Chile's Road to Socialism


Social Order and Legal Order

Speech opening the eighth international fair at Talca
Talca, 6 March 1971

This government is the result of an electoral confrontation which took place in a wholly legal and correct manner. I want to point out however that we declared before all citizens at an early stage that we had a certain programme - a programme worked out by the popular parties and movements which make up Unidad Popular - which, if we won the election, we intended to translate into real terms. We believe without question that this programme is designed to serve Chile and Chile's people well. That is why we are totally committed to put into practice the concepts and principles set down there.

I have said many times that we do not deny or ignore the contributions which other men and other governments have made towards Chile's progress. This land is not given life by Unidad Popular. What the victory of Unidad Popular generates is a new concept of social relationships and the sure hope of making structural changes and of creating a new awareness in the minds of the men and women of this country.

When we speak of the structural changes and social transformations we are planning, we are expressing ideas which are already in the minds of the majority of the people of Chile. We know that the programme we have initiated damages both national and international interests, both where monopolies are concerned and in the field of import and export.

At the same time we must realize that the programme of Unidad Popular offers the soundest and broadest guarantees of security for small- and medium-scale industries. For that reason I am proud to see these completed stands, the fruits of the labour and the capacities of the small firms in these provinces. These firms will receive the thoroughgoing and powerful support of the Unidad Popular government.

We have spoken of a process of radical transformation in the ownership and the exploitation of the land. We have kept strictly to the terms of the Land Reform Act. We do not deny, since this would be an improper attitude on the part of the government, and in this case of the President, that there is a situation of conflict in three or four provinces in Chile, concerning the ownership of land. We must understand that a programme of land reform cannot but damage certain interests. Profound social tensions are expressed in the peasants' hunger for land, peasants who, for many years, have looked on the chance of owning this land as a mirage. It is the Land Reform Act passed under the government of President Frei that we are now putting into practice - and have already done so - in order to realize the promise to abolish the large estates, those immense areas of land controlled by one man, by one company or by one family - land which has been poorly worked and which represented an economic and social blight. We intend to take over 1,000 estates this year. But there is nothing for the small- and medium-scale farmer to fear, because we extend the same consideration, the same respect and the same regard to such farms as we extend to their industrial and commercial counterparts in Chile.

These situations of conflict arise, without a doubt, because there are certain groups who do not understand that any pressures in this region, whether natural or contrived, can cause serious repercussions throughout the whole of Chile. Likewise there are groups among the landowners who do not understand that the tide of history can be held back neither with repressive laws nor with dykes. All they can do is hold off the social avalanche for a few brief seconds.

I have made it clear to my colleagues that we are not lock-gates, we are canals - we want to channel and organize the great process of the transformation of Chile. And we are doing it with the responsibility of those who recognize the fundamental importance of respect for the human personality, for the guarantee of rights, as established by the political Constitution, for men, parties and institutions, as well as for ideologies and beliefs. Criticism, as I have said, is fundamental and necessary for a government. And we shall accept from our critics the advice we need to rectify our mistakes.

This is what we must understand: public order is one thing, but a new social order is another thing entirely. Public order is subject to juridical and legal forms. Social order involves material things, class positions, the confrontation of interests. The government over which I preside is the result of the efforts of popular forces. "We have maintained public order because that is our duty. We shall transform social structures because for that we were elected. But we are doing so and we shall continue to do so within a legal and juridical framework. The political Constitution of Chile allows for the possibility of declaring a new Constitution within the terms of the existing one and we are exploring these avenues also.

Edición digital del Centro Documental Blest el 07feb02
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