The Allende Myth, by Vladimir Dorta

My friend Val Dorta originally published this outstanding historical essay on his blog in 2003. With the death of Augusto Pinochet, much attention is again being given to the Allende period, the military coup and the dictatorship that followed. I wanted to link again to Val’s essay but, unfortunately, his blog is no longer online. However, Val has graciously allowed me to republish his essay here, and I am honored to do so. – Jonathan

UPDATE: Google’s cached version of Val’s original post, with comments. (Thanks to the commenter who provided this link.)

UPDATE 2 (12/28/2014): The Google-cached version has disappeared from the Web, but Val’s original post is available via here.


The Allende Myth

Vladimir Dorta


The failed and tragic attempt by Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity at creating socialism in Chile in 1970-1973 has become a myth for the world left, presented as the possibility of a peaceful and democratic transition to socialism that was destroyed only because the almighty CIA acted as master puppeteer of the Chilean reaction. The myth reinforces itself; while the Cold War context is never mentioned, neither is the fact that the CIA’s workings are well documented whereas the Cuban and Soviet interventions are still mostly unknown. The Allende myth may be good for keeping the socialist faith alive, but it evidently contradicts the historical facts.

While Augusto Pinochet’s brutal post-coup repression and terrorism cannot be justified, it is essential to explain what led him and the Chilean armed forces to the fateful coup d’état, outside of the fantasy that had him bursting onto the democratic Chilean political scene on September 11, 1973 with readymade CIA orders to stop a beautiful, pacific and liberating socialist dream. For I have no doubts that if the Chilean Marxist experiment had ended in civil war, as it appeared to most observers at the time, it would have been an even greater tragedy or, had it ended as the totalitarian society it pointed to, it would have lasted much longer and would have brought Chileans much more suffering than Pinochet’s ugly but temporary dictatorship.

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Brazilian Elections — and a Query about Brazilian and Indian Politics

Michael Barone has a interesting post about the Brazilian election.

He notes state-by-state voting differences. Mr. Barone is of course renowned for his extraordinary knowledge of regional and local voting patterns, and their underlying ethno-cultural-religious-economic causative factors, primarily in the USA but also in Europe.

However as to Brazil, even the mighty Mr. Barone notes: “I’m not aware of the regional differences or issues that account for these very different results.”

Brazil is a large and increasingly important country about which many of us know nothing beyond “The Girl From Ipanema”. This situation really must be rectified.

Which writer knows all about Brazil? Who among our readers can give us a “five best books” list? Who is the David Hackett Fischer of Brazil? Is there a “Lusitania’s Seedlings”? If so, is it translated into English? Is there an Almanac of Brazilian Politics?

And in a similar vein, India is the world’s largest democracy. It is organized along federal lines, with state and national governments. Some of India’s states are bigger in size and population that European countries. It is going to be an increasingly major player in the world. And yet, and yet … I know too little about it. So, again, what are the best sources to make sense of Indian politics? A short book list? Websites? Especially on regional distinctions and the fundamentals of Indian politics.

We are going to need to pay more and more attention to these enormous and increasingly important democratic countries in the future.

Time to get educated.

Suggestions, please.

(And please circulate this query to anyone who may have an answer it.)

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Historical Irony of the Day

Apropos of nothing, I learn from Mexicans back home after months lost in Pacific, which is about several men who involuntarily undertook a harrowing journey of several thousand miles, that the Mexican AG is named Daniel Cabeza de Vaca, thereby sharing a surname with the early Spanish explorer of Mexico, who involuntarily undertook a harrowing journey of several thousand miles (the subject of a strange but intriguing movie fifteen years ago).

Voting With Your Joystick

My fridge crapped out on me some months ago. I bought a new one from Sears and paid extra to have the old one hauled away to the dump. They contracted the heavy lifting out to a couple of guys with their own truck.

When they showed up I noticed two things right away. The first was that they had heavy Latin American accents, which is hardly surprising considering that both were from Venezuela. The second is that they were very surprised that I was willing to help them with the grunt work.

All of the doors in the house were too small to get the old fridge out. (How did it get in there? When they were building the house, did they install the kitchen appliances before framing the doors?) I dumped the box on the floor and took my ten pound sledge to the cooling coils on the back, pounding them flat. The contractors stood around and chatted with me while I worked out my frustrations.

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