Farewell Address to Fidel Castro
Santiago's National Stadium, December 4, 1971
Here Allende discusses the differences between the Chilean and Cuban paths to socialism. Emphasizing solidarity among the world's peoples, he notes the similar enemies that Chile and Cuba have had to face. He also denounces the mercenary and seditious nature of the prior day's "march of the empty pots" by women from a "high-class suburb." Allende reiterates that Chile's is the first revolution to include an alliance of Christians and Marxists. He says the Catholic Church is tolerant of his government. (Chile's Cardinal actually went on to back the 1973 coup d'etat only to say later that he had been deceived by the military men in charge and now felt obliged to denounce their dictatorship and their notorious violations of human rights.) Allende outlines steps that must be taken to beat back the sinister attempts at counterrevolution by powerful minorities and their foreign backers. Ridiculing threats on his life, he warns, "Only by riddling me with bullets can they stop me from fulfilling the people's programs.... I can interpret your will, but tomorrow other comrades will be at your side, and if one of them falls, another will come, and another and another, and the people will continue in the Chilean revolution."
People of Chile; dear comrade and friend Major Fidel Castro, revolutionary Cuba's prime minister [Applause]; comrade leaders of the political parties and movements that make up the popular parties; dear women comrades; dear young comrades: Fidel Castro's presence in our country signifies the gallant meeting of two peoples, two peoples united by their history, by their desire for justice, by their struggle for true freedom. The two peoples have struggled and are still struggling to break the dependence imposed by the privileged minorities who for so many years wielded power and used that power for their own privilege and profit.
Fidel Castro has come to our country and has traveled from the arid north to the southern areas, from the mountain slopes to the seashore. He came neither to teach nor to learn. He has brought his experience and his words, the words of an authentic revolutionary, who has spoken to peasants, students, soldiers, women and men of our country. He has spoken of the obligations revolutionaries incur. He has pointed out the hardships of the liberating struggle, the effort, the self-improvement required of all levels of people. Furthermore, he has pointed out the vices of the revolutionary process, sectarianism and dogmatism. He did not come to interfere in Chilean domestic politics. He has not said a word that could go beyond our borders to affect rulers of other countries. He has said, in his revolutionary language, what Cuba has been and what revolution is. Revolution has no last name. When he speaks of revolution, he is speaking of Chile and Cuba and all the countries in the world. [Applause]
We were aware that Cuba, because of its history, was different from Chile; therefore, it sought a path according to its own situation. They defeated the Batista dictatorship with arms and started on the difficult task — full of sacrifices — to build a new homeland, where the people's dignity would reach new individual and collective levels. Chile, according to its history and its situation has sought its path, and has traveled this path to achieve within the framework of elections, the creation of a popular, national, truly authentic and democratic government, to enter the broad avenues which will lead us to socialism. [Applause]
Our country had to defeat those who tried to fence it in, isolate it, separate it from the rest of the Latin American countries, as they unjustly and stupidly had done with Cuba. We have helped to break down, to destroy the ideological frontiers created to restrict mankind's thoughts and revolutionary will. As president of the Chilean people, I went to Argentina, Perú, Colombia and Ecuador, and that is why, according to the legitimate right due a revolutionary government, we invited the Cuban people through our friend Major Fidel Castro. [Applause]
We helped to tear down the fence which was put around Cuba 10 years ago, and if anything shows that we interpret the will of the masses and the national majorities. It is the fact that five days after we took office, the first international step we took was to renew diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with Cuba. [Applause]
As I have said before, Cuba and Chile have arrived at a revolutionary process through different paths. We are taking the necessary steps to cement the revolutionary process and advance rapidly toward the goals we have set.
The Cuban and Chilean revolutions contain the best traditions, liberating traditions established by those who set us examples. We can say they are with us, through the examples of their lives, and their thoughts — O'Higgins, Bolívar, San Martín and Martí. They showed us the way to rebellion by the people to make possible our political independence then, and our economic independence now. [Applause] Then, against one empire; now, against another.
The Chilean and Cuban peoples are in the front lines of this new stage of liberation. We expressed our desire for complete sovereignty and our decision to forge our own destinies. Both peoples have rebelled against a social class which was ruling this continent's nations. Both countries have arisen against social violence which still marks Latin America's tragic situation, lack of culture, moral and ideological misery, hunger, unemployment, lack of housing, and lack of sanitary facilities. These are landmarks of the misery and pain of this continent's popular masses.
How often have I said, and we say again, 11 million unemployed — more than 60 million Latin Americans have only part-time jobs. We are lacking 19 million housing units. Some 53 percent of the people in this country are underfed. Our average life-span is shorter than that in industrialized socialist or capitalist nations. The infant mortality rate brutally affects our countries' future. Thousands and thousands and thousands of children die — children who should have lived to be tomorrow's citizens. This contrasts with a minority that lives the pleasures of a consumer society, a minority that denies the people more opportunities and has complacently given away our natural resources. Every year the gap widens between the countries of this continent and the countries that have attained the commercial and industrial revolution and are progressing rapidly into the stage of the technological and scientific revolution.
In the face of this reality emerges the will of the peoples who do not want to live with the pain of hunger, misery, ignorance and backwardness. All the Latin American countries have risen to search for their own independent path that will permit the integral development of the human personality. The drama of Latin America has to be seized by the conscientious will of the popular masses who know perfectly well that they must reject the economic exploitation and the overbearing domination of those who have influenced our lives, limiting our possibilities and subjecting us to be economically dependent countries, impressing upon us a culture that is not ours, denying our past, closing our future, and planning a future of pain and misery for our peoples. Latin America is rising up in revolutionary will to make possible the mandate of our illustrious forefathers — continental unity — and to appear before the world in control of its own destiny. [Applause]
Both revolutionary processes have met and continue to encounter identical enemies, foreign and domestic. Cuba learned years ago about blockade, invasion, and acts of aggression, the daily infiltration and the invasion of Playa Girón. Cuba has defeated the invasion, infiltration and blockade, and is rising up with the conscientious and disciplined effort of its popular masses, and by the will of its revolutionary leaders, to defeat backwardness and rapidly take the path of progress in the collective patriotic task of making Cuba a truly patriotic homeland for all Cubans.
Chile is developing according to our reality, with a revolutionary process that embodies what has been our history and is our tradition. We have repeated this often before the people, and we have said that our path is a new path being constructed by a people who have as their sole guide their own determination and the experience they acquire every day.
Our confrontation is a confrontation which continues every minute and every instant against the minority sectors which had government power before, and against the great foreign interests which warped our economy and which sought to subject us to an implacable yoke of imperialistic penetration. The Chilean people never sought the path of violence. The people of Chile know from the experiences suffered who exercised violence throughout our history, and how we had to learn it in the days between September 4 and November 3,1970. And that time we experienced the lesson of an arrogant and imposing oligarchy allied with imperialism, which searched for every way to prevent the people from obtaining access to the government. There we learned how implacable its decisions are, decisions which went as far as the murder of the commander-in-chief of the army in order to attack the majority of Chile who wanted to have a popular, national, and revolutionary government.
We have always replied with the complete calm of those who know their strength. We have always repeated that the people do not want violence and that others unleash it, in disguise or shamelessly. We have always warned that we would answer counterrevolutionary violence with revolutionary violence.
We took office, and we have used the paths provided us by our own reality and our own existence, and the revolution has been progressing toward the fulfillment of the Popular Unity program. That is why we recovered our basic wealth from the hands of foreign capital and that is why — within the legal channels and within the constitution itself — we can tell the world, with pride in ourselves as Chileans, that the coal is ours, the nitrates are ours, the iron is ours, the steel is ours, and the copper is ours.
We have intensified the agrarian reform and deeply wounded the latifundio [large estate]. We have placed the banks under state control. We have also placed various monopolies under state control to strengthen the social area of the economy. In fulfilling the fundamental aspects of the Popular Unity program we have concerned ourselves fundamentally with the Chilean man and woman, the child, and the old person. That is the reason for the policy of redistributing income, to prevent the perpetuation in our homeland of the brutal differences that distinguish the capitalist system, where exploitation of man by man is the essential thing.
In the progress of our revolution we have hurt the interests of the privileged minorities and we have respected the rights gained by the people. We have progressed and pointed out to the people that the revolution has been made and will be made for the benefit of the majorities. That is why Chile is at this moment experiencing the attack that comes implacably organized from abroad and finds support at home in sectors that yearn for power and would like to stop the progress of your government, the people who have become the government. Domestically we have witnessed a grim, seditious attitude that is becoming more accentuated as we advance in the conquest of economic power for the national majorities.
When I returned from the trip to member countries of the Andean Pact I delivered a speech that surprised many because I was returning after having been treated with deference and hospitality by the governments of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, as I had been treated previously by the Argentine Government. I delivered a speech that, in spite of the fact that the tour had signified the presence of Chile and recognition from people of those countries, that, I can say with satisfaction, how greatly our revolution and our foreign policy attitude based on the fundamental principles of self-determination of peoples were respected and appreciated — I say that in spite of this success, which had definitively smashed ideological barriers, I spoke to the people pointing out that I could see from a distance how the disaffected sectors were firmly and strongly grouping to stop the accelerated progress of the Chilean revolution. It is not surprising, therefore, that yesterday we witnessed in Santiago a demonstration by women who came from the high-class suburb [shouting and booing] to downtown Santiago. The people should know that that large demonstration was not a women's demonstration. It was preceded by a group of 70 or 80 boys with helmets and masks. They carried clubs with metallic projections, and they were probably armed. The women were flanked by organized groups of men who were similarly attired. A similar group made up the rearguard.
The demonstration was authorized by the government because we will never deny the rights that our laws bestow upon our opponents to walk the streets of Chile. To keep absolute order, however, we put a limit and an end to that demonstration, a demonstration that had, as an expression of protest, the empty pots of the most rotten sectors of the bourgeoisie, of those who never... [loud shouting] of those who have never known the lack of basic foods, of those who came and left in powerful cars, of those who were in Providencia Arriba until 3 or 4 in the morning interrupting traffic, burning tires and endangering homes with the fires. That demonstration definitely had a political content and the people should know this. There was a moment when the men who flanked that column, in the face of protests from the workers, who, with exemplary sacrifice, are constructing the buildings that will house an international conference of extraordinary importance next April, came close to tearing down the doors of those buildings under construction and hurled themselves against them to carry out their aim of burning the buildings to the ground. The workers who are constructing those buildings, with their attitude, with their determination, prevented yesterday's fascists from burning the UNCTAD buildings being constructed by the people.
We must remember that Chile is witnessing an event that is not strange to the processes of peoples who have searched for the path of their emancipation. The latifundists use small and medium farmers, making them believe that the revolution is hurting them. The monopolists use the small producers, the large distributors use the merchants. At this very moment at the Caupolicán Theater [booing], probably hundreds of small and medium producers and merchants are meeting, producers and businessmen who have nothing to fear from the Popular Unity government, who have already received real benefits, but who do not understand what it means for them to serve the interests of those who only yesterday placed the noose around the possibilities of their development.
This is why one must not disregard the fact that a fascist germ is mobilizing certain sectors of our youth, especially in the universities. As I have already said, women are used in protest demonstrations, such as the one held in Santiago yesterday. The events are similar to those experienced by Brazil during the Goulart administration [a reformist government overthrown by the military in 1964]. All that is lacking is the exploitation of religious sentiments to create a deeper emotional atmosphere. They have been unable to do so because it is evident that the people and their government respect the right of every Chilean man and woman to have and to exercise the belief that best agrees with their conviction. And they have been unable to use this resource because they have seen the attitude of detachment and impartiality of the Chilean Church. Those who call themselves Catholics and Christians have not hesitated to insult and slander the cardinal of the Chilean Church himself. [Applause]
This is taking place at the same time that the Christian Left has come to strengthen the Popular Unity. I have pointed out the importance of the fact that Chile is the first country where laymen, Marxists, and Christians make up the solid basis of the popular forces expressed in the parties and movements of the people and fundamentally in the organized conscience of the workers, in the Chilean trade union confederation (CUT). [Applause]
These things that I am pointing out and that the people should not forget, are occurring within our borders, while beyond them arises the attitude of those who believe that these revolutionary peoples do not have the moral strength and the revolutionary determination to defend their revolution and the profile of their own personality. Yesterday the news agencies said that the members of a mission that the U.S. president sent to tour the Latin American countries... [booing] have said that Chile can say little because the Chilean record has no acceptance in the countries which they visited, and that from the talks that they have had with the rulers of these countries it can be deduced that the Popular Government's hours are numbered. [Booing]
This has been reported and published in the newspapers with the largest circulation in the United States. In response to the protest of our ambassador we have received a denial and a clarification. But the fact signaled by the reports still stands, and moreover is tradition. Here I tell those who attempt or who intend to interfere that Chile is not a no-man's-land. Chile belongs to the Chileans. Its people, after years and years of suffering, duty and hope, have come to power, and they have as their president your comrade, who is now addressing you. [Applause]
We are in power to make Chile's development possible, and give a deeper meaning to the word homeland, a word widely mentioned by the reactionary sectors who besmirched themselves when they submitted to foreign pressure or when they gave away our basic resources. The authentic Chilean, the patriot who feels love and affection for the birth land and wants a big and generous country for all Chileans, will be beside the People's Government to defend Chile and Chilean dignity, and to reject foreign threats, insolence and pressures. [Applause]
They are deeply mistaken, those who believe that through threats, through pressures, through restricting our credits or through thwarting our possibilities of refinancing our foreign debt, they can block our path. Those who have decided to continue to defend the control they had over Chile's basic wealth should understand that in pressuring Chile, that there is a new Chile and that Chileans want to own their land, their country's wealth. They are mistaken if they so much as try to prevent us from exercising our right to forge with our efforts and sacrifices the destiny we desire for a great country. [Applause]
That is why this coincidence is suspicious. The people should understand how internal problems and events are brought about. We have observed the coincidence of irresponsible or indiscreet words being uttered, words which could not have been uttered unintentionally because of the high position of those saying them. That is why the people should be aware of the common enemy, they should be aware of what is happening, they should de aware of what has taken place. There was the attack on our comrade, the interior minister. In Valparaiso stones were hurled at the car in which I rode. Knowing that this was the vile and cowardly attitude of those who act in the dark, I got out of the car and walked through Valparaiso's streets, protected only by popular affection and the people's respect. [Applause]
Last night an attempt was made to burn the residence of the comrade health minister, Dr. Concha. Yesterday they tried to attack the Communist Youth headquarters and the Radical Party center. Carabineros yesterday battled with those who wanted to go to downtown Santiago and to create even more trouble and to enter the municipal theater, where we, together with the diplomatic corps, were attending ceremonies celebrating the 100th anniversary of our foreign relations ministry. That is why we should not forget these things. That is why it is good to bear these things in mind. That is why the people should understand that as we advance with the program our people want, the opposition becomes more and more obdurate. As president of Chile I tell you people that I will respect the opposition, as long as it is within Chile's legal framework, but that I can tell the difference between opposition and sedition, and that political parties should acknowledge their share of the blame. [Applause]
They are trying to sidetrack us from the path we have charted. They are lying, saying that in Chile there is no freedom, that the right to disseminate information has been suspended and that the press is in danger. They are conspiring to continue spreading deceptions, to gain support in certain sectors. They are the conspirators in the dark plot to oppose the will of the people. I tell you comrades, comrades of so many years, with calm and absolute tranquility, I am not an apostle or a messiah. I am not a martyr. I am a fighter for social rights who is doing his task, the task the people have entrusted to me. Let those who want to turn back history, those who want to ignore the will of the people, know that I am not a martyr, but I will not retreat one step. Let them know that I will leave La Moneda only when I have fulfilled the task entrusted to me by the people. [Applause]
Let them know it, let them know it. [Applause] Let them know it. Let them hear and understand it well. I will defend this Chilean revolution, and I will defend the Popular Government because the people have entrusted me with that task. I have no other alternative. Only by riddling me with bullets can they stop me from fulfilling the people's programs. [Applause]
Let them think this over. There is something which I have helped create. This is a political consciousness among the Chilean masses. As I have so often said, this is not a one-man job, it is the people, organized into parties and labor unions in the slums, in the central union, that are in the government. I can interpret your will, but tomorrow other comrades will be at your side, and if one of them falls, another will come, and another and another, and the people will continue in the Chilean Revolution. [Interrupted by prolonged, thunderous applause]
Comrades, I want to finish. Comrades, comrades, [interrupted by applause] comrades, I want to finish because we all want to hear Major Fidel Castro. I want to point out to you very clearly several things that should not be forgotten. When the people are the government, the public order favors revolution. One must not, therefore, provide pretexts and be provoked. They want to make it appear, as it has been said abroad, that in our country the authorities have lost control and that there is anarchy. They are wrong. I have used and will continue to use the powers the constitution gives the government, and that is why I have declared Santiago an emergency zone, [applause] in order to present the true and clear image of our decision to find a punishment — a decision which has remained within the legal channels. What grieves and might shame many of them, if they have any shame, is that they used young women and boys. At least 60 percent of the 90 persons arrested yesterday are 18 to 20 years old. Boys, sons of their fathers, boys who have never worked and girls who have never washed a pot have let themselves be used to unleash violence.
We say very firmly and very clearly: It was a vain attempt to seek to undermine the unity of the popular parties. It was a vain attempt to accuse the Carabineros, as has been done imprudently in today's press. It was a vain attempt, a vain attempt to try to undermine the exemplary discipline and loyalty of the armed forces and Carabineros of Chile who respect the constitution and the laws. [Applause]
Every day, every day leaflets, letters, anonymous articles come and go from Arica to Magallanes carrying the miserable contraband of blind criticism, presumption and mystification. This is produced like a controlled torrent in the hope of breaking the fundamental discipline of our basic institutions. They will not achieve this aim. They will not attain it because the Chilean armed forces and Carabineros understand perfectly well that this Popular Government is the one that has most concerned itself and will concern itself with giving the armed forces and the Carabineros corps what it should as the expression of a development, an effort to make them too participants in the process of transformation and progress of the homeland. [Applause]
But moreover, [applause continues] I also appeal to the parties of the Popular Unity, to all the members and middle-echelon leaders, to understand that unity is not a word without content. To wipe out sectarianism, to end dogmatism, to put an end to partisanship, to set an example in sacrifice, in work, in production, true revolutionaries should conscientiously fulfill these tasks. [Applause]
We have clearly realized who our enemies are. We must understand that they are the lawyers and advisers at the service of imperialism, the great landholders and bankers, and the monopolists. We have to impress upon the sectors that make a living from their own effort and work that they will be the beneficiaries of the process of Chilean economic development. We have to make the people vigilant, we must conscientiously mobilize the masses. A vigilant and mobilized people, a people with a goal, a people knowing what they must do and how they must do it, is the granite base on which the revolutionary process rests.
There can be no worker, peasant, employee, student, technician or professional who does not have a general idea of what Chile wants in this hour, and what the revolution desires. All must understand that beyond the problem of the personal, the union, the enterprise and the economic demands is the Chilean economic development process. All must understand that an excessive wage increase policy would prevent the halting of inflation and the elimination of unemployment. Comrades, we need to have this awareness take root in the will of the Chilean popular masses. They must know how to distinguish between the great revolutionary task and the struggle for petty gains that detract from the prestige of the revolutionary man and the revolution.
To the comrade members of other forces who are not part of Popular Unity, who are revolutionaries, I tell them that what we want with them is discussion, understanding. If there is no understanding, then there should be a public discussion of doctrines to determine who and which way is right and what path we should follow. [Applause]
If I have refused to use strength and violence against my enemies, against the class enemies, how could I have imagined that I should have to use violence against those who are revolutionaries. Comrades, members of the parties of the revolutionary left, understand the significance of the responsibility of the hour through which Chile is living and what the real unity of all revolutionaries represents. [Applause]
Comrade and friend Major Fidel Castro, in the name of the Chilean people, I bid you farewell by saying to you: The image that you must take with you and will take with you is the real image of Chile. It is the man from the nitrate mine, Major Castro, from the coal mine, from the Magallanes farm, the student, the man from the armed forces with whom you talked. It is the Chilean woman who was with you and spoke of her worries and convictions.
I do not have to mention this because I know that neither diatribe nor cunning slander ever touched you. I do so, however, to point out that here in Chile, the visit of Cuba in the person of Fidel broke all the dikes and all the floodgates of evil that have spilled into the radio and press against the revolution and its chief, Comrade Fidel Castro. I know perfectly well that while the people were receiving you with the warmth, respect, and affection that is extended to a brother who brings us brotherly love, the man who brings from Cuba the history of Marti and those who fell in the Sierra Maestra or Playa Girón, I know perfectly well that for Fidel Castro, revolutionary made in revolution and action, here is Chile, represented in this stadium by the people of Santiago, just as it was yesterday in the streets, on the highways, in the mountains, on the coast, to tell the comrade and friend that Chile has been and will continue to be beside Cuba in the desire to walk together to struggle for the free America that our illustrious forefathers envisioned.