Obituary: Clodomiro Almeyda

The Chilean politician Clodo-miro Almeyda was one of those who thought with Salvador Allende that Chile could discover its own "parliamentary road to socialism". Almeyda, who was vice-president during Allende's Popular Unity government from 1970 to 1973, suffered jail and exile for his beliefs. But he lived to see the Chilean Socialist Party he had devoted his life to helping to rebuild an increasingly confident democracy in Chile.

Almeyda was born in the Chilean capital in 1923. He studied law and philosophy, and became a member of the Socialist party. In 1952 he was brought into the Carlos Ibanez government, first as minister of Labour, then minister for Mining. As the Ibanez government became more repressive, he quickly resigned and was elected a parliamentary member for the capital in the mid-1950s. From then until the end of the next decade, he occupied different positions in the party hierarchy, and consistently opposed the Christian Democratic governments and their modest attempts at political and social reform.

By 1970, when the Popular Unity government was formed under the presidency of Salvador Allende, Almeyda had helped make the Socialist Party a committed Marxist grouping, although like Allende, he sought parliamentary rather than revolutionary means of bringing socialism to Chile. Under Allende, Almeyda served as vice-president, and as foreign and defence ministers, proving himself one of the president's most loyal supporters. He was at Allende's side in the presidential palace on 11 September 1973 when it was bombed by the insurgents under General Augusto Pinochet, and was taken prisoner. He was first sent to the internment camp on Dawson Island in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, before being allowed to leave Chile for exile first in East Germany and later in Mexico, where he took up his teaching career again.

As the struggle against General Pinochet's regime intensified in the mid-1980s, Almeyda decided he must return to Chile. As soon as he arrived at Santiago airport, he was arrested and sent into internal exile in the far south of the country. Following widespread protests in Chile and internationally, he was eventually allowed back to the capital, and returned to political activity. Still a Marxist, he headed a faction of the Socialist party which supported the use of violence as a means of getting rid of General Pinochet, but by 1989 accepted the re-unification of the party and its support of a multi-party campaign to defeat Pinochet through a referendum and subsequent elections.

Those elections saw the Christan Democrat Patricio Aylwin coming to office as the first civilian leader in Chile for 20 years. Almeyda was rewarded by being named ambassador to Moscow, just at the moment when the Soviet Union was disintegrating and socialism there was crumbling. Almeyda paid one of his past debts by personally helping the former head of East Germany Erich Honecker leave his country and spend his last days with his daughter in Chile.

Clodomiro Almeyda was typically not dismayed by what he saw in the former Communist countries in Eastern Europe, and on his return to Chile in 1992 set about teaching sociology once more in Universidad de Chile and writing theoretical articles not only on the history but on the futuure of socialism in Chile.

On his death, the Chilean government declared three days of mourning. At his funeral, the Chilean armed forces gave a person they had shot at, imprisoned and forced out of the country, all the military honours due to a vice-president of the Chilean republic.

Nick Caistor

Clodomiro Almeyda, politician: born Santiago, Chile 11 February 1923; married Irma Caceres (one son); died Santiago 25 August 1997.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform