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Byron Shire
September 26, 2022

A time to remember – who’s reality

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May I correct Damian Kassabgi’s account of the events of 11 September 1973 when Salvador Allende was overthrown. Allende, while himself not a Communist, was certainly a ‘useful fool’ (in Lenin’s phrase) of his Communist partners in their election coalition. The coalition won a plurality (not a majority) in the elections in May; President Edmund Frei allowed Allende to try to form a government on the explicit condition that his government would not nationalise the banks or any other institutions.

Three months later, under pressure from the Communists and other leftist coalition partners, Allende did just that, which would have wiped out the savings of the Chilean middle class, and was a betrayal of his promise when forming government. While it is certainly true that the overthrow was supported by ITT Corporation (which also faced nationalisation and expropriation) and by the CIA, what is sometimes forgotten is that it also had the active support of a substantial part of the Chilean public, even a majority. It was certainly not a ‘fascist military coup d’état’ as alleged by Kassabgi.

Allende has become a martyr for the Left, but he brought it on himself. What is hard for anyone aged under 70 to realise is that in the 1960s and ’70s, the threat of Communist coups was a global reality. The Communists tried to overthrow the Indonesian government in 1965 and they wanted a creeping coup in Chile in 1973. The North Vietnamese finally succeeded in taking over in Vietnam in 1975. Only in hindsight did we realise that these were the high-water marks for the Communist idea, and by 1989 the ideology was revealed as a tragic failure, built on a utopian vision and on the bodies of millions of innocents, murdered or imprisoned in gulags, as they still are today in China and Russia.

Sure, Pinochet was a dictator (as was Suharto in Indonesia) but they faced existential threats. Allende was no saint.

Will Liley, Coorabell

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  1. Too much watching Santa Maria on tv with his yellow peril and communist conspiracies. Yep Allende brought it on himself, maybe talk to the Chileans who fled and came to australia courtesy of Gough.

    • Communists never conspire to take over countries, turn them into repressive dictatorships, put their political dissenters in Gulgas and torture them to death. That’s just a Right-Wing conspiracy theory. Maybe talk to those who escaped communist countries and settled in Australia Rod.


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