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La Educación
Número: (116) III
Año: 1993

CHILE. This chapter, presented under the title of “Socialism, Repression, and Democracy,” is not well researched. Accepting Pinochet’s distortion of the history of the independence of Chile, they write that “against the royalist reconquest [of Chile] Bernardo O’Higgins helped lead a revolutionary army from Mendoza.” The factual truth is that the army was The Army of the Andes, formed, organized, disciplined and led General José de San Martín , with people, money and political will provided by the United Provinces of the River Plate, in which Army General O’Higgins and Chilean refugees were incorporated. Furthermore, General O’Higgins—leading one of the six different columns that invaded the Royal Captaincy of Chile under the supreme command of San Martín—was one of the most distinguished military lieutenants of San Martín. With the knowledge and acceptance of Argentine director Juan Martín de Pueyrredon—according to secret instructions already published and recently translated into English in the The San Martin Papers—San Martín suggested that O’Higgins be made the Supreme Director of Chile, instead of accepting his own repeated election by the Cabildo of Santiago.

The authors offer mild comments regarding this country, whose socialism has been a sporadic fashion in the well-established democracy of Chile, with the coup of Marmaduke Grove creating a short-lived socialist republic in the thirties and in the seventies with the election of Salvador Allende, a well-known socialist “político” leading a comunist/socialist alliance (Unidad Popular) after Jorge Alessandri’s (1958) and Eduardo Frei’s (1964) constitutional presidencies. But it is too early to pass definitive historical judgment. The populist Allende’s policies of redistribution of income, dispossession of privately owned rural farms, obvious shortage of goods under price controls, widespread nationalizations and wild inflation created an untenable political situation that brought rebellious and vociferous women to the streets demanding Allende’s ouster and asking General Pinochet’s army to the revolutionary government of Chile (1973) with a strong hand against marxist, leftist, socialist and political opposition. Pinochet’s economic and constitutional reforms are in effect, and the current freely elected government of Allwyn still applies them, but in a climate of political freedom. Nonetheless, the truth about all these extraordinary events in a country of “deeply grounded democratic tradition” has not yet come to light, but surely will in some future day. The authors conclude this chapter with an optimistic opinion: the “prospects for Chile’s successful transition to authentic democracy and economic progress with greater social justice appeared brighter than anywhere else in a beleaguered Latin America.”