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Letter to Salvador Allende

Miguel Lawner writes to SALVADOR ALLENDE who he worked with during the Popular Unity government in the aftermath of the selection of Chile's left presidential candidate

Dear Chicho (Salvador Allende’s popular and affectionate nickname):

What an unforgettable joy old friend! Last night’s victory is your own victory. It is the triumph of the convictions that you taught us to uphold through thick and thin.

You were present since the popular uprising in October 2019, as you have always been with us in the battles against the tyrant, in the search for our detained, massacred and disappeared comrades, in the denunciations of those who were tearing down the flags that you raised with so much conviction.

Pinera’s government is the notable defeated of last night. Along with it, also defeated are those who aspired to win a third of the convention, in order to veto any attempt to do away with the Pinochet constitution, that bolt that safeguarded the validity of the most fanatical neoliberalism up to the present day.

Also defeated were the former “time servers,” who managed to administer the model in the best “gato pardo” style [a reference to Guiseppe de Lampedusa’s postulate in The Leopard that “everything must change so that nothing changes”].

The citizens’ movement has triumphed, which in October 2019 mobilised 1.2 million people in Santiago and another 1.2 million in the rest of the country. Triumphant are those who raised thousands of meetings to elaborate our future in search of the common good.

The innumerable common pots that overcame hunger, to which we were condemned by the insensitivity of a heartless and arrogant government, triumphed.

The political left has triumphed. Yes, the real left, heir to the best traditions of the Chilean social and political movement.

What satisfaction! What an effort we had to make to educate and win consciences in the midst of so much adversity!

I end by quoting your words, when you closed your victory speech on the night of September 4 1970, which are fully valid today in this new historic victory: “I tell you to go home with the healthy joy of the clean victory achieved. Tonight, when you cuddle your children, when you seek rest, think of the hard tomorrow ahead of us, when we will have to put more passion, more love, to make Chile ever greater, and life in our country ever more just.”

This article appeared first in El Siglo, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Chile. Miguel Lawner is an architect who was director of the Urban Improvement Corporation (CORMU) tasked under the Popular Unity government with developing social housing. He was imprisoned in Pinochet’s concentration camps. He was awarded the National Prize of Architecture in 2019.

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