In the vicinity of Ercilla, in the Araucanía region in southern Chile, 24-year-old indigenous Mapuche, Camilo Catrillanca, was murdered by members of the so-called Comando Jungla of the Chilean national police. The young man, a nephew of the local Mapuche chief of Temucuicui, leaves behind his pregnant wife and a daughter of six. Camilo was driving a tractor and was accompanied by a 15-year-old minor when they were showered by bullets, one of which found its way to the back of his head. This is just one more case in the brutal history of police assassinations against the Mapuche people. The lives of dozens of youth and minors are being taken. Meanwhile, the authorities are quick to deem such incidents as “clashes”, with the police continually hindering investigations.

Today is the anniversary of the coup that overthrew president Salvador Allende in Chile and installed the brutal Pinochet dictatorship. We publish here a document written in 1979 by Alan Woods analysing the history of the Chilean labour movement and specially the period of the Popular Unity coalition government of Allende. Who was behind Pinochet's coup? What interests was he defending? What were the policies of the Allende government and why despite all warnings was he unable to prevent the coup?

46 years ago during Salvador Allende’s government, the Chilean Congress voted unanimously for the nationalization of Chilean copper. During the murderous Pinochet dictatorship, the road was open for foreign investment, which in actuality takes more than two thirds of the benefits produced by the exploitation of this resource and those who work it. Nevertheless, what is left over, still constitutes 13% of Chile’s GDP, and has been called ‘the salary of Chile’. While the state company CODELCO is the largest producer of mine copper in the world, the surface mine with the largest copper production in the world is Minera Escondida, controlled by BHP Billiton.

With 3.4 million votes – 62.16% of the votes cast but only 25.6% of the electorate – Michelle Bachelet has been re-elected for a second term as the President of Chile, an office that she held from 2006 to 2010. Her victory was mainly due to the massive mobilisations that had taken place during the period of the Pinera government as was shown by the election of ex student leaders as MPs – Camila Vallejo and Karol Cariola of the Communist Party, Giorgio Jackson of Democratic Revolution and Gabriel Boric of Autonomous Left.

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