Venezuelans rally to mark Chile coup

Venezuelans march in Caracas on September 11 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the coup against Chilean president Salvador

Venezuelans rallied to condemn fascism on September 11, marking the 40th anniversary of the United States-backed coup d’etat in Chile that ousted left-wing president Salvador Allende.

The rally began at Plaza Salvador Allende at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and marched through the city centre to Llaguno Bridge. On the bridge is a memorial to those killed during the 2002 US-backed coup that temporarily removed former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez from office. Chavez was restored by an uprising by loyal soldiers and the poor.

Organised by the left coalition, the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), the rally was called by President Nicolas Maduro. The president described the former Chilean head of state as an “inspiration”.

“President Salvador Allende is an example of how to honestly fight for the cause of Latin American socialism!” he tweeted.

“Everyone march against fascism, for socialist democracy and in homage to Allende,” Maduro stated. The president further said the occasion would be used to condemn “threats of war against Syria”.

Laying a wreath at Plaza Salvador Allende, Vice-President Jorge Arreaza said: “Forty years ago imperialism intimidated the world's people [into believing that] trying to launch a socialist project in our America ... was impossible, much less by democratic and electoral means.

“The sacrifice of Allende was worth it, because had it not been for his sacrifice it would have cost us much [more] to be here.”

Allende was elected president in Chile in 1970. His administration nationalised key industries, including copper mining and banking, and pushed land reform. Allende also undertook large-scale investments in publicly funded housing, education and healthcare. He also restarted relations with Cuba.

On September 11, 1973, the armed forces rebelled, and a military junta led by Augusto Pinochet seized power. Thousands were killed.

Pinochet remained in power until 1990. In 2004, the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture found that Pinochet's regime jailed more 38,000 people for political reasons; most of whom were subjected to torture.

The march kicked off a series of events, including forums on fascism and political theory.

[Abridged from Venezuela Analysis.]