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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 Harold Soref Mr Harold Soref , Ormskirk 12:00 am, 28th November 1973

I cannot give way. I must be brief. It is most significant that no one has mentioned that two months before the coup the Supreme Court of Justice in Chile declared the rule of law no longer to exist and the Chamber of Deputies declared the same and urged the military to restore it. They had no alternative unless there was to be another Cuba. If they had not acted they would have had their throats cut. There would have been a night of the long knives and the murder of the naval officers at the Valparaiso garrison.

What of British opinion in Chile? I have been privileged to meet several people from Chile who have visited this country since the coup. I also read in The Guardian a letter from the head of the British community of Valparaiso. It seems that both the British community there and most certainly the British Chamber of Commerce in Santiago are wholly sympathetic to the disappearance of the Marxist Government. What is not altogether surprising is that the Liberal Provost of Greenock went to the Ministry of Defence last week pleading for more orders for naval craft for Chile in order to keep the people of Greenock employed.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) referred to the dockers coming out over shipments to Valparaiso. Would he support an embargo on goods going to Red China where more than 20 million people have been massacred? Would he support an embargo on goods to West Africa where many more people were killed in the fighting between the Biafrans and the Nigerians? This is just another manifestation of double standards. The hon. Member and his hon. Friends take the attitude they do merely because Chile is white and capitalist. Why otherwise should this venom be directed against Chile?

I accept that in every revolution there must be cruelty and barbarism. I cannot countenance everything that has happened. But what was done anticipated a far worse holocaust, which would have occurred if the Cubans and the local Marxist mercenaries from Uruguay, Argentine, Bolivia and Colombia had been able to take over. That has been shown by the arms and the detailed alphabetical lists of people marked for assassination.

I plead with my right hon. Friend that the people of this country should be protected, that none of those who have been actively engaged in Marxist activity, particularly those known to be Tupamaros—there was a camp for them in the north of Chile—should be allowed to enter this country.