Salvador Allende and Algeria: Self-Determination and Economic Sovereignty

Esteban Silva Cuadra
Salvador Allende and Algerian president Houari Boumediene

Alba Granada North Africa Editor’s Note: We are pleased to publish this article written by comrade Esteban Silva, which is of great importance to us, in view of the attempts by the Pinochet government of Piñera to close the Chilean Embassy in Algeria. Algeria was the only country to totally break diplomatic relations with the neofascist dictatorship of Pinochet and to assist in an exemplary manner all the political refugees who arrived in their lands in the 70s. Algeria was a country that had just emerged from the dark nightmare of French colonial barbarism in 1962 and had become a Mecca for revolutionaries.

Fifty years after the presidential triumph of Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity as a revolutionary, democratic and popular process that sought to achieve the second independence of Chile[i], it is important to emphasize, from the viewpoint of the south, Allende’s close link with the anti-colonialist efforts in Algeria and the struggle for self-determination and independence.

In his long trajectory as a social and political activist, a parliamentarian, and later as President of Chile, Salvador Allende Gossens was consistent with the principles of self-determination and independence of peoples. This he expressed in actions and declarations in solidarity with the struggle of the peoples for their free self-determination and independence from the centers of power of colonialism and Western neo-colonialism and from imperialist aggression against the peoples of Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America and the Caribbean. By voicing in the Chilean Senate in 1959 his strong support for President Gamal Ader Nasser’s historic decision to nationalize the Suez Canal, Allende defined his vision and rejection of colonialism and the struggle for the self-determination and independence of peoples:

“We have repeatedly expressed, from these benches, our support for the peoples who are fighting for their economic independence, for their self-determination. We have been and continue to be, because of our doctrinal position, opposed to colonialism which the great powers have developed, and we have harshly struck at the conscience of the Senate and of the country to point out also how imperialist penetration, together with deforming the economy of small countries, contributes to their political deformation and their submission. We broadly support the national and anti-colonial movements of the Arab countries”.

“We are fully aware of the internal conditions of life that unfortunately still prevail among these peoples and we know that in many areas there is backwardness and that they are living in a feudal stage in the development of their economy. For that reason, we consider their struggle against the colonial tutelage that would maintain their economic dependence and political subjugation to be absolutely just”[ii].

As an internationalist socialist, Allende proposed as an imperative the recovery and nationalization of the strategic natural resources of the countries of the Third World, to gain real economic independence from the plundering capitalism of the North (the United States and Europe). To that end, he promoted a broad south-south alliance, without ideological borders, based on non-alignment and non-interference in the sovereign processes of each country.

He expressed these principles through dynamic actions of solidarity with the workers’ organizations and the movements of deliberation in struggle for their decolonization and independence from the colonial powers of the time. In coherence with his anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist position, Allende categorically supported the Algerian cause of independence and the heroic war of liberation led by the National Liberation Front (FLN) against French colonialism[iii], a relationship that he deepened as president of Chile with the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.

At the III Meeting of the Consultative Committee of Socialist Parties of Latin America held in April 1956, Allende and the Chilean socialists[iv] promoted a final declaration in which they reaffirmed their vision of the relationship between colonialism and imperialism:

“Socialism regards as imperialism any tendency moved by the attempt to annex and subordinate one nation to another, which signifies an attack on the right of self-determination of peoples,” specifying that: “Socialism defines as imperialist not only physical annexation, but all acts that lead to the military, economic, political-cultural and religious subordination of peoples by a foreign power”.

In January 1966, Salvador Allende was an active protagonist of the Tricontinental Conference of the Peoples, held in Havana, Cuba, which gave rise to the Solidarity Organization for Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAL). On the initiative of the Chilean delegation, the Latin American Solidarity Organization (OLAS) was also created, with the agreement of the 27 delegations present from Latin America and the Caribbean, which held its first Constituent Conference in August 1967 [v].

It actively supported the struggle for Algerian independence.

A highlight of Allende’s support for the Algerian war of liberation came on November 19, 1961, in the Teatro Imperio-in the center of the capital of Santiago-when he participated in the act of homage to the martyrs of the struggle for Algerian independence, organized by the Unión Nacional Árabe de Chile and the Chilean Committee for the Self-Determination of Algeria.

At this enormous gathering, Senator Salvador Allende delivered a vibrant speech in support of independence and the Algerian war of liberation. The solemn and massive event was attended by the high representatives of the permanent delegation for Latin America of the Provisional Government of Algeria, Mabrouk Belhusein and Mohamed Kalache, who were on an official tour with the aim of establishing political links and informing people about the Algerian struggle for independence.

The delegation of the Algerian Provisional Government was officially received by Senator Salvador Allende at the Chilean Senate the day after the solidarity event. As organizer of the meeting, Allende invited several parliamentarians to listen to the Algerian leaders [vi].

Peoples united by economic sovereignty and socialism

In assuming the presidency of Chile, Salvador Allende sought to develop as state policy the ties previously built with Algeria around the great shared issues. The first thing he did was to appoint an ambassador who he could trust politically, naming Eduardo Salum as Chile’s ambassador to Algeria. His new ambassador was not a career diplomat, but an intellectual with whom Allende shared clear and defined political and international principles and positions. Salum, a socialist of Chilean-Syrian origin, was an active anti-colonialist and internationalist militant and his brother Marco Antonio Salum had been the main driving force in the 1950s of the Chilean solidarity movement with the Algerian FLN.

In the presentation of his letters of credentials to Algeria, Ambassador Salum expressed the political importance and historical projection that Allende and the popular government assigned to the relationship with Algeria:

“The destinies and trajectories of our two governments converge. Both of us are preparing the ground for the construction of socialism, through the adoption of measures to recover our national wealth. This is the only way to ensure absolute sovereignty, impossible to obtain if there is still economic dependence. National political autonomy is not enough to ensure the development of the peoples” [vii].

Salvador Allende was the first (and so far the only) president of Chile to visit Algeria. In his international policy he consistently expressed his commitment to liberation and the cause of Algerian independence. In the bilateral dimension, he shared a strategic vision with the government of President Houari Boumediene on the nationalization of strategic natural resources to ensure development, independence and economic sovereignty, such as copper for Chile and hydrocarbons for Algeria. Both governments defined the struggle for socialism as part of an integral project of liberation of their peoples to achieve effective self-determination and economic, social and cultural independence. Beyond the geographical distance, Chile and Algeria identified themselves as part of a Third World in struggle for their liberation with their own particular path towards socialism, based on the attainment of national economic independence, on anti-imperialism and non-alignment. The Chilean road to Allende’s socialism, “with a taste of red wine and empanadas,” thus found a correlation and identification with the Algerian revolution of Boumediéne, who remarked that: “Our socialism is inspired by the philosophy of the Third World”[viii].

Allende and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)

In September 1971, President Salvador Allende Gossens, integrated Chile into the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). For the government of Popular Unity, the NAM represented the principles of solidarity with the deliberative struggles of the peoples in the face of colonialism and imperial domination, cooperation among the peoples of the south with ideological plurality. For Allende, those principles made necessary the participation of Chile in the Non-Aligned Movement. A decision that was strengthened even more by a socialist, liberatory and autonomous conviction as an international expression of the path taken by the Chilean people, as he pointed out in his first message to the nation before the National Congress in May 1971:

“The international policy of the Government of Popular Unity is nothing but the projection on the external plane of the manner in which our historic task has been conceived and defined: to begin in our country the construction of socialism as the only effective road for the great masses, led by the proletariat, to achieve the full exercise of power and the just use of the common wealth”[ix].

President Allende announced the incorporation of Chile into the NAM in the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Once integrated into the NAM, the Chilean government actively participated in the Georgetown Guyana meetings, and then in the Algiers Conference, held in early September 1973. President Allende intended to attend this last important Summit, but was unable to do so due to the complex internal situation prior to the coup and sent Foreign Minister Clodomiro Almeyda as his personal representative.

Sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples

In a message to the Special Meeting of the Organization of African Unity[x] and the Economic Commission for Africa held in 1971 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Allende stated that:

“As you begin at the ministerial level the preparatory work for the participation of African nations in the conference of the 77 developing countries in Lima and in the World Conference on Trade and Development to be held in Santiago next April, I wish to express on behalf of the government and people of Chile our solidarity with the peoples and governments of that great continent in their struggle to overcome underdevelopment, definitively defeat colonialism in all its forms and affirm the dignity of the men and women who inhabit it. The People’s Government of Chile adheres, without reservation, to the ideals of peace, justice, freedom and equality that inspire the United Nations. Because of its relevance, because of the growing need for its universal application, I would like to single out the principle of self-determination of peoples, in the broadest sense, that is, autonomy and freedom to govern themselves according to the will of their own citizens, to conduct their foreign relations and their inalienable right to sovereignly dispose of their natural resources, without foreign interference”.

As a consequence of such a position, Chile, which had just adhered to all the declarations of the non-aligned countries, particularly those of the Lusaka Conference, stood alongside all the peoples fighting for their political and economic independence, was against colonialism, its remnants and disguised forms, and was against racism and racial discrimination, whether legal or de facto [xi].

In April 1972, the Third Conference of UNCTAD was held in Santiago, Chile, where President Allende made his voice heard in defense of the recovery of natural resources in Third World countries, raising the need for a new international economic order. His speech to the UNCTAD was premonitory with regard to the great world problems of today in relation to the current capitalist globalization, by raising as the centre of his denunciations and proposals the need to confront the structural dependence of the countries of the South upon the developed capitalism of the North.He emphasized the need to control the power of the big transnational corporations and speculative and financial capital, which were attacking and attempting to undermine the economic sovereignty of the peoples. He also pointed out that it was imperative to confront the problem of the foreign debt that structurally threatened the processes of economic independence and the need to recover the natural and energy resources of the countries of the Third World, to ensure full sovereignty and real liberation of developing countries.

President Allende in Algeria

On December 5 and 6, 1971, President Salvador Allende paid a state visit to the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria. In a gesture of friendship he was received at Algiers airport by President Houari Boumediene himself in the company of all his ministers with an honorary guard of the Algerian Army. Later, at the People’s Palace (where the entourage was housed), Presidents Boumediene and Allende, his wife Hortensia Bussi and the entourage watched the historic film “The Battle of Algiers” by filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo[xii].

At the end of the historic meeting, both governments issued a joint statement, in which they expressed their friendship; their deep understanding of crucial issues in the field of cooperation and the economic, social and cultural transformations needed in both countries; and their agreement on international issues in the Non-Aligned Movement. The statement said that President Allende expressed to the Algerian President the appreciation of the Chilean people and government for the energetic support and solidarity that Algeria has shown to Chile in its battle against the plundering of Chile’s basic wealth by imperialist multinational corporations. At the same time, it was noted that Algeria expressed its appreciation for the Chilean policy of building an independent national economy, for the construction of a just society, pointing out that Algeria expressed its conviction that the actions of the Chilean people and other peoples of Latin America against the forces of foreign exploitation are genuine contributions to the general liberation of the peoples of the Third World.The communiqué also dealt with common proposals to consolidate the NAM and to ensure the success of the summit conference to be held in Algiers in 1973. In addition, the presidents examined the situation in the Middle East and condemned the occupation of the Arab territories and expressed their support for the struggle of the African and Asian peoples to obtain and defend their national independence. It concluded with expressions of gratitude from President Salvador Allende and his entourage, acknowledging Algeria’s fraternal welcome and extending an invitation to the President of the Council of the Revolution and President of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Houari Boumediene, to make an official visit to Chile, on a date to be set later [xiii].

Allende’s close relationship with Algeria was significantly expressed in Algerian solidarity with the Chilean people and in Algeria’s vehement condemnation of the coup d’état of September 11, 1973. His active solidarity materialized in the granting of refuge and asylum to thousands of Chileans. Years later, when the dictatorship ended, in the first state visit of an Algerian president to Chile, that relationship and friendship was symbolically expressed by the visit of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to the mausoleum where the remains of President Salvador Allende rest to pay him homage in the name of the Algerian people and government [xiv].

Notes:

[i]Salvador Allende. (1970) Nationalization of Copper. In MARTNER Gonzalo (1992)Compilador”. Salvador Allende 1908-1973. Selected Works”. Centro de Estudios Políticos Latinoamericanos Simón Bolívar and Fundación Presidente Allende(Spain), p. 302.

ii]Salvador Allende Archive. Speech by Senator Salvador Allende in the Senate of the Republic, 7 November 1956, p. 129. [iii]On the subject see: Frantz Fanon (2012). Sociology of a Revolution. Editorial Tolemia. (Argentina).

[iv] Clodomiro Almeyda, Aniceto Rodríguez, SalomónCorbalán, Víctor Barberis, Homero Julio and Raúl Ampuero, stood out, among others, for their solidarity with the Algerian struggle for independence.

Silva, Esteban (2010) Africa and Chile. Sovereignty, self-determination, and independence.https://radio.uchile.cl/2010/07/19/africa-y-chile-soberania-autodeterminacion-e-independencia/

Arab World (30 November 1961). Patricia’s Concentration of Homage and Accession to Algeria. Pages 21 and 22.

Palieraki, Eugenia (2020) Chile, Algeria, and the Third World in the 1960s and 1970s. Etangled Revolution. In: Tomas C Field Jr,Stella Krepp, Vani Pettina (2020) Latin America and the Global Cold War. TheUniversity Of North Carolina Press. United States. Pg. 290.

FRANCOS Ania and SÉRÉNI, J.P. (2017). Un Algérien nommé Boumediéne. Éditions ASSNNI, Algerie. p293

Silva, Esteban (2016). Salvador Allende the NAM and Chile today. Hispan TV. In: https://www.hispantv.com/noticias/opinion/328591/salvador-allende-movimiento-paises-no-alienado-chile-unasur-celac

x] The Organization of African Unity, founded in 1963, was replaced in 2002 by the African Union (AU), made up of 55 African States, and has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

[xi] Archive, Salvador Allende. “Allende frente al mundo,” 1990, p. 156. [xii]Amorós, Mario (2013). Allende. The Biography. Grupo Zeta Editores, (Venezuela.)pg.439

xiii]In Mundo Árabe (December 1, 1972.) Chile in Algeria. Pages 1 and 2.

xiv]Esteban Silva (2020). Chilean-Algerian Relations.https://radio.uchile.cl/2020/07/05/relaciones-chileno-argelinas/

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1- Introduction of Eduardo S. Yazigi for the Screening in Tunisia of “Salvador Allende” by Patricio Guzman- Tunis -A La Mémoire du 11 Septembre 1973- Tunisia , September 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPvn3HdwJM8&list=UUs4t5gBD2gTYYJtikydp1Lg&index=43

2- Extracts from the Black September / Chile Act, September 11, 1973 in Granada, Centro del Pueblo Andaluz Blas infante. Granada, October 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXE213iXJl0

3- Excerpts from the conference ” South America in Convulsion: Regression or Progress? 2019Granada – Centro social la Ribera – Zaidin Con Eduardo S.Yazigi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qij7bpC0lgg

4- “Bread, peace and land” From Chile to Palestine: What challenges does globalized capitalism face? ” – January Tunisia 2020-

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Also the Representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Tunisia, Mr. Ismail al jounaidi (Palestine), Professor Tahar Ettahri of the Association for the Safeguarding of the Oasis of Jemna (Tunisia) and the associations, One million rural women ( member of Via Campesina)

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Algeria, self-determination, Clodomiro Almeyda, colonialism, NAM, salvador allende, socialism, underdevelopment, Third World, Popular Unity