The Teachings of History

Columnist José Miguel González wrote on December 3 of this year in El Mostrador: “If Allende, who was a politician of trajectory with a reputation as a great “political doll” to govern his people – fame that the current candidate lacks – was not able to control it, why would Gabriel Boric be able to do it?”
Regarding the diversity of political visions that dominate within the Frente Amplismo, support of the candidacy of Gabriel Boric, the author of the article is very right to consider the question transcribed above.
I do believe that there is no comparison between the political careers of one and the other, but this difference may precisely be the factor that could play a key role in favor of a positive judgment for the young candidate. Why? Precisely because Gabriel Boric is young, because if he has shown interest in politics and ability to act and stand out in the public space, it cannot be said that he has already settled in to make a professional life of politics and surely his dreams have not been focused on being president of the republic. In a way he has been a candidate by pure chance, because he was present at the right time and played his chance. I believe that it can avoid the mistakes made by Salvador Allende – despite his long experience or precisely because of it – if he is accompanied by authority, strategic rigor and at the same time audacity, without jeopardizing governance.
Allende did not actually demonstrate any quality to govern his people (read the parties that made up Popular Unity). That was well known to those who, painfully, had managed to unite in a coalition a conglomerate full of contradictory ideological interests such as the composition of Popular Unity, and for that reason he had no qualms about leaving the most important decisions of his government in the hands of the Political Committee, where there were representatives of each party of Popular Unity. He looked and said it, as a simple coordinator of the coalition parties. What interested the triumphant candidate was to be in La Moneda, the place of his dreams, a position that he had cherished since he was Minister of Health of President Aguirre Cerda in 1939, and that had meant investing himself thoroughly in three previously failed presidential campaigns.  This time, already in La Moneda, he was realized and determined to reach the end of his mandate, the idea of leaving office for the benefit of social peace never crossed his mind, it was only in extremis that he conceived the idea of convening a plebiscite to settle the crisis and for this reason today we can affirm that from the government the chaos reigning in the country from the second year, it was facilitated by himself from his position of “letting do”. He will not move from this line and will prefer to commit suicide.
I support the thesis that it was Allende’s own personality, his excessive narcissism, which played a trick on him.[1].
The absence of agreements within the Committee left the decisions to drag indefinitely: on the agreements with the Christian Democracy to facilitate governance, on the expropriability of industrial and service companies, on the organization of the Social Property Area, on the organization of expropriated farms (be they Settlements, be they Production Centers, be Centers of Agrarian Reform, or be Agricultural Cooperatives) letting the workers do it spontaneously. All these political indecisions had negative consequences on the productivity of industrial and agricultural enterprises and in social terms were at the basis of political instability and multiple conflicts in the countryside and in the cities.
This created the climate of social chaos and political ungovernability that characterized the second and third years of government, until the coup d’état.
The main mistake committed by President Allende was precisely this kind of resignation of his role as the supreme authority of the nation in a collective incapable of putting the interest of national unity before its particular interests.
It is the main teaching of the Allende government, not to repeat !!! I think Gabriel Boric, the winner, could avoid this pitfall. But being clear that his ascension to power comes with a package of reforms very precise and detailed in its economic and social implications, for which he requires being accompanied from now on by people of great technical capacity and with enough experience.
Another obstacle that Gabriel Boric must avoid is the fragmentation of the state administration between the different components of the Frente Amplista coalition. Allende allowed the distribution of institutions (cuoteo was called at the time) in a way that even within a certain institution the departments or operational units were handed over to the different parties. At INDAP, CORFO and CORA, I learned about the devastating effects of this type of distribution. This real problem of governance arose at all levels of administration and also in municipal administration. To avoid also !!!
Allende, in the second year of his government, it can be said that he had lost his recognized and old capacity for “doll” because reality had changed, things were taking an unknown path, and everything flowed outside the halls of Congress, the decisive social actors were in the streets, in the unions, in the rural estates, in camps and marginal populations. So Gabriel Boric does not have to regret not being endowed with a quality learned in a long parliamentary routine, where negotiations in general took place at the point of two comistrajos, in well-known “bites” of politicians.
At the same time, prudence and audacity can be a good formula to characterize the necessary presidential authority in a context of essential reforms that will undoubtedly have strong political implications. With the military Allende was able to maneuver to a certain extent thanks to the personal relationships he had with some high commands, many of them linked by their Masonic militancy, but at the time when crucial decisions had to be made such as licensing high-ranking conspiratorial officers or conspiratorial generals, he did not have the necessary audacity to reverse the situation.[2].
It should be remembered that Popular Unity never had a serious analysis of the military question. He never understood that military ideology responds essentially to the principle of primo vivere and, above all, that the military had gained in the 60s and 70s a great institutional autonomy, which they jealously guard until today, neither progressives nor conservatives, which allows them in moments of impossible political negotiation, as was the case with Allende, to intervene as the actor in extremis.
It is true, for Gabriel Boric things are not easy: there is still a lack of precision in terms of the reforms, their depth, the limits not to be exceeded, what will be the cost to the national treasury and where those resources will come from. On the other hand, if there is a new Constitution, there will be institutional changes, and also certain rules of the game, which will further complicate its task.
[1] Roberto Santana, Salvador Allende, narcissism, crisis and bankruptcy of the Chilean left of the 70s, Ecuador Debate magazine n° 68, August 2006. Pp. 199-222.
[2]Despite all the chaotic context of the last month before the coup, Allende’s final mistake, favored mainly by the position of the Communist Party, was that he had not followed the advice of General Pinochet himself who for at least three weeks before the coup d’état warned President Allende on several occasions that an insurrection could break out at any time and that it was necessary to discharge the superior officers who conspired. Allende did not dare to face the risk. Regarding this attitude of Pinochet, the opinion of Joan Garcés, Allende’s main advisor, is that the commander in chief did not join the coup but at the last minute, agreeing to lead it, his opportunism inciting him to sustain the sector that appeared as the strongest (Joan Garcés, Allende et l’expérience chilienne, 1976, p 255. Fondation des Sciences Politiques. Paris).

Original source in Spanish

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