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Salvador Allende (2004)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography | 5 September 2007 (USA)
From his childhood in Valparaiso to his death during the Pinochet military coup on September 11, 1973, the life and works of Chilean president Salvador Allende.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Narrator (voice)
Jacques Bidou ...
Narrator (voice)
Alejandro Gonzáles ...
Himself (as Alejandro 'Mono' Gonzáles)
Ema Malig ...
Herself
Anita ...
Herself
Victor Pey ...
Himself
Sergio Vuskovic ...
Himself
Edward Korry ...
Himself (as Edward M. Korry)
Isabel Allende Bussi ...
Herself - Salvador Allende's Daughter (as Isabel Allende)
Ernesto Salamanca ...
Himself
Carmen Paz ...
Herself
Claudina Nuñez ...
Herself
Volodia Teitelboim ...
Himself
Carlos Pino ...
Himself
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From his childhood in Valparaiso to his death during the Pinochet military coup on September 11, 1973, the life and works of Chilean president Salvador Allende.

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Salvador Allende: History is ours, and the people make it to build a better society.
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Lessons of History (for the Left)
12 September 2006 | by (Chicago United States) – See all my reviews

This is a tragic, moving tale of a courageous political leader who tried to make the world a better place for the most disadvantaged of his country's citizens. Ironically, it's the interviews with the US ex-ambassador to Chile which seem the most insightful. The ambassador got it exactly right: Allende never had a chance. The forces arrayed against Allende in his attempt to transform Chile into a democratic socialist regime were simply overwhelming: the US, international finance capital, the Chilean bourgeoisie, most of the Chilean middle classes, and the Chilean army.

In a sense, Allende should have known better: he had before him the unsuccessful examples of republican Spain in the '30s and Guatemala in the '50s. In neither case had it been possible to introduce far- reaching social and economic reforms which aroused the unconditional hostility of the capitalist ruling class and neighboring reactionary states. And Allende would have had no more success if he had armed the workers and campesinos, since the Chilean army showed no signs of demoralization and disintegration—the conditions under which a "people's army" has a chance to triumph over a well-armed, disciplined professional army. The people in the people's army would have been slaughtered tout court.

Perhaps his only chance came with the assassination of Rene Schneider, Allende's pick as head of the Chilean armed forces. He could have used the assassination as an excuse for a thorough house- cleaning of the military high command, assuming he could have found some of Latin-America's famous "left-wing colonels" who would have been necessary to carry out the purge. But it would have been a risky proposition that just as easily could have precipitated the military coup that came 3 years later.

The film should also prompt some rethinking of the concept of the "dictatorship of the proletariat"—a concept that's had rather bad press in recent decades. One of Allende's closest friends tells us that Allende was a committed Marxist socialist but certainly not a Leninist, because he did not believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Allende, we're told, believed in democracy. But the problem was that the democracy Allende believed in was in reality a dictatorship of another kind: the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Despite its façade of multi-party elections, Chilean democracy was a stacked deck, inevitably manipulated in favor of the ruling classes.

So Lenin was right: only by forcing the collapse of the coercive apparatus sustaining the rule of the bourgeoisie could the working classes create a state that serves their interests. What distinguishes the dictatorship of the proletariat from the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is not that one is a multi-party system and the other a single party system (there's no lack of single-party states in the history of the rule of the bourgeoisie). Rather, it's the stacking of the deck in favor of working people versus stacking it in favor of the owners of capital.


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