Popular Unity Government: Basic Program

Popular Unity

In our March 1971 issue, NACLA offered an English-language translation of the Basic Program of Chile’s just elected Popular Unity government. “As far as we know,” wrote NACLA’s editors, “this is the first time the UP program has been presented to the English-speaking public. Unlike many political platforms, it is a fascinating document, which lays out the principal problems facing the Chilean people and a blueprint of a socialist solution to these problems.”

As part of our ongoing “From the Archives” series, we offer excerpts from the program here, with a particular focus on the UP’s program of economic transformation. The complete program, extensively annotated by NACLA editors Elizabeth Farnsworth and Marc Herold, can be found in our magazine archive at www.nacla.org, Vol. 5 No. 1.

The Program: Popular Power

The revolutionary transformation the country needs can only be carried out if the Chilean people take power into their hands and exercise it effectively. Through a long struggle process the Chilean people have conquered certain liberties and democratic guarantees whose continuity call for the maintenance of an attitude of alertness and combativeness without truce. However, power itself is foreign to the people.

The popular and revolutionary forces have not united to struggle for the simple substitution of one president of the republic for another, nor to replace one party for another in the government, but to carry out the profound changes the national situation demands based on the transfer of power from the old dominant groups to the workers, the peasants and the progressive sectors of the middle classes of the city and the countryside.

The popular triumph will open the way to the most democratic political regime in the country’s history.

Concerning political structure the popular governments has a double task:

to preserve and make more effective and profound the democratic rights and the conquests of the workers; and

to transform the present institutions so as to install a new state where workers and the people will have the real exercise of power.

The popular government will guarantee the exercise of democratic rights and will respect the individual and social guarantees of all the people. Freedom of conscience, speech, press and assembly, the inviolability of the home and the rights of unions and their organization will rule effectively without the limiting conditions presently established by the dominant classes.

For this to be effective the labor and social organizations of workers, employees, peasants, pobladores, housewives, students, professionals, intellectuals, craftsmen, small and middle-size businessmen and other sectors of workers will be called upon to intervene at their respective places in the decisions of the organs of power. For example, in the welfare and social security institutions we will establish the administration by the depositors themselves, thus assuring them democratic elections and the secret vote for their directive councils. Concerning enterprises of the public sector, their directive councils and their production committees will have the direct participation of workers’ and employees’ representatives.

In organizations concerned with housing, operating within their jurisdiction and at their own level, the Neighbors’ Councils and other organizations of slum dwellers will have the use of mechanisms to inspect their operations and intervene in the many aspects of their functioning. These are only a few examples of the new conception of government which we propose—one in which the people truly participate in the state apparatus.

At the same time the popular government guarantees workers the right of employment and strike and to all the people the right of education and culture with complete respect for all religious ideas and beliefs and guarantees of the exercise of worship.

All democratic rights and guarantees will be extended through the delivery to social organizations of the real means to exercise them and the creation of the mechanisms that permit them to act at the different levels of the state apparatus.

The popular government will base its force and authority essentially on the support the organized people give it. This is our idea of a strong government as opposed to that promoted by the oligarchy and imperialism which identify authority with the coercion exercised against the people.

The popular government will be many-partied. It will include all the revolutionary parties, movements and groups. Thus it will be a genuinely democratic, representative and cohesive executive.

The popular government will respect the rights of opposition that is exercised within legal bounds.

The popular government will begin immediately a genuine administrative decentralization as well as democratic, efficient planning which will eliminate bureaucratic centralism and replace it with the coordination of all state organisms.

Municipal structures will be modernized and will be granted the necessary authority in agreement with the coordination plans of the whole state. There will be a tendency to transform these structures into local organisms of the new political organization. They will receive adequate financing and authority for the purpose of caring for, in working with the Neighbors’ Councils and in coordination with them, the problems of local interests of the communities and their inhabitants. Provincial Assemblies should also enter into operation with this same idea.

The police force should be reorganized so that it cannot again be employed as a repressive organization against the people and so that on the other hand it fulfills the objective of defending the people from antisocial actions. Police procedures will be humanized so as to guarantee effectively the complete respect of dignity and the physical well-being of the person. The prison system, which constitutes one of the worst defects of the present system, must be completely transformed for the purpose of the regeneration and recuperation of those who have committed crimes.

Construction of the New Economy

The united popular forces seek as the central objective of their policy to replace the present economic structure, putting an end to the power of national and foreign monopolistic capital and of latifundism in order to begin the construction of socialism.

In the new economy, planning will play an extremely important role. The central planning organizations will be at the highest administrative level and their democratically generated decisions will have an executive character.

Area of Social Property

The process of transforming our economy will begin with a policy destined to make up a dominant state area formed by the enterprises that the state presently possesses along with the enterprises that will be expropriated. The first step will be to nationalize those basic sources of wealth such as the large mining companies of copper, iron, nitrate and others that are controlled by foreign capital and internal monopolies. Into this area of nationalized activities will be integrated the following sectors:

the large mining companies of copper, nitrate, iodine, iron and coal;

the country’s financial system, especially, private banks and insurance companies;

foreign trade;

the great distribution enterprises and monopolies;

the strategic industrial monopolies;

in general all those activities which determine the country’s economic and social development such as the production and distribution of electrical energy; rail, air and maritime transportation; communications; the production, refining and distribution of petroleum and its derivatives—including bottled gas; iron and steel production; cement, petrochemicals and heavy chemicals, cellulose and paper.

All these expropriations will be carried out with complete respect for the interest of the small shareholder.

Area of Private Property

This area includes all those sectors of industry, mining, agriculture and services in which the private ownership of the means of production remains in effect.

In numbers these enterprises will be the majority. For example, in 1967, of the 30,500 industries (including craft industries) only some 150 controlled the markets monopolistically, monopolizing state aid and bank credit and exploiting the other industrial enterprises of the country by selling raw materials to them at a high price and buying their products at a low price.

The enterprises that make up this sector will be aided by the general planning of the national economy. The state will provide the necessary financial and technical assistance to the enterprises of this area so that they can fulfill the important role they play in the national economy, paying heed to the number of persons who work for them as well as the volume of production they generate.

In addition, the systems of patents, customs duties, taxes and tributes will be simplified for these enterprises and they will be assured of an adequate and just commercialization of their products.

In these enterprises the rights of workers and employees to just salaries and working conditions should be guaranteed. The respect of these rights will be guarded by the state and the workers of the respective enterprise.

Mixed Area

This sector is called mixed because it will be made up of enterprises that combine state and private capital.

The loans or credits granted by the development agencies to the enterprises of this area will be made as contributions so that the state will be a partner and not a creditor. The same will be valid for those cases in which these enterprises obtain credits with the endorsement or guarantee of the state or its institutions.

Deepening and Extending the Agrarian Reform

The agrarian reform is understood as a process that is simultaneous and complementary with the general transformations that are desired in the country’s social, political and economic structure in such a way that its fulfillment is inseparable from the rest of the general policy. The experience that already exists in this field and the vacuums or inconsistencies that have come up from it lead us to reformulate the distribution and organizational policies of land ownership based on the following directives:

Acceleration of the agrarian reform process by expropriating those fields that exceed the maximum established size, according to the conditions of the different zones, including orchards, vineyards and forests without the owner having the preferential right to select the reserve area. The expropriation could include the whole or part of the assets of the expropriated fields (machinery, tools, animals and others).

The immediate incorporation of abandoned fields and poorly utilized state property into agricultural cultivation.

The expropriated lands will be organized preferentially as ownership cooperatives. The small farmers will have titles of domain that establish their ownership of the house and garden assigned to them and of the corresponding rights in the undivided fields of the cooperative.

When conditions call for it, farmers will be assigned land for their personal property thus stimulating the organization of work and commercialization of the basis of mutual cooperation.

Lands will also be set aside to create state agricultural enterprises with the most modern technology.

In qualified cases land will be assigned to small farmers, tenants and agricultural employees who are able to do agricultural work.

Reorganization of extremely small properties through the progressive introduction of agricultural work cooperatives.

Incorporation of small and medium-size farmers to the advantages and services of cooperatives that operate in the geographical area.

Defense of the integrity and amplification as well as the assurance of democratic rule in native Indian communities that have been threatened by usurpation; and assurance to the Mapuche Indians and other indigenous people of sufficient lands and appropriate technical and credit assistance.

Policy of Economic Development

The state’s economic policy will be carried forward through the national system of economic planning and the mechanisms of control, orientations, production credit, technical assistance, tax policy and foreign trade policy as well as through the state’s administration of the economy. Its objectives will be:

To resolve the immediate problems of the great majority. For this the country’s productive capacity will be turned from superfluous and expensive a rticles that satisfy the high income groups toward the production of articles of popular use that are cheap and of good quality.

To guarantee employment with adequate remuneration to all Chileans of working age. This means designing a policy that will generate employment by planning the adequate use of the country’s resources by adapting the correct technology to demands of national development.

To liberate Chile from her subordination to foreign capital. This means the expropriation of imperialistic capital, the realization of a policy of ever-increasing self-financing of our activities, the fixing of conditions on which foreign capital will operate in this country if it is not to be expropriated, the achievement of greater independence in technology, in foreign transport and others.

To assure rapid and decentralized economic growth which tends to develop our productive forces to the maximum and to produce the optimal utilization of human, natural, financial and technical resources available for the purpose of increasing work productivity and satisfying both the demands of the independent development of the economy as well as the necessities and aspirations of the working population that are compatible with a dignified human life.

To execute a foreign trade policy that tends to develop and diversify our exports to open new markets, to achieve a growing technical and financial independence and to avoid the scandalous devaluations of our currency.

To take all measures that will lead to monetary stability. The fight against inflation will be decided essentially on the stated structural changes. Monetary policy should also include measures that adapt the flow of circulating money to the real necessities of the market, [and] that control and redistribute credit and avoid usury in the money business. There should be measures to rationalize prices, and to prevent the structure of demand that comes from high incomes to drive up prices.

The guarantee of the fulfillment of these objectives lies in the control by the organized people of the political and economic power that is expressed in the state area of the economy and in the economy’s general planning. It is this popular power that assures the fulfillment of the outlined tasks.

Social Tasks

The social aspirations of the Chilean people are legitimate and possible to satisfy. They want, for example, decent housing without readjustments that exhaust their income; schools and universities for their children; sufficient wages; an end once and for all to high prices; stable work; timely medical attention; public lighting; sewers; potable water; paved streets and sidewalks; a just and operable social security system without privileges and without starvation-level pensions; telephones; police; children’s playgrounds; recreation areas; and popular vacationing and sea resorts.

The satisfaction of these just desires of the people—which are really rights that the society should recognize—will be a preoccupation of high priority for the popular government.

The basic points of the government’s action will be:

The definition of a remunerations policy that proceeds to create immediately the organisms which, with the participation of the workers, will determine figures that effectively constitute “vital wages” and minimal salaries in the different areas of the country.

For as long as inflation lasts the policy will proceed to establish automatic readjustments by law in accordance with the increase in the cost of living. These increases will come into play every 6 months or as soon as the cost of living exceeds a growth rate of 5 percent.

In all state organizations and above all in the key posts in the executive, high salaries will be limited to a figure that is compatible with the situation of our country.

The government will proceed at a pace that will be defined technically to establish a minimum wage and salary system of equal levels for equal jobs regardless of the enterprise where these jobs are carried out. This policy will begin in the state area and then will be extended throughout the whole economy, without detriment to the differences deriving from disparate productivity in different enterprises. In the same way all discrimination between men and women or because of age in relation to wages and salaries will be eliminated.

To unify, improve and extend the social security system by maintaining all the legitimate conquests attained, eliminating abusive privileges, inefficiency and bureaucracy, improving and expediting the care of the recipients, extending the security system to those workers who still do not have it and handing over to the depositors the administration of the Social Security Treasuries that function with the guidelines of planning.

To assure both preventive and curative medical and dental attention for all Chileans, which will be financed by the state, employers and social security institutions. The people will be incorporated into the task of protecting public health.

Medicines will be distributed in sufficient quantities and at low prices based on strict control of costs in the laboratories and on the proper ordering of their production.

Sufficient funds will be set aside for the purpose of carrying out an ample plan of housing construction. The industrialization of the construction will be developed by controlling prices and by limiting the amount of the profits of the private or mixed enterprises that operate in the area. During emergency situations lands will be assigned to those families that need them and technical and material help for building houses will be made available.

The popular government will have as the objective of its housing policy that each family eventually becomes the owner of a house. The system of readjustment dividends will be eliminated. The quotas or monthly rents that house purchasers or renters must pay will not—by general rule—exceed 10 percent of the family income.

The government will also carry forward the remodeling of cities and neighborhoods with the basic idea of preventing the poorer families from being put on the periphery, and will guarantee the interests of the people living in the remodeled sector such as the small businessman who works there and will assure the occupants of their locations in the future.

Complete civil capability will be established for the married woman as well as for the children within or outside of marriage as well as adequate divorce legislation that completely safeguards the rights of the woman and the children.

The legal division between laborers and employees will be eliminated, the common denomination as “workers” will be established for both, and the right to organize unions for all those who presently do not have the right will be extended.

Latin American Policy

The popular government will defend an international policy of affirmation of the Latin American personality on the world scene.

Latin American economic integration should be constructed on the basis of economies that have liberated themselves from all imperialistic forms of dependence and exploitation. Nevertheless, an active policy of bilateral agreements on those materials that are of interest to Chilean development will be maintained.

The popular government will act to resolve pending frontier problems through negotiations that prevent the intrigues of imperialism and the reactionaries and will keep present the interest of Chile and of the peoples in the neighboring countries.

Chilean international policy and its diplomatic extension should break all forms of bureaucracy and immobility. It should get along with peoples with the double purpose of learning from their struggles the lessons to aid in the construction of our socialism and to offer them our own experiences in such a way that in practice the international solidarity we defend is constructed.



Read the rest of NACLA's Fall 2013 issue: "Chile 40 Years Later: The Politics of Memory and the Memory of Politics"



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