Chile's Road to Socialism


CHAPTER 16

Sedition

Speech in the Plaza de la Constitution
Santiago, 30 March 1971

The VOL has been formed - the Organized Liberation Vanguard. Imagine, they speak of liberation when we have been struggling to liberate Chile from economic and cultural dependence. GRACO - the Group for Anti-Communism. They have claimed, and continue to claim - there is indeed a newspaper, whose name I do not even wish to remember, which is administering the poison drop by drop - that it is the Communist Party which gives the orders here, that the Communist Party is going to lock up Allende, that it is going to tie the hands of the President, that it is going to be the most powerful party and will impose its will on Chile.

The whole of Chile knows the appreciation and respect that I feel for the comrades in the Communist Party, but what I said during the campaign I must now repeat. In this government it is not the Communist Party that gives the orders, nor the Socialist Party, nor the Radicals, nor the Social Democrats, nor MAPU or API. In this government Unidad Popular gives the orders, as the interpreter of the will of the people. In this government there is a comrade with genuine respect for his friends and associates - the leaders of the popular parties. But in this government there is, by constitutional mandate, a senior official, and this senior official is myself - the President of Chile and your comrade.

There are other groups or groupuscules. There is the FTR, the Workers' Revolutionary Front, the MAR, the Advance Movement for Recuperation and there is yet another, the MOCI, the Independent Christian Movement.

It is very gratifying to see how this government, led by a Marxist, has not and will not have any conflicts at all with any of the churches that there are in Chile. And least of all, I am sure, with the Roman Catholic Church, the faith held by the majority of Chileans. For the Church understands these events. She understands the need for unity with the people. I can announce that many religious groups released the bank shares they possessed so that the banks should belong to the Chilean state.

There are other small groups like 'the red berets' - they want to play-act to that extent; they also want to put on red berets: red on the outside and yellow inside! There is also the National Civic Front: groups, groupuscules and even smaller groups, all obeying the same voice and the same orders. And this is what they called the 'Sixty-Day Plan': they first wanted to unite all opposition parties. They did not succeed, and so they began a furious press campaign - both national and international - designed to convey an impression of chaos, disorganization, repression and totalitarianism. They have not succeeded. Another campaign was waged to. provoke a clash between the MIR [1] and the Communist Party. Again they failed. They tried to magnify supposed differences with the Radical Party in order for it to break away from Unidad Popular. They did not and they will not succeed. They are now trying to impose economic boycotts aimed primarily at increasing redundancy and exploiting scarcity of supplies. Recently Deputy Insunza revealed that twenty-five tons of copper had been thrown into the river at El Teniente. Their policy is to create an atmosphere of popular agitation and thus provoke repression: that is, that we should take repressive measures. To this end there were agents who were negotiating with the keys of both completed and uncompleted apartments - and doing very good business. I have already criticized members of Unidad Popular who would have liked to reserve themselves a house under construction or one ready for occupation which in fact belonged to a labourer or a clerk. I called upon their sense of responsibility to relinquish a house that would only have belonged to them at the cost of depriving another family.

These people would like to see an atmosphere of terror in the countryside as well as in the towns. They tried to create a panic in the minds of the public by assassinating General Schneider, and they were planning the escape from prison of Viaux [2] and other gentlemen who still have some time to spend there.

Attempts have also been made to infiltrate the armed forces, and their families, again without the slightest success. They have had the insolence to demand that they be recognized as military commanders. They have even sent telegrams to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army in which they denounce certain takeovers.

When I say insolence, I mean just that, for these are attempts to disregard civil authority, and they imagine that the armed forces are going to listen to their siren songs. I can assure you that the armed forces of Chile and the Corps of the Carabineros have and will continue to have great respect for the Constitution, for the law and for the will of the people as expressed through the ballot box.

They have established where we live and have made dossiers on leading citizens and politicians containing our addresses and lists of our activities. But here we do not live in a state of anxious apprehension, we are not haunted by the fear that they are going to take over the government, because we know where the basis of support for this government lies, and that is in the unity of the people, in the will of the vast majority of Chileans.

With flattery and with soft words they have tried to alienate me from the parties of Unidad Popular. Yesterday's agitator is today's democrat, they say; the only person who can inspire confidence is President Allende and that is the supreme guarantee - for now! In the past he was an agitator and a subversive. Well, let them understand this: nowadays my revolutionary zeal is much greater than in the past because now I know a great deal more about the plight of my people and my country.

They have tried to organize, equip and arm certain groups in order to attack workers. I warn them that the government has considerable evidence, for they have left fingerprints in several places. I have told them with great calm and I am repeating it now: we do not want violence, we do not need violence. We shall respond with the law for as long as their actions remain within the law. But if they want to deviate from the institutionality which they created, if they overstep the limits of the law and use violence, they should know that reactionary violence will be countered with the revolutionary violence of the people.

Let us go further into this, comrades, for there are still some details which I should like you to know. Their Sixty-Day Plan, which was planned to the letter, came to nothing, because the government did not apply repressive measures; because there were no confrontations between militants of Unidad Popular or left-wing groups; because day by day the government wins greater and greater support from the people and greater understanding from honest sectors in production, industry and commerce. However, despite these failures, they continue to make attempts to win over representatives of opinion in industry and commerce, since they found that the armed forces were models of civic and professional responsibility.

A plan has been concocted known as 'March'. What is this plan? First of all the aim is to convince many sectors of public opinion that with us the constitutional state comes to an end, that the authority of the government has been set aside. Yet what could be further from the truth! I stated during the campaign that the government's authority would derive from the moral strength it possessed and will possess through the support of the popular masses. For that reason we believe that this authority enables us to say that an offence was done to fellow citizens in the cases I have mentioned when houses and estates were improperly occupied. For we realize that the social conflicts resulting from the unjust inequalities of our society deserve to be considered from a different point of view. Precisely because the people are in government, authority cannot be set aside. And they cannot claim that we have not respected their rights, although we know that they are conspiring against us and trying to undermine the moral base which upholds this government.

We have respected these rights because we know that this is the right and proper duty of a government. I have often said that we welcome criticism because from it there are lessons to be learned. What we reject is not criticism but conspiracy and the attempted sedition that is being fomented by some malevolent sectors of our society. They are the source of a whole range of rumours and accusations made against Ministers and high-ranking officials in the government. They make denunciations of trumped-up scandals aimed at destroying our moral prestige. They have exploited the situation of the most underprivileged, of the unemployed and the homeless, trying to provoke them into taking action which will terrorize the middle class and the petty bourgeoisie. They spread rumours about plans to take over all holiday homes, for example. One senator came to me and asked if this was agreed policy. I laughed and said that, as I had a holiday home, that would be the first to go, but it had not, so he should put his mind at rest.

Some of the unemployed have been infiltrated. It is a matter of very great concern to have to admit the problem of unemployment, and that this cannot be remedied overnight. But it is highly important for the people to know that at the head of a certain group of unemployed men was a common criminal hired to cause trouble for the government. The workers who are unemployed know that we have given the question of unemployment the priority of position of a a national disaster. And if we cannot over a year or two put an end to a plight in which Chile has been for a century and a half, then at least we shall be devoting all our attention and all our efforts to that end. For that reason I have asked to chair the Commission which will bring to a halt, reduce and, in a reasonable period of time, eliminate the state of strain and anxiety which still afflicts hundreds of thousands of Chilean people.

This 'March' plan has meant a change of attitude in the Christian Democrat Party. Its right wing has hardened and has tried to isolate the left wing, which is sympathetic to the difficulties of the people, which conceived Tomic's programme and whose attitude has always been most correct. They have launched a campaign of false rumours and accusations which suggest that the government is intending to defraud the people in next Sunday's elections. [3]

They persist in their efforts to undermine the Radical Party, in trying to force the resignation of some members of Parliament as well as of some high-ranking government officials, thus hoping to create a crisis in the government. They would like to eliminate the executive cadres in what they call sectors of the extreme left, to avoid any chance of activity on their part once - and this is their ambition -once they take power by illegal means: basically the MIR is a very sore thorn in their flesh.

What they would like is a confrontation between the MIR and the armed forces and the Carabineros. They have exploited trouble spots on the frontiers in order to try to create international friction. The government has issued a decree of vital importance establishing frontier zones. We have taken over 257,000 hectares in areas where there were very few inhabitants per square kilometre; areas inhabited by timber workers whose economic condition is even worse than that of the peasants. We have taken these over in order to set up a project through the Ministries of Defence, of Education and of the Interior which will lead to the population of these zones by more and more Chileans. This will bring employment. We shall establish a large industrial complex there which will unite our patriotism with our independence in full co-operation with the armed forces, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Interior.


Notes:

1. Movement of the Revolutionary Left.

2. Prematurely retired in October 1969, General Roberto Viaux was the central figure in a movement within the armed forces to gain greater influence and importance in Chilean politics. The 'Viaux Affair', to which the threatened Frei government responded with a state of emergency, illustrated the division within the armed forces and the alliance of certain military elements with extreme-right political groups. In the aftermath of the 'Affair', General Rene Schneider was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army, only to be assassinated a year later by right-wing terrorists. Ex-General Viaux was then arrested on charges of complicity in the crime.

3. Municipal elections held on 4 April 1971, which gave UP an emphatic if slim majority of the popular vote.


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