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
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Chief Executive

£28, 700: Whiskey Whiskey Tango: Property Management Company is seeking a brig...

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain