Jacobin Radio: The Chilean Coup, 50 Years Later (Part 1)

Suzi talks to Oscar Mendoza about the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende that came to an abrupt and bloody end 50 years ago on September 11, 1973. Pinochet's coup inaugurated a wave of violence, death and repression that shocked the world—and sparked an enormous international solidarity movement as many thousands of Chileans were forced to leave their country, their families, and their dreams of a democratic, egalitarian future. Oscar Mendoza's life was upended on that day nearly 50 years ago, when, in his words, his carefree days of youth came to an abrupt halt, followed by detention, torture and imprisonment. Two years later, in May 1975, Oscar was expelled from Chile and exiled to Scotland as a political refugee, where I greeted him along with other members of the Chile Solidarity movement in Glasgow. We get Oscar’s overview of the Chilean revolutionary process from 1970-1973, one that posited a peaceful transition to socialism with vino tinto (red wine) and empanadas, using the ballot box and constitutional means to achieve the profound economic, social, and political transformations working people demanded. Oscar asks himself two questions, and we take them up too: What are we commemorating 50 years later, and does Allende’s dream of a fairer and better Chile live on today?

We’ll continue this two-part series next week with Marc Cooper, looking at the legacy of Pinochet’s dictatorship and the impediments it poses for the leftist government of Gabriel Boric today.

Jacobin Radio with Suzi Weissman features conversations with leading thinkers and activists, with a focus on labor, the economy, and protest movements.

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