half liter of milk will be a reality for your children, comrades.

We have carried out a campaign against infectious diseases in the provinces affected by the earthquake, and also against endemic diseases, especially summer diarrhea. We have controlled the quality of water and conducted campaigns to eradicate the garbage dumps and clean up the slums. Volunteer work by citizens has been an important factor in these campaigns.

We have democratized the National Health Service to complement the doctor with the personnel working under him to allow workers and their families to really benefit from health services and also to participate authentically in their own health maintenance.

In order to bring democracy to the welfare field we have given social benefits to one-third of the population which did not have them. Some 900,000 have been incorporated into the benefits — merchants, transporters, small and medium farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, dentists, the independent sector and priests, nuns, pastors, ministers of all religious creeds. Some 900,000 Chileans who did not have social benefits will have them thanks to you and the popular government....

We have financed the milk plan for 600 million escudos and contributed to the special mother-child fund which will amount to the considerable sum of more than 1 billion escudos.

...I can say with great satisfaction that in this country we have authentic democracy. There is not one political prisoner in jail here. There are some who abuse their freedom, who deserve to be in jail. [Cheers from the crowd] There is no politician in jail, no student under arrest. University autonomy is respected here. There is not a single banned magazine. Two or three newspapers and five or six magazines have been established since September 4 [1970]. Some of them are poisonous, the likes of which Chile has never seen, but they are there. They print their plots against the government of the people daily, others periodically. Only 20 meters from La Moneda Palace anyone who wants to can purchase papers and magazines which insult the president and his government, but which receive in return the contempt of the people and my own contempt, because I have confidence in your political conscience and faith in your strength for the defense of the government. [Applause]

We have submitted to congress a bill that creates the social area of economy, and in it we have incorporated — as I said before — the participation of the workers. With it we must establish which sectors will be state-controlled and the companies that will become — for the benefit of Chile — part of the social area of the economy. We have provided as a basis 14 million escudos in capital.

In this stage we want to bring under state control between 120 and 150 companies, realizing that in Chile there are 35,000 or more enterprises. The monopolies, the large businessmen, know that their enterprises will be brought under state control in the social area. They will receive compensation. However, 35,000 or more small and medium businessmen and industrialists have nothing, absolutely nothing, to fear from the government of the people. [Applause]

It is appropriate that our nation should be proud of its workers, that there has been an appreciable increase in production in state-controlled industries, in the industries managed by the workers: nitrate production is up 50 percent, cement 7 percent, oil 32 percent, electronics 55 percent — which has made possible the program of popular television sets and you will be able to have television sets in your homes and will see me periodically — Bella Vista Tomé Textile has increased 26 percent, and Caupolicán-Chiguayante 15 percent. That is, all the state-controlled industries have put idle capacity into production enormously increasing their production.

I want to point out that this year 60,000 hectares have been reforested, whereas the average of the last few years was 25,000.1 want to say as an example, that the National Oil Enterprise has, in five months, with the help of Chilean workers and technicians, constructed a dock in Quintero for ships of 200,000 tons deadweight, which will save us more than $5 million a year in freight costs.

...The law and order of a revolutionary government is not the law and order of a bourgeois democracy. Our law and order is based on social equality and uses persuasion as its tool. We need order to change structures. It is the law and order of a people's government, of a revolutionary country. We cannot accept the imbalance of isolated individuals who might provoke chaos. The guarantee of order lies in the organized working classes, aware, disciplined, capable of understanding the historic task ahead. That is why we must have the workers participating in all the activities of our life with their class awareness and their revolutionary purpose. That is why we do not accept pressure, why we have said with revolutionary sincerity that we are against the indiscriminate takeover of farms because it creates anarchy in production and the end result is the eviction of the peasants, a result detrimental to the peasants....

We are against the takeover of housing which is detrimental to the workers who have made payments to acquire them. We are against the seizure by workers of small and medium factories. Nationalization, intervention, and requisitioning of enterprises must follow a government plan and not the anarchy of a voluntary impulse of a few.... This year we Chileans did more than the Cubans did during their first year of the Cuban Revolution, and that is not intended to the detriment of the Cubans. When Fidel Castro comes here I am going to ask him and I know what his answer will be. Let it be known for the record that we made our revolution without social cost. I can say that there is no country in the world which has carried out its revolutionary process without social cost. You have seen that the People's Government has done it, we have done it together, and this has a great value in human terms and for the country's economy.

I want to stress that an organized, aware and disciplined people with political ideals, whose workers are organized in unions, and federations, and the CUT, is the political base of the revolutionary process, as are also — and I point this out because this is a process within legality — the armed forces and the Carabineros of Chile: I pay homage to the people who wear uniforms, and to their loyalty to the constitution and to the will expressed at the polls by their fellow citizens. I want to emphasize the exemplary discipline of the armed forces and the Carabineros, their courage and sacrifice during the sad times of the earthquakes, snowstorms, and volcanic eruptions. I want to point out how they joined the process of defending our economic frontier and are present in the steel, iron and copper industries, and in the atomic energy commission. Chile thereby provides an example which is envied by the whole world....

We have faced serious problems: earthquakes, snowstorms, volcanic eruptions — and the people have marched on — economic problems, a decrease in the price of copper. During the previous administration copper reached a high of 84 cents. The average this year will be no higher than 49 cents. World inflation forces us to pay more for our imports. It is true that we started with $3.4 million in monetary reserves, but we also assumed a foreign debt of $2.56 billion plus $736 million that the copper companies owe.

We are the world's most indebted country. Each of you, hear me well, each one of the 120,000 present here, each one of the 10 million Chileans, owes $300 abroad. Many of you have never seen a dollar and have to realize that you are in debt and that this country is so indebted. Only Israel, a country that is at war, has a higher debt per capita than Chile. During the next three years we must pay, as a result of the commitments of the previous governments, more than $1 billion....

In the political picture we deplore the split in the Radical Party, and we hope that the reunification of that ancient party will soon be possible because we want the political base of your government to be maintained. That is also why we have appealed to the Christian Leftists separated from the Christian Democracy, to join the Popular Unity because we have to strengthen the ties between Marxists, laymen, and Christians which represent the Chilean's revolutionary zeal.

I would like to stress the "ultras" — the pseudo-fascists we might say, those who were involved in General Schneider's murder the pseudo-nationalists, those who never said a word when Chile's copper and wealth were in foreign hands — are now speaking of demagogic nationalism which the people reject. They are the troglodytes and cavemen of an anticommunism called upon to defend the advantages of minority groups. The people will stop them and fascism shall not occur in this country.

There are also, as I have said before, extremist sectors to whom I say that we do not fear discussion or ideological debate, but to begin this discussion it would be well for them to read Lenin's little book which says: "Extremism, the infantile disease of communism."... We cannot disregard the fact that objectively the small and medium bourgeoisie is and must be on our side. Just as we need the small and medium craftsmen, producers, businessmen, technicians and professionals.

That is why more than ever one has to be aware of what Chilean life is and of the path that is authentically ours, which is the path of pluralism, democracy and freedom, the path that opens the doors of socialism.

We have to put an end to centralism and bureaucracy. We want to put an end to the queues at the windows that sell stamped paper and the little phrase "come back tomorrow." We want the public employees to work on Saturday morning. We do not want a "Saint Monday" in the revolutionary government of the people. [Applause]

I would like to point out that voluntary work is something responsible and serious that should be planned.... I had the joy of seeing that the workers of Chuquicamata, the Sunday before last, mobilized 40,000 tons of slag, 36,000 the previous Sunday, and they are going to continue working. This is constructive, planned and organized voluntary work which is a demonstration of the conscientious participation of the people in the great constructive work of the homeland.

We should concern ourselves with the sickness of alcoholics. I have always said that one of the most serious diseases of Chile is alcoholism, and I have said that during the government of the people there would be less and better drinking. We are also going to fulfill that, comrades. [Applause] Don't protest! Don't protest! [Laughter and applause]

We have done a lot for the children but we must do more for the abandoned children and those in unusual situations, for the beggars, for the vagrant children. We have not established a sufficient number of childcare centers and parks. Every town should have a children's library and a children's park. That is the task that we must fulfill.

The people have learned that victory is in unity. Let us not permit the unity of the people to fall apart. Let us not permit extremism which attempts to dislodge the fundamental bases. We have to find, and we will search for it, the language that will unite all revolutionaries because the enemies are too powerful and do not rest. We have to defend the popular victory. The people know that they are the true forgers of victory. The people know that once again, through one of their sons, and the son of a railroad worker, they are on the world stage. The people know that the name of Chile is engraved in history thanks to the verse and song of one of its sons, a man who is one of us, a social fighter, Pablo Neruda, poet of Latin America and the world.

Therefore I said one year ago: Forward, we shall win. We shall win by strengthening our unity. We shall win by broadening the political and social bases of the Chilean revolutionary movement. To the youth: We shall win by studying more. To the workers, technicians, professionals, peasants and employees: We shall win by producing more. We shall win when the Chilean woman learns about our appeal and joins the struggle of her man, her father, her son and her brother. We shall win when the youth know that their combat post is here, that we have called upon them for the great task of tomorrow.

Forward, comrades, we must win so that we can live as brothers and without hate in our own homeland, improving our morality with the constructive revolutionary force of the people. Forward Chileans, we shall win again for the homeland and the people.

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