Salvador Allende, Evo Morales, and “Genuine Socialists”

Morales, como muchos chilenos, se sorprendería de ciertas ideas de Salvador Allende con respecto a los indígenas (Flickr)
Bolivian President Evo Morales would be surprised at Salvador Allende’s views on Chile’s indigenous peoples. (Flickr)

EspañolBy Víctor Farías

Bolivian President Evo Morales was right on the money recently, when he railed that in Chile today “there are no genuine socialists.” Still less, he suggested, was there any socialist leader in the neighboring country that “hadn’t made a deal with the class enemy.”

But Morales, and many Chileans, would be very surprised to read documents attesting to the ideological convictions of senior figures in President Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity (UP) government, to whom the Bolivian premier attributes “loyalty and coherence.”

One is the speech given by Allende before his party’s National Assembly on January 8, 1971. The comrade presidente took to the podium to denounce the violent and illegal land occupations by the Mapuche as a betrayal of the UP’s Agrarian Reform program, and “favoring the enemy.” He asked for understanding for the indigenous activists, but the reasons he gives for doing so are completely reprehensible.

“I’ve lived through the restlessness in Cautín, where there are natural factors and man-made factors. There are also racial and anthropological problems that complicate the problem further, because our Araucanian has never reconciled himself to his condition as a citizen, and can’t perceive, as you all perceive, the trajectory that the people’s victory has, nor is he sometimes able to repress his urge for rebellion.” (The Chilean Left, volume 1, pp.552-553).

It’s the “race” of the Mapuche that “makes things difficult,” and his uncontrollable biological predispositions, according to Allende. And the Mapuche themselves are to blame for “not becoming Chilean citizens … [they are] anthropologically and racially predetermined to not have the category of comrades of the UP.”

Morales, head of a self-described “plurinational” or “multi-ethnic” government and society, would scarcely be able to imagine what the socialist Allende would think of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples, now and then.

He’d be even more surprised if he heard the justification given for the “pacification” of the Araucanía and the War of the Pacific (1879-1883; in which Bolivia lost its coastline to Chile) made by General Carlos Prats, the second emblematic figure of Allende’s Marxist government.

Prats effectively suggested not only that the forcible displacement and military conquest of Mapuche populations in the late 19th century provided vital “practice” for Chile’s armed forces, but that they should march south to do the same again.

“The armed forces have a civilizing mission in virgin lands. Why can’t they do, though an extra-official [paramilitary] organization, what the Army did last century, in Bío-Bío to the south? If we won the War of the Pacific without there existing great institutions of command to marshal a huge number of men, it was due to the strength of this professional Army of 3,000 men that was able to mobilize 70,000 because it was trained up by the Arauco War…”(Ercilla 29.11.1972, in The Chilean Left, volume 5, p.3577).

Morales, as in many cases before, is completely disoriented and misinformed, but not so much more than those Chileans who continue to worship false socialist idols.

Víctor Farías is an analyst with Círculo Acton Chile, holds a doctorate in Philosophy, and is the author of twenty books.

Translated by Laurie Blair.

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