Born in the mountains
And stolen by foreign hands
Exchanged for money.”
Quilapayún, Nuestro Cobre (1972)
On July 11, 1971, Salvador Allende fulfilled his greatest commitment towards the Chilean people: the nationalization of copper.
Taking control of the country’s most important natural resource was a central element of the Popular Unity’s political program, the so-called “Chilean path to socialism,” putting an end to decades of extremely lucrative business for mining giants such as Anaconda and Kennecott. The mines were transferred to state-owned Codelco.
The measure saw the Nixon administration ramp up its hostility, doubling down on efforts to “make the economy scream” and overthrow the Allende government. Through violence, murder, shortages and a financial blockade, Washington laid the groundwork for the military coup on September 11, 1973, and the bloody dictatorship that followed.
However, Allende and the Popular Unity live on as examples of a struggle for a better society, and the nationalization of copper stands as an unavoidable step towards conquering dignity.