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.

For the last 10 weeks the capitalist media has been whipped into a frenzy by the story of 33 trapped miners in the San Jose Copiapó copper and gold mine in Chile. Though the event has been widely covered, it has not been much reported on, but rather, it has been turned into a narrative that leaves an increasingly unoriginal Hollywood salivating with eyeball dollar signs. The television reporting, as the miners were being rescued, was nothing less than abysmal.

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