Never Again: 50 Years Since the Chilean Workers’ Movement was Crushed

This article was written by a revolutionary socialist comrade from Chile.

Never again.

That is a phrase that many Chileans grow up hearing when talking about what happened on September 11, 1973. On that day, 50 years ago, a coup led by the fascist Augusto Pinochet, and supported by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), ended the government and the life of the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.

That government had in many ways represented the hopes of the working class of Chile and the illusion of achieving a socialist revolution through the capitalists’ ballot box.

All that ended with the Pinochet dictatorship. Thousands were executed, thousands more disappeared and presumed executed, tens of thousands tortured, and hundreds of thousands exiled from the country. Plus, the installation of a neoliberal economic system has brought more misery to millions of Chileans during these last five decades.

For this reason, the generations that survived the dictatorship taught their children to say that this should never happen again in history.

But what is worrying is the way in which they are taught that this should never happen again. The intended lesson is usually that, in order to avoid a dictatorship, it would be necessary to strengthen the institutions we have. To have better so-called checks and balances. To go to the polls and believe in our democracy.

But that is a bad lesson from what happened with the Allende government and a worse one if we want to prevent things like that from happening again. It is time to open our eyes and see that the end of Pinochet’s government did not mean the end of capitalist rule or its propaganda.

For this reason, this “never again” must be replaced with the true lesson of what happened. Never again should the capitalist class and its politicians be trusted. Never again should we believe that by making concessions and reforms with the ruling class we can significantly change the world for all people.

It is time to see that the way to move forward and prevent something like this from happening again is through the unity and collective power of the working class.