PRESS RELEASE: Nationwide network to lead on Chile coup anniversary commemorations

 LondonPress release

Nationwide network to lead on Chile coup anniversary commemorations

Forty years on from the brutal 1973 coup that overthrew Chile’s elected government, a new network is being set up to celebrate the international resistance to the overthrow and the military dictatorship which followed. The Chile 40 Years On network plans a series of events leading up to and following the 11th September anniversary that will recognise the support shown for the regime’s victims. That support, spearheaded by British labour movement, still stands as a blueprint for international solidarity.

  The new network has been set up with groups in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Sheffield and Wales.  

 Maria Vasquez Aguilar, Chair of the Chile 40 Years On London Coordinating Committee, commented: “It is important for people, young and old, to be aware of the role of trade unions in fighting injustices abroad. Often, ordinary working people are forgotten by history. It is only by remembering and celebrating their achievements that we can work together for a better tomorrow – both at home and across the world.”

 Further quote here: “Given the decline in union membership, particularly amongst the young, and the current fight against the government’s austerity measures, we need to highlight the crucial role trade unions play. Chile was the blueprint for neo-liberalism, imposed by crushing all dissent, the legacy of which continues today. The current fight in the UK, which began under Thatcher, has clear parallels. The struggle continues.”

 An estimated 3,000 Chileans arrived in the UK between 1973 and 1979. With the support of the labour movement, the Joint Working Group for Refugees from Chile (JWG) and the Chile Solidarity Campaign, many went on to make the UK their home, contributing economically, culturally, socially and politically to the country.

7th May 2013


 This year marks the 40th anniversary of the coup d’etat on September 11th 1973 that ousted Chile’s elected president, Salvador Allende, and ushered in the 17 years of dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet. Thousands of people were tortured, killed and ‘disappeared’. One million people were forced into exile.

 The regime went on to impose a neo-liberal economic plan, led by the infamous ‘Chicago boys’. The decline in living standards of ordinary Chileans, the devastation of the environment, the crushing of trade unions and workers rights and the increase in inequality has been well documented. Indeed, the student’s movement today in Chile against the cost of education is testament to its legacy.

 The Chile Solidarity Campaign (CSC) was founded in 1973. The Transport and General Workers’ Union, the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, and the National Union of Mineworkers were among the unions that joined it. The Parliamentary Labour party also formed a special working group on Chile.

 Examples of the remarkable acts of solidarity shown at the time include the Jarrow shipbuilding engineers who walked out from work completing the Chilean warship Almirante Lynch, and the refusal by Rolls Royce East Kilbride workers to service engines for Chilean Hawker Hunter warplanes

 A Chile 40 Years On coordinating committee has been formed in London made up of four elected representatives, all of whom are second generation Chileans who grew up in the UK and experienced at first hand the welcome and support given by the labour movement, the JWG and the Chile Solidarity Campaign. They are:

Maria Vasquez-Aguilar, Chair of the London Coordinating Committee, arrived as a child in 1978 with her family. They were received by the Steelworker’s Union, local Labour party activists and the JWG in Rotherham/Sheffield;

·        Rossana Leal (Communications) who was welcomed by the JWG in 1977. Her family was ‘adopted’ by the Scottish Union of Miners.

·        Isabel Cortes (Secretary) arrived in 1977 at the age of five and was welcomed to the UK by the JWG and Chile Solidarity Campaign (CSC) in Northampton, where TGWU branch 5/221 provided practical support to her family as well as producing ‘No Truck with the Chilean Junta’ stickers and successfully boycotting the transport of Chilean goods;

       Carla Diego (Treasurer), whose step-father arrived in the UK in 1978. His case was championed by the International Organisation for Migration. His family received support from Amnesty International and the CSC when settling in Aberdeen.

For more details please contact:

Contact Rossana Leal (Communications) 07895536946 – Isabel Cortes  (Secretary) 07775449442

For more information on Chile 40 Years On please visit 

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