Things could have been different, if America hadn’t plotted against Chile’s first democratically elected Marxist President, Salvador Allende. For he wouldn’t have died in suspicious circumstances, after a military coup, financed by the US, put a halt to Allende’s plans for a “Chilean path to Socialism.”
That said, he did achieve much in his 3 short years in power. Allende’s government redistributed wealth; nationalized industries; improved health care and education; built houses; increased wages - which saw those at the lowest level of Chilean society able to feed and clothe themselves better than they had been able to before. Not bad for a first time President. Even so, Allende did have his detractors at home and abroad.
President Nixon considered him a major threat to US security, and vetoed any co-existence with the Chilean leader after Allende’s election in 1970. While Nixon’s B-movie goon-henchman, Henry Kissinger, told CIA director, Richard Helms, “We will not let Chile go down the drain.” Kissinger also said:
“The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves … I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.”
Over the next 3 years, the US destabilized Chile’s economy, funded opposition parties, and just stopped short of direct involvement in the military coup (led by General Pinochet) that ended Allende’s presidency.
In his farewell speech, on September 11 1973, Allende said:
“Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society.”
Not long after this, on the same day, Allende “committed suicide” His death has been a focus of much controversy since, and in January 2011, Chilean authorities announced an investigation into Allende’s death.
In this historic interview, Conversation with Allende, filmed not long after his election, the new President:
articulates his basic beliefs and lays out the program he intended to persue as leader of the Popular Unity government. The conversation shows with rare candor Allende´s deep-seated belief in the Chilean Constitution and in the ability of his coalition to maintain control for the elected six-year period. He discusses the legal road to socialism, the anticipated problems with the Nixon Administration and the CIA, and how he planned to handle the antagonism of the Chilean bourgeoisie. He also talks about his early days as doctor, recounting how his medical career and contact with the poor led to his conversion to socialism.