Merida, 11th September 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelans rallied to condemn fascism today, on the 40th anniversary of the coup d’état that ousted former Chilean president Salvador Allende.
According to a schedule released by the foreign ministry, the rally was set to begin at 9am at Plaza Salvador Allende at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and march through the city centre to Llaguno Bridge.
On the bridge is a memorial to those killed during the 2002 coup that saw former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez temporarily removed from office.
Organised by the left coalition the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), the rally was called by President Nicolas Maduro. The president described the former Chilean head of state as an “inspiration”.
“President Salvador Allende is an example of how to honestly fight for the cause of Latin American socialism!” he tweeted.
“Everyone march against fascism, for socialist democracy and in homage to Allende,” Maduro stated. The president further said the occasion would be used to condemn “threats of war against Syria”.
The president of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, likewise called on Venezuelans “to remember the fascist coup in Chile and reiterate that fascism cannot ever come back to Latin America”.
The day began with the laying of a wreath at Plaza Salvador Allende. The ceremony was led by Foreign Minister Elias Jaua and also attended by vice president Jorge Arreaza.
“40 years ago imperialism intimidated the world’s people [into believing that] trying to launch a socialist project in our America … was impossible, much less by democratic and electoral means,” Arreaza said.
“The sacrifice of Allende was worth it, because had it not been for his sacrifice it would have cost us much [more] to be here,” the vice president stated.
The minister for agriculture and lands Yvan Gil also spoke, describing 11 September 1973 as “a fateful day for the Latin American left”.
“The people remain steadfast in their struggle, as did the comrade comandante Chavez in helping to raise the flags of socialism and liberation,” Gil stated.
Allende came to power in Chile after being elected in the 1970 presidential elections with 36.6% of the vote; beating his closest rival by less than 2%. The Allende administration was characterised by moves to nationalise key industries including copper mining and the banking sector, along with land reform. Allende also undertook large-scale investments in publicly funded housing, education and healthcare. He also restarted relations with Cuba.
On 11 September 1973, the armed forces rebelled, and a military junta led by Augusto Pinochet seized power. Allende committed suicide.
Pinochet remained in power until 1990. The following year, a national truth and reconciliation commission reported that under Pinochet over 2,000 Chileans were killed for political reasons. In 2004, the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture found that Pinochet’s regime imprisoned over 38,000 people for political reasons; most of whom were subjected to torture.
Although today’s events in Caracas were reportedly peaceful, violence has been reported in Chile. In the capital Santiago, authorities have reportedly made numerous arrests related to the violence, which included Molotov cocktails and other projectiles being hurled in the streets. A bus was also reportedly set on fire.
Speaking in Santiago, current right-wing president Sebastian Piñera called for reconciliation.
“After 40 years the time has come not to forget, but to overcome the traumas of the past,” he stated.
Today’s march in Caracas kicks of a series of events this week. On Thursday and Friday a number of public forums on fascism and political theory will be held in the capital. More events are set to be held over the weekend in Caracas.
Venezuelan lawmakers have also joined in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup. According to issue 40247 of the Official Gazette released yesterday, the National Assembly has condemned the 1973 coup, stating that, “today [Chile] continues to build a path of struggle which the free man and woman will walk along”.