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Orders of the Day — Chile

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1973.

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Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion 12:00 am, 28th November 1973

It maintained its relationship. The option was open to it, as it was to the seven Communist countries, to break off relations, although five Communist countries broke off relations only after we had recognised. They did not make up their minds before hand. China has maintained diplomatic relations with the new régime throughout.

Was this recognition hasty? The grounds for recognition are clear—that the country was under the control of the new régime. Was it hasty? Here we can look at precedents. In 1966 there was a coup in the Argentine when General Ongania overthrew the democratically elected Government of President Illia. The Labour Government of the day recognised the régime 10 days later—1 day quicker than we recognised the new Chilean régime. In 1968 there was a coup in Peru when the military overthrew President Belaúnde. Recognition then came from the Labour Government 14 days later. I can see that it could be arguable that the violent nature of the coup in Chile makes the situation different from that of the Argentine and Peru.

Here again there is a precedent. There was a violent coup in Cuba. It, too, was marked by mass executions and imprisonments. The Conservative Government of the day recognised the Castro Government six days after it had been established, not in any sense approving of it, but because we recognised that it was in effective control.

Other considerations affected the timing of our recognition in Chile. There are 4,000 British subjects living in Chile. It was important that we should be able to protect them. We have substantial economic interests in the country, both in trade and investment. One-third of our copper imports comes from Chile. Hon. and right hon. Members will have very much in mind at present the impact which the shortage of oil has upon our affairs and upon those of the rest of the Western world. We cannot overlook the importance of these matters when other vital raw materials are concerned.

We are also concerned with the future of the Andean Pact and the European Community's relations with it. Chile is an important member of the Andean Pact. The charge of hasty recognition clearly does not stand and is refuted by the terms of the motion. The motion calls upon us to make representations to the Chilean régime and to give asylum. I do not know how we can be expected to make representations if we do not have diplomatic relations and I do not see how we can be expected to give asylum if we do not have an embassy. The motion seems to be self-contradictory.