Military Review

The twelve days of the Chilean revolution. "Red Colonel" and his socialist republic

As in many other countries of Latin America, military regimes succeeded each other in Chile in the twentieth century, military coups occurred with rather rapid regularity. However, was in stories countries and a very short-term episode, out of the general trend. It is about the so-called. "The Socialist Republic of Chile." Its creation was proclaimed 6 June 1932, and already 18 June was crushed. And, nevertheless, despite only a twelve-day existence, the Socialist Republic of Chile forever remained one of the brightest and most interesting pages in the history of the country.

In January, 1925 in Chile there was a military coup. He was led by Colonel Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and Colonel Marmaduque Grove Vallejo. It was the latter that was destined to play a crucial role in the dramatic events that unfolded seven years later. The 1925 coup d'état restored power to President Arturo Alessandri. The positions of Colonel Ibáñez del Campo were greatly strengthened - he assumed the post of Minister of War, and the next President, Emiliano Figueroa, Minister of the Interior. By the way, it is Colonel Ibáñez (pictured) who is considered the actual founder of the Chile Carabinieri Corps. In February, 1927 Ibáñez del Campo established a military dictatorship and proclaimed himself the vice-president of Chile, sending Figueroa to resign. In March of the same year, Ibáñez won the presidential election and already officially occupied the post of head of the Chilean state. In an effort to strengthen its popularity in society, Ibáñez del Campo banned all opposition organizations, including the anarcho-syndicalist trade union movement developed in the country, and created the Republican Confederation of Civic Action - mass pro-government trade union organizations. In this Ibáñez del Campo sought to learn from the experience of Benito Mussolini, who, by the way, was very popular in Latin America.

By actively using populist methods, Ibáñez proclaimed himself an enemy of the oligarchy and a defender of the interests of ordinary Chileans, while at the same time mercilessly suppressing the speeches of the workers. During one of the July 1931 demonstrations, the carabineers shot dead therapist Jaime Pinto Riesco. At his funeral, Professor Alberto Campino was killed. The death of distinguished members of the intelligentsia finally radicalized Chilean society. In July, 1931 in Chile broke out riots, in which Ibáñez was forced to flee the country. Until 1937, the ex-president was in Argentina.

After the overthrow of Ibáñez, several presidents succeeded immediately in Chile. Popular performances continued, the most famous of which was the armed uprising of sailors of the Chilean naval fleet. September 3, 1931 there were about 5 thousand sailors who captured almost all of the country's warships in the port of Coquimbo. Sailors opposed the reduction of salaries for service, but then put forward general social and economic demands, including redistribution of land, confiscation of capital of large businesses, the provision of benefits to the unemployed, and the resignation of the most odious senior officers of the armed forces. The government tried to negotiate with the rebels, but then abandoned this idea and on September 6 sent a military against the rebellious sailors Aviation. Ships located at the bases in Coquimbo and Talcahuano were bombed from the air for thirty minutes. The raid involved 80 Chilean air force bombers. Then, coastal artillery and ground forces joined the operation. On the evening of September 6, the rebellious sailors ceased resistance. On September 17, a court in Santiago sentenced 10 leaders of an armed uprising to death, and another 8 sailors to lengthy prison terms.

The twelve days of the Chilean revolution. "Red Colonel" and his socialist republic

- "Red Colonel" Marmaduke Grove

The political crisis in the country was one of the reasons for the preparation of a new armed intervention. At the origins of the conspiracy was Colonel Marmaduke Grove Vallejo (1878-1954) - one of the most interesting personalities in Chilean modern history. A professional military man who received a specialty as an artillery officer, Grove then turned into a pilot, becoming one of the actual "founding fathers" of Chilean military aviation. In 1925, he participated in the military coup of Ibáñez del Campo, from 1926 he served as Chile’s military attaché in the UK. However, the relationship between Ibáñez del Campo and the sympathetic socialists Marmaduke Grove deteriorated and in 1928, the colonel was forced to emigrate to Argentina. True, he then tried to lead an armed uprising against the dictatorship of Ibáñez - for this, Grove on a red painted plane flew from Argentina to Concepción. But almost immediately he was captured by the Carabinieri. Marmaduk Grove was convicted and sent into exile on Easter Island. But on board a French vessel en route to Tahiti, Grove escaped from Easter Island and then left French Polynesia for France - to Marseille. When the junta of Ibáñez fell in 1931, Marmaduke Grove returned to Chile. He, as a fighter against Ibáñez del Campo, was greeted with triumph, restored to the rank of colonel in military service and was appointed commander of the air forces of the El Bosque base.

However, there was still tension in society. New Chilean President Juan Esteban Montero pursued an anti-communist policy. 25 December 1931, with the permission of Montero, the police and paramilitary forces began a “Communist hunt”. Mass killings of people suspected of sympathizing with the left began. The Chilean trade unions in response launched a general strike, which the government suppressed with the help of the army. At the same time, the economic crisis intensified in the country. The number of unemployed has increased to 350 thousand people. Social discontent spread to the armed forces. Many officers of the Chilean army and, in particular, aviation (it so happened that the Air Force officers were more educated and came from less well-off strata than the commanders of the army and navy) were also unhappy with the policies of President Montero. Fearing the armed intervention of the military, Montero 3 June 1932 ordered the release of Colonel Marmaduke Grove Vallejo from the duties of the commander of the air base "El Bosque." But it was too late. The personnel of the El Bosque base under the leadership of Grove, whom his subordinates respectfully called "Don Marma", raised a rebellion. On June 4, the garrison of the Chilean capital, Santiago, and almost all of the country's air force joined the rebels. The military surrounded the presidential palace. Montero was deposed, and power in the country fell into the hands of a revolutionary junta formed by Colonel Marmaduk Grove. The junta itself was composed of Colonel Marmaduke Grove, leader of the New Social Action movement Eugenio Matte, retired general Antonio Puga and former Chilean ambassador to the US Carlos Davila. It was Davila who was the author of the concept of state socialism, in whose realization he saw the only way to overcome the economic crisis that swept the country.

6 June 1932 was proclaimed the Socialist Republic of Chile and the Program of Socialist Revolution was published. According to this program, the implementation of the following measures was primarily assumed: 1) the introduction of collective ownership of the means of production along with private ownership; 2) nationalization of industrial enterprises of strategic importance for the state; 3) confiscation of uncultivated land of landowners and transferring them to farmers for farming; 4) the creation of state-owned oil, sugar, tobacco companies; 5) “socialization” of the republic’s banking system; 6) establishing state control over the distribution of food products; 7) restriction of the rights of foreign companies in Chile. It was also envisaged to amnesty political prisoners and sailors who participated in the uprising of the Chilean fleet in September 1931.

The revolutionary government expected massive support for reform from left-wing organizations. In the National University of Chile, the Communists formed the Council of Workers 'and Students' Deputies, and the widespread formation of workers 'and peasants' councils in the country's settlements. The peasant councils began to confiscate the lands of the landowners, and the workers' councils began to “collectivize” enterprises.

- Colonel Marmaduke Grove in the days of the republic

Naturally, the actions of the revolutionary junta, aimed at turning Chile into a socialist state, caused a sharply negative reaction from the United States and Great Britain, the country's main economic partners. London and Washington were very concerned about the upcoming nationalization of large companies, the restriction of the rights of foreign capital in Chile, and most importantly - they were afraid of turning Chile into an outpost of Soviet economic and political influence in Latin America. After all, the government of Marmaduk Grove, despite being short in power, managed to start negotiations with the Soviet Union on the exchange of stocks of Chilean nitrates for Soviet oil. Accordingly, Chile not only transferred to the socialist model of development, but also refused to buy American oil, hitting US revenues. Such American capitalists could not forgive the revolutionary government of Chile.

The American and British governments declared non-recognition of the revolutionary regime in Chile. At the same time, substantial funds were allocated to overthrow the revolutionary government. Inside the latter, the “fifth column” was also active, led by Carlos Dávila (see photo). Although it was Davila who was the author of the concept of state socialism and one of the leaders of the revolutionary junta, when he was Chile's ambassador to the United States of America, he established contacts with the American government and in fact was a paid US agent. When Marmaduk Grove and his companions finally disappeared illusions about Carlos Davila, the latter was removed from the revolutionary government. But by this time Davila had enlisted the support of right-wing radical circles, bought by senior officers of the capital’s garrison and the Carabinieri corps. Preparations began for the rebellion, which became known to the Chilean left. But a delegation of workers ’councils of deputies, communists and socialists, which met with Marmaduka Grove and Eugenio Matte and requested weapon for the general arming of workers, was refused. Marmaduke Grove believed that arming the workers' detachments would only accelerate the revolt of the rightist circles.

16 June in Chile began an armed uprising counter-revolutionary military. The rebels occupied the El-Bosco military air base, where a revolutionary uprising began thirteen days ago, and then seized the building of the War Ministry. The revolutionary junta was deprived of communication with its supporters in the province, which brought its end closer. On June 18, the counter-revolutionary military seized the presidential palace "La Moneda" and arrested the leaders of the revolutionary government. Marmaduke Grove was again exiled to Easter Island. Eugenio Matte also went there. Thus ended a twelve-day attempt at the socialist reorganization of Chile during the years of the global economic crisis. But on the expulsion of the revolutionary leaders, Carlos Davila, who came to power as a result of the rebellion, did not calm down. The massacre of activists of workers' councils, socialists and communists began.

However, the regime of Carlos Davila did not exist for half a year. Three months later, on September 13 of 1932, Carlos Davila was overthrown by another military junta led by General Blanche. General Bartolome Guillermo Blanche Espejo in the government of Davila served as Minister of the Interior. Professional cavalry officer, in 1925-1927. he served as military attache in France, then led the country's police, and in 1927-1930, during the dictatorship of Ibáñez del Campo, served as minister of war of Chile.

However, the regime of General Blanche did not last long - already September 27 1932 was overthrown by General Vignola. President Blanche was forced to resign and transfer the powers of the head of state to the President of the Supreme Court of Chile, Abraham Oyandela Urrutia, who ordered an amnesty for political prisoners in the country. So the "red colonel" Marmaduke Grove was once again free. 19 April 1933 as a result of the merger of a number of small socialist organizations (New Social Action, Revolutionary Socialist Action, Socialist Marxist Party, United Socialist Party, and a number of others), the Socialist Party of Chile was founded. Marmaduka Grove was elected its leader. In 1933-1949 he took the chair of the senator, and in 1938-1940. led by the Popular Front of Chile. For twenty years, Marmaduke Grove remained the undisputed leader of the Socialist Party of Chile, and 15 died on May 1954 at the age of 75. By the way, his brother Marmaduke Grove was married to the sister of the future Chilean president - socialist Salvador Allende. Salvador Allende himself from a young age was acquainted with Marmaduke Grove, a friend of his father. The “Red Colonel” was a worthy example of emulation for El Salvador, but the fate of Allende himself was much more tragic.
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  1. Lester7777
    Lester7777 6 June 2016 06: 57
    Of course, not Panama in the 49th, but people also knew how to have fun.

    Great article, thank you!
  2. ovod84
    ovod84 6 June 2016 07: 02
    Yes, the article is interesting, I didn’t even know about such a person, although I had studied the history of Latin American countries at one time. Many thanks to the author.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 6 June 2016 09: 22
    Marmaduke Grove, a wonderful man .. sorry in fact S. Aljende repeated his mistakes .. Thank you, Ilya .. excellent article ..
  4. Monarchist
    Monarchist 6 June 2016 20: 08
    A unique phenomenon: at the beginning of the 30s there was a socialist revolution on the Latin American continent! I wonder how Grove felt about gay people? Cuban authorities are now liberal about gays. But seriously, the current left is no longer a match for Grove. Think of Ortega and his Sandinistas in the 80s and now. The Castro brothers of the 70s and the current Raul "fists of the revolution" (as Fidel used to say)
  5. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 7 June 2016 09: 49
    Thank you very much for the article, Ilya! Unfortunately, I did not know anything about these events at all.
    I really like reading what you write about Indians and their descendants. As well as about the East.
    When I was small, I read the book "Bertillon --- 166". I was very shocked. Only now I don't have this book.
    Now reading Kim McQuarrie's Last Days of the Incas.