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Revolutionary Left Movement (Chile)

Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) (Spanish Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria) is a Chilean political party founded on October 12, 1965. The group emerged from various student organizations and established a base of support among the trade unions and shantytowns of Santiago. Andres Pascal Allende, a nephew of Salvador Allende, president of Chile from 1970 to 1973, was one of its early leaders. Miguel Enriquez Espinosa was the General Secretary of the party between 1967 and his assassination in 1974 by the DINA.


The Sino-Soviet ideological dispute, the Soviet Union's repressive interventions in Czechoslovakia and other Warszawa Pact countries, the presence of the Cuban Revolution in Latin America, and the emergent global student movement inspired in the humanist socialism of the Frankfurt School and the New Left (by the time of the early opposition to the Vietnam War) , were main ideological issues that the traditional Chilean left - the Socialist Party and the Communist Party - had to deal with amid their relative political stagnation in the beginning of the sixties. Their "reformist" doctrine of a non-revolutionary road to socialism began to be questioned in a country with political dominance of the right-wing and center-right wing parties strongly supporting USA policies. The questioning for changes, and/or the opposition against such changes, resulted in several breaking up small groups or fractions. From the Communist Party did exit a group identified with the positions of China, called "Maoists", and from the Socialist Party a group of students - mainly from Concepcion - more prone to the Cuban Revolution model but also, to a lesser extent, allocating left-liberal, left-libertarian and anarcho-socialist positions. A the same time, existed in Chile since the post World War II era some minor Trotskyist formations, and minor anarchist formations, and which also had a discrete ideological influence in the student movement in Santiago and Concepcion. The group lead by Miguel Enriquez, originally allocated in the cell "Espartaco" at the Socialist Party, Regional Concepcion, called themselves the "Revolutionary Socialists" fraction. It was formed by Miguel and Marco A. Enriquez, B. Van Schowen, M. Ferrada Noli (jefe den nucleo), and Jorge Gutierrez . When this fraction was finally ousted from the Socialist Party (Senator Ampuero) in February 1964, they continued as independent fraction until they merged in the organization VRM. There the young socialists met with Trotskyites and Stalinists, most of them twice their age.

When MIR was founded a year after, the 12 of October of 1965 at the locals of an anarchist union in Santiago, a number of less than one hundred persons participated, and all the above ideological tendencies were represented. Revolutionary socialists (by Miguel Enriquez and B. Van Schowen), former communists (represented by the Maoist Cares), Trotskyites , left-libertarians or social anarchists (by Marcello Ferrada-Noli), and anarcho-sindicalists (by Clotario Blest). It took some time before the MIR finally could achieve its ultimate identification as a solely Marxist-Leninist political organization. And this was the work of Miguel Enriquez for the two years to come.

The first document approved at MIR foundation congress was the "Tesis Insurreccional", the political-military theses of MIR. The document was written by Miguel Enriquez (Viriato), Marco Antonio Enriquez (Bravo), and Marcello Ferrada-Noli (Atacama) , the three of them from Concepcion. Two reasons explain this document and its co-authorship. One is that the group of young students from Concepcion led by Miguel Enriquez was the most numerous. The second being that the group from Concepcion had internally some different ideological profiles, which were represented in the document by the co-authors. In the first MIR congress was elected Secretario General of MIR Enrique Sepulveda, Trotskyite. One year later was elected Secretario General the much younger Miguel Enriquez, together with a new representation of tendencies in the Central Committee. After a time thou, the only line that prevailed was the Marxist-Leninist. Both Maoists (and Stalinists) and Trotskyites abandoned MIR or were ousted by the new Secretariat led by Miguel Enriquez. The few anarchist and left liberal cadres remaining in the organization were confined to academic tasks and trusted the ideological polemique with the emergent "Christian Humanism" and old stalinists.

MIR considered itself thereafter a revolutionary vanguard party and advocated a Marxist-Leninist model of revolution in which it would lead the working class to a "dictatorship of the proletariat".

MIR considered itself a revolutionary vanguard party and advocated a Marxist-Leninist model of revolution in which it would lead the working class to a "dictatorship of the proletariat".

Although MIR built up small arsenals of light arms, it supported rather than opposed the presidency of Salvador Allende and his People's Unity coalition. Nationwide unrest and political polarization escalated, as did left-wing and right-wing violence. Before 1973, the organization may have staged few attacks compared to its urban guerrilla peers, but it did try to infiltrate the Chilean Armed Forces in anticipation of a coup d'etat against Allende and discussed plans to replace the existing police and military with a militia recruited from the Popular Front's supporters. In August 1973, it finally formed the Revolutionary Coordinating Junta (JCR) with other South American revolutionary parties (the Argentine ERP, the Uruguayan Tupamaros and the Bolivian National Liberation Army. However, the JCR never achieved real effectiveness.

These factors may explain both the vigorous and brutal purges of armed forces personnel who were suspected of being sympathetic to Allende after Augusto Pinochet's 1973 coup d'etat and the Operation Condor campaign of state terrorism staged throughout the Southern Cone .

During Pinochet's dictatorship, the group was responsible for several attacks on government personnel and buildings, including assassination attempts on Pinochet himself. The years 1980-1981 the MIR had a guerrilla group in Neltume. According to the Rettig Report, MIR leader Jecar Neghme was assassinated in 1989 by Chilean state agents Neghme Cristi Jecar Antonio, Memoria Viva .

After Chile's return to democracy in 1990, the party was resurrected. It currently participates in the Juntos Podemos Mas coalition.

The MIR and the case against Pinochet

Relatives and friends of the MIR members assassinated by the Pinochet regime filed a civil lawsuit before judge Juan Guzman Tapia against Pinochet. The criminal complaint states that the MIR had been formed in 1965 and that due to ideological and tactical differences did not become part of the Popular Unity government headed by Salvador Allende. But that nevertheless - the organisation had served as a base of support for Allende and had shown willingness to confront violent sedition directed against the Popular Unity government organized by its U.S. backed right-wing opponents.

Subsequently, with the September 11, 1973 Chilean coup and the overthrow and death of Allende Chile entered a period of severe military repression in which members of the former democratically elected socialist Allende government and its supporters were deemed enemies of the state. From the onset on September 11, 1973 the MIR became a major focus of death squads and its members began to be subjected to extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances.

As a consequence, the MIR initiated a resistance against the military juntas violent repression which accompanied the clandestine publication of the document Que es el MIR? (What is the MIR?) which proposed a series of resolutions to confront the repression, including political pressure, denunciations and propaganda. On one single page (page 37 of the political document) the MIR presented the political question of arms in this resistance.

The lawsuit noted that the armed struggle was not central to the ideology of the MIR and that it had historically been a political organisation whose strategy had principally involved the mobilization of working class people and the poor in an attempt to exert political pressure to effectuate political and social change to advance their political cause.

The lawsuit noted that under the pretext of war serious violations of human rights had been committed in violations of both international and constitutional law. The document noted that the cruellest example was the extermination of the MIR political organization - in which according to the document its members fell victims to the following crimes:

Homicide (first degree murder)

Killings in mock confrontations irrational use of force (eg. mobilizing 300 security agents to arrest 4 people.)

False application of the law of flight (executing people for escaping after being informally freed.)

Mass killings (state terrorism)

Abduction and Forced disappearances (sanctioned by article 141 of the Criminal Code)

Torture (violation of the Geneva convention)

Illicit associations

Genocide (in accordance with Article 2 of CPPCG)

Notable members

Miguel Enriquez, physician, MIR leader, executed.

Andres Pascal Allende, frm. MIR co-founder and leader.

Luciano Cruz, medical student, cause of death in 1971 remains unresolved.

Bautista van Schouwen, physician, MIR leader, executed.

Antonio Llido Mengual, Roman Catholic priest, forced disappearance.

Jorge Muller Silva, cinematographer, forced disappearance.

Luis Fuentes Labarca, founder of "El Rebelde

Jecar Antonio Nehme Cristi, political leader, assassinated.

Diana Aron Svigilsky, journalist, forced disappearance.

Cedomil Lausic Glasinovic, agronomist, executed.

Jose Appel De La Cruz, medical student, forced disappearance.

William Beausire, stockbroker, forced disappearance.

Jose Gregorio Liendo, leader of MIR group in Neltume, executed by a firing squad.

External links

Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria website (in Spanish)

Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria website-Chile MIR (in Spanish)

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