Three decades after the military coup that led to the tragic death of Salvador Allende in 2003, Chile’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Esteban Tomic, today cited Article 1 of the organization’s democratic charter. On that September 11, he recalled, „a man only accepted the task of saving his life and paid the price with his life.”
53 years ago, when Salvador Allende was democratically elected, I was a young Brazilian diplomat living in London, dividing my time between bureaucratic work at the embassy and classes, lectures and readings at the London School of Economics (LSE). My supervisor was a Marxist political scientist, Ralph Miliband, whose sons would, decades later, play key roles in Labor governments.
I mention it so you can understand the existential conflict I experienced, like many Brazilians of my generation, in those years of tension, in the middle of the Cold War. Others, naturally, were not so lucky and lost their lives or took refuge in different countries like Chile.
A 1964 civil-military coup in Brazil shattered my belief in a career serving my ideals. On the other hand, with a family to support, I had to continue my job in the government with which I had no connection.
It was a difficult period for the Left in the developing world. A few years ago, João Goulart in Brazil, Sukarno in Indonesia and Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana were killed in military coups. Those who seized power in those countries were right-wing militaries, strategically led by Washington. Geopolitical significance of these Regime changes It was obvious.
For a young Latin American diplomat with a progressive vision, there was no clear role model to look to. But Salvador Allende’s election in Chile raised hopes. An avowed socialist and staunch democrat, Allende was for many of us a beacon that the social and political recovery of Latin America was not an unattainable dream.
I thought that Chile, with its democratic tradition and its history of struggles since President José Manuel Palmaseda in the 19th century, would not allow a government that respects laws and pluralism to fall victim to a coup d’état arising from a popular vote. d’état. The state of violence.
Two years later, as secretary to the Brazilian ambassador to the OAS, I had the opportunity to appreciate how the Chilean ambassador held independent positions and defended Cuba under the constant threat of armed action by the United States.
At a conference on science and technology in Brasilia, I watched with admiration as the young ambassadors of the Popular Unity government laid out their vision of development models independent of big international capital and centered on Latin American integration. At the same time, he was aware of the role that Chile de Allende played in the international arena, defending the principle of self-determination, multilateralism and cooperation among equals.
The military coup, with proven US support, was a major shock. This caused great suffering for the Chilean people with deaths, disappearances and torture.
The heroic sacrifice of Salvador Allende and his replacement by the Pinochet dictatorship, with the strong support of the world right, seemed to show that revolutions like Cuba’s were not forbidden in the region, even in my country. Likewise, the sovereign pursuit of social justice, even through purely peaceful and legal means, will not be tolerated by reactionary elites and their international supporters.
Visiting the Palacio de la Moneda and remembering Allende’s last moments left me with a strong emotion. More than just a historical memory, the visit made me think about the variations that democracy has undergone in South America.
Allende’s heroism is difficult to compare, but the political fate of other progressive leaders was not so different. By such means law, Many progressive governments condemned by Pope Francis have been illegally removed from power. Political leaders such as Lula, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa were banned and barred from running in elections, if not simply jailed.
In this part of the world, American politicians and diplomats often call Western Hemisphere (I always wonder how far the Eastern Hemisphere goes), we legitimately elect some progressive leaders in our countries. We realize the difficulties of the struggle and remain united in our aims. Currently, the By law It is a weapon to overthrow progressive governments.
Defending legitimate governments against coup attempts is primarily the task of every nation. But it is, increasingly, the collective work of Latin American and Caribbean progressives.
Beyond words of praise, the tribute we can pay to Salvador Allende, the great Latin American statesman, is to continue to fight for our ideals of democracy, social justice, respectful relationships and the defense of our countries’ independence. A freedom we can only achieve with true integration of our people. Without overlords or impositions.
This is the best way to honor Salvador Allende and show that his sacrifice was not in vain.