Communist Party of Chile


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Communist Party of Chile

 

(Partido Comunista de Chile, CPC), founded in January 1922 in Rancagua at the Fourth Congress of the Socialist Workers’ Party (founded in 1912), which took the Comintern position and renamed itself the Communist Party. A leading role in the creation of the party was played by L. E. Recabarren and E. Lafertte.

The CPC was underground between 1927 and 1931, the period of the Ibáñez del Campo dictatorship. Later, it was instrumental in creating the Popular Front (1936—41), which also included the Socialist and Radical parties. The Popular Front candidate, P. Aguirre Cerda, won the presidential election of 1938.

The influence of the Communist Party grew considerably during World War II (1939–45). Communists entered the government in 1946, but they were removed as early as 1947 by President G. González Videla, who in September 1948 signed the Law For the Defense of Democracy banning the CPC, progressive trade unions, and other democratic organizations. Amid the difficult conditions of the underground, the Communist Party, along with other leftist forces, succeeded in creating the United Trade Union Center of Chilean Workers in 1953; in 1956 these groups formed the Popular Action Front (PAF), uniting Communists, Socialists, and several other parties around an anti-imperialist program. The PAF’s work promoted the development of a broad anti-imperialist popular movement in Chile.

The Tenth Congress, held in April 1956, was an important event in the history of the party. The congress adopted the CPC program, which emphasized the historical necessity of liberating the country from imperialism, from the oligarchy of latifundistas, and from domestic big capital. The congress stressed that under certain conditions the anti-imperialist and antifeudal revolution could be carried out in Chile without civil war. After it was allowed to operate legally (August 1958), the party participated in the parliamentary elections of 1961, winning 16 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and four in the Senate. The Twelfth Congress of the CPC (March 1962) advanced the slogan of the attainment of political power by the people and the creation of a popular government. To achieve this goal the congress called upon all anti-imperialist and antioligarchy forces to rally around the PAF. The Thirteenth Congress of the CPC (October 1965) defined the party’s tactics more precisely and declared the main task to be the unification around the working class of all popular forces—those in opposition to the government as well as those supporting it. The CPC consolidated its position in the parliamentary elections of 1969, increasing its representation in the Chamber of Deputies from 18 (in 1965) to 22 seats and obtaining six seats in the Senate.

The Fourteenth Congress of the CPC (November 1969) confirmed the correctness of the political line worked out by the Thirteenth Congress and established as the primary task the creation of a broad coalition of left parties. The congress adopted a new version of the CPC’s program and defined the Chilean revolution in its present stage as anti-imperialist, antimonopolist, and agrarian with a socialist perspective.

In December 1969 the CPC and five other leftist parties and organizations concluded the Popular Unity pact. The pact provided for joint struggle to achieve power with the aim of eliminating the domination of foreign imperialism, local monopolies, and the landlord oligarchy and of effecting a subsequent transition to the building of socialism. The Popular Unity coalition’s candidate, the socialist S. Allende, won the presidential election of September 1970. Allende became president in November and formed a government that included representatives of the Communist Party. The CPC actively participated in the implementation of the anti-imperialist and antioligarchy transformations called for by the Popular Unity coalition and mobilized the masses for the struggle in support of the Allende government against the attempts of reactionary forces to halt the revolutionary process. In the parliamentary election of 1973 the CPC increased the number of its representatives in the Chamber of Deputies to 25 and in the Senate to nine. After the military-fascist coup in September 1973, the CPC was banned and has been working underground.

Delegations of the CPC attended the International Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties held in Moscow in 1957, 1960, and 1969. The CPC approved the documents adopted at the conferences.

The structure of the CPC adheres to the principle of democratic centralism. The party’s highest body is the congress; between congresses the supreme authority is the Central Committee, which elects the Political Commission and the Secretariat. The general secretary of the party is L. Corvalán. (See Table 1 for a list of the congresses of the CPC.)

Table 1. Congresses of the Communist Party of Chile
CongressPlaceDate
1 Place unknown
First ...............RancaguaJanuary 1922
Second ...............ChilianDecember 1923
Third ...............Viña del MarSeptember 1924
Fourth ...............1September 1925
Fifth ...............SantiagoJanuary 1927
Sixth ...............Ovalle1932
Seventh ...............SantiagoApril 1938
Eighth ...............SantiagoDecember 1939
Ninth ...............SantiagoDecember 1945
Tenth ...............SantiagoApril 1956
Eleventh ...............SantiagoNovember 1958
Twelfth ...............SantiagoMarch 1962
Thirteenth ...............SantiagoOctober 1965
Fourteenth ...............SantiagoNovember 1969

SOURCES AND REFERENCES

X s”ezd Kompartii Chili. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from Spanish.)
XII s”ezd kompartii Chili (materials). Moscow, 1963. (Translated from Spanish.)
Kudachkin, M. F. “Kompartiia Chili v bor’be za edinstvo natsional’nykh sil.” Voprosy istorii KPSS, 1964, no. 2.
Corvalán, L. Put’pobedy. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from Spanish.) Intervenciones y resoluciones del XIV Congreso del Partido Comunista de Chile. Santiago, 1970.
Ramirez Necochea, H. Origen y formación del Partido Comunista de Chile. Santiago, 1965.
Documentos del cincuentenario del Partido Comunista de Chile. Santiago, 1972.

I. E. RYBALKIN

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