A First Word on the Chilean Tragedy

A First Word on the Chilean Tragedy

The worst intoxication is ideology. We must approach reality humbly.

—Octavio Paz

The brutal destruction of the Allende government by the military junta is a heavy blow to democrats and socialists everywhere who hope for peaceful change in their societies. Whatever its failings and errors, the Allende regime had many positive accomplishments to its credit: a deepening of the land reform program that had begun under the previous Christian Democratic administration; the extension, for the first time, of significant welfare and health benefits to the urban poor; a major advance in trade union organization and the power of unions in regulating industry and the mines. All this took place in an atmosphere of substantial political freedom: the opposition parties functioned without hindrance, the press remained free. According to Amnesty International, there was not a single political prisoner in Chile during the Allende period!