The UNIDAD POPULAR had been created on the initiative of the Communist Party of Chile in 1969. It also comprised the Socialist Party, the Radical Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Popular Unitary Action Movement (MAPU) – since 1972 the MAPU Obrero Campesino (fields laborers) splinter group too – and the Independent Popular Action . Also, since 1971 the Christian Left Party. It initially included the moderate Party of the Radical Left, that later joined opposition. Here you can find what the UP’s founding Pact was like. UP has been also supported by the Central Única de Trabajadores, a National Workers’ Syndicate.
The leader of the UP was Salvador Allende, a social democrat politician, founding member of the Socialist Party of Chile. Allende had declared that UP struggles for an anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic government that would replace the House and Senate with a Democratic National Congress. He had been committed to undertaking a large-scale land reform against big landlords and to nationalizing all foreign firms and banks, including the huge U.S. investments in the extremely important for the Chilean economy sector of copper mining.
This program wasn’t meant to challenge capitalist ownership in general; it was meant to be applied by a bourgeois government, under capitalist rule. Nowadays the point mark of this last sentence is only holding the place where ellipsis should be standing…
The stake was a social-democratic one, in the old sense of the term: take the elections, apply radical reforms, get support at international level by the socialist movement, and gradually manage to put the foundations for a sustainable, truly democratic and socialist society.
The Communist Party of Chile abandonned its political autonomy, by passing its action exclusively through the thousands of base committees of the UP, where members of all parties of the Front were participating along with masses of people outside parties and decisions had to be unanimous. The converse is also true: the CPC had insisted on subordinating any social struggle and movement to the formal political agreement in the framework of UP’s organizations.
On September 4 1970, in the first round of the Presidential Elections, the UP got 36,3 % of the vote versus 34,9 % of its adversary. According to the Chilean Constitution, the Congress had to elect the President between the two candidates that led the vote. Yankees were already worried and thinking about alternatives. On October 5 1970, Allende, with the Christian Democrats having voted for him, got 271 votes out of 462, not enough to be elected.
At the same time, a multi-facet operation for terrorizing the people was being settled:
on 22 October the Chief of Staff, Rene Schneider had been assassinated by fascist gags. He had been an obstacle to conspiracies that were fomenting within the army.
Finally, on October 24, in the second vote, Allende won 135 to 35 votes and was triumphantly elected. Immediately after his election he declared that any attempt to overthrow him by force of arms would be "crushed by the revolutionary violence of the masses."
On October 30 Allende announced the composition of a fifteen-member UP government, including three communists and three workers Ministers.
On November 3, 1970 Salvador Allende took office as President of Chile. In his speech after the swearing-in ceremony he said: "We strive to create a different world, we intend to prove that profound, revolutionary changes can be made.
After the glorious ceremony, Allende had ridden an open car, leading a motorcade proceeding in the streets of the center of Santiago, waving under the cheers of thick croud.
Shortly after his installation, Allende announced in a massively crowded meeting the nationalization of copper mines and foreign banks.
It is in this context that the Chilean experiment of “peaceful transition to socialism” started.
TO BE CONTINUED