The Chilean Road to Socialism


Christian Left and Revolutionary Left

For years, the Christian Democrats have wrestled with the question of what kind of society the Party should work toward in Chile. Sincere Christian Democrats were critical of capitalism and the social and political liberalism of the Chilean ruling class, but they were also fearful of the statism and authoritarianism believed to be inherent in Marxian socialism. Thus, they sought a middle ground in advocating a "communitarian" society, neither capitalist nor socialist, neither liberal nor statist. During the six years of the Frei Christian Democratic government, however, Chile failed to move significantly away from capitalism and liberalism, in spite of important social reforms accomplished. This failure occasioned a 1970 split in the Party in which sectors of the Party formed the Movement of Popular Unity Action (MAPU) to support the Popular Unity. Moreover, in declaring Rodomiro Tomic as presidential candidate in the election of 1970, the Party moved to the left. Finally, significant sectors of the Party, unhappy with the intransigent opposition of the Frei faction to the Popular Unity and the Party's rapid move to the right during 1971, formed a movement of the Christian Left. The Christian Left, though not officially a part of the Popular Unity, supports the government and works energetically at the grass-roots level to promote revolutionary consciousness among the masses, particularly among the peasants.

The articles by Pedro Felipe Ramírez present the key concepts of Christian Democracy which make a Christian Left movement ideologically compatible with the socialism of the Popular Unity. Rava, a socialist, is skeptical of the concept of "communitary socialism," but points to the class contradictions within the CDP which have, in fact, propelled the bourgeois sectors of the party into an opposition coalition with the right-wing National Party and the popular sectors toward the Christian Left.

Apart from the election of Allende and the consolidation of a genuine Christian Left, perhaps the most significant political development in Chile in recent years is the activity and growing strength of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR). The MIR, which is not part of the government coalition, has deep roots among three significant sectors of the population: students, peasants, and the masses within marginal settlements. In addition, the MIR is well organized and has outstanding leadership, disciplined militants, an intelligence apparatus, an uncompromising revolutionary ideology, and arms. The interview with Sergio Zorrilla, an MIR leader, reveals the level and the style of MIR activities and its attitude toward the Popular Unity.


From the theoretical organ of the Christian Democratic Party,
Política y Espíritu Nº. 322, April 6, 1971.


The most novel event of the recent meeting of the plenary council of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), held at Cartagena, was the use for the first time of the words "communitary socialism" as an official definition of the type of socialism the CDP wants for the country. For years, the leaders of the Party have been discussing this matter. The more traditional members insisted on the need to utilize the word "communitarism" in order to affirm something in itself: on the philosophical level, something different from liberalism or Marxism, and in the social-economic sphere, distinct from capitalism or socialism. Others, however, recognized that a third, generically distinct model that was a species of neither capitalism nor socialism does not exist. Thus, to speak simply of "communitarism" was a way to avoid a definition and, at the same time, to run the risk of converting it into a new form of capitalism. This risk was not a theoretical question but something that arose from the orientation of the Frei government.

In the 1966 CDP Congress, the traditionalists held the upper hand under the leadership of the theoretician Jaime Castillo. There were three pressing reasons for the Christian Democrats not to wait for the next Party congress to abandon the word "communitarism" and adopt the term "communitary socialism." The vote on the matter was seventy-three for the motion and five against.

The first of these reasons was the presidential campaign of Tomic, whose program had a definite socialist orientation with a deep penetration of thought particularly among the mihtants of the Party. On the other hand, there were the socialist expressions and trends adopted in certain ecclesiastical sectors. Lastly, there was the rise to power of the Popular Unity, which led the Chilean people to believe that the elimination of capitalism and the introduction of socialism were irreversible facts.

In defining itself in favor of communitary socialism, the CDP tried to express its basic accord with the construction of a socialist society in Chile and, at the same time, to participate with their own ideas in the debate over what form of socialism should be introduced. . . . They wished to oppose "state" socialism with "communitary" socialism.

The CDP sums up their ideas with the slogan, "The changes must be for the benefit of the people and not the state." This phrase is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it would certainly be negative to try to create an economy in Chile in which all the means of production belong to the state and are administered by a hierarchical bureaucracy generated by our "representative democracy." The creative capacity of Chileans would be limited if we were to be rigidly submitted to orders imparted by governing bodies. Our creative capacity is the greatest potential available to defeat underdevelopment. We do not sincerely believe that the Popular Unity is thinking of an absolute statism, but undoubtedly Christian Democracy can contribute much to the design of forms of organization of a socialist economy that incorporates the creative initiative of the men and women of our country.

The dangerous side of this slogan is the peril of placing the people before the government, giving a favorable image to reactionary propaganda. . . . The state must not be weakened but must be fortified. Socialism assumes the real supremacy of the common good over individual interest, and for this the people must count on an effective instrument with sufficient power to make this supremacy possible. That instrument is the state, a state genuinely representative of the people. . . . The state should not be confused with the government in power at any given time, as in the present case of the Popular Unity. If the actual structure of the state permits "excesses" on the part of governments, the solution is not to take power from the state but to radically democratize the structure.

The adjective "communitary" must, therefore, be interpreted as the necessity to gather the creative capacity of each Chilean and to give the state a character truly representative of the people. The reduction of the state's power in favor of multiple "production communities" working in free competition and oriented toward profits is inappropriate. Surreptitiously, this would be giving way to a capitalist communitarism.

 From the socialist journal Indo-America Nº. 3, June 1971.


The Christian Democrats have brought to light an ideological offensive that they had kept buried for the past six years. During the Frei administration, the ideological principals were silenced instead of sustaining the action of the government. Now, entrenching themselves in an attitude of jealous opposition, they have again unfurled their banners; they have started to think again.

With its ideology, Christian Democracy pretends to affirm positions that will permit it to have a determining influence over the orientation of the political process now taking place in our country, undermining the policy of the popular government based upon a program for which the people have pronounced themselves in a clear and unmistakable manner.

In the conclusions reached by the plenary of the CDP held in Cartagena May 8 and 9, a new slogan has been launched: "communitary socialism." The slogan does not go beyond being a synonym of the vague concept of "communitarism" which presumably determined the political action of this Party. The strategic objective behind the actions of the CDP is, specifically, the actual process of socialization of the economy being carried out by the popular government. They want to impede our efforts to rationalize and plan production in our country on a national scale.

The CDP opposes the method of socialization voted for by the people with a reactionary formula consisting of the acquisition of industries for the benefit only of those who work in each factory or industry. These new private owners would engage in self-management and independently direct the firm, thus remaining isolated and outside of a general production plan.

The objective of this deformed capitalism, if it were possible to introduce it, would mean the moderation of the class struggle in that the workers would be identified with their particular industry and each group of workers would devour the other in an endless struggle. Fortunately this form of neofeudalism is inapplicable today. . . .

There are marked differences between a capitalist economy and a socialist economy. The determining objective under a capitalist system of production is profit; on the other hand, the aim of a socialist system is the satisfaction of human needs. This necessarily implies that a socialist economy, in order to be such, needs to plan the economic process.

Planning at a national level of basic investments and of the distribution of the national income and, in general, the harmonious growth of the entire economy, would not be possible in the neofeudal economy proposed by the CDP. Groups of divided workers producing essential goods and services independently of what other workers are doing in their same sector of production and independently of our country's needs is a system that is governed solely by the thin thread of supply and demand. . . .

Christian Democrats linked to the agrarian reform and the policy of supply of agricultural products can testify about the anarchy existent among the co-operative farms established during the Frei administration. Each one produced, without any centralized planning, whatever it thought to be the most convenient product that would yield the highest profits. Presently, ways and means are being introduced to correct this error. . . .

The insurmountable fear of the CDP is statism. For six years the Christian Democrats held the powers that the state implies in their hands and did not know what to do with it. Now they are afraid of it, because they know the monster from within. This monster is the bourgeois state. We must socialize our economy, and this implies, unfortunately for some, statism and centralization. To be truthful, we must point out that in no case can the old state system be capable of regulating an economy when it is destined to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie and to act as their instrument of enrichment and repression. We must implant a new type of state, democratic and popular, in which all the workers are genuinely represented and democratically concur in its direction.

The contradictions in the ideology of the CDP reflect the struggle within the Party. On the one hand they talk about socialism and on the other they abhor a centralized and planned society. On the one hand, the CDP defines itself in opposition to the government and on the other hand it demands a place in the battle against the monopolies and in the construction of the new society. The coincidences between the programs of Allende and Tomic are well known and both differ very clearly from the political attitude sustained by the Frei government.

The popular government has broken many traditions. One of these is the classical "opposition vs. the government." In actual fact it must be rather embarrassing for some sectors of the CDP to declare themselves in opposition to the government when their ideals are those being put forward by the government. The weak imputation of sectarianism made by the more reactionary levels of the CDP against the government are deflected by the public attitude of numerous Christian Democrats who work elbow to elbow with the Popular Unity on many fronts in the formation of a new Chile. Actually, the true opposition comes from those bourgeois sectors who are against changes by nature, represented by the Nationals, the Radical Democrats, and the right wing of the Christian Democrats.

In spite of the official arguments by the CDP on the differentiation between the Christian Left and freísmo claiming that the Party is united, we must point out the multiclass character of the Party. There are people of many classes who are Party militants. This naturally implies that within the CDP there is a class struggle, implacable and insistent as in any class struggle. On the one hand we have the bourgeoisie, who have used their Party to reach for the highest positions of the economic power and to share with the old "clans" positions on various boards of directors in banking, commerce, industry, the press, etc. ... On the other hand we have the deceived peasant or worker who loves and trusts his Party and who, after six years of the Frei administration, still does not realize that he was used by the monopolistic bourgeoisie and Yankee imperialism which derived so much benefit from a government that he, in good faith, helped elect.

This class struggle within the CDP explains how the two antagonistic forces annul each other and give rise to a frozen and dead policy that has no practical application. This same class struggle was the motor impulse behind some changes that classified the last administration as "reformist." These were superstructural changes such as the Agrarian Reform Law, the law concerning agricultural unionization, and the law governing community organizations. On the other hand, this reformism implied, among other things, that the doors were opened wide to imperialist penetration, especially in light industry.

These antagonistic contradictions within the CDP will be overcome only when the bourgeois sectors unite and identify themselves with the right-wing parties and when the popular sectors unite and identify themselves with the popular government; in other words, once the Christian Democratic Party culminates its division.

From Política y Espíritu Nº. 322, April 6, 1971.


First question: What is the present situation?

Chile is presently going through a stage of construction of a new institutionality which will govern our behavior as as a nation in the future. This is a result of an inherited institutionality that no longer responds effectively to the needs of our present society. This institutionality was introduced at a time when the needs and possibilities were of a different nature. For several years diverse sectors of the national community have been aware of this fact. One of these sectors is constituted by the Marxist groups, who were without a doubt one of the first to denounce it, but they did so more on the basis of ideological concepts in accord with the experiences of other countries than on a full comprehension of our own process. After them came the secular groups who fought against the paternalistic forms of an aristocratic society affirmed by a paternalistic and aristocratic Church. They, however, concentrated on the social and religious aspects without understanding fully that the institutional crisis invaded all sectors of social organization. Later, there were the groups of Christian extraction, daring in their fight against Catholic orthodoxy but fearful of taking their denunciation too far.

For years this consciousness of need for a change was cultivated in the country, and its first effective maturation was expressed in the presidential campaign of 1964.

President Frei's government signified for Chile a new stage of maturity. Facts and values until then self-evident stopped being so and were questioned. Many taboos were eliminated, expectations grew, and vast sectors of the population became conscious of their new rights. The national debate was amplified and radicalized. In this situation, large sectors of public opinion attempted to get a clear picture of the moment. The image that change must involve all aspects of national fife and that, in order to succeed, the acceptance must be total became clearer, the more so in view of the peculiar exigencies of the country. During these years all the political parties, without exception, suffered a series of internal crises motivated by ideological conceptions or diverse strategies generated from within. Not only the political parties suffered crises, but also nearly all our institutions: the State, the Church, the Armed Forces, unions, and the universities. In the middle of this critical maturation came the presidential election of last year.

Allende's government has the virtue of grasping this fact and conducting it along a clear course. This course, in my opinion, has three characteristics that are decisive. First, it implies a total change that questions (without losing sight of the positive values) the whole of our old institutionality. This sets aside the danger of frustration, which was certainly one of the failings in Frei. Second, it is a course that is acceptable to the national community and therefore capable of sustaining itself. This is due to the fact that it recognizes that Chileans place a positive value on such matters as pluralism, political democracy, legal justice, and individual, family, and social liberty. Third, it is a course that points toward a general image of a new society, socialism, which allows national debate to be ordered and positions to be taken.

If the first characteristic is lost, there will be frustration. If the second is lost, there will be violence. And if the third is lost, there will be chaos. If all three are maintained, the country will be able to reach the imperative need of substituting a new institutionality for the old one, which will be an expression of majority sentiment within the national community.

Second question: Where is this situation leading us?

We are moving toward the creation of a new institutionality which will orientate our social existence of the future. This will be an institutionality generically socialist, but of authentically Chilean form. In order that it may succeed, it is imperative that the characteristics I have mentioned be upheld.

It is not enough to question only parts of our social organization. During these months, the changes have operated mainly within the sphere of our economic organization, but very little in our political, social, and cultural sectors. For example, the structure of the state in our country leads us nowhere. The President of the Republic himself has recognized this in his message to the Congress of May 21. The structures of the Executive branch, the Congress, and the Judiciary are anachronistic. If it is true that they have legal legitimacy, they have certainly, and dangerously, lost their social legitimacy. It is essential not to commit the error of identifying the state with those in power at any given moment. The fact that many sectors now have confidence in the government as never before does not signify that they trust the Executive power. On the other hand, the fact that many do not feel represented by the government in power does not signify that there is lack of confidence in the state as a regent of the common good. To postpone these transformations for very long could prove fatal, as could the postponement of changes that must affect our social and cultural organization.

It could also be fatal if the process did not incorporate the characteristics peculiar to our people and their sense of values that were gained during previous epochs. It is not enough to obtain the unwilling acceptance of those sectors who must, for the sake of strategic and tactical positions, join in as imitators. It is necessary to incorporate these sectors and values to the process, and these must form pivots of the new institutionality.

Here we have the question of pluralism. I sometimes feel that this is limited to the possibility that there be opponents of change; but this is not what is important and has nothing constructive to offer. The constructive effect is when pluralism pervades the task of constructing the new society. It is only in this manner that all the indispensable social energies can be generated to move ahead toward the new society that will reflect the feelings of the great majority of the people, which is the only way to make it lasting.

If this is not understood, little by little it will be discovered that the country does not respond to the hard demands that the process requires, and it will be extremely difficult to assure the irreversibility of change. Without a doubt, it is difficult for those sectors that are in favor of the change to fit our pluralist ideas to socialist construction. There is mutual distrust. Some do not think that the others are really socialists, and they have many arguments in their favor. Others do not think that some truly believe in the permanent values of our nationality, and they also have sound arguments in their favor. But both sides must understand that the actual process matures people and institutions. We must work to gain mutual trust and avoid the risk of mistrust. ... In this way there can be creative dialogue.

You have, for instance, the debate over the new economy. On one hand the government is accused of wanting a state-controlled economy. On the other hand, the Christian Democrats are accused of trying to set up communities of workers in a capitalist formation. I believe that neither group is correct in their accusations, and I am convinced that an unprejudiced discussion, born of trust and not distrust, would lead us to discover with surprise that what the Popular Unity wants and what the Christian Democrats want are not greatly different. . . . How much could the process benefit, and as a result the country, if both these forces worked together in trying to find answers to the problems that have been encountered and have not been solved by either group on their own? Instead of being against each other, why not be for each other?

Without a doubt, there would be discrepancies between forces, but these will present themselves in a true light and can be ironed out using the nation's mechanisms of decision making. There will also arise occasions of misuse of this mutual confidence, and this would be very harmful. But this damage cannot be greater than that caused by the fact that we start from a basis where no collaboration is possible.

Therefore, in my judgment, the success of the actual process depends on its ability to penetrate all aspects of our society, to incorporate into itself the permanent values of our people, and to move ahead without vacillation toward the construction of a new society, generically socialist.

From the Prensa Latina Feature Service, ES-963/71.


A strong wind shook Chile that Sunday, March 15, 1970, when the young leader of MIR, Sergio Zorrilla, shot at civilian policemen who had accidentally come across him in a Santiago street. The MIR leader was on his way to a top-level meeting of his armed underground organization, which had been created in 1965 and was called the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR).

Two police bullets—one in the leg and the other in the arm—immobilized the third-year student who studied philosophy at the University of Chile. Zorrilla was born into a working-class family in the district of San Miguel on May 30, 1945. He still had not celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday when the represessive apparatus of the Frei government captured him as a prize specimen. Sergio Zorrilla—called "El Chico" by the students—stayed in jail until November 14.

He remembers that when he was eleven years old he participated in the struggle that led to the popular demonstrations of April 2, 1957, during which a mass of people were machine-gunned in the streets by the Army, leaving hundreds dead on the pavements. He remembers that he fought in the streets of San Miguel against the Army, side by side with his father, René Zorrilla Rojas, a Communist linotypist, while his mother, Marta Fuenzalida, had no idea where the third of her four children was.

"I felt good," remembers Zorrilla, "with my old man because he was very brave. The troops opened fire against some ten thousand people in San Miguel who were armed only with stones. The people were brave enough but our defeat was inevitable. Papa was right in front, unafraid. I was only eleven then and had joined the Communist Youth."

In that family of Communist workers, familiar with the written word because of the father's profession (one of Sergio's uncles, Americo Zorrilla, was also a linotypist and is now the Minister of Treasury of Chile), the news of the world was commented on daily. The entrance into Havana of the revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro left an indelible mark on the adolescent, who had been participating in the class struggle practically from the cradle.

"I remember those days of April 1957. It was an impressive sight when the entire population of La Legua went out into the streets, about eight o'clock at night, banging together the stones they carried in each hand, like the Mexicans in the movie "Viva Zapata," shouting against the reactionary government of General Ibáñez. The noise of the stones was tremendous. And when the now Socialist deputy Mario Palestro led the insurrection of workers of the Mademsa and Madeco [steel plants] in the attempt to seize the Twelfth Carabineer Commissary, I remember we were all attacked with machine guns."

Amid the percussion of the stones and the bursts of machine-gun fire, Sergio Zorrilla grew in courage and character.

In 1966 Sergio joined the MIR, and in the MIR Congress of 1967 he was elected member of the central committee and the national secretariat. His entrance into the strict clandestinity of the organization demanded a tense mobility, since he had to maintain his position as a student leader. His sudden appearances in a school—conveniently protected—when the political police were expecting him someplace else, made headlines, and the people began to laugh at the repressive forces.

What Role Did the MIR Play in the Latest Political Events in Chile?

"Some people said that the MIR played a negative role in the electoral process that brought Popular Unity into the government. We insisted that in order to obtain power, a class struggle had to be developed and revolutionary ideas had to be accepted by the masses. In this sense, the MIR played a radicalizing role by developing the struggle against the system in the student movement, in the homeless-settlers' movement, and in the peasant movement. We believe that this helped to develop the class struggle in the country, and, obviously, to persuade a large number of people to vote for Allende, since our work destroyed the image of the reactionary candidates in the eyes of the voters. We are not concerned about obtaining recognition for our participation in Allende's victory. The people who fought in our organization know about this participation. In spite of the fact—and we have always said this—that the polls are not the highest expression of the revolutionary struggle, we believe that because of the exact circumstances of Chile, the election has created the possibility of unmasking and breaking up the pseudodemocratic game of the bourgeoisie and has played a very decisive role. ... In any case, we made our position known to the effect that the struggle for power in the underdeveloped countries, and in those dependent on imperialism, must be waged through revolutionary instruments, explaining that confrontation with the bourgeoisie must of necessity be an armed one.

"The bourgeoisie's scope of political action in the superstructure of domination will not allow us to obtain real power. There must be a decisive confrontation, but the bourgeoisie will resort to all methods to win, even a blood bath, and therefore all revolutionaries should be prepared. In the document we call 'MIR and the Elections,' published in August 1970, [1] we saw the possibility of an electoral triumph for the Popular Unity coalition and we reaffirmed our principles regarding the defense of the government, radicalization and deepening of the process, and the need to prepare ourselves to confront bourgeois treason. Because the people expressed a desire for a popular government and because the bourgeoisie was temporarily divided, the MIR decided not to carry out a specifically electoral work, but to continue and accentuate the development of the mass struggle, with the obvious head-on combat with the classes that promoted bourgeois candidates. This is the period when the struggles of the homeless settlers and the students began, eroding the right wing and Frei's demagogy.

"Once the elections were won, it was impossible to show that the MIR had been wrong. It's not true that the MIR took votes away from the Popular Unity. On the contrary, in the mass fronts under our influences—unlike others—there were no people who voted for Alessandri or Tomic, since the MIR's political orientation and our methods of struggle permitted radicalization on a political and not purely economic level, which kept the masses from being deceived by the pseudoprogressive rhetoric used in the electoral campaigns by the candidates running against Salvador Allende.

"Proof of the MIR's work is that we won the student leaderships of the University of Concepcion, the Southern University of Valdivia, and the regional centers of the University of Chile in Osorno and Talca. We are a very important force in the University of the North, in the regional center of the University of Chile in Arica, in the Catholic universities of Santiago and Valparaiso, and in other cities. Moreover, we lead the Secondary School Federations in the provinces of Concepcion and Bio-Bio in the central zone. We organized nationally the Revolutionary Office of the Homeless Settlers, with twenty camps in Santiago, Valparaiso, Concepcion, Los Angeles, Chilian, and Antofagasta. And we should say that in those camps the leaders are democratically elected by the settlers themselves. A short time ago, in the 'Lenin' camp at Concepcion, the MIR slate won by 6,300 votes over the 1,200 votes received by the coalition formed by the Communist Party, the Christian Democrats, and the MAPU.

"We organized and led the struggle of the Mapuche Indians in the South of Chile, a work that was begun in 1967 by MIR students who went off to live in the Indian communities. We organized the seizure of lands and the moving of fences before and after the elections of September 4, lands that have been taken away, with blood and fire, from the Mapuche Indians by the latifundistas [big landowners] throughout the history of Chile, leaving the original inhabitants of our country steeped in hunger and the most savage exploitation. The MIR organized and led the Mapuches in the provinces of Cautfn, Bio-Bio, and Osorno. Our strength among peasants has grown and we have a strong influence in the most important peasant organizations, such as the Ran-quil Confederation. Our strength has increased through the struggles we developed in Melipilla, before the elections, with the seizure of funds and the expropriation of milk then distributed by our commandos to the agricultural workers.

"And we are sure that those thousands and thousands of exploited Chileans who participated in all those struggles under our leadership, voted for Allende and not for Tomic or Alessandri, and so did other sectors of exploited people who participated in our other struggles. All those people voted for Allende, because they want a socialist future for our country.

"We increased our influence among the industrial working sectors and among the intellectual workers, the professionals, the professors, artists, small businessmen, and civil servants. Nobody any longer can describe us as a 'splinter group.' MIR's influence is growing among the masses, because we are applying a line that we consider correct for the revolutionary process in Chile. We are not a large or a mass party, but an armed revolutionary organization, with a growing popularity among the masses."

What Role Will MIR Play Now, After the Election of Popular Unity?

"After September 4, we reaffirmed our strategic positions in regard to the Chilean Revolution. We insisted that the conquest of real power would take place inevitably through an armed confrontation with the bourgeoisie and imperialism. In the first euphoric days after September 4, during which many people expressed hasty and simplistic opinions, as if everything had already been won, the MIR continued to work tirelessly to locate and dismantle the reactionary conspiracy, because nobody can deny that the bourgeoisie and U.S. imperialism will not renounce power peacefully. We aimed our work at sfrengthemng and defending the triumph, alerting the people against treason, all at the risk of appearing aggressive.

"Although the electoral triumph does not in itself mean a socialist revolution, it damaged bourgeois interests. The fact of politically dominating the state means that the quota of capitalist profits dirninishes, which forces the bourgeoisie to turn to conspiracy. Before Allende took office on November 3, we exhorted the people to organize committees to defend the triumph; we insisted on the need to mobilize the masses and radicalize the program, to radicalize and awaken the proletariat and prepare it to confront armed right-wing sedition. Very few people thought we were in other sectors; moreover, some even called us 'opportunists,' and said that we had climbed on the 'bandwagon.'

"Unfortunately, our adversaries began to act. Before the assassination of General Schneider, a day before October 21, we denounced the conspiracy in detail. The MIR, as part of its investigation of coup-ist activities, had patiently infiltrated these groups and later revealed the plan and the participation in it of elements from the right-wing Christian Democrats and figures in the highest government ranks at the time. Among other seditious individuals we uncovered were former Major Arturo Marshall, whose hide-out the MIR discovered and whom we even thought of arresting to obtain certain information. We communicated the whereabouts of Marshall, and all the other information we had, to responsible figures in the sectors affected by the reactionary plan. The quick work of some informed sectors led to the arrest of Marshall by the police of the Frei government, who concealed Marshall's confession from Popular Unity, which was that instead of assassinating Allende he had planned to assassinate General Schneider. If the confession had been made public, we could have prevented the assassination of Schneider. On the very day Schneider was shot, the affair was published in the 'Top Secret' section of the newspaper La Segunda of the Edwards clan, perhaps because they make up that page a day before. We knew that this information was in the hands of Jaspard da Fonseca, who was Frei's Director of Investigations and, therefore, in the hands of Frei himself and Ms most intimate collaborators, but they did notMng to prevent the assassination.

"In any case, MIR's denunciatons made it possible to dismantle the sedition. From that moment on, MIR has continued to unravel the threads of conspiracy. We have published much of the information, with names and addresses, and we declared, with all responsibility, that if it were not for a revolutionary policy of averting a coup, this sedition would have taken place against trade-union, peasant, student, and left-wing leaders.

"One of the most important ideologists of the reactionary sedition, who for the moment we shall call Mr. K., affirms to Ms followers that the conspiracy will attain its objective as long as the government limits itself to reforms, but it will be much more difficult and less businesslike for the bourgeoisie if the reactionaries have to confront an 'organized and armed people,' with 'implications of civil war and necessary foreign interventions,' which would isolate the bourgeoisie and galvanize the people around the government.

"This Mr. K. maintains that 'a rapprochement should be avoided between the MIR and the Popular Unity coalition, and especially between the MIR and the Communist Party. It should be avoided at all costs,' says Mr. K., 'since the rapprochement would create in the people an image of power and audacity.' An agreement between a mass party, the most important in the Popular Unity coalition, and an armed organization composed of young people, is an image that would be difficult to destroy. 'We must, through our press,' continues Mr. K., 'give the impression that Popular Unity is divided into two sectors, one democratic and the other totalitarian, and especially isolate the Communist Party. The CP press should accelerate this confrontation between the CP and the MIR.' So much for Mr. K., one of the ideologists of the right wing."

While Sergio Zorrilla and the present writer shared the invigorating bitterness of a mate (tea made with the yerba mate), Zorrilla made Ms final statements.

"More than ever, we believe in the need to mobilize the masses and to accelerate the application of the program. We must fill the streets with combative and alert multitudes in order to isolate the reactionary and seditious sectors and change the correlation of political forces. Only by directly informing the people about the dirty maneuvers of imperialism and the right wing, and a correct conduct on our part, will it be possible to confront the situation that is approaching, one of sharp class contradictions. In this situation the MIR will play a highly responsible role united to the revolutionary and Left forces. The unity of these forces should necessarily lead to the elimination of all types of sectarianism, which are very negative for the revolutionary process and for the formation of militants. More than ever before, the different strategic concepts of the process should be allowed to express themselves politically, since they will help increase the revolutionary awareness of the people. The MIR has given proof of a conscientious and responsible conduct, encouraging and carrying forward into practice mechanisms of unification in the mass sectors that it leads, and in which it participates. The case of the FECH (Student Federation of the University of Chile) is a good example. There, we supported the Popular Unity candidates against the danger of the bourgeoisie installing itself in such an important political center. Months ago we insisted on the need for uniting the Left in order to confront the reactionaries. In the case of the FEC (Student Federation of the University of Concepcion), where the MIR has been leading for years and has the biggest majority, we exhorted the Popular Unity comrades to support our roster, but not everyone did this, and events later led to the killing of an MIR militant, Arnoldo Ríos, a victim of sectarianism. [2] The unification prospects that opened up after his death are welcomed by us. The price of the death of one of our comrades should not be a circumstantial unity, but a firm, solid, and combative unification of all left-wing forces. We will make every effort necessary to achieve this unity, without the least prejudice or sectarianism. In front of us, united by fear and by the defense of lost privileges, is U.S. imperialism and the reactionaries, ready to do anything, even to carry out a massacre such as the one in Indonesia. These are the people we must fight, together, blow upon blow, until the final victory of liberation and socialism, just as Che wanted."


1. Available in translation in Regis Debray, Conversations with Allende (Pantheon Books, 1971).

2. Ríos was killed in a fight between Communist and MIR students.

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