(The Santiago Times, October 22, 2006)

Editor Note: The extraordinary letter that follows
appeared in Chile's leading newspaper, El Mercurio,
on September 12, 2006. It is a series of quotations demonstrating that the common view in Europe and North America of the Salvador Allende years in Chile is quite wrong, and that Allende was removed from power -in a military coup led by Gen. Augosto Pinochet on September 11, 1973- for reasons that most Chileans considered more than sufficient.

The letter's author is economist and public intellectual José
Piñera, who has a doctorate in Economics from Harvard, was
both Minister of Labor & Social Security, and Minister of Mining, under President Pinochet, and devised Chile's current privatized pension system.

In 1981, José Piñera resigned from Pinochet's cabinet to fight for the return of democracy to Chile and, to that end, started up again his irregular magazine of free opinion, Economia y Sociedad. In 1990, with democracy
re-established, he founded "Proyecto Chile 2010," whose goal was to make Chile a developed country by its bicentenary, now four years away.

The next year he founded the International Center for Pension Reform to promote around the world the Chilean pension model. "José Piñera is the pension world's equivalent of Placido Domingo," wrote the economics editor of
the London Sunday Telegraph. "Grab, beg, borrow, or steal a ticket to hear him speak."

To read a charming article Piñera wrote about a visit
he paid the poet Pablo Neruda, go to his website (



Letter to the Editor of El Mercurio
By José Piñera

1. "The Allende government, from its very start, has been striving to obtain total power and use it to exert rigid economic and political control, thereby creating a totalitarian
system." [Resolution of the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, August 22, 1973]

2. "Today I can say it is fortunate that we didn't achieve victory, for if we had, taking into account our training and our dependence on Cuba, we would have drowned the continent in blood. One of our orders was to turn the Andes into Latin America's Sierra Maestra (Fidel Castro's home base in his rebellion), where we would first execute military officers, then the opposition, and then those who opposed our iron rule." [Jorge Masetti, former head of the Argentine guerrillas, in "El Furor y el Delirio", The Fury and the Delirium, 1999]

3. "The truth is that what the Armed Forces and the Police did (in staging the coup) turned out to be a preventative measure before the Government itself staged a coup. With the armed militants, who had the enormous firepower of the (Allende's) government at their disposal and the support of no less than 10,000 foreign radicals in the country,
the Left aimed to create a communist dictatorship and probably would have succeeded." [Patricio Aylwin, President of the Christian Democrat Party, La Prensa, October 19, 1973]

4. "There's nothing I can do, nor Congress, nor any civilian.
Unfortunately, this problem can only be solved with guns... I advise all of you to express your fears to the commanders of the Armed Forces, fears which I share completely, in the plainest terms -and hopefully this very day." [Eduardo
Frei, former President of Chile and then President of the Senate, "Acta Rivera", July 6, 1973]

5. "What happened in Santiago is not a typical Latin American coup. The armed forces tolerated Allende for almost three years. In this period he figured out how to drown the country in the worst economic and social crisis in its modern history. But the Allende government went even further than destroying the economy -- it violated the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. The form in which he crudely bypassed Congress and the judiciary weakened faith in the country's democratic institutions.... The temporary death of democracy in Chile will be lamented, but the responsibility clearly lies with Dr. Allende and those of his followers who constantly rode roughshod over the Constitution." [The Economist, September 15, 1973]

6. "We are in a crisis that has no equal in our national history, not in 173 years of independence.... The state of illegality has been manifested through repeated violations of Congressional resolutions, repeated violations of judicial power, repeated violations of the services of the Comptroller General of the Republic, repeated violations of the rights of citizens, of the Chilean media, and even in some cases of individual liberty." [Claudio Orrego, Christian Democrat Deputy, August 22, 1973]

7. "The violation of these constitutional guarantees with regard to the agricultural sector is just the start of the collapse of our democratic system. What is done today against this type of wealth can as well be extended to urban property, mining, business, and all private goods. Let's tell the truth: the Constitutional Reform is a trial run for the abolition of property rights. Having inserted this wedge, which some view so dismissively, the gap will become an immense gulf into which all private property will disappear." [Recaredo Ossa, President of the National Agriculture Society, El Mercurio, January 6, 1962]

8. "The heart of the problem is that (Allende's) minority government, presenting itself as a legal and peaceful path to socialism, had utterly resolved to install a totalitarian dictatorship. They were taking successive steps toward this end, leaving no doubt that in the year 1973 we were experiencing an absolutely abnormal form of government, just a few steps away from a full totalitarian dictatorship.... The Chamber of Deputies approved a Resolution warning the country that its Constitution and laws were being violated, and presenting an overwhelming list of cases that proved it.... We must therefore ask ourselves what is the cause and who is responsible for this break. In our opinion the entire
responsibility lies with (Allende's) Unidad Popular regime." [Eduardo Frei, former Christian Democrat President of Chile, Letter to Mariano Rumor, President of the International Christian Democrats, November 8, 1973]

9. "During his three years in power, Allende effectively transformed his country into a Cuban satellite, and therefore a potential addition to the Soviet empire.... From a strategic point of view, he had transformed the country into an important base for subversive Soviet and Cuban operations, including terrorism throughout Latin America.... The Soviet KGB was recruiting people for its terrorist training courses.... Specialists from North Korea were teaching young members of Allende's Socialist Party." [Brian Crozier, founder of the London Institute for the Study of Conflict, "The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire," 1999]

10. "After seeing the Cuban example, Allende thought he could take a shortcut. But the truth is he distanced himself from Chilean tradition.... There is no doubt that the Unidad Popular government was a disaster that led our country into civil war." [Claudio Véliz, historian and former close friend of Allende, El Mercurio, November 28, 1999]

11. "When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." [The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, July 4, 1776]

(Translated by Renata Stepanov and Bill Stott,

2010 ©