Are the Canadian and Chilean anti-Allende truckers strikes alike?

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty: Truckers blockade in Ottawa

Contributed by Glen Davis

Recently, we’ve seen the activities of Canadian truck drivers blockading streets, roads, building entrances, highways. They speak about freedom, however considering they’re overtly trying to undermine public health measures during a global pandemic, this can be questioned.

We’ve seen kindred action by small groups of truck drivers in the US, also in Aotearoa (New Zealand). It gets you thinking. About parallels between this and what happened in Chile.

In 1970, Chile saw the election of the Popular Unity government led by Salvador Allende. This was a coalition of left-wing parties, including the Socialist Party. It sought to establish a socialist Chile, improving the lives of most Chileans. This did not impress the United States of America, and counter offensive was not long in the making.

Truckers strike in Chile

Chile’s Industry employers meet to organise strike

Video from Opal

By October 1972, there were rumours of nationalisation of the transport industry. In response, the Confederacion National del Transporte, representing the trucking company owners, arranged an indefinite strike. They were led by Leon Vilarin, an activist in fascist circles. The trucking employers had their drivers take part in this strike. Highways around Chile were blocked, and this resulted in shortages of fuel and other essentials.

Below is a disclosed CIA document indicating collaboration between Leon Vilarin, the Confederacion National del Transporte, and that a coup was already being planned. Note that research has revealed that information about this has been removed from the Internet “at request of government”.

This action commenced with a small group on 1 October 1972. By 9 October, it had spread, involving other transport companies and their drivers. Salvador Allende declared a state of emergency across Chile, from 18 October.

The actions by the truckers drew in various middle-class elements and groupings of the well to do opposed to the Popular Unity. On October 24, a widespread series of stoppages and protests was aimed at bringing down the elected government. After 26 days of chaos, a settlement was reached to bring the stoppages to an end. A part of the compromise was putting the head of the army, General Carlos Prats, into the government as a minister.

Despite the compromise, the Allende government was weakened, and this set the scene for what came next.

1973 saw ongoing actions designed to remove the Popular Unity government. This eventually led to the military coup. The democratically elected government was overthrown, and Salvador Allende murdered, along with an estimated 4,000 other Chileans. Thousands of other Chileans fled the new fascist regime. Some of them found sanctuary in Australia.

Photo from Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile / Wikimedia Commons: Salvador Allende

It was later revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) bankrolled the striking truck owners to the tune of US$ 2 million. This was a lot of money in those days. This was only one area the CIA was allegedly active in the overthrow of the Popular Unity government. It is claimed the CIA spent around US $7 million fermenting attempts to overthrow the government.

Here in Australia, we have our own freedom warriors. We’ve not yet seen the large-scale truck blockades. Give it time. But their activities, demonstrations, are becoming more strident, more aggressive. The extreme Right is trying to manipulate it and mobilising on a scale not seen here for a long time.

Don’t forget the presence of Clive Palmer of the United Australia Party (UAP). Palmer in the Australian Financial Review rich list of 2021 was estimated to have a net worth of $13.01 billion. In the 2019 Federal Election he spent a figure of around $60 million, to block the election of an Australian Labor Party government and got the result he wanted.

How many dollars he is putting into misdirecting the Freedom movement?

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