Our Archive Assistant, Darren Treadwell, has written this short piece about material we hold from the Chile Solidarity Campaign.
Amongst the papers held in the Labour History Archive & Study Centre are those of the Chile Solidarity Campaign, a collection consisting of some fifty or so boxes, which was set up in the immediate aftermath of the military coup which took place forty years ago this week.
The left of centre Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by a mixed force of army generals, navy chiefs, and police authorities. In the coup itself some sixty or so people died, including the President Allende who took his own life rather than be captured while fighting in La Moneda, the presidential palace. Over the coming months thousands were rounded up, tortured, killed, imprisoned, and driven into exile across the world, several thousand of whom settled in the United Kingdom.
The collection of papers runs from 1973 until 1991 and consists of Executive Committee minutes, annual reports, fundraising correspondence, leaflets, and general correspondence. Arguably the most important part of the collection is the material relating to the Labour Party and British trade unions. The importance of the trade union related material can better be appreciated when you keep in mind that at the time of the coup the leader of Britain’s largest trade union, the Transport and General Workers Union, was Jack Jones, himself a veteran of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). For Jack’s generation of Trade Unionist the events in Spain were something of a year zero, for a later generation of trade unionists and socialist activists the events in Chile 40 years ago had much the same galvanising effect.
Our Labour History Archive & Study Centre is open to all researchers and interested parties, find out more about visiting on this page of our website.