Messages of Support

“When people claim that there has never been an example of a successful socialist state, they forget Chile, along with revolutionary Spain and the early days of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. They were all attacked by the so-called ‘democrats’. By supporting the murderous torturer Pinochet and his gang, the U.S. demonstrated yet again that it is the enemy of democracy and the rule of law. For Kissinger to be awarded the Nobel Prize was the day they said ‘satire died’.

We must remember the principles of the Allende government. We must also determine that the next time socialism is on the agenda we make certain it is defended successfully. Who knows, it may be sooner than we think!”

Ken Loach



Letter sent to the Morning Star by a compañero from Sheffield.

(This letter was published in the Morning Star of 20.12.13)

Dear Editor,

September 2013 will mark the 40th anniversary of the American-backed military coup in Chile against the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende. Thousands of people were tortured and killed, others ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the authorities and the secret police, and more were illegally detained. Men, women and children were rounded up by the military and taken from their homes. Most were never seen alive by their families again. 1 million people were forced  into exile.

In this country the Morning Star played an outstanding role over many years in helping to mobilise solidarity with the Chilean people. Many Star readers will be familiar with this, and may be interested to note that a new network called “Chile 40 Years On” is being set up to commemorate this tragic event, as well as to celebrate life and the progress made by Chilean people in their four decade long quest for democracy and justice. To find out more about events being organised to mark this 40th anniversary can I recommend that  readers monitor the new web site at: The web site will be updated on a regular basis as events are organised over the coming months.

Jamie Lang



Our most fraternal greetings to those behind this initiative, we believe its a responsibility never to forget the events that lead and that followed the fatidic 11/09/73. The real role of the USA and others are yet to be clarified and we must continue to struggle for an end to impunity and the legacy of the dictatorship. Long Live Salvador Allende and the thousands of victims of Chilean facism!!

Saludos from Aotearoa NZ


Thank you for organizing this year  to mark this important event.

The election of Allende and then  coup with tragic consequences for Chileans,  also marked many of us in the UK who  had hoped for an enduring  regime of social justice on  the Latin American continent, amidst so many dictators at the time.
I will forward to my friends and hope they  can attend some of  the events.
Please add my name to your mailing list,
With thanks,

Brigid Benson

As former General Secretary of WUS ( 1973-81), with its major scholarship programme for Chilean academics and student, let me congratulate you on this important initiative.

All strength to your work!

Alan Phillips






Message of support from the National Union of Maritime & Transport Workers RMT

“RMT welcomes the formation of the Chile 40 Years On network, which celebrates the international solidarity movement that sprung up in the wake of the military coup of 11 September 1973.

I am proud to say that members of our union played their part alongside other trade unionists in helping political refugees from Chile who came to Britain.

Thousands of Chileans were tortured and killed under the regime of General Augusto Pinochet. Many “disappeared” and their families to this day do not know what happened to them. All this came about in the interests of big business, to prevent Salvador Allende’s government implementing a programme that included nationalisation of key industries and redistribution of wealth.

While the labour movement helped the victims of Chile’s Junta, Margaret Thatcher and other Conservatives supported Pinochet’s brutal regime. In fact, Thatcher was an admirer of Pinochet’s free-market policies and remained a lifelong personal friend.

Chile 40 Years On serves as a reminder of an important period of modern history and the great spirit of international solidarity that RMT believes is an essential part of trade unionism.”

Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT


RMT Letter6



UNITE Statement on 40th Anniversary of Coup in Chile

Arguably the 1973 coup in Chile marked the beginning of the end of the social progress experienced in many parts of the world since the end of the Second World War.

For the Chilean people and especially the left in Chile the events  of 1973 represented the start of a murderous period under General Augusto Pinochet. Socialists,  communists  and trade unionists  were rounded up, tortured and murdered in the national football stadium. Perhaps the most famous of  the dead was the singer/songwriter Victor Jara.

 Although military support for the coup can be laid at the door of the Pentagon, the ideological underpinning for the coup can be traced back directly to the Economics  Department  at Chicago

 University.  Led by Prof Milton Freidman right wing thinkers had been preparing their counter revolution against post war social democratic advance.

 With the leadership of the left in Chile either dead or in exile, the “Chicago Boys” were given free rein for their free market experiments with a national economy.

 By the late 1970s, elsewhere in the world disciples of Friedman were coming to power, most notably Thatcher in Britain and Reagan in the US. Buoyed  by the “success”  of  the  experiments  in  Chile

they  began to  dismantle  social democracy in their own countries and then across most of the world. In the UK the first  wave of  this  attack was  to  legally emasculate  the trade union movement.

 The period between 1973 and 1979 however, showed the best of the British left. Many thousands of Chilean political refugees were given sanctuary in the UK, their passage and resettlement often

 organised by our trade unions and political activists.

 It is here that praise must be given to a predecessors union of Unite, the T&G and AEU. Most particularly trade union action at Rolls Royce Hillingdon  and East  Kilbride in blacking Hawker Hunter engines destined for Chile and the Clydeside shipyard workers in refusing to work on a Chilean frigate.

  Trade union action also halted the import of Chilean  fruit and vegetables through Newhaven docks.

 The T&G was essential to both political support for the Chilean left and for work with the refugees; former T&G Deputy General Secretary the late Alex Kitson was Treasurer of Chile Solidarity Campaign.

 Forty years on Unite remains active in Latin American politics. We support the social progress being made in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia,  Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua and elsewhere.  We stand  in solidarity  with trade unionists  and others on the left in Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala.

 In 2013 our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who died, our solidarity is with  those working for social justice where ever in the world they are.

 ¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

 Len McCluskey

General Secretary Unite the union



ASLEF Statement:  SALVADOR ALLENDE (1908-1973)

Salvador Allende was a beacon of light in Latin America in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. First as a senator, deputy, and cabinet minister, and member of the Socialist Party, and then as President of Chile, he offered hope to millions of ordinary men and women in the country.

When he was finally elected president in 1970 – he had run, unsuccessfully, for the presidency in 1952, 1958, and 1964 – he became the world’s first democratically-elected Marxist head of state.

Allende nationalised the banks, and the commanding heights of the economy such as the copper industry, and began to tackle poverty ¬– before he was elected half of all children in Chile under 15 suffered from malnutrition – by distributing free milk, raising wages, reducing rents, and holding down prices. He also began a programme of land redistribution to solve the enormous and hereditary disparities between rich and poor.

These policies were enormously popular with the people but put him at odds with vested interests – especially the rich landowners – as well as the US government of Richard Nixon which feared the spread of socialism in Central and South America and, in 1973, Allende died during a military coup led by General Pinochet and backed with bullets and money by the CIA.

When Salvador Allende died, on 11 September 1973, a beacon of light and hope went out in the world. It is right that now, forty years on, we remember the man and his achievements and honour his memory.

Most of all, we would do well to remember the words in his farewell speech, broadcast live on Chilean radio, just before the fall of the presidential palace. He said:

‘I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society.’

Long live Chile! Long live the people!

Long live the workers!’

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF


ITF Statement in support of Chile 40 Years On Network

The Chilean coup was an event that still resonates through political, economic and trade union history. A democratic and progressive government was toppled and a nation made to suffer fear, suspicion and repression. Execution, exile and torture were used to underpin a brutal dictatorship and then to facilitate the introduction of a monetarist economic model whose effects are still being felt around the world – and are all too visible in today’s neo-liberal policies and austerity measures.

 The outrageous events of September 11th 1973 had one positive effect: they created a groundswell of support around the globe for the people of Chile who had been dispossessed of their democratic birthright. Trade unions were at the forefront of the solidarity campaigns and committees that sprung up to fight Pinochet and help those worst affected. It was trade unionists who led boycotts, stopped the shipping of military spares, denounced the junta, and provided concrete assistance to projects within Chile and those exiled from it. Transport trade unions played a vital role in these continuing campaigns and the condemnation of Pinochet’s illegal government.

 The ITF supports international solidarity action and democracy. We are pleased to back the Chile 40 Years On network, which recognises that great work that trade unionists of various nationalities did to support Chileans during the years of struggle against an unelected, murderous dictator. The humbling examples of examples of real and practical solidarity that the labour movement constantly took part in are an inspiration, and we intend to carry that same spirit of international solidarity into the work we do.

Stephen Cotton

Acting General Secretary


TUC Statement on 40th Anniversary of Coup in Chile

The 1973 coup in Chile and its brutal aftermath was a seminal moment in developing the internationalism of many in the British trade union movement.  The coup was of course a disaster for the people of Chile and beyond. The US backed intervention opened the space for both political repression and the neo-liberal economic doctrines that became the new global orthodoxy.

 Here in the UK trade unionists and others provided a welcome and support to those forced to leave their country. We received in return an influx of new comrades who helped both to educate and organise.

 As we mark the 40th anniversary of the coup it is right that we remember the fallen and those who suffered under the brutal Pinochet regime. But it is also right that we stand with the Chile 40 Years Network to mark the progress made in Chile and across the continent, which demonstrates to those suffering repression elsewhere that dictatorships can be overthrown and freedom triumph.

Frances O’Grady

General Secretary

Trades Union Congress


Message of Support from the STUC General Secretary

The Trade Union movement in Scotland are proud of the support and solidarity that we offered to the Chilean people after the coup in 1973 where General Pinochet seized power. Many refugees came to Scotland in response to this terrible regime and were welcomed into our communities, with the families of trade unionists often opening their homes to them while suitable housing was found.

Trade unionists in Rolls Royce in East Kilbride; in the Rosyth dockyards; in Anderson Mavers mining firm; and the Yarrows shipyards on the Clyde, all organised boycotts where workers refused to work on weapons and other goods bound for Chile. This action was an inspirational show of solidarity and had a real and meaningful impact on the Pinochet regime.

The Chilean people who settled in Scotland had a positive effect on our communities and on the trade union movement, enriching our culture and inspiring how we organised and campaigned for our members in Scotland.

It is right that we remember this time, the horrors that were committed but also the friendships that were created.

Grahame Smith

STUC General Secretary     



Message of support from Paul BlomfieldMP

Dear Pedro

 I’m writing to say how sorry I am that I will not be able to join you at Saturday’s event in Broomhall, as I will be on my way to Brighton for the Labour Party Conference.

The military coup in Chile was one of the defining political moments for me and many of my generation. Just as the election of Salvador Allende in 1970 had created such hope for progressive people around the world, his overthrow on 11 September 1973 was a devastating blow. Although not unexpected, it was still shocking and I recall the moment that I heard the news and remember the images from the Presidential Palace vividly, just as I still listen to the haunting songs of Victor Jara. I was proud that people in Sheffield responded so positively and welcomed so many Chileans to make your homes here, just as we have been a City of Sanctuary for so many others fleeing oppression.

Salvador Allende’s parting words contain advice that many around the world can still hold on to in difficult times : “Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society.”

I hope you have a good evening.

Best wishes

Paul Blomfield

Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central