In this work of revisionist history based on extensive interviews and research in Chile, IPE Research Fellow Karen LaFollette Araujo and Paul Craig Roberts document that the overthrow of Salvador Allende was a homegrown operation demanded by Chile’s Chamber of Deputies and the Chilean population. In the 1970 Chilean presidential election, the vote was split three ways almost equally. The Chamber of Deputies gave the presidency to Allende after extracting his promise that he would respect the constitution. Thirty-five months later on August 22, 1973, Chile’s Chamber of Deputies censured Allende and condemned his government for violating the constitution and the law in order to “institute a totalitarian system absolutely opposed to the representative system of government that the Constitution establishes.”
The resolution of censure charged Allende with sedition and condemned him for aiding and abetting more than 1,500 illegal seizures of agricultural properties and hundreds of seizures of industrial and commercial establishments by armed gangs. The resolution ends by calling for Chile’s armed forces to act to “put an immediate end to all of these situations and to secure the constitutional order of our country and the fundamental basis of democratic life among Chileans.” Massive public demonstrations demanding Allende’s ouster finally forced the military to act.
Allende was his own undoing. He arrested and tortured opponents while allowing armed revolutionary gangs to terrorize the population and spread social disorder. His economic policies caused a calamitous drop in production, high inflation, and food rationing controlled by left-wing organizations that used food as reward and weapon.
Roberts and Araujo tell the story of the revolutionary groups and the tactics by which they hoped to overthrow bourgeois existence. They tell the story of the rebuilding of the economy by American trained economists serving as ministers of the military government, and they tell the story of the new constitution and Pinochet handing the government back to civilian hands. Pinochet’s reward for restoring order and democracy in Chile was to be demonized by the international left-wing media.