The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) has declared September as the month for solidarity with the Philippines. Anti-imperialist organizations worldwide are coming together to mobilize against, shed light on and condemn the intensifying extra-juducial killings and other forms of human rights violation amidst Duterte’s draconian lockdown.
For the past week, various area-specific ILPS chapters have sponsored various types of protest action and webinars in solidarity with the Filipino people and their struggle against tyranny.
These solidarity actions reveal not only the international character of the Filipino people’s struggle in that its goals are shared by peoples worldwide. What is emphasized in this international effort is a firm solidarity based on class. This is how each solidarity activity with the campaigns of one country is invariably an expression of class solidarity on an international scale.
While immersing in these various activities documented online, I came across a photograph posted by Comrade Daniel Polivka on Facebook. It is an image of Pablo Neruda, Salvador Allende and Volodia Teitolboim, novelist and Senator from the Chilean Communist Party and friend of both Neruda and Allende. Neruda looks like he is in the middle of a verbal exposition as Allende leans towards him and looks at him with a warm smile on his face. It seems that they are in the middle of a comradely conversation where something is due for clarification, as both their hand gestures indicate.
The image easily brought back memories of Santiago de Chile and my still incomplete efforts at learning about Chilean society and history. But, too, the image evokes a collective knowledge of relentless US imperialist offensives and anti-imperialist international solidarity.
Salvador Allende was a physician and a marxist. A people’s choice, he was elected the president of Chile in 1970. He served beyond his mandate by inspiring all anti-imperialist and proletarian movements worldwide to embrace an all-out critique of imperialism as basis for a national vision for Chile and the Third World.
His astounding speech at the United Nations in 1972 condemned destabilization schemes inflicted by United States imperialism on sovereign nations asserting their right to self determination and the pernicious role of multinational corporations in the lives of working people worldwide. Allende’s speech holds the record of being the UN speech with the longest applause in standing ovation mode. No other UN address talks about and defends us, people of the global South, in the most precise, edifying and compassionate manner.
Pablo Neruda is a well known writer, poet and a Nobel Prize for Literature awardee. His work with the Communist Party(CP) of Chile is less known, much less, his service to the Chilean Senate as representative of the CP. Neruda was a staunch Marxist-Leninist. Allende regarded Neruda highly, recognized and sought the latter’s expert leadership as a CP cadre.
In the run up to the primaries, radical political parties were choosing between Neruda or Allende as the candidate of the Left. They decided to prioritize the building of a broad united front. While Neruda, famed poet and intelligent party cadre, had deeper experience in ideological and political organizing, Allende, in their estimation had more popular appeal.
In other words, the Left in Chile at this point was targeting two important things 1) broad united front building, which in practice took place with mass organizing and 2) clinching victory.
The decision which emanated from the project was correct as it was also a rip-roaring success. The assessment by some analysts about missed opportunities on the part of Allende’s leadership cannot just be dismissed. However, these weaknesess do not far outweigh the all-out war unleashed by internal forces fully empowered and deployed by US imperialism through the CIA. Even if urban based peoples army were formed (as when the Bolsheviks armed the people and clinched victory), the blood shed would have been tremendous and horrific in the light of Operation Condor, and in general, in how the US approached Chile during the Cold War:
“Thousands of Chilean military officers came to the United States for training, which included presentations on the impact of global communism on their own country. After Allende won a plurality in the Presidential election on 4 September 1970, the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests.
Efforts by the United States to support anti-Communist forces in Chile date back to the late 1950s and reflect the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union for influence throughout the Third World. The growing strength of the Chilean left, along with continuing fragmentation by conservative and moderate political forces, became increasing concerns through the 1960 70s to the United States, which wanted to avoid the emergence of “another Cuba” in the Western Hemisphere.” *
This photo is a powerful reminder not only of a glorious past whose legacies are still deeply felt in the current moment. It is also a poignant image of a history we can aspire to. With President Rodrigo Duterte and senators like Tito Sotto, Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid and Manny Pacqiao as embodiment of the “popular,” looking at the photograph of Allende and Neruda and a history they shared and pushed to the limits, we are reminded of what a Left opposition and victory can and must do to serve the people.
Allende died on September 11, 1973, the day that the US-backed coup d’etat massively attacked Santiago, including the presidential palace. Pablo Neruda died shortly after on September 23, 1973 after a covert operation that killed him in a hospital in Santiago. Their demise was a direct result of the violent actions by the US government and local Chilean operatives taking orders from their US imperialist master.
What do we do with this history? What must we do with our very own politicians – – Duterte and a consolidated Philippine senate and congress who have only looted us, shown us obscene disrespect, and barbarism? Their actions are akin to US-backed local operatives deployed to exact the most severe violence among the people– mass murder, corruption, hunger, and repression.
What made the Chileans trust the Left and turned the brightest of them, Allende and Neruda, to great leaders and historical figures?
With all that history happening over four decades ago, how can we, in the present time allow ourselves to get stuck with idiotic and violent pro-imperialist puppets in Malacañan, in the Philippine Senate and Congress?
The comparison being made here is by no means a matter of race. It is a question of every leader’s stake in the class struggle. This is what makes Allende and Neruda no stranger or foreigner for every Filipino peasant, worker, semi-worker, student, professional, woman, LGBT, Indigenous people, church worker who struggles for national sovereignty and democracy against imperialism and the local comprador elite and their violent military and police force.
* “Operation Condor” https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/chile/#10
Sarah Raymundo is a full-time faculty at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Center for International Studies. She is engaged in activist work in BAYAN (The New Patriotic Alliance), the International League of Peoples’ Struggles, and Chair of the Philippines-Bolivarian Venezuela Friendship Association. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal for Labor and Society (LANDS) and Interface: Journal of/and for Social Movements.