Chile Firsthand – A Report From Santiago (Part VI)




(Section Two)
August 8, 1974


It isn’t only Salvador Allende and General Pinochet whose views and policies are misrepresented in this Country. That is bad enough, but it is only politics. When the Chilean bishops, however, successors to the Apostles, are subjected to the same treatment, then a far more profound mischief is done, to the hurt of God’s people throughout the world.

Since the close of the Second Vatican Council, there have been few events more freighted with implications for the global stance of the Roman Catholic Church than the failure of Allende’s Marxist experiment in Chile. If that experiment had lived up to its own rhetoric, there can be little doubt that the dialogue between Christianity and Marxism would have gone on to assume world-historical importance. The policy of the Vatican toward the Soviet satellite countries already showed to what extent Pope Paul VI considered the establishment of some modus vivendi between the Church and Communist regimes a burning priority of his pontificate. But Eastern Europe, where Marxism is little more than an epiphenomenon of Soviet military presence, was never the most promising testing-ground for an ecclesiastical detente. That distinction fell to Latin America.

Since the middle of the 1950s, Latin America has pullulated with indigenous Marxist movements, most of them at variance with the comatose (but official) party structures loyal to Moscow. Fidel Castro’s spectacular tactics in Cuba lent new and powerful support to these movements. It was also in the middle fifties that the Christian Democratic parties of Latin America began to conclude that the future belonged to the forces of the Left. Inspired by the social philosophy of Jacques Maritain, Yves Congar, Ignacio Silone, and others, the Christian Democrats shifted with surprising suddenness from a classically right-wing program of order and anticommunism to a classically left-wing program of social reform and anti-anti-Communism. Nowhere was this shift more radical or more successful than in Chile.


The movement of the Christian Democrats was more than matched by certain sectors of the Latin American clergy, especially the Jesuits and the missionary orders staffed by Europeans and North Americans. These learned, dedicated, and increasingly radicalized priests created a strong pressure in many dioceses, both for Church “reform” (in the “spirit” of Vatican II) and for Church “commitment” to service of the poor in ways that went beyond traditional, charitable activities and pointed toward fundamental changes in “social structures.” By 1968, this tendency had become so powerful among the periti at CELAM (the Latin American Episcopal Conference, a supra-national structure), that the Latin American bishops as a whole were led to adopt a radicalizing stance. This they did in the voluminous, famous, and profoundly ambiguous Medellin documents issued in that year. Many of the bishops had only the vaguest idea of what they had voted for, little suspecting that Medellin would make the rise of a controversial, semi-Marxist “theology of liberation” inevitable.

By reconceiving the relationship between theology and Christian life along the lines of the Marxist relationship between theory and practice, this “theology of liberation,” unlike any previous system in the history of the Church, immediately and inevitably expressed itself in concrete, political struggle. Already in 1968, a leading practitioner of this “theology,” Fr. Gonzalo Arroyo, S.J., was writing in the pages of the enormously influential magazine of the Chilean Jesuits, Mensaje, about small “rebel communities,” bands of (nominally) Catholic revolutionaries whose “common life” was nourished by a “revolutionary spirituality” (“Rebeldia cristiana y compromiso communitario,” Mensaje, March-April, 1968, pp. 78-83). Three years later, this same Gonzalo Arroyo became the General Secretary of the “Christians for Socialism,” a group of priests who rallied to Allende’s Unidad Popular amidst thunderous applause from the international press.

Chile, therefore, in 1970 was the place where it was “all together”: innovative and pragmatic Marxist movements, Christian Democrats at the leftmost edge of the “bourgeois” political spectrum, priests who found in socialism the perfect expression of their own spirituality. A new synthesis seemed glowingly attainable, especially since all these elements count on the benevolent interest of the Chilean bishops.

Chilean housewives protest food shortages with "March of Empty Pots."
Chilean housewives protest food shortages with “March of Empty Pots.”

The Chilean bishops — was there ever a Roman Catholic hierarchy in any nation with which the John Birch Society had less in common? Not that these bishops ever approved of Communism — far from it. But whereas to a Bircher every move of a Marxist organization is grimly predictable, the Chilean bishops seem to have seriously hoped for novel and better behavior. In the spring of 1971, when Allende had been only a few months in power, and things seemed very rosy, and people all over Chile were asking themselves why on earth they had ever been so scared of having a Marxist president, the Chilean bishops issued a hopeful statement, called The Gospel, Politics, and Socialisms. In it they spoke very sternly of what Marxism had historically meant, warning that no Christian could accept its premises; but — and here comes the surprise — they refused to forbid Christians from “collaborating” with Marxist parties. Having in view the unique situation then existing in Chile, the bishops had some hope that Allende and the UP Parties might be open or amenable to Christian and humane values. Collaboration with the UP, therefore, seemed to the bishops a great risk, a very great risk, but still a risk having just enough possibility of paying off, that Christians could not be forbidden to take it. That was May 27th, 1971.


Three years later, the verdict is in. The world — or at least those portions of it which are served by honest press — knows that Allende followed every grim, boring, and hideous maneuver in the Marxist textbook. The great experiment, grown sour, was liquidated in one day, by Latin America’s most non-political army, to the almost universal rejoicing of the citizenry.

Now, the great question: what did the Chilean bishops, sealed with the Holy Spirit and consecrated with the charism to rule and teach Christ’s flock, learn from this disaster? What word of instruction do they have for the rest of the Catholic world?

It is just here that grave misrepresentation enters in. To those who rely for news on such publications as Latin America Calls, the official publication of the Division for Latin America of the United States Catholic Conference, or the National Catholic Reporter it must seem that the Chilean bishops have taken a very radical stand, one might almost say, an “unrepentant” stand. It must seem that 1.) the bishops genuinely approved of Allende’s government, if not in every detail, at least in its basic thrust; 2.) the bishops opposed, or certainly did not welcome, the military uprising of September 11th; 3.) that the bishops thoroughly loathe, as fundamentally unjust, the present Junta; 4.) that the bishops approve of the way the international press has portrayed the Chilean situation; 5.) that because the bishops are prevented by main force from voicing their real opinion inside Chile, they use their access to the international press, making statements which will be interpreted in one way by the Junta and in another — more radical and more correct — way by the foreign press; 6.) that the Chilean bishops still believe that a radical option for social justice through collaboration with Marxism, such as that exemplified by the “Christians for Socialism” and similar groups, represents a viable and exciting future for the Church in Latin America.

Six points. Fair enough? The truth is that every one of them is demonstrably false. Let me start with the sixth.


On April 11th, 1973, the bishops of Chile, assembled in plenary session at Punto de Tralca, reached the following decision: “No priest or religious is permitted to belong to this Movement (Christians for Socialism).” Publication of this disciplinary judgment was delayed, however, until a lengthy doctrinal text could be completed, giving the full reasons for this epoch-making decision.

Completed by mid-August, 1973, this document was entitled Christian Faith and Political Action. Publication was again held up, pending a final reading, which was to take place at a meeting of the bishops’ Permanent Committee, scheduled to be held in Santiago on September 12th. There is no need to detail the fateful events that intervened, so that by a strange accident this crucial document was published only after a military coup had swept the “Christians for Socialism” and the surreal world they inhabited into the dust-bin of history.

In Christian Faith and Political Action, the Chilean bishops detected in the extreme segments of the Catholic Left “a deficient conception of the Church” which especially tipped its hand in an “obsessive exaggeration of the politico-social, with a strong tendency to reduce all ecclesial dynamism to this one dimension.” How far this distortion could go was dramatically illustrated in the following passage:

“Time and again, various spokesmen of this group have declared that the hierarchy, precisely by insisting on the non-political character of its mission, on the primacy of the spiritual, and on the universality of Christian values — among which were charity, overcoming the class struggle through justice, reconciliation, and peace — was in fact putting itself at the service of the bourgeois ideology and its class interests, and thus an ally and defender of the oppressive structures of capitalism.”

The inspiration behind this sort of thing, the bishops wrote, was not hard to divine: “it is the Marxist-Leninist method of economic interpretation of history, which reduces the religious life of humanity to the level of an ideology reflecting economic infrastructure and class struggles, and which discovers an alienation and a complicity with the socially dominant groups in everything which pretends to be apolitical, superior to and common to the dialectical contraries — bourgeoisie and proletariate — in social combat.”

Study of the writings of the priests and religious connected with this Movement convinced the bishops that these people had not accomplished some sort of new and exciting critique, purification, or adaptation of Marxism; they had “simply taken over the main features of Marxist method without alteration” and had tacked onto it the pitiful remnants of Christian truth which remained after the Faith itself had been put through the wringer of this same method. “This means,” the bishops trenchantly observed, “that adherence to Christ is made relative, that is, conditioned by the mediation of an interposed method: the very attempt to understand history, class struggle, and Marxism itself through the eyes of the Gospel and through the unconditional light of Faith is given up; on the contrary, Christ Himself is understood — is reinterpreted — on the basis of a human, cultural situation which, in turn drawn from atheistic premises, ends up by deforming Him, to say the least.” Here the bishops fingered the formal likeness of the new, Marxist hermeneutic with the long-condemned methods of in- tegrism and Modernism.


After a lengthy expose of how the Marxist hermeneutic worked out in detail, the bishops came to their strongly worded condemnation:

“In sum: the activity of the group, ‘Christians for Socialism,’ is profoundly ambiguous and requires a clear definition on their part. If this group proposes to be a front for penetration into the Church, in order to convert her from within into a political force and annex her to a particular program of social revolution, let them say so frankly and clearly and then cease to consider themselves an ecclesial group. … The ambiguity cannot go on, because it damages the Church and confuses many of the faithful, besides being by its very nature an abuse of the priesthood and of the Faith… Therefore, and in view of what we have said above, we prohibit priests and religious from belonging to this organization, and we also forbid them to practice in any form — institutional or personal, organized or spontaneous — the type of action which we have denounced in this document.”

In succeeding paragraphs, the bishops make it clear that their condemnation does not extend only to this one group alone, but also to all those who abuse the Church and her teachings in the same hyperpolitical way. There is even a slap to the right-wing for trying to tie the hierarchy to the wheels of its chariot.

It is impossible, unfortunately, to reproduce in this space more of the detailed and cogent argumentation of Christian Faith and Political Action. But it should be obvious even from the above excerpts what had become of the “risk” permitted just two years earlier in The Gospel, Politics and Socialisms. And it should be equally obvious that as far as the Chilean bishops are concerned, the line of thought that ran from Medellin, through the theology of liberation, to the “Christians for Socialism” is a line that has reached … dead end. So much for point six.

What about points one through five? For these the refutation has already been communicated privately by the Chilean bishops to sister hierarchies throughout the world. A confidential report on The Present Situation in Chile was completed in Santiago on Christmas day, 1973, and mailed to these hierarchies. Never before leaked to the press the very existence of this important document has remained a secret to the Catholic people, victimized by misrepresentations which this document alone can lay to rest. In view of this tragic situation, and in view of the immense historical importance which must be attributed to the Chilean agony, The Wanderer has decided to publish in full the text of this confidential report. The complete authenticity of this text has been established through telephone communication with Archbishop

Carlos Oviedo Cavada, who was General Secretary of the Chilean Episcopal Conference at the time the document was prepared and who performed the main work of preparation himself.


Let there be no mistake: this document is an official statement of the Episcopal Conference itself. The preparation of this document by Archbishop Oviedo (the Bishop Rausch of Chile) was duly ordered by the Conference; the result of his work, herewith published, was approved by the appropriate officers of the Conference and has never been disapproved by any member of the Chilean hierarchy.

Nor can it be said that the viewpoint expressed in this document has been altered or repudiated by any subsequent document or act of the Conference. The concerns about economic policy and legal safeguards, expressed publicly by the bishops on April 24th, 1974 (Statement on Reconciliation), were already present, privately expressed, in the confidential document of Christmas, 1973 (cf. section 159-161, below). But what the North American reader can now see is the context of these concerns. By honestly examining the following document, an open- minded person can only conclude that whatever quarrels exist between the Chilean bishops and the military Junta, those quarrels remain within the context of a fundamental approval for the new government and a profound gratitude (not to mention sheer relief) that the horrible regime of Allende has been swept away.

You don’t believe it? Read for yourself.


A Report prepared by His Excellency Archbishop Carlos Oviedo Cavada,
General Secretary of the Chilean Episcopal Conference and circulated
with the approval of the Bishops of Chile on December 25, 1973.


1.Chile started to live, within the legal framework of its Constitution, the experience of a Chilean way of transition toward Socialism. It is important to point out that the originality was supposed to be the way toward Socialism, since the end product, i.e., the Socialist society, was of the same type as those historically existing in the world, whose prototype is found especially in the Soviet-bloc countries, particularly Cuba. There was the strength of the political parties that comprised a majority — in supporters and in those holding responsible positions in the Government — such as the Communist and the Socialist parties. They were in charge of the whole process and controlled the mightiest centers of power. The Communist Party controlled all the centers of economic power of the country, and the Socialist Party the center of political power; it especially had internal security and international relations.

2. The legal framework of Chile very early presented serious obstacles to the intentions of the Unidad Popular (UP) regime. There was a recent amendment to the Constitution — so-called Bill of Constitutional Rights — sponsored by the Christian Democrats so they could back Dr. Salvador Allende in the election to be held by the National Congress, since Allende had not obtained sufficient votes on September 4th, 1970, to be elected President of the Republic. Allende, then a Senator, attended the Senate session in order to vote for that Constitutional amendment agreed to with the Christian Democrats. But, shortly afterward, in a famous interview with French newspaperman Regis Debray, President Allende said that had been a maneuver in order to be elected President.

3. In order to bypass legal obstacles, an old 1932 law was used — from the so-called Socialist Republic — which had never been repealed, and which President Allende’s Legal Counsel baptized “loopholes.” (Editor’s note: “resqiacios legates” includes the English sense of loopholes or stretching the law, as well as using old laws that have been superceded by Constitutional amendment.) Thus, for instance, the banking industry was nationalized, even though the President had promised to send Congress a bill to that effect.

4. Within the UP two tendencies came immediately to the fore. That of the Communist Party to make the most of the opportunities offered by “bourgeois” laws, and that of the Socialist Party (a majority of the Party), to go the violent way. This was advocated and executed by the MlR (Revolutionary Leftist Movement). The other parties were between these poles. The Radical Party followed the Communists, and MAPU (Popular Unity Action Movement) the Socialists. (MAPU was divided by the tension of those two poles in 1973.) The rest of the UP parties were of minor importance.

5. Since the beginning there had been some Catholics in MAPU. The Christian Left was organized toward the middle of 1971 with some ex-members of MAPU — because it declared itself Marxist — and other Christian Democratic members. There was a great Catholic majority in this new party, but its political weight was almost nonexistent, and it got only one Deputy in the whole country during the congressional elections of 1973.

6. The Catholic Hierarchy’s viewpoint was outlined in the working document, The Gospel, Politics, and Socialisms” April-May, 1971 which discussed the chances of the Chilean way toward Socialism and the role of Catholics within it. More than 25,000 copies of this document were distributed in Chile, and it has been translated into English, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. It was also published in several Spanish speaking countries. Its observations are still valid, and in Chile it offers a very important point of comparison in order to interpret the course of UP.

7. The result of continually bypassing the law of the land by the UP authorities on every level was to bring violence, partisanship, hatred, and animosity to Chile. It could not have been any other way, since the center of political action was the class struggle. Street fights, political assassinations — something practically unknown in Chile — attempted murders, arbitrariness, etc., became a normal state of affairs in Chile, particularly acute in certain provinces of the country.

8. All this was happening in a country where the great majority of people desired basic social changes and reforms. In effect, the Christian Democrat Party was the strongest opposition, and it had the greatest number of followers in the country. It had the greatest numerical representation in Congress. Therefore, it could not be said that UP was clashing with reactionary forces, detached or indifferent or opposed to the changes needed by the country. The statements of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy similarly expressed the necessity for these social reforms.

9. That is to say, there was a majoritarian consensus in the country concerning many of the social reforms needed in Chile in order to be a more just and fraternal society. But, the way it was done and the final ends of Marxist-Leninist Socialism opened an ever-widening gap among Chileans.


10. In an internal and private episcopal document, of the greatest importance, of the episcopal Conference of Chile, dated April, 1972, there is a description of what was then happening in Chile.

“Even though the efforts of the previous Government showed valid social progress, all the stated goals were not reached. This disillusioned many people, radicalizing them toward ways more strongly committed to Socialism. We know how the present government was formed. In order to appease many people, there has been persistent talk of an ‘original Chilean way with red wine and empanadas,’ but, in truth, aside from the electoral process itself which came from all Chileans and not from the groups forming UP, such originality is nowhere to be found: the great goals and stages, as well as the small slogans are exact reproductions of what has taken place in other countries, with the necessary alterations that success or failure have taught them. In our judgment, those great goals include the following stages: a) absolute control of the nation’s economy through large scale nationalizations and the subsequent repercussions on retail business; b) control of the communications media; c) control of political power; d) control of all kinds of organizations that may exert a powerful influence on civil life, including religious associations. This type of socialism leads not toward a socializing process through which farmers’, employees,’ and workers’ associations substitute for Capitalism in order to form associations that merge Capital and Labor, but toward a State Socialism in which all means of production fall into the hands of one and same boss who owns the economy, the communications media, the educational and cultural resources, and consequently, the political power.

“This picture, which may be considered drastic, is justified by many because of the failure of other systems to bring about an essential change to the poorer and more marginal people of our country, and who, while not expressing a preference for such a regime, nevertheless do not see any other real alternative for fundamental changes that are necessary and urgent.

“This is the situation which the Episcopate of Chile has had to tackle: to express the anguish of the oppressed and to be conscious of the path which is being followed, tending more and more toward a Socialism of the Marxist- Leninist type.”

11. It is important to quote here also some segments of the letter sent by a theologian-priest to the Secretariat of “Christians for Socialism,” dated December 23rd, 1971; that is, a few months before the above-mentioned episcopal document. This priest always took part in the meetings of the “Christians for Socialism” group.

“The situation of the country is acute. The forces of reaction have joined against the Government of Unidad Popular and now they are absolutely resolved to quash the revolution. This was extensively discussed at the meeting.” (N.B. This letter was written a few days after its author had taken part in a “Christians for Socialism” meeting). “But, I think it simplistic to state only this. There is much more. In a short time the Government has been able to produce too many antibodies. I think that the forces that hailed each other the night of September 4th, 1970 (those of Tomic and those of Allende), were for revolution, for Socialism and the working class. Today there is a total deterioration of that union, and the loss of steam of the Government is alarming.

“Government television, radio stations, magazines, and newspapers have launched a campaign of ideologization and defamation of the opposition that has the precise contrary effect.

“I think there are a lot of very incompetent and very blind people in all that. The process of nationalization has been valuable, but the creation of ways for workers to participate in the action has been too slow. That is dangerous, because power is not easily given up, as proven by the bourgeoisie The same thing will happen with the revolutionary bureaucracy.

“They desire to create a premeditated violent confrontation: perhaps with the aid of the army, of the MlR, etc. I think that is playing Russian roulette. Nobody knows what the outcome will be.

“There is every indication that the CP (Communist Party) is not thinking anymore of an original way toward Chilean Socialism. It has a ready-made frame: which it shows in the pages of El Siglo, (Editor’s Note: Communist Party owned and operated paper) a surprisingly Russian newspaper. The confrontation they desire will end in the best of cases in a Communist dictatorship, for which I am not enthusiastic, and in the worst case, in a Brazilian-type dictatorship.

“Then we will have thrown away a wonderful opportunity: and there will be no talk of Socialism in Chile for some fifty years, as was the case with parliamentary institutions, symbols of inefficiency.

“Thinking of this and much more (which I would have liked to analyze at the Encounter), I think the eighty can do something to prevent a precipitate march by a sort of fatal destiny to where nobody wants to go.”

12. In later documents, the Chilean Episcopate formulated several alternatives to the Chilean way toward Socialism; and in addition to a diagnosis of the situation, some advice was given for positive action by Chilean Catholics and general guidelines to overcome the ever- increasing, acute obstacles that the nation was facing.

13. Nevertheless, events were moving at such an accelerated pace toward a state of illegality in Chile that it seemed that illegality was the only form of transition to Socialism being followed by the government of UP, to the point of producing a crisis of national proportions.


14. The political, social, and economic crisis of the country became so acute in 1973 — because of a rise in violence (such as strikes — some as critical as copper — public demonstrations, daily assaults, murders, etc.), because of shortages (food, medicine, auto spare parts), inflation, the black market — that one had the feeling of living in a war economy, as was stated in a Letter of the Bishops of Central Chile (June 1st, 1973).

15. Chile had been brought to true economic chaos and President Allende himself, since more than a year before, was constantly predicting a worsening of the country’s economic position and of the acute situations in that field that were to come. Food rationing was predicted by several of the UP parties and by many of its most important spokesmen, even though it had been emphatically discounted by President Allende in May, 1971.

16. Production kept falling notoriously; Chile’s foreign indebtedness grew at an astronomical pace; the country’s dollar reserves were finished. (Many months before, President Allende had said at a news conference that “there wasn’t a dollar left even to scrape a pan”). Food imports had climbed since 1970 from $120 million to $600 million in 1973. The queues to buy the most basic things, such as bread, rice, oil, etc., had become a normal spectacle throughout Chile, particularly aggravating in the case of bread because the line had to be formed daily. There were shortages of soap, detergents, toothpaste, cigarettes, etc., and even more so in the case of medicines and dairy products. Hospitals did not have the most indispensable supplies for treatment or operations; there was no gauze, alcohol, serum, etc. This had brought about, in August of 1972, the doctors’ strike to force better handling of such a chaotic situation. (In order to operate on Msgr. Ismael Errazuriz, Assistant Bishop of Santiago — who died during the same operation of August 31st — it was necessary to import serum from Buenos Aires, through Caritas. One can imagine the situation of unknown individuals without influence or international contacts).

17. Inflation was rising at a daily rate of one percent. By way of a last example of such a situation, we may note that in August the official price of a dollar was 90 escudos, while the black market price for a dollar was around 2,500 escudos!

18. There was another social fact, unemployment, which has dramatic consequences in Chile today, but whose roots go back even farther than the government of UP.

19. Beginning in 1969 there were less new jobs, which usually happens as the term of a Government comes to an end. And at the end of President Frei’s Administration a law immobilizing employees was passed, which stopped the hiring of more employees. Furthermore, because of the alternatives presented by the presidential candidates, there was a certain stagnation or recess in industrial and agricultural expansion.

20. The commercial, industrial, and agricultural private sector hired virtually no more people during the Government of UP. The socio-economic policies of the UP brought about a paralysis of economic activity. Thus, there was no expansion whatsoever in the private sector and new jobs were not created.

21. During those same years, the policy of nationalizing businesses, through the so-called “loopholes,” also failed to bring about an industrial and agricultural expansion. New sources of jobs were not created, because new things were not created: the most flourishing and profitable were nationalized.

22. This acute recession was denounced by politicians and organs of the private sector of production, particularly as they faced a difficult future. Actually, each year thousands of young people should enter the work force. There were no new opportunities for them, and they became thousands in a country economically immobilized year after year.

23. An easy way for the UP Government to ease unemployment was to hire more personnel by the state bureaucracy, and by the nationalized, or about to be so, sectors of the social area of production. (Editor’s Note: Social area of production includes firms that have been nationalized, originally set up by the government, or temporarily taken over by the government.) Thus statistical data can be found that are very indicative of the additional personnel hired by banks, industries, mines, state offices, etc. A fact which rapidly brought the unfortunate consequence of labor lack of discipline and a state of corruption previously difficult to imagine.

24. Furthermore, the hiring of new workers was based upon political considerations, according to the quota of each of the parties in the UP. In order to obtain a job in certain mines, such as Chuquicamata, one had to present the Communist Party card, or in others, such as Carbon (coal) de Lota, most of the employees had to belong to that Party. In other places it was the Socialist party, or MAPU, or the Radical Party (the latter one within a smaller sphere of influence). And in this “quota system” were included even those enterprises which required a more earnest and capable personnel, such as the Huachipato factory (in Talcahuano), where the quota assigned to the UP parties was known as well as the one left to those who did not belong.

25. This also produced a phenomenon of exclusion. People who did not belong to the UP were excluded from many positions: they were fired or assigned to serve in other places, under humiliating conditions. This explains the exodus from the country of hundreds of professionals during the UP, because they were denied opportunities to work: engineers, doctors, dentists, nurses, etc. In 1973, the professional schools published amazing statistical data in this respect.

26. And they were not just professionals. Lower echelon employees also had to emigrate to other countries in search of a job. Hundreds and thousands of Chileans went particularly to Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, U.S.A., Spain, and Australia, for the purpose of settling there and regaining their livelihood. It seems that the largest number of Chileans emigrated to Ecuador; and they were all young, active people, in their most productive years.

Those were absurd times, because simultaneously other thousands of citizens from the Socialist countries and Latin American extremists were arriving in Chile.


27. The country, nevertheless, preserved and continued to operate its legal bodies. There was a law of far-reaching consequences, such as the Arms Control Law, which gave said control to the Armed Forces. The reason for that law was the large number of arms that were unlawfully entering the country; the highest officials of the UP regime were involved in this operation. This also made it possible for guerrilla centers to operate in Chile, the best known of which was the group led by “Commander Pepe” in the lumber complex of Panguipulli, Valdivia Province. It was a generally known fact that officials of the UP government were responsible for the existence of arms in villages, industries, agricultural areas. The direct consequence was that individuals and opposition groups also tried to arm themselves. The Arms Control Law, to be enforced by the Armed Forces, supposedly would end such an abnormal state of affairs, which greatly endangered the citizenry and the civil order.

28. After the adoption of that Law, the Armed Forces acted accordingly. This immediately brought an unfavorable and violent reaction from important factions of the UP, such as the Socialist Party and the Workers’

Union (CUT), who asked President Allende to amend the Law since it worked against the “people.” With hindsight, today it can be said that the Armed Forces must have considered that Law a crucial factor in the actions taken on September 11th, since it verified the acute situation suffered by the nation.


29. President Allende’s Government was legally prosecuted by the state’s appropriate legal bodies, thus proving that his Government was steeped in illegality. For this reason there are decisions from the Controller General of Chile (Editor’s note: Controleria, in addition to functions similar to the U.S. Controller General, certifies the legality and constitutionality of laws as well as acts of the executive branch.) dated February, 1973, another one March 15th, 1973, another one April, 1973, and a last one August 8th, 1973, referring to the Economic Ministry and the illegality of takeovers of entire sectors of industry.

30. The Supreme Court of Justice also presented to President Allende all the violations that were taking place in that field, in documents dated July 13th, 1972; October 30th, 1972; April 12th, 1973; and June 25th, 1973; the second and the fourth were the crucial ones. In that latter document, President Allende was accused of “twisting the law, exaggerating the role of administration functions, and denigrating judicial powers.”

31. Finally, the Chamber of Deputies stated the following in a proposed agreement, dated August 22nd, 1973, among which fourteen items were included: “Fifth, That it is a fact that the present Government of the Republic has, from its beginnings , tried to acquire total power, with the obvious goal of subjecting all persons to the strictest economic and political control by the State, so as to establish a totalitarian system absolutely inimical to the representative democratic system established by the Constitution” (Editor’s Note: Here one can compare the statements of the episcopal Document in no. 10, above). Sixth, That, in order to obtain that goal, the Government has not committed isolated violations of the Constitution and the Law, but has made these a permanent modus operandi, going to the extreme of systematically disregarding and trampling over the functions of the other Powers of the State, of habitually violating the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all the citizens of the Republic, and of allowing and assisting in the creation of parallel, illegitimate powers that are an acute danger to the nation; all of which it has used to destroy essential elements of institutionality and the State of Law.” And therefore reached the following conclusions:

“First: To set forth to the President of the Republic and to the State Ministers members of the Armed Forces and the National Police Corps the serious breakdown of constitutional and legal order in the Republic brought forth by the facts and circumstances stated in items five through twelve above;

“Second: Likewise, to set forth to them that by reason of their duties, of the oath of allegiance they have taken to the Constitution and to the laws they must uphold and, in the case of said Ministers, of the nature of the Institutions of which they are high officials and whose name has been invoked in order for them to become part of the Ministry, it is their duty immediately to end all the above- mentioned actions which violate the Constitution and the laws, in order to direct government action through legal ways and guarantee the constitutional order of our nation and the essential bases of democratic coexistence among Chileans;

“Third: To state that if this were done, the participation of said Ministers in the Government would be a valuable service to the Republic. Otherwise, it would seriously impair the professional and national nature of the Armed Forces and the National Police in flagrant violation of Article 22 of the Political Constitution and serious impairment of its institutional prestige.”

32. The Chamber of Deputies came to a very serious conclusion after a thorough review of the facts and legal norms, namely, that the Government was acting illegally. From that moment on, one could say that Democracy in Chile was officially in crisis, and that the Chamber of Deputies publicly called the Armed Forces and National Police to take a stand.


33. There were also some Catholic members in the parties of Unidad Popular and, no doubt, many Catholics voted to elect Dr. Salvador Allende, either because of Allende himself or because of UP’s program. It can be estimated, however, that the majority of the Catholics was politically opposed to the UP government. And this fact is supported by the fact that in Chile the majority of citizens is usually in the opposition. This phenomenon has been perceived now for several decades.

34. The Hierarchy, which has a pastoral mission toward all Catholics, took note of the fact that there were Catholics in every political post. Therefore, it acted as teacher in the working document The Gospel, Politics and Socialisms, proceeding both openly and cautiously. In 1972, the President of the Episcopal Conference at that time described that Document as “the biggest step the Episcopate could take in that (doctrinal) matter, without renouncing Church doctrine and tradition.”

35. For this reason, the Hierarchy always kept itself above and beyond partisan political struggles, and at that time strived through numerous collective documents to help the common good in every way. It wanted to become a sort of conscience of the country, leading toward the common good and pointing out the grave dangers that kept unfolding and cropping up in the political process of the UP. It did not neglect its personal contacts with government authorities, precisely so it could communicate to them its hopes and concerns.

36. There certainly were many people who wished the Episcopate to join the opposition lines against the UP, as its highest and most important duty; and there were others who wanted to publicly support or be “committed” to the political process of the UP. The Hierarchy kept itself free and independent.

37. To say free and independent does not mean that the Hierarchy was indifferent toward the political process of the UP. Conscious of the significance to the country of that process toward Marxism, it took clear positions and it fooled no one. The oft-quoted document, The Gospel, Politics and Socialisms, patently attests to that. But proof just as well was the reaction of the Chilean Episcopate toward the projected National Unified School.

Frequent and violent clashes among Chileans occurred as the Allende Regime promoted the class struggle.
Frequent and violent clashes among Chileans occurred as the Allende Regime promoted the class struggle.

38. That project, which as such was practically impossible to implement in Chile, would lead toward a Marxist-type education. The Episcopate clearly said so, and rejected the project not just by expressing a negative attitude, but by presenting ideas and guidelines to one of Chile’s real problems. This was done in a working document entitled, The Present State of Education in Chile.

39. This vigilant attitude toward Marxism was born of reality itself experienced in the flesh by all Chile. It had nothing to do with a new or revised Marxism; or different, as many would have wished; but it had everything to do with the most orthodox Marxism of the Russian Communist Party. Thus, in a speech by the Secretary General of the Communist Party, Senator Luis Corvalan: after expressing his tolerance and respect for religious beliefs, he stated that the Communist society would have no religion. And it was people like that Senator who were directing Chile’s transition toward Socialism.

Under those circumstances, the Hierarchy always avoided a confrontation with the UP Government.

40. Since the great majority of Chilean citizens are self- professed Catholics, according to the official Census Report, the UP Government was certainly interested in attracting Catholics to its political position. Therefore, Government authorities had clearly decided to maintain good relations and avoid any conflicts with the Church. But, there was more to it. Not a few times did they try to manipulate the Church or its Hierarchy. In March of 1971, when the campaign to nationalize private banks was coming to a head, Channel 9-TV (of the University of Chile) stated that the Church had ordered all its institutions to sell their banking shares to the Government. This was not true. There were many other examples of this nature. But, their greatest concern was to create the illusion — successfully at that — that the Cardinal supported the UP; that is, that he was decidedly a partisan of President Allende’s regime. Public opinion was certainly given this false image, by propaganda and well-managed information on the Cardinal.

On the other hand, the Cardinal did nothing in his public, purely civic, duties, that he had not done during the previous administrations of Presidents Jorge Alessandri and Eduardo Frei. His only unprecedented action was to attend the meeting organized by the Workers’ Union (CUT), on May 1st (Editorial Note: this refers to 1971), to which he had never been invited previously. But on the same point, on May 1st, 1973, he publicly declined to attend that celebration on account of the political animosity present at that time.

41. The visit of Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, during his rather long stay in Chile, to the Cardinal, merits particular attention. The UP-controlled press printed, from the time of Fidel Castro’s arrival, his relations with the Cardinal. In fact, however, the Cardinal did not attend all the official events connected with Fidel Castro: he did not go to the reception given by Castro at the Cuban Embassy, nor did he go to see him off at the airport when he left. But all this, to be sure, was not publicized.

One of the Cardinal’s purposes in granting an audience to the Cuban Prime Minister was to be of service to the Cuban Hierarchy, since the Cuban people would certainly be impressed by Fidel Castro’s visit, while in Chile, to the Cardinal and Archbishop of Santiago. A direct result of that interview was to make it possible to send 10,000 Bibles and 5,000 New Testament copies to the Bishops of Cuba, which they received in February of 1973.

This interview angered many Chilean Catholics, who could not always understand the reasons why the Cardinal granted Fidel Castro the audience he had asked for. There were also unpleasant repercussions in other countries. In one Latin American magazine, published under the auspices of an Archbishop, we read that the Cardinal was described as “Sovietizing.”

42. With this in mind, it is not difficult to understand why the European press of the Left considers the Cardinal a “traitor”: before a solid supporter of the UP and now “sold out” to the Government of the Military Council.

43. The Episcopate’s policy of staying above partisan politics was not shared by some members of the clergy, even though since 1970 the Chilean Hierarchy, in a carefully thought-out pastoral admonishment, set clear and precise guidelines for the clergy and religious to abstain from partisan activity. And this position had also been stated during the 1970 electoral campaign. The episcopal documents mentioned foreign clergymen in particular, some of whom were quite prone to this type of action.

44. This partisan political activity was more common among leftist clergymen. Within other political positions it was a rather rare occasion and never by organized people.

45. The most important group that was formed was called “Sacerdotal Secretariat for Socialism,” commonly referred to as the “80,” because such was the number of priests who attended the April, 1971, meeting when the group was organized and made known. Later this group was renamed “Christians for Socialism,” since some religious and members of the laity and of Protestant denominations started joining. But fundamentally, the group was organized and directed by priests, many of whom were foreigners.

46. This group clearly and decidedly adhered to the Popular Unity. Many of its members joined political parties, such as the Communist and Socialist Parties, MAPU (Popular Unity Action Movement) and the MIR (Revolutionary Leftist Movement). Bit by bit the activities of the group and its members became identified with the political action of the UP. A university advisor to that group stated to an Italian journalist in August, 1972: “Chile’s fundamental problem today is of a political nature. The country faces a momentous occasion and today the Unidad Popular is the poor’s only hope for liberation. We tell our young people : If you are a Christian you don’t have another choice nowadays. Maybe it was all right in the past to join with the Christian Democrats; today, however, there is only one political option and a Christian must dedicate himself wholeheartedly to it, contributing his time and ideas. For this reason, the basis of all our work is the relationship between Marxism and Christianity, and the study of Marxism and the Christian Faith.” Further on he said: “…faith in Christ, if it is not to remain abstract but to become incarnate in history, must lead us to choose (the Unidad Popular) Socialism as the only way to redeem the people.”

47. Consequently, the group’s activities could not but clash with the pastoral guidelines of the Episcopate, and “Christians for Socialism” slowly became a kind of parallel magisterium or anti-magisterium. In addition, the group developed a notion about the Church incompatible with Catholic doctrine. In April, 1973, the Hierarchy decided to forbid priests and religious from joining that group, and in October, 1973, published a document entitled, Christian Faith and Political Activity, which is the doctrinal basis for the ban.

The Hierarchy was pushed to such limits after repeatedly trying to make those priests understand its position, priests who certainly ran the gamut of doctrinal and disciplinary notions in their personal status within the Church.

48. The activities of “Christians for Socialism” apparently did not exert any influence on the political process of the UP, despite not a few meetings with President Allende himself.


49. There must be an effort to evaluate the positive as well as the negative aspects of the UP, as would be done in any other situation. We have frequently highlighted the negative, and will be returning to it yet again.

50. On the positive side, the UP made the workers and the poor the center of concern for the country. It made them the center of attention, and its actions were always concerned with them. At first measures were taken clearly in favor of the poorest workers. All those who benefited will not forget that act of social justice. The nationalization of the U.S.-owned copper mines, in which Chile had obtained fifty-one percent ownership during Frei’s Government, was a positive accomplishment that stirred a national consensus, culminating in the unanimous approval by Congress of that measure. Also, nationalization of the banking industry, voluntary work, a kind of social property in agriculture, were positive measures in themselves; but which became bungled in practice, because of partisanship or erroneous application.

51. The drive to obtain total power, the lack of organization in the political management of the country, the “quota system” and subsequent partisan in-fighting among the UP parties themselves, shortly wrought the country’s financial disaster. There are four items, among others, in general policies which favor the people, upon which a popular government must be evaluated: housing, food, health, and education. Well then, housing construction fell so short, in comparison with the previous Government, that the accomplishments of the UP in this field are negligible and of inferior quality. Construction in general suffered acutely during that regime. We have already stated how food shortages and the black market came about, and how food imports grew from $120 to $600 million. With respect to health, technical reports indicate that there was a general decline in the health of the country; the man in the street could attest to shortages in medicine and medical supplies, such as healing remedies, etc. In education, the construction of new classrooms in the country became rare, and the pace established by previous Governments was practically halted.

52. When one recalls the terms of discourse employed at the time by the UP regime, such as participation, Government of the workers, etc., one is convinced that the people were used as an instrument, rather than served and uplifted. The so-called “workers’ power” was chiefly state power. Proof of this is the struggle by community enterprises — and there are valuable Chilean examples of this nature — to achieve recognition of their existence when an orthodox Marxism would not concede them their own place. The workers at El Teniente mine found out for themselves that they had to fight against a Government that had become a threat. All this stands out sharply when it was learned after September 11th how quickly and to what extent many UP leaders got rich; it was at that time that they were found with many thousands of dollars and millions of escudos in paper money.

53. Some day the UP leaders themselves will offer self- criticism of their Government. At present we know of two very important documents. The first one, addressed to Allende, by the Spaniard Juan Garces, a political advisor to the President, and the other one by Dr. Arturo Jiron Vargas, the President’s Public Health Minister. The latter document, dated April 1st, 1973, is of paramount importance since its self-criticism of the Government could have been written by a member of the opposition.

54. Now we shall relate the last few days prior to September 11th, when momentous events took place.

55. On September 4th, supporters of the Unidad Popular paraded the streets of Santiago around Constitution Plaza, celebrating the third anniversary of the election giving Salvador Allende his first relative majority as a presidential candidate. President Allende and the main UP leaders watched as thousands of his followers took part in that parade.

56. On September 5th, thousands of women also demonstrated down the Alameda Bernardo O’Higgins, a main artery of Santiago, calling for President Allende’s resignation. This was the expression of a movement, national in scope, seeking Allende’s resignation. President Allende dealt with them personally in a televised meeting with labor leaders at the UNCTAD building, at the end of which his voice became tearful and broken. At the same time, while thousands of women were congregating on the Alameda, less than one thousand women were expressing their support of Allende in front of La Moneda (Presidential Palace). It is crucial to know this fact, because in order to show that the people still supported Dr. Allende, the international press gave big coverage to the demonstration on the 4th, while remaining silent about that of the 5th.

57. In those days the country came to a near standstill. The “strike ” in August, more radical and pervasive than the October of 1972 “strike,” included almost everybody: collective mobilization, commerce, taxis, transportation, many associations such as doctors’, professors’, engineers’, etc. High school, college, and other students continued to strike. The highways were empty, and it was considered dangerous to travel them. The nation’s activity had been reduced to the bare minimum required to exist.

58. President Allende, in a move peculiar to his political style, announced to the nation that he was willing to renew the dialogue with the Christian Democrats, or else call for a plebiscite. Both were delaying tactics. The first one had been known to become sterile, and had failed on two previous occasions — at the end of July and in mid- August. What chances did it have, when the President himself had not kept any of the promises that he had made with specific deadlines to the Christian Democrats, and when that same Party had concurred in the denunciation of the Government’s illegality issued by the Chamber of

Deputies on August 22nd, 1973? And the second tactic, the plebiscite, meant the solution would take more than a month, since it takes that long to make all the necessary arrangements for it. Furthermore, the UP, had an internal crisis, because since August 8th, it had already made three Cabinet changes with very evident variations (Editor’s Note: in policy, party, etc.).

59. As a summary statement of the political situation, we quote portions of an article written by the leftist newspaperman, Luis Hernandez Parker, entitled, “A Month After the Junta (Ercilla n. 1994, October 17th, 1973):

“In spite of everything, the politicking, the wheeling and dealing, the junkets, the bureaucracy, the partisanship, the orchestrated propaganda, the persecutions and administrative delays, the incredibly vexatious attacks on the opposition, the meteoric rises, the sumptuous rewards in terms of houses and automobiles, were the UP’s minor sins. Nor was the UP the first one to commit them.

“Its mortal sin, for which so many of the lower echelon UP supporters are now paying, was to extinguish democratic life. The historical error, unparalleled in a country like Chile, was to cold-bloodedly change the exemplary course of the democratic river, a long and unique case among nations of the Third World. It promised to build a sui generis Socialism. Always to use electoral, legal and peaceful means. Many people in Chile and in foreign nations believed it. The experiences of a “Socialism Chilean Style’ could be applied to those nations with the same characteristics as Chile.

The ‘peaceful way’ was a trap to drug political enemies and the Armed Forces.

Long before September 11th it was known that Chile’s democratic life was dying. There were only two alternatives: the dictatorship of the proletariat, in name, but actually for the exclusive use of the UP leaders, or, a strong military dictatorship. There was no third road anymore. With large groups of terrorists armed to the hilt, could a freely elected man have governed? Never. There was a consensus within the UP to put an end to old- style free elections. The UP prepared to take total power ‘now.’ And this was not a closely guarded secret. It was publicly announced so no one would be mistaken. Allende imprudently told a high official: ‘You know, we have infiltrated all the Armed Forces and the National Police and not merely with MIR members.”

“Thus, with unheard of pride, he gave the green light to the events of September 11th.

“And now, much too late, honest UP followers admit that their leaders blew the opportunity to bring about democratic Socialism.”

SEPTEMBER 11, 1973

60. On September 11th, the Military Junta gave President Salvador Allende an ultimatum to resign from the Government and leave Chile. President Allende did not accept it and decided to put up resistance in the Moneda Palace. It was a desperate attempt — in view of the control exercised by the Armed Forces and National Police throughout Chile — climaxed by Dr. Allende’s suicide after the Palace was bombarded. It is a fact that President Allende took his own life, as witnessed by Dr. Patricio Guijon Klein, who was on duty at the Moneda Palace that day; General Palacios, in charge of the Moneda attack, found him by the ex-President’s body. The testimony of this doctor lays to rest the question of whether Allende was killed by the Military, or whether he committed suicide.

61. President Allende’s death and the takeover of the Government by the Military Junta put an end to the UP regime in Chile.

This break has been more than a change of Government. It means the end to a transitional road toward a Marxist-Leninist, Socialist society, which started within the framework of Chilean laws and then changed directions, until it broke with legality, as stated by the appropriate bodies of the country.

62. The immediate authors of that break were the Chilean Armed Forces and National Police. We say immediate authors because the UP Government was already undermined and was bound to have a violent end, as described by newspaperman Luis Hernandez Parker (cf. no. 59).

For this reason, we must turn our attention to the Armed Forces, the main figures in the events of September 11th.


63. A tradition of professionalism has been the hallmark of the Chilean Armed Forces, making them efficient and internally cohesive. They have always kept themselves away from involvement in politics.

64. Within the last few years this has been explicitly ratified by the Schneider doctrine, named after General Rene Schneider, who stated in a press interview, shortly before the 1970 elections, the clear subordination of the Armed Forces to the Constitution and the law of the land, and that any political intervention would be out of the question.

65. The conflicts themselves that have surfaced lately within members of the Armed Forces prove Such tradition and doctrine.

When General Roberto Viaux confined his troops in the “Taena” Regiment of Santiago, in October, 1969, it was in order to present to the Government a bill of economic petitions in favor of the Armed Forces. The troops were not quartered in order to overthrow President Frei’s Government. He was duly judged and found guilty, and was soon set free.

66. In October, 1970, in order to thwart presidential candidate Salvador Allende from becoming Head of State, a group of civilians and the retired General Roberto Viaux tried to kidnap the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, General Rene Schneider. General Schneider died as a result of the attempted kidnapping. The Armed Forces were not a party to that plan, and General Viaux was already retired from active duty. This allowed Dr. Salvador Allende to be sworn in peacefully as President on November 4th.

On June 29th, 1973, a small number of the military, under the command of Colonel Carlos Souper, attacked the Moneda Palace, the seat of the Government. But the Armed Forces were not involved in that coup, and other members of the military put the rebellion down in a few hours.

67. On November, 1972, President Allende called upon three representatives of the Armed Forces to become Ministers of the Government, as a solution to acute social, economic, and labor conflicts; they remained until March, 1973.

68. Gradually great numbers of people, both from the opposition and simply independents, made their voices heard in favor of bringing the Armed Forces into the Government, as a symbol of security and trust for the whole country. Even the Christian Democrats, in July, 1973, stated as one of three conditions demanded from Allende that the Armed Forces be given greater and more effective responsibilities in Government than in November, 1972, as one of three conditions to be met before the CD would agree to a dialogue with the President; that is, that military men should also be assigned to all levels of decision-making in Ministries headed by the Armed Forces.

69. On August 8th, 1973, President Allende brought all the highest chiefs of the Armed Forces and National Police into a new Cabinet of “National Security”; he called this the last chance for democratic government in Chile.

70. However, when the Chamber of Deputies adopted the Resolution of August 21st 1973 (cf. no. 31), the Armed Forces members resigned their Cabinet posts and were replaced by lower echelon officers.

71. That is, the Armed Forces and National Police were catapulted into political action by President Allende himself; moreover they were the hope of the Christian Democrats and many people in the opposition.

72. After the military takeover of September 11th, 1973, it has been ascertained that the Military has no one leader, and none of its members belonged to Cabinet posts in President Allende’s Government.

73. This background information makes it clear today, when there is such distortion of the Chilean situation in other countries, that the Chilean Armed Forces and National Police are in no way “Fascists,” or “schemers” (golpistas), but rather that they belong to a coherent tradition of professionalism which keeps out of the country’s politics, whatever they may be. The step they took on September 11th, a form of answer to a national demand, and from the military’s point of view, they discharged their duty of maintaining order in Chile.

Operation outside the law, Mirista gangs confiscated many Chilean farms. Note picture of Che Guevara, a hero of the Miristas.
Operation outside the law, Mirista gangs confiscated many Chilean farms. Note picture of Che Guevara, a hero of the Miristas.

74. Everything that is said about the Chilean Armed Forces is equally true of the National Police although the latter must follow much more closely the tactics, strategy and direction of any one Government, since it is under the Interior Ministry.

75. There is an important fact about the Armed Forces that must be remembered. Sometimes they have been branded as reactionary and repressive, which was the usual reaction of the foreign press. Such people forget, or do not know, that in the only other military intervention in the 20th Century, in 1924, it was precisely the Armed Forces who forced Parliament to pass all the social legislation sent to Congress by President D. Arturo Alessandri, which the majority had opposed. Through that intervention, the Armed Forces have had a decisive role in Chile’s social progress.

76. What really ended in Chile on September 11th, 1973?

For the anonymous supporters of the UP and many others, it was the end of a great expectation affectionately linked to the Left, where great segments of the population have historically pinned their hopes. An affectionate link, we say, because the reforms — the battles in favor of the people — had not come true. The “Forty Programs” of the UP’s campaign platform, which outlined the most urgent goals to be achieved in favor of the common people never left the planning stage. They were offered as immediate solutions and yet not as many as five were implemented. Later on, the opposition from time to time would mock the UP Government by reminding it of its promises.

77. On that day died the possibility, the mere thought even, for the political supporters and the leaders of the UP to accomplish a Chilean way toward Marxist Socialism; that is, to bring about a Marxist-Leninist Socialist society through legal means. For those who attacked that course followed by the UP and who advocated violent means, it was the end of a mistake.

78. For international Marxism, it was also the end of the Chilean model of a legal and democratic way to Socialism, with which it hoped to inspire other countries. This is the reason why the reaction of international Marxism toward the Military Junta has been, and continues to be still, so virulent and hateful, since one of its more intelligent tactics was dealt a mortal blow.

79. For the great majority of Chileans September 11th, 1973, was the end of a nightmare, the breakdown of the country, rule by demagogy, the intervention of foreign politicians (e.g., Fidel Castro’s letter to President Allende, dated July 29th, 1973), the use of violence in every way, the abrupt impoverishment of the nation, and above all, the Marxist system toward which Chile was moving — all this ended with the action taken by the Chilean Armed Forces and National Police representing a true moral reservoir of the nation’s soul. For that majority, September 11th was true liberation.

80. There may be some dissonant voices regarding the administrative duties of the Military Junta (and how could it be otherwise when it comes to contingency plans and alternative options?) but without a doubt, the military takeover enjoys a great national consensus. This is an indisputable fact, a patent reality. Furthermore, this consensus applies to specific areas. The great majority of Chileans dislikes this type of extraordinary measures. The soul of the nation is law-abiding, and everyone — including the Armed Forces and National Police — would have preferred a solution within the nation’s constitutional means. But since this became impossible and there was no other way out of President Allende’s Government crisis, the military takeover was received with a true national consensus.


81. It can be stated that world reaction was unanimously against the Chilean military takeover, and grief-stricken over the fall and death of President Allende.

82. There is no need to go into the reaction of the Marxist politicians or news items, which now are and always will be accompanied by slogans of praise or condemnation. Those communications media controlled by Marxists attacked Hitler and Nazism, but in no way condemned his alliance with Russia. That media judges Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, China, Albania, Yugoslavia, in the most incredible fashion, to fit the circumstances of changes in government, economic policy, cultural, social, and political struggles, etc. One has learned what to expect from the information media of these countries, and from its ideological influence in Western nations.

83. What is noteworthy is that these media and influences should coincide with those agencies that guide world public opinion, and with outstanding political and religious personalities of the West.

84. There may be some reasons.

President Allende enjoyed an excellent image abroad. This image was at odds with the way Chileans saw him. That image was a product partly of the influence of Marxist information media, and partly the wishful thinking of many people regarding his Government. There is no other possible explanation for some of the statements by religious or political officials describing Allende’s Government in such a fashion — a political analysis so far removed from Chile’s reality. But it was this group with ties of affection to what the UP Government was expected to do, or should do, which has mainly influenced world non-Marxist reaction.

85. The image has been partially that projected by Allende’s Government. But just as important were the falsehoods propagated by the international press. On September 11th, 2,000 people were supposedly dead; the following day they were 4,000. A few days later Moscow Radio escalated them to 70,000, and later to 700,000. All this was worse than the present Middle East war, where the Egyptian, Israeli and Syrian armies confronted each other and less than 2,000 were reported dead at the time of the ceasefire. There was no confrontation of armies in Chile; on the contrary the Armed Forces rapidly took control of the country, and armed conflicts were small and quickly subdued. But the international press kept talking about bombardments of working towns, and about a massacre at the Technical University were 600 students were allegedly murdered: yet nobody died there.

86. On the other hand, there seemed to be a world mood wishing for the worst to happen. Thus, President Allende might not have committed suicide and might have been murdered by a Captain Gallardo. There was no news, they said, about Poet Pablo Neruda, with the innuendo that atrocities might have been committed against him. Those news reports did not mention that Neruda lived on the Coast, where he did not wish to have a telephone. Later, when the Nobel Prize laureate died of cancer (which had been the reason for his resignation from the Embassy in Paris), they said he had been murdered.

And there are so many other examples of this nature: that the mail is censored in totalitarian fashion. This censorship does not and has never existed, but those foreigners who get carried away almost seem to wish its existence.

Generally speaking, this tendency to expect the worse, and its becoming even worse, still predominates in many segments of world public opinion.

87. That kind of news reporting, coupled with the interruption of international communications for about four days, allowed statements to proliferate with astounding speed. Everyone abroad seemed to be fighting for first place in making accusations, demands, etc.

88. Soon there was another type of reaction. After the world was convinced that the Military Junta would remain as Chile’s Government, the battle for Human Rights was started. Everybody became a defender of Human Rights. None of the Communist parties of the world came forward to demand or speak in favor of these Rights. But an enormous variety running the gamut of international organizations came forward to protest. Many sent telegrams motivated by the thousands of cadavers covering the streets of Santiago, and the rivers of blood running down the streets. And what made it particularly noteworthy was the similarity of wording in the cables and identical motivation.

89. We mentioned the Communist Party because the world already knows that whenever the Party militates for Peace, Youth movements, etc., it does not do it directly but through all kinds of organizations and institutions that meet in festivals, Councils, etc., which Catholic groups are also invited to attend. It has been this way with Human Rights, since the very first days following September 11th.


90. From the start the Cardinal and the Episcopal Conference received cables and letters from Presidents of other episcopal conferences expressing their support to the Chilean Episcopate and showing their concern for the country’s plight, since the international press reported such terrible news about Chile.

91. Some prelates from Communist countries sent cables pleading for the preservation of Human Rights in Chile. Nor was there a lack of Bishops in the West who condemned the new military Government, basing their decision on a totally erroneous appraisal of what really happened in Chile (cf. No. 84) — perhaps because they thought of the UP Government as they would have liked it to be. It is symptomatic that these same Prelates never expressed that kind of support for Chile during public catastrophes, such as the earthquakes of 1965 and 1971, nor have their voices been heard against aggression in our Continent, such as the current nuclear explosions by France at Mururoa Atoll, which particularly affect Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.

92. Episcopal Conferences which are members of CELAM (Conferencia Episcopal Latine-Americana) made no public statements regarding the Chilean situation. There is a tacit agreement not to make any statements about other Conferences or their countries, without previous consultation with the Episcopal Conference in question. This was an immensely exemplary and encouraging action. Through their letters and cables, many of those Episcopates made known their fraternal feelings toward Chile and its Church. It some cases the Conferences have extended a charitable hand — without bombastic statements — to the needy; a case in point is the Argentinian Episcopal Conference, which, through its Committee on Migration, has taken care of and helped settle those emigrating from Chile after September 11th.

93. These gestures and deeds deserve the profound gratitude of Chile, but a feeling of perplexity remains in the face of accusations, some quite harsh, made so precipitately; we have in mind one made on September 12th, justifying in an unrestrained fashion the UP Government and at the same time condemning the new Chilean political situation.


94. The Permanent Committee of the Episcopate was scheduled for a regular meeting on September 12th, and so the members were in Santiago on the 11th. This made it possible for those bishops to be able to meet on the 11th, 12th, and 13th, in spite of the difficulties brought about by the curfew.

95. On September 13th, the Permanent Committee issued a Declaration that has enjoyed a wide circulation in Chile and abroad.

It reads as follows:

“1) It has been clear to the country that the Bishops have been very much in favor of keeping Chile within the Constitution and the law and avoiding any kind of violent development as we have had in our institutional crisis. Such a development the members of the Governing Junta have been the first to regret.

“2) The blood that has reddened our streets, our villages, and our factories — the blood of civilians and the blood of soldiers — and the tears of so many women and children, pain us immensely and lie heavily upon us.

“We request respect for those who have fallen in the struggle, and first of all for him who was until Tuesday, September 11th, President of the Republic.

“3) We ask for moderation regarding the defeated. There should be no unnecessary reprisals. The sincere idealism that inspired many who have today been overthrown should be taken into account. There should be an end to hatred; the hour of reconciliation has come.

“4) We hope that the progress achieved by previous governments for the working class and peasantry will not be rescinded and, on the contrary, that it will be maintained and increased until arriving at full equality and participation of all in national affairs.

“5) We have confidence in the patriotism and the disinterestedness of those who have assumed the difficult task of restoring institutional order and the economic life of the country which has been so seriously disturbed. We ask all Chileans that, given the present circumstances, they cooperate in accomplishing this task. And above all, we humbly and earnestly ask God to help us.

“6) The prudence and patriotism of Chileans, united in their democratic tradition, and the humanism of our Armed Forces, will allow Chile to be able to return quickly to its institutional normality, as the members of the Governing Junta have promised, thus starting again on the road to peaceful progress.”

96. This document is so clear it needs no further comment. The Declaration was written in the context of Chile’s plight: the country’s institutional crisis (Number 1 and 5 and cf. 29-32), which is a task for every citizen to overcome (Numbers 5 and 6), and for which the Bishops ask the cooperation of everyone. It attests to the patriotism and disinterestedness, the democratic tradition and humanitarianism, of the Armed Forces of Chile. Two general guidelines are given: a) respect and moderation for the defeated; and b) the progress obtained for workers and peasants by the previous governments not only must not be allowed to deteriorate, but must advance “until full equality and participation for all the national life is achieved.” Finally, the Bishops express their desire for the reconciliation of, all Chileans and that soon it will be possible to return to a normal institutional state of affairs.

97. A few days later, on Sept. 18th, came the commemoration of Chile’s Independence, a national holiday. On that occasion there are civic celebrations all over the country, and in the Cathedrals and parishes religious acts such as Masses and public prayers are held. Usually a Te Deum is recited or chanted. This event always is held in the Cathedrals with the participation of the government authorities; and in Santiago, the capital, this Mass is always celebrated with the participation of the Chief of State, whatever his religious belief may be. Moreover, this act has even been attended by the President of the Republic during serious conflicts with the Church, such as during the period called the “theological struggles” in 1882-85.

98. On September 18th, 1973, there were also religious acts in all the Cathedrals of Chile, and it can be said that they were the only public ceremonies that took place in the country. In the great majority it was the celebration of the Holy Mass, and in Santiago the Cardinal gave a prayer for Chile, with ministers of other religious faiths as has been done since 1971. At this prayer the Honorable Military Governing Junta attended.

99. In the sermons, several of which were published in the newspaper or mimeographed, the Bishops referred to the political disruption that had come about and to building peace in Chile, with all the sacrifices it entails.

100. It is important to point out the tradition of the 18th of September — and that in 1973 there was only a religious celebration omitting all civic and military acts — because the foreign press depicted this fact, particularly the liturgical ceremony in Santiago conducted by the Cardinal, as an act indicating support of the new government, suggesting that the Church had “sold out.” Around this and other such falsified information have been constructed commentaries and accusations against the government of Chile and the Hierarchy of the country.

101. In response to the reasonable demand that the civilian population surrender illegally possessed arms, the Bishops asked the new Government to let them be turned over anonymously and in the churches. The Government acceded to this request and thus it was that through Chile, all kinds of armaments were left in the parish churches. In some dioceses the Bishops also granted permission for turning over medicines and clinical instruments that UP militants possessed for clandestine clinics or hospitals they planned to set up in case of a coup d’etat in favor of itself (auto-golpe) by the UP. In some cities huge quantities of medicines and sanitary goods were surrendered in the churches.

102. In this way, who knows how many hundreds of persons in all of Chile avoided being charged with the crime of sedition? The Bishops had requested in July, in the “call” (considered extreme in order to avoid a civil war), that the spirits disarm the hands (see Number 11) … (sentence unfinished).

103. On September 28th, a little more than two weeks after the military pronouncement, the Permanent Committee of the Episcopate met in Santiago with many other Bishops attending, in order to analyze the new situation in Chile and the place of the Church in the new order.

104. From this analysis follow several constants:

a) The Hierarchy acted correctly, with a patriotic and evangelical spirit, in all the events from the rule of the UP until the present time.

b) The country had been brought by the UP to a fatal juncture: either civil war provoked by the UP itself (witness the hidden arms and medicines) or a military coup.

c) The new rulers, that is the Armed Forces and the National Police, are filled with optimal good will, with patriotic and lofty principles; the members of the Honorable Governing Military Junta can especially be so characterized. They do not have either a man-on- horseback mentality or a desire to take power (ni caudillismo ni espiritu “golpista”).

d) Relations between the Bishops and the new authorities are excellent, except for one point.

e) The Bishops had two immediate concerns: respect for detainees and the economic conditions of the country.

105. Regarding the detainees, it was hoped that their places of detention be quickly and expeditiously made known, since it took time to find out where some of the detainees had been taken. It was hoped that they also be formally charged, quickly, and expeditiously, in order to avoid unnecessary detention for the innocent. There was concern over illegitimate pressures against some detainees. It was hoped that summary executions would stop. Regrettably, some of these events are not new, nor are they limited to Chile. Preventive detention is legal in Chile, for a certain brief period; under the present circumstances the internal state of war permits an extension of preventive detention except in the case of common crimes. Illegitimate pressures are illegal. They are punishable by law, but they do happen, and previous governments have also been denounced for doing so. And this is a fact that unfortunately occurs both in Eastern and Western countries; to deny this would be Pharisaism. In no way and at no time is justification of these practices attempted; but, so much emphasis has been given them in the foreign press and by different groups, that it is as if these were events that happen only in Chile and after September 11th. The conscience of the world is pricked severely by these events anywhere in the world. When one such event is highlighted and others in different countries intentionally hushed up, the cause of justice and human rights is not served. In the face of this problem the task of the Bishops was to continue concerning themselves with all the possibilities within their reach.

106. The Bishops, each in his jurisdiction, were working — either in person, or through the priests and Catholic organizations — to help the detainees and their families, and to minimize in every way possible the suffering caused these people. In this sense, good relations with the local military authorities were a great help.

The Cardinal paid a visit to detainees in the National Stadium and also visited the members of the Armed Forces and National Police that were hospitalized as a result of military actions on September 11th. These visits made an excellent impression in all sectors of public opinion.

107. Regarding the economic situation, there was concern over the extreme rise in the cost of living without an increase in salaries, except through various bonuses and compensatory measures. Those that suffer the most in this situation are the families and persons with the smallest incomes. Without getting into an analysis for which there was then insufficient data and a lack of clear perspective, the economic situation was a matter of great concern. Added to this was the unemployment that occurred in numerous industries, especially in the social sector.

108. The Permanent Committee also studied what would be the Bishops’ future course of action and a visit was arranged, that very afternoon, with the Honorable Governing Military Junta to greet its members and make known to them the thinking of the Episcopate, particularly regarding the unease expressed above.

109. The visit took place in the afternoon of September 28th and was made public in a press release that stated the nature of the visit, and which had previously been approved unanimously by the Bishops present at the meeting.

The text is as follows:

“The Permanent Committee of the Episcopate, representing the Bishops of Chile, have visited the Honorable Governing Military Junta to make known their feelings of respect and appreciation for the Armed Forces and National Police of Chile and to thank them for the deference the new authorities throughout the country have paid the Bishops.

“At the same time the Permanent Committee offered its assistance in the work of rebuilding the country and in particular, in the task of calming the spirit and, in every sense of the word, to buttress and develop the social gains of the workers.

“Finally, the Bishops stated the desire of the Church to aid in the spiritual and material development of Chile, within its field and with the autonomy due it in the authentic teaching of the Gospel, without any class distinctions.”


110. During the UP regime an as yet undetermined number of several thousand foreigners entered the country from the Soviet bloc and from China, in addition to militant members of Latin American extremist movements. Many of these took an active part in the revolutionary process of the UP, usually employing violent means. Others played a darker and more secretive role. But the ones seen were those in high public office and those who took part in violent activities.

111. A large number of these foreigners were living illegally in the country. To these must be added many other foreigners who also did not have their papers in order, because in Chile as in so many other nations, the conditions of residency are complicated and difficult. Thus the problems of the foreigners were considerably more complicated after September 11th.

112. For those who found themselves in an irregular situation in Chile and who had taken part in political activities in the UP regime, the Hierarchy offered the government, in various places in the country, principally in Santiago and Concepcion, Church buildings to be used as asylums and detention centers, while those who had expulsion orders left Chile.

The Government accepted this humanitarian opportunity and these buildings were put under the sponsorship of the United Nations under the terms of an agreement between the Government and the High Commission for Refugees of the United Nations.

113. The Orthodox and Lutheran Churches cooperated in this work. Without taking anything away from what these churches did, it can be said that almost all this activity was carried out by the Catholic Church since the Lutherans in Chile are a minority among the Protestants and they are linked almost exclusively to the German community, and the Orthodox Church has even fewer members. The Lutheran Church took part principally in the administrative area of this task.

114. Moreover, in several provinces of Chile, information centers were operated for the foreign refugees, and here again this very interesting work was promoted by the Catholic Church through the Bishoprics.

115. The work on behalf of the refugees has been considerably set back because there are so few countries that will receive them. In December, 1973, 1500 remained in Chile unable to leave the country, precisely because they had nowhere to go, and even those who manage to leave find that their problems are not over when they cross the Chilean border, because there are many countries that accept refugees and later declare them in transit. So we have seen that the solidarity expressed by so many spokesmen of foreign governments for the UP was mere rhetoric, because they have not accepted these UP supporters now that they find themselves unable to stay in Chile.

And this is true especially of the Socialist countries. This is partly because of the interesting fact that the refugees do not wish to go to those countries. Of the thousands of safe-conducts that have been requested for leaving the country up to December, 1973, there have been only fifty requests to go to Cuba. Everybody prefers western countries, and in particular, those most successfully capitalistic. Lately it has been learned that Cuba has agreed to receive 500 persons, including Chileans and refugees in Chile.

116. The thousands of requests to leave can be explained by the fact that thousands entered the country during the UP and also because not a few see an opportunity to travel and an easy relocation abroad.

The Church organizations, however, tried to help and have efficiently helped all.


117. In order to provide legal assistance, a Committee for Peace was set up in Santiago for all those Chileans who are affected by the new political situation, especially by detention, because of their militance in UP, or because they had taken part in activities of the UP, or because of their situation in the detention centers, or because they have been fired from their jobs, or for whatever other type of problems they or their families have. As before, this Committee also included the Lutheran and Orthodox Churches. In many other diocese similar centers were set up, generally under the exclusive direction of the Catholic Church, and in some cases in collaboration with other Churches.

118. The work of the priests as chaplains at the detention centers has been remarkable and has embraced a wide range of services needed by the detainees, and in this work there has been no discrimination between Catholics and non-Catholics.

119. This activity of the Church has earned the sincere and profound gratitude of all those who have received its benefits, typically works of charity. From the lips of the detainees, from those that have suffered and are suffering from the problems brought about by the change in the political situation, one can hear not only expressions of understanding and hope regarding the Church, but also of profound gratitude and admiration. The Bishops of Chile could ask for no higher praise for this responsibility they have assumed.


120. The activities of these Committees and other organizations and persons of the Church have concentrated on legal assistance for the detainees and for those fired from their jobs or places of study. Caritas-Chile has put into operation a vast plan of assistance to the families of the detainees and of those who have been fired from their jobs, so that in Santiago, in mid-December, food was being made available to 16,000 persons, tantamount to that many family groups.

121. The Church also has viewed with approval many similar measures undertaken by the Government and has applauded the gesture by Interior Minister General Bonilla that made it possible for a group of workers who had been fired from a factory for violent UP activities to start up their own industry with the technical and financial assistance of the Development Corporation. These facts bode better times.

122. Some direct representations by the Hierarchy before the Military Junta also have produced beneficial results for the general condition of the country.

123. Certainly the Church wants to do much more on behalf of all who are suffering, imitating the good Samaritan who only took care to help the wounded man on the road, and not to seek out his assailants. Because of the Church’s work on behalf of former UP militants, it has been criticized by the Catholic community. The hate, the violence, the partisanship that had broken out during the UP was so deep — it has “wounded the soul of Chile,” the Cardinal said once — that those who then were fired or had to suffer during the regime have not managed to understand that the Church is obliged to carry out these works of charity for the former UP militants. This has resulted in a great deal of misunderstanding among Catholics themselves.


124. Seventy priests, among whom only six were born in Chile, have left the country after September 11th. These are official statistics of the Chilean Episcopal Conference, because it has been alleged that the number should read 135. The most common ways of leaving the country were, with permission of the government because they had sought asylum in embassies, or, getting a direct order of expulsion.

The great majority of these, perhaps ninety percent, were implicated in political activities of the Unidad Popular, although in very diverse degrees and levels. It was not unusual to find priests registered in political parties, such as the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, MAPU and the violent MIR. That is to say, they were expelled from the country for political activities, not because of their priestly mission. Such political activity had been prohibited by the Chilean Episcopate, making it clear several times in individual and collective statements since 1970 (see number 4). Many of these priests belonged to the Christians for Socialism.

125. The Bishops were concerned about helping and defending them. Some received special treatment by spending a period of detention in episcopal residences.

126. Among the priests expelled are: North Americans, Canadians, Spaniards, French, Belgians, Dutch, Luxemburgers, Germans, a Pole, and a Panamanian. For two priests — a Pole and a Frenchman — the government was requested to reconsider its expulsion order. For the Frenchman the measure was revoked, and the Pole’s case is under negotiation. Also, the expulsion of two of the Dutchmen is being reviewed.

127. Several months before September, some Bishops had asked some of these priests to leave the country because of their political activities, but these requests had not been honored; two of these priests actually preferred to leave the priesthood rather than leave the country.

128. The generous work of so many priests was considerably downgraded by their political activities, and it is painful to acknowledge that, finally because of these political activities, they became pernicious. And for these political activities many were expelled from Chile.

129. Now, several of them are writing from abroad against the Chilean Hierarchy and are publicly accusing the Hierarchy of all kinds of sellouts. Because they are already abroad, they have not been able to hear the many political detainees who have blamed some of these same priests for the situation in which they find themselves, saying: “Father X got me involved in this and now he is peacefully in his own country.”


130. Chile continues in an internal state of war. There is little likelihood that this state will be ended in the near future. The efforts abroad (in Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Holland) to collect funds to buy arms for resistance against the Military Council, will only prolong the state of war. The statements of Fidel Castro toward the end of 1973 directed toward aiding the resistance is another item that will have the same result.

131. The discovery of “Plan Z” was the primary reason for prolonging the internal state of war in the country. Sectors of the left and the international press who are pro- Marxist have tried to deny the existence of that plan regarding the UP’s own coup (auto-golpe). But copious documentation has been found and published regarding this. Even without this documentation, one must ask, “Why were civilian supporters of the UP being armed?” “What was the purpose of the illegal arms traffic and the Russian and Czech arms that were found sufficient to arm divisions of an army?” “What was the purpose of the caches of medicines and clinical instruments, if not for setting up medical centers during the UP coup?” All these questions have to be answered in the light of that part of the documentation which was known right after September 11th and published in the “White Book.”

132. One hears of sporadic assaults; but most serious is the news that there are guerrilla groups in sectors of the Andes and the mountains along the coast — highly inaccessible places which the Army will probably attack in the Summer.

134. The number of detainees, which at one time numbered in the thousands, has noticeably declined, and there are no signs that the detention will be increased. The Church has continually insisted on more humane treatment for prisoners in every regard, since in a state of war (some European and African countries lived through this) it is easy to find excesses and arbitrary treatment. The Government has acted upon the representations of the Church and the situation is getting better for the detainees and those who have been tried.

135. Unemployment is now declining (see Numbers 18- 26) because the public sector, especially in the fields of construction and public works, and the private sector, are hiring personnel. In this way, according to the statistics of the University of Chile, unemployment in August was 3.5 percent, rising in October to 5.7 percent, but already in November it has declined to 4.9 percent and the decline is continuing. That is, unemployment will diminish.

136. The economic policy of the government is quite risky after the chaotic state in which the country had found itself during the last days of the UP. Inflation, doubtlessly, will continue for awhile because it has unfortunately been endemic to Chile.

137. The economic measures taken by the Government are harsh, and because of that, the period of crisis may be reduced. They have adopted very important measures in this regard; the anti-monopoly law, which no previous Government could have passed, is an immense improvement not only economically, but also socially. This policy gives us a glimpse of a business reform that would contribute to the success of both individual and cooperative private enterprise. A truly socially progressive labor law has been issued which merited great public acclaim by the last Vice-President of the Workers’ Union, which is Christian Democrat in orientation.

138. The situation of farm workers has improved greatly because of a Government action which changed its original plans after hearing from the leaders of the peasants’ organization. On the other hand, this is a very complex matter and it is hard for the peasants themselves to agree, given the variety of their organizations.

138. The Government has also promulgated a single salary scale for government employees — a long-time goal of these workers.

139. That is, there are truly socially conscious measures; in addition, a housing policy for the more modest sectors of the population has been developed. These facts permit a prediction of true social progress for the country.

140. A Commission is preparing a proposal for a new Constitution. The first report is of a general nature regarding principles in which it is easy to arrive at a consensus. The structures and constitutional mechanisms that will determine them are anticipated. Nothing has been said about when the project will be finished or how it will be submitted for public debate. At this time those in the Commission in charge of writing the document are people who are trustworthy by virtue of their legal training and the character of their public lives.

141. An evaluation is under way of educational reform which has been carried out since the Government of Frei. This area of national activity is of high priority on the part of the Military Junta.

142. It is in the universities that most of the conflicts have occurred since the Government decreed their intervention by naming Rector Delegates for each of the universities. For the most part these measures were justified by the degree of politicization existing in them, being more extensive and notorious in some than in others. This has also brought about new policies on university structures, such as the consolidation of schools or the regionalization of the universities, and these are matters which do not affect the students. It is interesting to observe that this policy, as in other fields, is very flexible, because whenever an error is discovered, it is quickly changed because the Government’s ability to act quickly is not impeded by the Parliament or other controls.

143. Certainly the government has made a bad impression by its intervention in the universities. A move as important as this should be understood in the context of the politicization of Chilean university life in which many schools had been converted into centers of extremist activities and were true fiefdoms of sectors of the UP or the violently inclined. In the University of Chile in Osorno the flag of the MIR was always fluttering.

144. With the Catholic universities, the government has followed a different pattern, respecting their subordination to the Holy See and to the Episcopal Conference of Chile. To show what is possible to accomplish, the Cardinal named as Rector of the Catholic University of Chile the Government-Rector Delegate.

145. In any case, it is hoped by everyone that this intervention can be terminated as rapidly as possible and that there be in the determination of the new university policy a fuller participation by those involved.


146. In the country there is a civic order that permits all kinds of citizen activities to take place in a normal fashion. There is certainly more order than in previous political periods in which strikes, marches, street fights, etc., convulsed the cities.

147. The country is restricted because of the state of seige.

148. The political parties of the Unidad Popular were declared illegal and dissolved. Activity by other parties has been declared in recess.

149. This depoliticalization has been very favorably received. It is seen as a necessary step to overcome the hypertrophied degree of politicalization in Chile.

150. The curfew throughout the country has been gradually lifted. At present in almost all of Chile, the curfew extends from 11:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the next morning. (Editor’s note: the curfew hours are now 1:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.)

151. The media is subjected to censorship, but since the second month it has been increasingly relaxed. Public opinion feels, to be sure, a sort of a void after the previous habit of political exacerbation. Censorship consists mostly of prohibiting attacks against or criticisms of the Military Junta.

152. The right to strike has been suspended as well as the right to hold political meetings.

153. There has been no censorship of the mails or telegraphs, either within the country or to overseas. Also, telephone communications are free from censorship. There is freedom to travel within the country and abroad. For entering and leaving Chile the conditions have been simplified, and some of the odious requirements removed, such as the requirement upon Chile to exchange — in place of a tax — ten dollars for each day of one’s visit in the country, All kinds of people and organizations interested in refugees and political prisoners have been permitted to enter the country.

154. Most of the citizenry has welcomed the rule of the Military Junta with gratitude, hope, and trust. One proof of this is the cooperation that has been given, throughout Chile, to the National Reconstruction Fund: a fund that is helping finance the deficit of the Government. The cooperation has consisted of contributions ranging from modest amounts of money by individuals and organizations to large sums donated by institutions and persons of more substantial economic means. Many persons have contributed their gold marriage rings and their jewels to the Fund. The majority of the contributions have come from average citizens.

155. Another indication of trust has been the new economic policy which has fixed a fair price of the dollar (1000 escudos; then 800; then 780; then 750), thus eliminating the black market for the dollar. Individuals have lined up at the bank to exchange dollars and in a month and a half the banks have taken in this way $35 million.

156. It could not be said that the present order is a “happy copy of the Garden of Eden,” as sung in the National Hymn of Chile. Times are difficult, particularly economic conditions rooted in the UP era. It is desired that the internal state of war come to an end, that Military Justice be converted to ordinary justice, that the country return to its previous institutional normality. There is also that third of the country which elected Dr. Salvador Allende who cannot like this new regime. But all these hopes and limitations must be seen in contrast to what was happening in the country before September 11th, 1973

Castro feasts while striking copper miners eat whatever they can.
Castro feasts while striking copper miners eat whatever they can.


157. The Church has the task of profoundly reflecting on what God wanted to tell it during the UP era and what He wants to tell it now. To listen to the voice of God and follow it is the great challenge of the moment.

158. There are some immediate tasks that the Church is fulfilling through those means at its disposal.

159. The first is to defend human rights in Chile. A state of war always brings conflicts and more because of the earlier period of violence the country lived through which also leads to overcoming it through repression.

160. In this activity, the Episcopate made a decision in view of the means available. It has avoided, and will try to avoid, making public statements. Experience teaches that these are better suited for the public than those who have to act directly in the cases they wish to remedy; moreover, it only complicates and makes the conflict last longer. For this reason, the Church has acted in a direct manner with the authorities, whether at the provincial level or at the national level. At the national level the government has designated certain persons to deal directly with the Hierarchy. Even though the Church has gotten all that it wants, the situation has improved and is continuing to get better still. Those who have suffered in these situations, and their families, and have now benefited from these measures, have expressed their gratitude and acknowledgment to the Church.

161. Concern for the social gains of the workers and the economic situation of the country has continually resulted in an improvement of the Government’s policies, a matter the Hierarchy is constantly pursuing.

162. There is a larger task facing the country. And it is to help out in the new order which is being built, and to help out in achieving that most significant kind of progress, the establishment of Christian values which can be achieved by following the lead of the social doctrine of the Church, especially when those who hold power are professing Christians. Here is the great task of the Church. The derailing of the transition toward a Marxist-Leninist – Socialist society may truly be conducive to the establishment of a better, more just, and fraternal society. There are presently points of conflict which are transitory; beyond those, a new, more permanent order, with a new political Constitution that must be sought, followed, and furthered.

163. Along this path there are urgent matters that will not wait. This is the work with young people. They played a leading role during the recent years, especially during the UP, in a basically political context. Today, now that political activities are in recess, these young people are in a void of action and motivation. It is the great opportunity of the Church to direct these young people and prepare them for the future. This urgency is a pressing challenge for the Church. It is like the hour of God for these young people.

164. Having removed the strong Marxist ideological pressure that had dominated Chile during the last years, particularly during the UP, makes it much easier for the Church to propound its doctrine and its goals. It is also the great opportunity of all who must take part in this work — in education, in the universities, in the Church.

165. The Church wants to heed the voice of those who are suffering and solve their problems, without ignoring or forgetting any of the conflicts that exist in Chile. It is also the desire of the Church to illuminate and orient those who have the responsibility of establishing the new order of the Nation. The Church wants to be faithful in this hour of pain and hope for its People and it is carrying out its work toward this end.

166. The Church has offered the Governing Military Junta its assistance in the task of reconstructing the country. It does not want, as it has not wanted in the past, to intervene in the affairs of Chilean politics. It preserves its liberty and wants to keep it, as is the national genius, for declaring the Kingdom of God and for denouncing that which is unjust and sinful.

167. In this role the Chilean Episcopate has always counted on the fraternal collaboration and understanding of the Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Sotero Sanz, and has always been in contact and communion with the Holy Father, from whom the Chilean Episcopate has received sustenance, guidance and expressions of his venerable solidarity.

168. The Church wants to play an even more profound role. It wants to heed the call of the Holy Year of Paul VI: Reconciliation. What better cause could be offered to Chile now? Chile needs reconciliation with God and among all its citizens. The Episcopate has been working on a Working Document on Reconciliation and hopes that this Holy Year can really be a Year of grace and reconciliation for Chile. Here is the great hope. The Episcopate also is preparing for November, 1974, the consecration of the Votive Church of Maipu of the Virgin of Carmen. A national pilgrimage will represent for all Chile a request to the Mother of God for these blessings.

We request the prayers of all those who read these pages for this Reconciliation.

Click here for PDF