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News > Chile

Corbyn in Chile: Salvador Allende's Legacy is "Incredible"

  • A Member of Parliament for Islington North since 1983 for the Labour party, he is part of the socialist left of Labour

    A Member of Parliament for Islington North since 1983 for the Labour party, he is part of the socialist left of Labour | Photo: teleSUR

Published 11 March 2022

The former leader of the UK labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, is in Chile to attend the inauguration of Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric. 

Corbyn has a long history of solidarity with Chileans, victims of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. He spoke to teleSUR about what it was like to be in Chile and the similarities between Allende and Boric's election and what it means for the region.

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What do you think Allende's legacy means now in 2022?

Corbyn: His legacy is a very important one, on a personal level, one of incredible bravery in the way he stood firm against the military who were trying to take over the country and subsequently lost his life doing that.

But I think the longer legacy is that he was obviously a socialist; obviously a Marxist all his life, campaigned on those points and those principles, eventually won the election, and then mobilized huge forces to bring about social change, social justice housing, full employment, public ownership and it wasn't so much the what the government did in Chile, it was the fact that the Americans particularly, and the CIA especially, were frightened of the power of public opinion and public support for Allende, so then they started destabilizing the government from the very beginning and, looking back on it, Chile, small population, long way away from anywhere else, it was amazing what was achieved and how they survived during those three years. But he was only president for less than three years, and the legacy left behind is incredible. 

The fact we are here today and then tomorrow in the inauguration of Gabriel Boric as president of Chile, and he has won an election on the basis of a very similar kind of coalition, of left forces, popular movements, indigenous people and young people, that propelled Allende into the presidential palace.

I have been to Chile many times, I first came in 1969 when I was very young, and then I went to a May 1st march in Santiago that year, and then I came back to Chile at the time of the end of Pinochet for the handover of power in 1990. Then I came back quite a few times since then. I have always been in solidarity with the people of Chile in exile and here, for me, it is a poignant moment to be here at Salvador Allende's grave, the day before the inauguration tomorrow; obviously, the changes that occurred in Latin America are enormous, the changes in Chile, Bolivia, Peru and hopefully Colombia and hopefully the election again of Lula in Brazil will be an enormous step forward. They will show that there is a wide rejection of the idea that free markets economics bring about social justice; they don't.

Would you then agree with Pablo Neruda's line that "You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming"?

Corbyn: Absolutely, Pablo Neruda is a great inspiration to me and I have often quoted those beautiful "You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot prevent the coming of spring," and that is true.

You are someone with an ample history of fighting injustice; what advice would you give to Gabriel Boric, as someone who is about to take possession of power and will possibly confront the forces of reaction?

Corbyn: My good wishes, my support and the good wishes and support from millions around the world. It is a very tough fight he is taking on; he will be given a lot of advice from a lot of people that do not wish him well and do not wish for the social change he wants to bring about; well, he is going to have to stand up for the principles that he won the election on, social justice, good education, free healthcare, protecting the environment, but above all, let's create a world fit for the next generation, not bequeath some environment destruction, poverty, and war.

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