The Chilean Road to Socialism


The Popular Unity Coalition

This chapter reproduces documents that reflect the political position of the main parties of the Popular Unity: the Socialist, Communist, and Radical (documents from MAPU, the other principal organization within the PU coalition are included in Chapter 10).

"The Political Position of the Socialist Party" is the resolution adopted in the Congress of the Socialist Party held in La Serena a few months after Allende was elected President. During this Congress, a Central Committee of forty-five members was elected. Senator Carlos Altamirano was designated as the Secretary General of the Party. Altamirano represents the left wing of a party that contains diverse tendencies, from moderate, middle-class social democrats, barely distinguishable from the non-Marxist state employees and professionals who make up the Radical Party, to militant Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries who are very close to the militants of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR). The Socialist Party markedly increased its voting strength in the important municipal elections of April 1971. The Party, together with the better organized, more ideologically homogeneous, and more conservative Communist Party, has deep roots in the Chilean working class.

"Work Without Rest to Win the Battle of Production" reflects the more pragmatic, less ideological line of the Communist Party during the first year of the Allende government. In general, the CP seems to be in favor of consolidation of the gains made by the Allende government and emphasizes the hard work and discipline that are necessary to strengthen the economic and political basis of Chilean socialism. The Socialist Party, on the other hand, is pushing toward an acceleration of the process of socialist transition.

The third document is a report of the outcome of the Radical Party Convention in August 1971, in which the Party declared itself Marxist and lost some of its more middle-of-the-road supporters. Alejandro Ríos Valdivia, Minister of National Defense in the Allende government, rightly points out that the Party has never been Marxist, nor is it a party of the workers.

(Chapter 13 reproduces part of President Allende's speech to the same Convention appraising the role of the Radical Party with its middle-class constituency in the construction of Chilean socialism.)

Published in Punto Final Nº. 124, February 16, 1971.

1. The electoral triumph and the subsequent installation of the government, after inflicting a serious defeat on the bourgeoisie and on imperialism, have presented new and favorable conditions to the working class and to the Chilean masses for an effective conquest of power which makes it possible to initiate the construction of socialism in the country. To their organization, degree of consciousness, and combative experience, the workers now add a correlation of favorable forces and control of a fundamental part of the governmental apparatus.

Nevertheless, the ownership classes hold on to practically all the elements to continue exercising their class domination. In these conditions, the popular government develops its action hindered by bourgeois institutionality and by the more and more active resistance unleashed on all levels by the national and foreign reactionary forces.

2. After the electoral triumph, the Popular Unity encountered different political reactions of the bourgeoisie, each one similarly embracing the same counterrevolutionary objective: to prevent the ascent of the workers to the state apparatus. Some tried to create economic panic and chaos; others looked toward a coup by fascist forces and saw their intentions frustrated by the assassination of General Schneider, which provoked a national repudiation; still others sought to gain time by blocking the attainment of the government's program and by immobilizing the popular government through demands for so-called "democratic guarantees."

At the present time, the bourgeoisie is regrouping around the Christian Democratic Party. The so-called "left wing of Christian Democracy," by indecisively remaining part of this party, is serving as the smoke screen for the right wing and for the reactionary sectors which are part of the great conspiracy against the government of Compañero Salvador Allende and against the workers. [1] Only a policy of profound transformations and growing acceleration of the revolutionary process will oblige the groups of Christian Democratic workers to define themselves.

3. Among the working mass, the victory of the Popular Unity has led to the surpassing of the influence of Christian Democratic bourgeois reformism over some sectors. This victory, in spite of the immobilization of the people after November 4, has served to stimulate new popular strata which now openly set forth their aspirations and contribute to enlarging and fortifying the mass movement. The total of the measures taken and initiated by the government objectively reinforce the revolutionary potential of the situation and sharpen the polarization of classes.

The contradiction between the growing force of the masses and the power of the bourgeoisie defines this stage as an essentially transitory period. Our objective, therefore, must be to support the government, to accelerate the actions taken by the masses, to smash the resistance of the enemies, and to convert the present process into an irreversible march toward socialism.

4. We recognize as a form of self-criticism that some of the actions of the workers have gone beyond the political directions of the Popular Unity and are in fact putting into the forefront the question of power. We recognize also with satisfaction that the compañero President of the Republic has been in the vanguard in taking initiatives for the fulfillment of the program.

The General Congress of the Socialist Party, along with recognizing and fully supporting the actions taken by Compañero Salvador Allende as President, affirms that the vanguard of the Chilean revolutionary process must be constituted by the parties of the working class as the motor force of the social struggle. It is the responsibility of these parties to rejoin the struggle of the masses, helping to go beyond the economist character which still predominates in many of its sectors, and to orient it in the direction of revolutionary politics.

5. The General Congress of the Socialist Party recognizes that political confirmation of the Popular Unity reflects a multiclass composition whose nature is expressed in the government, where worker, petty-bourgeois, and bourgeois tendencies come together.

These class contradictions which exist in the Popular Unity will be surpassed by the revolutionary dynamic of the working masses led by their class parties. The consequent application of the program of the Popular Unity and the ideological struggle that must take place within it and among the masses will contribute to the resolution of these contradictions.

In this sense, in agreement with the programmatic bases of the Popular Unity which permit each party to maintain its own political profiles, the Socialist Party reaffirms its class program and the necessity for the leadership of the working class in conducting the struggle for economic and social liberation, which free the working masses and the rest of the exploited and oppressed sectors, against the national bourgeoisie and imperialism. It postulates the independence of the working class confronting the Chilean bourgeoisie, which, as the class that sustains the existing order, constitutes along with imperialism an irreversibly counterrevolutionary force. The alliances and permanent agreements with the national bourgeoisie have only brought defeats and delays for the exploited.

Concomitant with this policy of the workers' front and as a concrete necessity in the tasks that confront the popular movement, there is the necessity of strengthening Socialist Party-Communist Party unity, whose differences must be overcome in action and through ideological discussion. Similarly, the relations of the Socialist and Communist parties with other Marxist movements must be defined in action, with the establishment of whatever political alliances are necessary in light of the process of the Chilean revolution.

6. The presence of workers in the government cannot signify dependence of the mass movement on the governmental apparatus. The Socialist Party maintains its criterion that the unions and popular organizations ought to develop their own character. Moreover, organized workers must prepare themselves and begin incorporating themselves into the real exercise of power, through the direct management of the institutions and organisms of the state. The Socialist Party will fight to revitalize the committees of the Popular Unity and to convert them into instruments of political power for the working masses in the new popular state.

The committees of the Popular Unity should integrate themselves actively in the tasks that must be completed by the class and mass organs, such as unions, neighborhood committees, and others, which should serve as natural vehicles for the expression of the economic and social struggles which must be raised to an increasingly political level. In this area, the Central Única de Trabajadores (Central Union Organization) should broaden, strengthen, and give agility to its organization, in order to be in tune with the decisive circumstances the Chilean social movement is living through.

7. The special ways in which the Popular Unity has arrived at governmental power, which obligate it now to participate limitedly in a bourgeois state, should not constitute a pretext for making the government play the role of arbitrator in the class struggle. On the contrary, in the conflicts that are stirred up, the government must place itself resolutely on the side of the workers.

8. Consequently, the Socialist Party will struggle to convert itself into the revolutionary vanguard of this stage, developing a policy that tends toward accelerating the conditions for changing, during the office of this government, the capitalist character of the dominant system in order to transform it into a socialist regime. Thus, the content of the Party program will be determined according to the essential propositions of the Popular Unity's program, which intends to eliminate the national and foreign monopolies and the power of the landed oligarchy. The Party program will also initiate the construction of socialism through the united and combative action of the working masses as the fundamental protagonists.

In addition to attending to the most urgent necessities of the masses, especially its poorest sectors, broadening the social base of support of the government, and politically strengthening the mass movement, the Socialist Party gives special priority to those programmatic measures that undermine capitalist power and connect the democratic-bourgeois tasks with socialist tasks in the same uninterrupted process.

In this sense the following measures are especially urgent.

a) Nationalization of the imperialist firms, the banks, and the insurance companies, expropriation of the large monopolies and public utility firms, and bringing foreign commerce under state control.

b) Drastic agrarian reform supported by the mobilization of the peasants.

c) Equal minimum wages and family subsidies for workers, peasants, and white-collar workers, a mobile scale for wages and salaries, and rapid absorption of unemployment.

d) Incorporation of the workers to the full exercise of power, developing workers' management in the nationalized firms and workers' control when necessary, and constructing from the base a new political structure which culminates in the People's Assembly.

9) Within these perspectives we need a Socialist Party invigorated by strict application of democratic centralism, which develops primarily among the working class, recognizes the legitimacy and the necessity of ideological struggle to educate its membership, and emphatically rejects any bureaucratic and caudillista [personalist leadership] tendencies.

Only by acting on these measures will the Socialist Party be able to prepare itself and the masses for the decisive confrontation with the bourgeoisie and with imperialism. We recognize that this confrontation forms part of the general picture of the revolutionary struggle in Latin America and in the whole world, and our line of action will be in accord with these general perspectives. The Socialist Party will move toward the extension and consolidation of concrete ties with all the revolutionary movements and organizations of the world.

From the Communist daily El Siglo, July 26, 1971.

"The essential task of the moment is that stated by the Central Committee of the Communist Party during its plenary meeting in July: to win the battle of production. It is not only an economic battle, but also political and ideological," said Compañero Mario Zamorano, leader of the Central Committee of the Party, yesterday afternoon in the National Assembly of Company Committees.

This National Assembly began on Saturday with the participation of 160 delegates from the company committees of the Party, from Arica to Magallanes. The workers talked from their vast experience with regard to the development of production.

In his summary speech, Mario Zamorano reaffirmed that in the creation of the new bodies operating in the management of state enterprises, "the norms of democratic formation must be respected, in particular in forming the Production Committees."

With respect to the multiple forms that the workers' new attitude toward their plants, production, and work discipline must take, Compañero Zamorano recommended a broad and creative spirit to promote production. A concrete way to do this is "through the spirit of emulation that can be manifested a thousand ways."

With respect to voluntary work, Zamorano said that "it has to be encouraged through dialogue, persuasion, and intense propaganda." Voluntary work that gives greater dividends, in every sense, "is that performed within the worker's own company or service."

It was also stated that the Popular Unity must function, since it is the most efficient way to co-ordinate and unite with other popular forces. By no means should the Popular Unity replace worker organizations (trade unions, commissions, and delegate councils).

Help for the Countryside

The report pointed out that agricultural production is fundamental and that the worker/peasant alliance acquires new importance at this stage of the process that the country is undergoing. Therefore "the assembly recommends posing to all workers' organizations that they relate to the countryside, especially to the settlements. The most tangible form this aid should acquire," the report stated, "is the sponsorship by trade unions of determined agrarian developments or settlements. The most specific task should be the designation of activities with union support."

Valuable Experiences

During the meeting, leaders of various production committees spoke. The experiences related made it clear that the battle of production can be won, but that it is not an easy task. The essential thing is to develop the consciousness of the workers, to attain a change in their mentality in order to assume these new responsibilities that the conquest of power implies.

The experiences of the coal-mine workers were of extraordinary value. "We took over a company on the verge of chaos and now it finances itself and exceeds all the goals we set," said the delegate of the company committee, giving concrete figures. Each one of the leaders of company committees also made known how they have succeeded in surpassing their goals and the role that j the Party has performed. In particular, the compañeros praised voluntary work, the symbol of the new stage we are now living in.

The workers from El Salvador copper mine told how they have exceeded their production goals. The compañeros of Andina [beverages] attained a productivity superior to the capacity of machines and they are now studying the method they should follow. Encouraging examples were also given by the leaders of the workers from the textile sector, showing with legitimate pride the overattainment of the established goals. The delegates from state enterprises such as ENDESA, ENAP, ENAMI, and Chilectra pointed out specific examples of voluntary work that contributed to exceeding production goals.

From El Mercurio, August 5, 1971.

"I am not with those who stay, and I dislike the attitude of those who left the Party, because my method has always been to fight within parties until I was thrown out." This thought was categorically expressed by Alejandro Ríos Valdivia, Minister of National Defense, when consulted about his impression of the political situation in Chile at the present moment. . . .

Journalists at the Moneda (presidential palace) surrounded Minister Rios to ask him to detail his own position on the division created during the Radical Party's last convention. The Professor and Minister belongs to the Radical Party. He did not shun the questions, expressing thus his vision of the political moment: "I dislike very much what is happening in my party."

A journalist asked him what faction of radicalism he was with, to which he replied, "I have always been with the left and no one can doubt it, because I was even expelled in 1964 for having maintained that position. But at this moment I do not identify with any faction: I am with the Party, I am in the Party. Naturally because I am Minister of Defense, I took no part in the convention. But my position is that I, personally, did not like the way in which things were led in the Convention. Moreover, I do not agree with the ideas established in the Declaration of Principles. . . .

"The Party has gone too far, in my opinion, in the Declaration of Principles. The position of wanting to appear as if we were a genuine Marxist party of workers is untrue. Within the Popular Unity we have a mission that corresponds to the Radical Party: to attract the middle sectors, employees, small industrialists, businessmen, and farmers toward the task of the Popular Unity. We want, within the democratic concept, to march toward socialism."

Alejandro Ríos Valdivia said in answer to another question that he would not resign from the Radical Party, and if people wanted him out of it they would have to expel him. He also defined himself as legitimately radical and said, "I do not like the political vote approved in the recent Convention, but as I am a member I have to conform to it." He said that he did not blame the Radical Party's leadership for the vote, as it was unanimously approved, and regretted that he had not been able to attend when it was discussed in committee.

He finished by saying that "the Radical Party is not and cannot be a Marxist party, because in Chile there is no room for another party with these same principles."


1. Significant sectors of the left wing of the Christian Democratic Party broke with the Party to support the government in midyear 1971.

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