|THE POPULAR UNITY'S PROGRAMME
Programme presented to the Chilean people for the Presidential
Election campaign in 1970
The parties and movements of which the Popular Unity's Coordinating
Committee is composed, without prejudice to our individual
philosophy and political delineations, fully agree on the following
description of the national situation and on the programme
proposals which are to constitute the basis of our common effort
and which we now present for consideration by the whole nation.
Chile is going through a grave crisis, manifested by social and
economic stagnation, widespread poverty and deprivation of all
sorts suffered by workers, peasants(*), and other exploited classes
as well as in the growing difficulties which confront white collar
workers, professional people, small and medium businessmen, and in
the very limited opportunities open to women and young people.
These problems can be resolved in Chile. Our country possesses
great wealth such as copper and other minerals, a large hydro-
electric potential, vast forests, a long coast rich in marine life,
and more than sufficient land, etc. Chile also has a population
with a will to work and progress and people with technical and
WHY HAVE WE FAILED?
What has failed in Chile is the system - a system which does not
correspond to present day requirements. Chile is a capitalist
country, dependent on the imperialist nations and dominated by
bourgeois groups who are structurally related to foreign capital
and who cannot resolve the country's fundamental problems -
problems which are clearly the result of class privilege which will
never be given up voluntarily.
Moreover, as a direct consequence of the development of world
capitalism, the submission of the national monopolistic bourgeoisie
to imperialism daily furthers its role as junior partner to foreign
capital, increasingly accentuating its dependent nature.
For a few people it is good business to sell off a piece of Chile
each day. And every day this select few make decisions on behalf of
all the rest of us. On the other hand, for the great majority of
Chileans there is little to be gained from selling their labour and
brain power and, in general, they are still deprived of the right
to determine their own future.
The 'reformist' and 'developmentalist' solutions, which the
Alliance for Progress promoted and which the Frei Government
adopted, have not changed anything of importance in Chile.
Basically, the Christian Democrat Government was nothing but a new
government of the bourgeoisie, in the service of national and
foreign capitalism, whose weak efforts to promote social change
came to a sad end in economic stagnation, a rising cost of living,
and violent repression of the people. This experience demonstrated
once more that reformism cannot resolve the people's problems.
The development of monopoly capitalism prevents the extension of
democracy and exacerbates violence against the people. As
'reformism' fails and the people's capacity to struggle increases,
the most reactionary sectors of the dominant classes who, in the
last analysis, have no recourse but to use force, become firmer in
their position. The brutal forms of violence perpetrated by the
Frei Government, such as the activities of the Riot Police Unit,
the beating up of peasants and students, and the killing of shanty
town dwellers and miners, are inseparable from other and no less
brutal forms of violence which affect all Chileans. People living
in luxurious houses while a large part of the population lives in
unhealthy dwellings or has no shelter at all also constitutes
violence; people who throw away food while others lack the means to
feed themselves also commit violence.
Imperialist exploitation of backward economies takes place in a
variety of ways: through investments in mining (copper, iron, etc),
industrial, banking and commercial activities; through the control
of technology which obliges us to pay exaggerated sums for
equipment, licences and patents; through American loans with
crippling conditions which require us to purchase from the U.S.A.
and with the additional obligation to transport these purchases in
North American ships. Just one example of imperialist exploitation
is the fact that from 1952 to date, the U.S.A. invested US$ 7,473
million in Latin America and received back US$ 16,000 million.
Imperialism has taken resources from Chile equivalent to double the
value of the capital accumulated in our country throughout its
history. American monopolies, with the complicity of bourgeois
governments, have succeeded in taking over nearly all of our
copper, iron and nitrate resources. They control foreign trade and
dictate economic policy through the International Monetary Fund and
other organisations. They dominate important branches of industry
and services, they enjoy statutory privileges while imposing
monetary devaluation, the reduction of salaries and wages and the
distortion of agricultural activities through their agricultural
They also intervene in education, culture and in the communications
media and they try to penetrate the Armed Forces, making use of
military and political agreements.
The dominant classes, acting as accomplices in the process and
unable to defend their own interests, have increased Chile's
foreign indebtness over the last ten years. It was argued that the
loans and arrangements with international bankers would increase
economic development. But the only result is that today Chile holds
the record of being one of the world's most indebted countries in
proportion to its population.
In Chile government and legislation is for the benefit of the few
-that is they only serve the large capitalists and their hangers-on,
the companies which dominate our economy, and the large landholders
whose power still remains almost intact.
The owners of capital are only interested in making more money and
not in satisfying the needs of the Chilean people. For example, if
it appears to be a good business proposition to produce and import
expensive cars they use our economy's scarce resources for this
purpose, ignoring the fact that only a minute percentage of
Chileans have the means to purchase them and that there are far
more urgent needs to be satisfied. The improvement of public
transport and provision of machinery for agriculture are obvious
examples of such urgent needs.
The groups of businessmen who control the economy, the press and
other communications media, the existing political system, and the
threats to the State, when it hints at intervention or refuses to
favour all these interests, are an expensive burden on the Chilean
people. For these groups to deign to continue 'working' - since
only they can afford the luxury of working or not - the following
conditions are necessary. They have to be provided with all kinds
of assistance. Important businessmen pressure the State under the
threat that, unless the help and guarantees they request are
authorized, there will be no private investment.
They have to be allowed to produce the products they want with
money belonging to the whole Chilean people, instead of producing
the goods needed by the great majority; and to transfer the profits
obtained to their foreign bank accounts. They wish to be allowed to
dismiss workers if they ask for better wages; and to be permitted
to manipulate food distribution and stockpile food products in
order to create artificial shortages and thereby raise prices in
order to continue enriching themselves at the expense of the
Meanwhile, a large proportion of those people who actually produce
face a difficult situation. Half a million families lack housing
and as many or more live in appalling conditions lacking sewage,
drinking water, light, and healthy conditions. The population's
education and health requirements are insufficiently provided for.
More than half of Chile's workers receive wages which are
insufficient to cover their minimum vital needs. Every family
suffers from unemployment and unstable employment. The chances of
employment are impossible or uncertain for countless young people.
Imperialist capital and a privileged group not exceeding 10% of the
population receive half of the National Income. This means that out
of every hundred escudos produced by Chileans, 50 end up in the
pockets of 10 of the oligarchy and the other 50 have to be shared
among 90 Chileans from the poor and middle classes
The rising cost of living creates havoc in people's homes,
especially for the housewife. According to official statistics, the
cost of living has risen almost 1,000% in the last 10 years.
This means that every day Chileans who live from the proceeds of
their work are robbed of part of their salaries or wages. The same
happens to retired people, craftsmen, independent workers and small
scale producers, whose meagre incomes are daily eroded by
Alessandri and Frei gave assurances that they would put an end to
inflation. The results are there for all to see. The facts prove
that inflation in Chile is the outcome of deeper causes which are
related to the capitalist structure of our society and not to
increases in incomes, as successive governments have tried to make
us believe in order to justify the system and restrain workers'
On the other hand, the large capitalist can defend himself from
inflation and what is more he profits from it. His property and his
capital become more valuable, his construction contracts with the
State are revalued, and the prices of his products always rise
ahead of wage increases.
A large number of Chileans are underfed. According to official
statistics, 50% of children under 15 years of age are
undernourished. This affects their growth and limits their learning
capacity. This shows that the economy in general and the
agricultural system in particular are incapable of feeding Chile's
population in spite of the fact that Chile could support a
population of 30 million people right now - that is, three times
the present population.
Yet, on the contrary, each year we must import hundreds of
thousands of dollars worth of food products.
Most of the blame for the food supply and nutritional problems of
the Chilean people can be attributed to the existence of LATIFUNDIA
which are responsible for the backwardness and misery which
characterize the Chilean countryside. Indices of infant and adult
mortality, illiteracy, lack of housing and ill health in the rural
areas are markedly higher than for the cities. The Christian
Democrat Government's restricted Agrarian Reform Programme has not
resolved these problems. Only the peasants' struggle, backed by the
whole nation, will resolve them. The present struggle for land and
the abolition of the latifundio is opening up new perspectives for
the advance of the Chilean people.
The growth rate of our economy is minimal. In recent five year
periods the average rate of growth has been scarcely 2% p.a. per
capita; and since 1967 there has been no growth at all. On the
contrary, we have moved backwards according to the Government
Planning Office's figures. This means that in 1966 each Chilean had
more goods than he has today, which explains why the majority are
discontent and are looking for an alternative for our country.
The only alternative, which is a truly popular one, and one which
therefore constitutes the Popular Government's main task, is to
bring to an end the rule of the imperialists, the monopolists, and
the landed oligarchy and to initiate the construction of socialism
THE ORGANIZED PEOPLE IN UNITY AND ACTION
The growth in size and organization of the labour force and the
growing struggle and consciousness of its own power reinforce and
propagate criticism of the established order, the desire for
profound change and conflicts with the established power structure.
There are more than three million workers in our country whose
productive efforts and enormous constructive capacity cannot be put
to good use within the present system, which only exploits and
These organized forces, in a common effort with the people to
mobilize those who are not sold out to national and foreign
reactionary interests, could destroy the present system and, by
means of this united struggle on the part of the large majority of
Chileans, progress could be made in the task of liberating
themselves. The Popular Unity alliance has been formed precisely
for this purpose.
The imperialists and the country's dominant classes will struggle
against a united people and will try to deceive them once again.
They will say that freedom is in danger, that violence is taking
hold of the country, etc. But each day the popular masses are less
and less taken by these lies. Social mobilization is growing daily,
and is now reinforced and encouraged by the unity of the left wing
In order to encourage and guide the mobilization of the Chilean
people toward the conquest of power, we will set up Popular Unity
Committees in every factory, farm, poor neighbourhood(**), office
or school, to be run by the militants of the left wing movements
and parties and to be composed of the thousands of Chileans who are
in favour of fundamental change. These Popular Unity Committees
will not only constitute electoral organizations. They will
interpret and fight for the immediate claims of the masses and
above all they will learn to exercise power.
This new form of power structure which Chile needs must begin to
develop itself right now, wherever people need to be organized to
fight over specific problems and wherever the need to exercise this
power becomes apparent. This system involving a common effort will
be a permanent dynamic method for developing our Programme,
constituting a practical school for the masses and a concrete way of
deepening the political content of the Popular Unity at all levels.
At a given point in the campaign the essential contents of this
Programme, enriched by discussion with and the support of the
people, and together with a series of immediate government measures
will be set out in a People's Act (Acta del Pueblo) which the new
Popular Government and the Front which sustains it will regard as an
Support for the Popular Unity's candidate does not, therefore, only
involve voting for a man, but also involves declaring oneself in
favour of the urgent replacement of our present society, the basis
of which is the power and control exercised by large national and
The revolutionary changes required by Chile can only be carried out
if the people of Chile take power into their own hands and exercise
it in a true and effective manner.
In the process of a long struggle, the Chilean people have achieved
certain democratic liberties and guarantees which will require
vigilance and constant battle if they are not to be lost.
The revolutionary and popular forces have not united to simply
fight for the substitution of one President of the Republic by another,
nor to replace one party by others in Government but, rather, to carry
out the profound changes which are required by national circumstances,
based on the transfer of power from the old dominant groups to the
urban workers, rural population and progressive sectors of the
urban and rural middle-classes. This popular triumph will therefore open
up the way for the most democratic political government in the
As regards the political structure, the Popular Government has the
double task of preserving and making more effective and real the
democratic rights and achievements of the working classes, and
transforming present institutions in order to install a new system
of power in which the working classes and the people are the ones who
really exercise power.
The strengthening of democracy and working class progress
The Popular Government will guarantee the exercise of democratic
rights and will respect the social and individual liberties of all
sectors of the population. The freedom of worship, speech, press
and of assembly, the inviolability of the home, and the right to
unionize will be made effective, removing the present obstacles put up by
the dominant classes to limit them.
In order to put this into practice, the unions and social
organizations formed by manual workers, white collar workers,
peasants and rural workers, shanty town dwellers and inhabitants of low
income neighbourhoods(***), housewives, students, professional people,
intellectuals, craftsmen, small and medium businessmen, and other
groups of workers, will be called upon to participate in government
decision making at the relevant level. For example, in the social
security institutions we will establish a system of management by
the contributors themselves, ensuring that the government bodies are
elected democratically and by secret ballot. As for firms in the
public sector, their governing committees and production committees
must include direct representation of manual and white collar
The Neighbourhood Committees (Juntas de Vecinos) and other
organized groups of inhabitants of poor neighbourhoods will have ways and
means of controlling the activities of the pertinent national housing
organizations and of participating in many aspects of their
activities. It is not just a question of these particular examples,
but of a new philosophy in which ordinary people achieve real and
effective participation in the different organisms of the State.
Likewise, the Popular Government guarantees the right of workers to
employment and to strike, and the right for all people to obtain a
proper education and culture, fully respecting all ideas and
religious beliefs and guaranteeing the freedom to practise them.
All democratic rights and guarantees will be extended, by granting
to social organizations real means of exercising their rights and
creating the mechanisms which will allow them to participate in the
different levels of the State's administrative apparatus. The power
and authority of the Popular Government will essentially be based
on the support extended to it by the organized population. This is our
notion of strong government - the very opposite of that held by the
oligarchy and imperialists who identify authority with the use of
coercion against the people.
The Popular Government will be a multiparty one, composed of all
the revolutionary parties, movements and groups. The executive will
therefore be truly democratic, representative and cohesive. The
Popular Government will respect the rights of the opposition as
long as they are exercised within the legal framework.
The Popular Government will immediately proceed to effectively
decentralize the administration which, in conjunction with
democratic and efficient planning, will eliminate the centralization of the
bureaucracy, replacing it with real coordination between all parts
of the administration.
The structure of the municipalities will be modernized according to
the plans for coordinating the whole state administration, while
granting them the authority due to them. They will become local
organs of the new political organization, possessing sufficient finance
and powers to enable them to deal with the problems of the local
districts and their inhabitants, in conjunction and coordination with the
Neighbourhood Committees. The Provincial Assemblies must begin to
operate with the same purpose in mind.
The police must be reorganized so that they can never again be used
as a repressive force against ordinary people but, instead, ensure
that the population is protected from anti-social behaviour. Police
procedures will be made more humane, effectively guaranteeing full
respect for human dignity and physical integrity. The prison system
and prison conditions at present constitute one of the worst
aspects of the present judicial system and must be radically transformed
with a view to reforming the lawbreaker.