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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 Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central 12:00 am, 28th November 1973

I suppose that we ought to thank the Minister of State for taking the motion seriously. I wish that I could do the same about his speech. I thought it was a disgraceful, superficial speech. I suppose I could pay him the compliment of saying that he seemed to bring to foreign affairs that singular expertise which he displayed during the passage of the Housing Finance Bill. The fact is that we are taking sides on this matter and we are proud to do so. The Government purport to be even-handed—I have heard that expression used before—but they are even-handed in favour of the régime, because that is really what it comes to.

Apparently, the right hon. Gentleman did not listen to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart). This is not an essentially internal affair. This matter goes to the root of the future of parliamentary democracy, not only in Latin America but elsewhere throughout the world, and if the right hon. Gentleman fails to understand that he understands nothing at all. He said that we ought to have normal, friendly relations with the grotesque régime in Chile, and I suppose he would have said the same about Nazi Germany during the 1930s.

The fact is that on 11th September 1973 Chile was garotted. It was a victim robbed of its constitutionalism and of its democracy. The attempts to establish fundamental changes in Chilean society by peaceful means, to correct the gross inequalities which had arisen and to diminish the powers of the multinational companies that were perpetuating those inequalities were thwarted not by the masses of the Chilean people but by those whose economic interests sought to prevent the changes which Allende was seeking to make and which were so desperately needed.

I had the privilege to go to Chile in 1972 with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) and we met President Allende. We had great differences of opinion, and certainly I would not accept everything for which Allende stood or which his philosophy represented. But I was convinced—and I thought that the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester was also convinced—about his passionate belief in the democratic process. Instead of that, however, a cruel despotism has now descended on Chile. Even the Minister cannot deny that. Thousands have died. In a matter of two weeks there were 3,000 corpses put into one mortuary in Santiago alone, as my right hon. Friend pointed out.

That is a measure of what has happened. All the vulgar, ugly and obscene displays of Fascism have been revealed in all their horror in Chile over the last 10 weeks or so. All opposition to the junta has been hunted down. There have been xenophobic attacks on foreigners. In La Prensa, the Christian Democrat daily which circulates in Santiago, there has been published a vicious anti-Semitic article. The sort of article which we have always associated with Nazi Germany appears again, blaming the Jews because they are responsible for the Communists.