People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 29, 2013




Allende Remembered in Kolkata


ON September 14, the Friends of Latin America (FOLA), India, organised a seminar at Kolkata to commemorate the Chilean president Dr Salvadore Allende who died fighting for democracy against a military coup engineered by imperialist forces powers in 1973. As we know, this coup caused the death of millions of people in 1973. On the 40th death anniversary of Dr Allende,  Suman Putatunda, secretary of the FOLA organising committee, made preliminary remarks on the subject of discussion: “Social Movements in Latin America – Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela & Beyond, 1959 – 2013.” At the start, the function paid tribute to Chilean singer Victor Jara who sacrificed his life fighting against the coup attempt in 1973.


Professor Amiya Bagchi, one of the key speakers, started the discussion in the evening. He dwelt on the overall Latin American scenario today as well as the historical perspective of the Bolivarian movement founded and led by Hugo Chavez. The renowned economist explained why and how the movement developed, its network among the people and how, on being elected to power, the standard bearers of the movement carried out far reaching reforms in favour of the poor and the unprivileged sections of the population, laying adequate stress on health, education and employment. The resources of the state, so long not utilised for the benefit of poorer sections of the population, began to be allocated substantially to raise their standard of living. Such public policy of the state substantially reduced the levels of poverty and prepared an overwhelming section of the population to act as active citizens of a democratic and progressive nation. Bolivia is one of the most interesting and probably the country where social movements, especially the ones grounded in the indigenous community, have had the greatest success in having their demands articulated by the leftist government in power.


Nilotpal Basu discussed how the socio-political changes started with the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959, led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and gradually spread to all over the continent and ultimately took concretised with the formation of “Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America” (ALBA). The latter is essentially a political, anti-neo-liberal and anti-imperialist project based on the principle of cooperation, complementary and solidarity, and seeks to mobilise popular and institutional forces for a new declaration of Latin American independence. This is thus a movement for peoples’ integration, for life, justice, peace, sovereignty, identity, equality, for the liberation of Latin America, through an authentic emancipation that envisions Indo-Afro-American socialism.   


The discussion was followed by a film show, War on Democracy, by John Pilger and a very animated question-answer session in which a large section of the young audience asked incisive questions on ALBA activities. Professor Asoke Bhattacharya and Putatunda did their best to elucidate the issues.