Chile: Why Allende Fell

Chile: Why Allende Fell

The death of Salvador Allende, either by suicide or assassination, and the pitiless repression that followed the liquidation of his regime, have complicated the observer’s task. Everyone is outraged, and rightfully so, at the violence done to Chilean constitutionality and civilian rule. I concur unreservedly with this censure. However, I cannot refrain from observing that many of those who today denounce the Santiago putsch were ecstatic over the golpe institucional, which in 1968 enabled the “progressive” Peruvian armed forces to depose President Belaunde and impose a strictly autocratic regime.

The French Left now, in its embarrassment over the collapse of the experiment it had endorsed rather off-handedly, is resorting to the most threadbare explanations. In French Left opinion, the overthrow of Allende is a deplorable event without the slightest connection to the policies pursued since 1970 by Chile’s “Popular Unity” government. And so the disaster is simply the result of a plot hatched by the usual devils: the fascists, the military, the “monopolies.” To condemn the rupture of constitutional legality is a duty I support. The same goes for aid to the victims of the Junta. But also to acknowledge the relationship between what the leaders of the Chilean Unidad Popular did, or did not do, and what later happened to them—is that too much to ask?


Socialist thought provides us with an imaginative and moral horizon.

For insights and analysis from the longest-running democratic socialist magazine in the United States, sign up for our newsletter: