THE OVERTHROW OF SALVADOR ALLENDE
Michael Antony copyright 1982-2001
CHARACTERS (with approximate ages at the start of the play)
Salvador Allende President of Chile (aged 62 at start of the play)
Carlos Altamirano Socialist Party general secretary, member of Allendeís coalition (48)
Luis Corvalan Communist Party leader, member of Allendeís coalition (60)
Augusto Olivares one of Allendeís closest advisers (50)
Luis Figeroa union leader (55)
Josť Toha one of Allendeís ministers (45)
Clodomiro Almeyda one of Allendeís ministers (48)
Eduardo Frei outgoing (Christian Democrat) President in 1970 (59)
Benjamin Mattť National Party grandee, a landowner and businessman (63)
Orlando Saenz business confederation leader (40)
General Schneider constitutionalist Army Commander, assassinated in1970 (58)
General Brady articulate, shrewd organising brain of the conspirators (50)
General Bonilla fervent anti-communist coup-plotter, Vice-President after 1973 (47)
General Torres fat, wisecracking, waggish conspirator (48)
General Prats constitutionalist Army Commander, forced out in 1973 (58)
General Pinochet became Army Commander after Prats in August 1973 (57)
General Pickering a conspirator who backed out of the coup for moral reasons (45)
Admiral Merino head of the Navy conspirators, violent anti-communist (50)
Admiral Montero moderate Navy Commander, ousted by Merino (55)
Rafael a young militant worker, young Lauraís boyfriend (20) who is
later a conscript sailor at the Valparaiso naval base (20)
Enriquez a young conscript sailor (20)
Manuel one of Mattťís servants (20)
Allendeís Aide young man (20ís)
Tank officer (30ís)
Military Police General (late 40ís)
Mrs Prats (Sofia) generalís wife, an aristocrat of leftist sympathies (48)
Beatriz Allende married daughter of Salvador Allende (23)
Laura an exile of working-class origin, the playís ďnarratorĒ (50)
Laura 2 herself in 1972 (18)
Payita Allendeís secretary and mistress, an attractive woman in her 40ís
Lavinia Mattť Benjaminís wife, a wealthy socialite (50)
Woman in a queue a middle-class woman (50)
General Pratsí maid (20ís)
A small boy 6
The cast can be played by 10 actors (8 men) and one child. See ďDoublingĒ at the end.
The play is set in Santiago Chile between 1970 and 1973.
THE OVERTHOW OF SALVADOR ALLENDE
LAURA: (a woman of around 50, simply dressed, all in black, alone at the front of the stage, which is in darkness. She addresses the audience): I remember standing on a bridge in Santiago at dawn looking down at the bodies floating in the Mapocho river, searching for Rafael among them. For days the corpses floated by, dozens upon dozens, naked and mutilated, a silent, terrifying procession of the dead. Every now and then one of the women leaning over the railings of a bridge would scream as she recognized, down in the water below, her husband or her son or her daughter. I never found Rafaelís body, then or later. He had simply disappeared. (Pause) All that was in the days after the coup díťtat. And I remember another time only three years earlier, when we danced all night in the working-class districts of Santiago, when even the shoe-shine boys made V-for-victory signs as they trudged home to the shanty-towns, the night Salvador Allende was elected president. A presidential candidate for the third time, a senator for thirty years, a doctor turned politician who had become a socialist while practising medicine in the slums of Valparaiso Ė he had won the election against all odds. It was a moment of hope for millions. How did we move from that night of celebration to the bodies floating in the Mapocho river three years later? (Pause) I still try and explain to myself how it happened, why it happened, and whether it could have been avoided.
(Exit. Lights come up)
ACT 1, SCENE 1.
President Eduardo FREIís house. FREI and Benjamin MATTE, the National Party grandee, head of the Landownersí Association, in the middle of an argument, which is fast and furious, even slightly comical. FREI is a suave Christian Democratic politician of 59, tall, thin, vain, autocratic and obsessed with his own image. He suspects that Mattť wants to drag him into a coup plot and he is determined to stay out of it, all the more since Mattťís party constantly attacked his own reformist government. MATTE is a crusty, cantankerous landowner, a bigoted right-wing anticommunist, out to save his position, and resenting that he has to beg for help from the liberal-centrist FREI.
FREI: (pointing a finger as he lights a pipe) It was your fault entirely! Donít come whining to me Ė
MATTE: (outraged, indignant; spluttering) Our fault!
FREI: Of course it was yours! You split our vote.
MATTE: (exploding) You were the ones who fielded a candidate so far to the left Ė
FREI: (cutting in) And yours, did you imagine for one moment he was electable?
MATTE: (furious) He was a damn sight better than Tomic. An off-the-wall, tax-and-spend socialist scarcely better than Allende.
FREI: (emphatically) Exactly! He would have stolen Allendeís thunder. A moderate reformer, Tomic. He was the candidate for the times.
MATTE: (with contemptuous finality, turning his back; wanting to avoid a quarrel) His programme was utterly unacceptable.
FREI: (Pauses; puffs at his pipe, studying him; sarcastically) The trouble with you people, the clique who own this country, or think you do, is that to you all reforms are unacceptable.
MATTE: (stung; tartly) Letís say we found some of yours a little extreme, President Frei. In our view it is your reforms that opened the floodgates.
FREI: (in a gloating, needling tone) There, you see? You wouldnít give an inch Ė you fought me all the way ó and now youíre going to have to give a mile, arenít you?
MATTE: (stubbornly) Weíre not going to.
FREI: (harshly, impatiently) What choice do you have? Heís been elected. (Vindictive) You mount your right wing challenge to us, you split our vote, let in a socialist and now you say you wonít accept it.
MATTE: Of course we wonít accept it.
FREI: (ramming it home) Youíve got no choice. We have a constitution. Heís legally won the presidency.
MATTE: Not yet he hasnít. He still has to be confirmed by Congress.
FREI: Thatís just a formality.
MATTE: They can vote for Alessandri instead.
FREI: (scornful) Come off it! The mob would tear the city apart.
MATTE: (reasonably) Look, Alessandri got only one per cent fewer votes than Allende. When no candidate gets fifty per cent of the popular vote, it is Congress that chooses between them.
FREI: Nobody in our party is going to vote for that reactionary old goat. Certainly not Tomicís lot.
MATTE: (exasperated) You see? Itís your party that refuses to see reason.
FREI: (heatedly) Weíre not going to put a man in power who represents the exact opposite of what the majority of the people voted for. The people want reform, some kind of change, social progress.
MATTE: (sharply) Youíre not going to get reform with a Marxist. Youíre going to get revolution. Anarchy. Chaos. Civil war.
FREI: (sarcastic) Yes, yes. Donít you think youíre exaggerating slightly?
MATTE: (quietly) Look, if you wonít help us block this manís confirmation, weíre just going to have to try something else.
FREI: (suspiciously) Like what, for example?
MATTE: (earnestly, fiercely) We canít let him in, Eduardo. Canít you grasp the enormity of this? Allende is a Marxist. A friend of Castroís. He plans to nationalise half the economy. Democracyís at stake.
FREI: (mocking) Democracyís at stake. (Laughs cynically) Donít you think something a little more personal is at stake for you, Benjamin? Letís not confuse that with democracy.
MATTE: (desperately) Eduardo, the man is a communist. He might look moderate himself, but the whole rabble of Marxist-Leninists are riding on his coat-tails. These are people who think Russia is a proletarian paradise, that Castro is a peopleís hero. They revere Stalin and Mao, the greatest mass-murderers of history! We canít let these people take control!
FREI: How can we stop them? Heís won the election. We have rules.
MATTE: (impatiently) Rules! Isnít it worth bending the rules a little bit, to ensure that the whole system survives?
FREI: (challenging; quietly) Bending them? How?
MATTE: (taking the plunge) Provoke a crisis, let the army take over and call for new elections. At which you could be a candidate, since you wouldnít be succeeding yourself directly. This time weíd support you, the centre and the right together. Thereíd be no question youíd win.
FREI: (quietly, as if shocked) Youíre talking of a military coup, Benjamin. (Sarcastic) Youíve got your geography wrong. This is not Bolivia or Paraguay. Itís Chile. A democracy. (Mockingly grandiloquent) ďThe England of South AmericaĒ. The Chilean people wonít stand for that.
MATTE: (energetically; fiery) They will if they know whatís at stake. Our press is already preparing them. Theyíre pointing out the dangers of communist rule. Provoking panic. The stock market is collapsing. Capital is fleeing the country. The economy is heading for the brink.
FREI: (ironically, dryly) In short, things are going rather well, in your opinion.
MATTE: (forcefully) Exactly. And you can help. Warn the nation of the danger. Stir up fear of a communist take-over. Remind the army of their patriotic duty.
FREI: (very still) You mean: call openly for a coup? You want me to do that?
MATTE: (hectoring) Everyone has to play their part, Eduardo. The Americans are doing theirs. Theyíre already behind us.
FREI: (suspicious) Who? Which Americans?
MATTE: (impatiently) All the American companies, here, who do you think? ITT, Kennecott Copper, Anaconda Ė they all risk nationalisation if he gets in. Theyíre going to lose everything theyíve invested in this country. And their government is now backing them. Washington has given the green light for a coup.
FREI: (staring) The green light? For a coup? (Shocked, his patriotic pride offended; but also play-acting bluster in order to find out what MATTE knows) Look here, Benjamin, a coup does not happen here just because there is a green light in Washington. We are not some sort of minor junction on the Pan-American highway, operated by remote control from the Pentagon. We decide what happens here, not them.
MATTE: (bluntly) Then if you want to be among the deciders, youíd better get on board. Do you know what the message is from Washington about you? ďTell Frei to put his pants on.Ē
FREI: (stung, furious) What? How dare they!
MATTE: (harshly) Yes, they dare. They call the shots in this hemisphere. Wake up to reality. The Americans canít afford another Cuba in their backyard. And their influence on our army is quite considerable.
FREI: (uneasily; hostile) You donít need to remind me.
MATTE: (rubbing it in) Most of our generals have trained at Southern Command in Panama.
FREI: (quietly) Yes, some of those who plotted to overthrow me trained there. I often wonder who was behind that. (Looking directly at MATTE)
MATTE: (blustering, hiding what may be a guilty conscience, since he is a closet member of a fascist group) The Americans understand now how the communists work. They were dupes when the communists took Eastern Europe, country by country, by greasing their way into power. Theyíre not dupes any more. They believe in nipping things in the bud.
FREI: (thoughtful; subdued; but only angling for more information) And what about our generals? How many of them would be willing to ďnip things in the budĒ?
MATTE: Virtually all of them.
FREI: (sarcastic) Virtually all? Whatís the good of ďvirtuallyĒ? If thereís a split in the army, itíll mean civil war.
MATTE: (hesitates) The only doubtful case is the Army Commander, General Schneider. (Disgusted) Heís been making constitutionalist noises. The assumption is, that if a coup goes ahead, heíll retire and get out of the way.
FREI: (seizing on this; thoughtful) I see. Schneider wants to keep his hands clean?
MATTE: You could say that, yes.
FREI: (brooding; insinuating) And the Americans, I suppose theyíll want to keep their hands clean too. Deny any part in it, denounce it, if necessary?
MATTE: (defensively) Well, they can hardly admit interfering in our country, can they? Theyíve got their democratic image to keep up.
FREI: (triumphantly; seeing through the trap) Exactly. But it seems they want me to sacrifice my democratic image, is that it? They want me to call publicly for this coup, dirty my hands while they stay clean. Like General Schneider.
MATTE: (earnestly, reproachful) There comes a time, Eduardo, when patriotism must come before personal self-interest.
FREI: (stung) Self-interest? (Furious) Integrity doesnít exist for you, I suppose? (Passionately, rhetorically) Benjamin, I am the voice of Chile, the one leader Chileans can trust, Eduardo Frei, the image of democracy in this country! And when the socialists have had their fling, I will once again be president of Chile. I am not going to put that on the line by being part of a plot to overthrow the constitution.
MATTE: (bitterly) So youíd prefer to see the Marxists in power? Whereís the guarantee theyíll ever give it up again and let you back in? Donít you understand the danger to this country?
FREI: (stiffly; coldly) I am well aware of the danger. Iíll do what I can--
discreetly. But I will not put my head on the block for the Americans.
MATTE: (furiously) Itís not just for the Americans! Itís for us! For the people who have made this country, who own the land, the banks, the industries. Are you going to let those bastards take everything away from us?
FREI: (coldly; brutally) You do it, then. If you have so much at stake. You organise it. You and the generals and the CIA. But I know nothing about it.
MATTE: (bitterly resentful) And you think you can keep your hands clean and then step in afterwards and reap the benefit?
FREI: (surprised, airily) But of course. Why not? The country will still need a president. And the Chilean people wonít let themselves be governed by dirty hands, will they?
MATTE: (grimly) That, Mr Ex-President, remains to be seen.
ACT 1, SCENE 2
The library of Senator Allendeís house. ALLENDE and generals SCHNEIDER, BRADY and TORRES. They are standing with drinks in hand. The generals are making a friendly visit to chat with the president-elect before making up their minds whether to overthrow him. The scene must somehow bring out the misunderstanding that arose between Schneider and the other generals: he genuinely liked Allende, and they only faked it.
SCHNEIDER, the army commander, is a large bluff man of florid Germanic looks, an honest old soldier, wanting to believe in people and to uphold the law. BRADY is a clever intellectual, smooth-talking, psychologically sharp, cool-headed, the arch-plotter among the generals. TORRES is an overweight, extroverted, loud-mouthed, jovial, wise-cracking type, with a coarse charm, but fanatical and ruthless underneath. ALLENDE is an idealistic intellectual, who believes in appealing to the best in people. He has a sharp, urbane wit, but is also emotional. He is sentimental in friendship, hot-tempered and passionate in argument, furious when aroused. He has an infinite faith in his own powers of persuading or getting round his adversaries.
TORRES: (idly studying the bookshelves) Youíve got a devil of a lot of books, Senator. (In crude jest; tongue in cheek) The works of Marx, Lenin and Chairman Mao, I suppose.
ALLENDE: (dryly) Very few of them, General. Mainly the works of Shakespeare, Cervantes and the like.
TORRES: (provocatively; taking down a book and opening it) Shakespeare, eh? I didnít know he was a communist, Senator.
ALLENDE: He was a humanist, General Torres. A man of wide vision. A man ahead of his time.
SCHNEIDER: (worried, earnest, avuncular) I wonder if that is always such a good thing Ė to be ahead of oneís time. What worries us a little, Senator Allende, if youíll forgive me getting straight to the point, like a blunt old soldier, is that chaps ahead of their time tend to be a bit extreme. We donít really want that here, do we? (Appealing to his good nature) Not in quiet old Chile.
ALLENDE: We canít stay behind the rest of the world forever, General Schneider.
TORRES: (cheerily) Why not? It depends which way the world is heading. If the world is going to hell in a handcart, better to be at the rear than at the front, donít you think?
ALLENDE: (quietly) I think we all understand which way progress lies, General Torres. In a country where one third of the children suffer from malnutrition, progress is to take control of the resources needed to feed our people properly.
BRADY: (mocking, ironic) Ah! Take control of the resources! From whom?
ALLENDE: (seriously) From the foreign companies that own and control most of our economy. Our copper, our saltpetre, our electricity, even our telephones.
BRADY: (with mock artfulness) Ah, you mean the Americans: Kennecott Copper, Anaconda, ITT. And how will they react to being taken over, do you think?
ALLENDE: (smoothly) I suspect they will not be happy, General Brady.
BRADY: (smiling) I suspect the same. In fact, I am almost sure of it. (Slowly, deliberately, ironically to the others) The Americans will not be happy.
SCHNEIDER: (worried) That could prove a little ticklish, Senator.
ALLENDE: I might point out, gentlemen: I was not elected to keep the Americans happy.
BRADY: (dryly) But you can hardly ignore the consequences if they are not. People do not generally like losing their property.
ALLENDE: It depends if they had a right to it in the first place.
TORRES: Even if they had no right to it whatsoever, they still donít like losing it!
A man will fight for his hat, even if that hat was stolen by his grandfather.
SCHNEIDER: (uneasy) There does seem to be Ė if youíll forgive my saying so Ė just the slightest hint of extremism in this point of view. I do hope itís not the case.
ALLENDE: Extremism is a matter of perspective, General. But you must forgive me for neglecting your glasses, gentlemen. Allow me. (Begins to fill their glasses with cognac) General Schneider.
SCHNEIDER: (as ALLENDE fills his glass) Thank you, Senator, most kind of you.
ALLENDE: General Brady. (Goes to offer him more cognac)
BRADY: (raising a hand in refusal) Iím fine, thank you, Senator.
ALLENDE: General Torres. (Goes to fill TORRESí glass)
TORRES: (As he fills his glass) Thank you, Senator. (As ALLENDE turns away) But what about when youíve finished with the Americans Ė do you start nationalising Chilean companies? Are we going to have a nationalised economy?
ALLENDE: No. We believe in three economic sectors: public, private and mixed.
TORRES: Yes, but the public sector means nationalising somebody, doesnít it? What if they put up a fight?
ALLENDE: I believe in using reason and argument to persuade people.
BRADY: (dryly) It is not easy to argue a man out of his bread and butter.
TORRES: Or out of his family farm. Or his chain of factories.
BRADY: Many are going to suspect, Senator, that you aim at a completely socialist economy. That might unleash Ö. passions.
ALLENDE: We will not aim at such a thing in the lifetime of this government. Socialism can only be built gradually, democratically, when the vast majority of people come to believe in it.
SCHNEIDER: (bluntly) And what if you are voted out at the next election?
ALLENDE: Of course we will respect the decision of the people.
SCHNEIDER: (satisfied) Iím very glad to hear that. Iím sure everybody here is too.
BRADY: (smoothly) Of course, we might prefer you to put that in writing, Senator.
One or two constitutional guarantees, just to reassure everybody youíre not intending any irreversible change in our system.
ALLENDE: (stiffly) No other president-elect has ever been asked to give such guarantees, as far as Iím aware.
BRADY: (insinuating) Ah, but you do have close friends in places which have undergone irreversible changes. Cuba. The Soviet Union, for example. We donít want to wake up in one of those places, do we, gentlemen?
TORRES: Certainly not. Thatís one sort of hangover I donít want to wake up to. Ever.
ALLENDE: Gentlemen, I am sure you have the means of protecting yourselves against any such eventuality.
BRADY: (coolly) Yes, we have the means for now. We want to make sure we keep those means. Non-interference with the armed forces, that is one of the guarantees we will need.
ALLENDE: The Chilean armed forces have a long tradition of not interfering in politics, gentlemen. Is it likely I would provoke them into doing so by interfering with them?
BRADY: (evenly) Not likely, but not impossible. If you are confirmed, Senator, your government will present us with an entirely new situation. We would appreciate some written guarantees as to what your government can and cannot do.
SCHNEIDER: (trying to mediate, with bluff good will) You see, Senator, there are lots of people who might get hold of the wrong end of the stick and confuse you with Castro or somebody. We want to avoid any sort of violence breaking out. If you could sign some sort of document, a set of guidelines, it would really set minds at rest.
ALLENDE: (with dignity) If you think that a Senator for thirty years and an ex-president of the Senate needs to put in writing his commitment to democracy, then I am sure I can oblige you, gentlemen.
SCHNEIDER: (relieved) I thought youíd see it our way -- it has been a most awkward business asking a man of your reputation, but there it is Ė we live in divisive times. Itís really to make sure weíre not troubled by any extremists, you see. We donít want to give them an excuse for seeing you for what youíre not.
ALLENDE: I understand your honourable motives, General Schneider. The armed forces are, after all, the guarantors of the constitution.
SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. Weíd be failing in our duty otherwise.
BRADY: And we wish to make sure we remain the only armed forces in Chile. No guns must be allowed in the hands of any political group, Senator. That must be one of the guarantees.
TORRES: We want to keep the gun out of politics.
ALLENDE: I hardly think these measures are called for, but I shall provide whatever guarantees of our constitution may be deemed necessary.
SCHNEIDER: (bluff and hearty, making a move to leave) There, and all our worries were for nothing. I told them youíd be most amenable to giving any guarantees we wanted, but they were doubting Thomases. Now I think weíve taken up enough of the Senatorís time. Heís been most kind to talk to us, to iron out a few ticklish points.
ALLENDE: But I would like to add a few words, if I may, General Schneider.
SCHNEIDER: Certainly, certainly, Senator.
ALLENDE: There are people in this country who are desperate, gentlemen. They live their lives in squalor, they see their children fall ill and die from diseases that could be prevented, if they had better food, better medical care, better sanitation, a decent wage. Many of these people see my victory as the only hope of changing their lives. They believe they have won a free and fair election. If by chance something were to happen to prevent me taking office, millions of Chileans would see it as a betrayal. I hope you understand how they might react to that betrayal. The peace of the country is in your hands, gentlemen.
SCHNEIDER: (moved) Iím sure we understand that, Senator. We wonít forget it.
BRADY: (ironically) No. We most certainly wonít forget your words, Senator.
TORRES: (meaningfully, almost jeering) Youíre coming through loud and clear, Senator. Message received.
ALLENDE: (softly) I hope we will work together gentlemen, for the country we all love.
SCHNEIDER: We hope so too, Senator. Though the decision still rests with Congress.
ALLENDE: Of course. Good-bye, gentlemen. (He shakes hands all round) General Schneider, General Brady, General Torres.
TORRES: Good-bye, Senator, and thank you for the excellent cognac.
ALLENDE: A small taste of Socialism, General Torres. Iím sure youíll get to like it.
TORRES: I may need a few more tastes before I make my mind up, Senator.
ALLENDE: My cellar is at your disposal, gentlemen, if that is not an improper attempt at interfering with the armed forces.
TORRES: (cheerfully) Interference of this kind is altogether acceptable, Senator. Even General Brady will go along with it, wonít you, Brady? Good-bye, Senator. (Chorus of good-days)
(The generals go out. ALLENDE stands deep in thought. Enter his daughter BEATRIZ)
BEATRIZ: (with an irony that does not hide her anxiety) So, Father, what have the
guardians of the constitution decided, do you think? That you are fit to take office?
ALLENDE: (musing) God only knows, Beatriz. Our generals are better poker players than I am.
BEATRIZ: (indignant) The cheek of them coming here to question you!
ALLENDE: We must submit to the procedures of our democracy, however bizarre they may be.
BEATRIZ: Mother is convinced theyíre going to make a coup. Sheís worried sick.
ALLENDE: I was impressed by General Schneider. Heís no great intellect, but heís an honest soldier.
BEATRIZ: And the other two?
ALLENDE: (thoughtful) Difficult to read. A fox and a buffoon. But Schneider is the Army Commander. Letís hope he keeps the lid on. And survivesÖ.
BEATRIZ: (worried) What makes you think he may not?
ALLENDE: (grimly) Iím not sure this is a world for honest soldiers.
ACT 1, SCENE 3
TORRES and BRADY, meeting in a corridor in the Defence Ministry. They speak quietly.
BRADY: (conspiratorially but urgently) Torres! Heís cancelled it.
TORRES: (in disbelief, keeping his voice down as well) Heís what?
BRADY: Heís not going to go ahead! Heís just told the War Academy.
TORRES: (in consternation) I donít believe it! It was all agreed.
BRADY: (disgusted) Yes, so we thought.
TORRES: (furious) The old buzzardís gone soft in the head!
BRADY: Heís been taken in by that two-faced Marxist. Thinks heís a democrat.
TORRES: (indignant, incredulous) Democrat! Damn it, he virtually threatened civil war! Didnít Schneider hear him?
BRADY: (sarcastic) The rusty old Teutonic brain didnít grasp what he heard.
TORRES: (worried) We canít let that Marxist in. What are we going to do, Brady?
BRADY: (gloomily) We canít do a damned thing. Not without Schneider. Heís too popular in the ranks. If the army splits Ö.
TORRES: (quietly, grimly) Then heís got to go!
BRADY: (worried, warning) Easy, Torres. Donít do anything rashÖ.
TORRES: There are others that wonít take this. The old gang, the ones Frei forced into retirement. Theyíll see red when they hear this.
BRADY: (cautious) It could backfire. Theyíve got to be careful.
TORRES: This might be our last chance. Otherwise he gets in Ė and then what?
BRADY: Well, whatever theyíre planning, I donít want to know about it.
TORRES: Right. We never talked about this. But be prepared. (They exit separately)
Enter LAURA; she addresses the audience as car brakes and shots are heard.
LAURA: A few days later General Schneider was shot dead in a bizarre kidnap attempt. The right-wing newspapers screamed the communists were behind it. Nobody believed them. The generals did not go ahead with the coup.
ACT 1, SCENE 4
A reception room in Allendeís house. Night. The room has signs of a recent party, glasses, bottles, etc, and there is the muffled noise of a party from another room. ALLENDE is standing by the window looking out. There is a noise of a crowd outside, sporadic chants of ďAllende, AllendeĒ, and singing, as Carlos ALTAMIRANO enters from the garden French windows right. The left-wing Socialist party General Secretary, ALTAMIRANO is a slim, elegant, smooth but austere-looking aristocrat, with a manner of cold intellectual penetration. He has the air of an eminence grise, a cardinal-confessor, who is both conscience and critic to the king, and watchdog of the true faith.
ALLENDE: (turning, going to shake ALTAMIRANOís hand) Ah, Carlos, you made it at last. (Amused) You got through the crowd unscathed? Theyíll be celebrating all night by the sound.
ALTAMIRANO: Letís hope they have reason to. (Smoothing back his ruffled hair) Funny how I detest drunken crowds, even when theyíre ours.
ALLENDE: (cheerfully) Ah, youíre not a man of the people, Carlos!
ALTAMIRANO: (secretly stung, tartly) Nor are you!
ALLENDE: Oh, but I am, inside. (Expansive) The people have to live, to breathe, to celebrate, to sing! Listen to them! (The crowd is singing the Internationale) The sound of a happy people.
ALTAMIRANO: And you -- how do you feel?
ALLENDE: (at ease) Like a man reprieved on the night before execution. And suddenly, instead of the axe, he gets the kingís daughter.
ALTAMIRANO: The reprieve may be only temporary. The axe may come out again.
ALLENDE: (expansively) Congress were superb in their magnanimity. Even Frei voted for my investiture. I could see him grinding his teeth as he did so. Tomic must have been behind him twisting his arm, threatening a split in their party.
ALTAMIRANO: (coolly) And why do you think it happened?
ALLENDE: What? Congressís confirmation of me? (Confidently) They had to. Itís in the constitution. (He picks up a brandy bottle)
ALTAMIRANO: (still) No, I didnít meant that. I meant why didnít the army make a coup?
ALLENDE: (dismissive) Oh, that? Who knows? (Smiles) You know these generals, Carlos. Some of them have big mouths but small stomachs. And cold feet. (He unscrews the cap, looks around for glasses, finds two.)
ALTAMIRANO: Do you think so? (He watches ALLENDE pour two glasses)
ALLENDE: The people who did this made a complete cock-up. Thought they could blame Schneiderís murder on us and stampede the generals into acting. Everyone saw through it straight away. (Hands him a glass)
ALTAMIRANO: So you think thatís it? The armyís one shot? They wonít try again?
ALLENDE: Why should they? I think very few of the generals wanted a coup. Most of them are constitutionalists at heart. Like General Schneider. (Sincerely, moved) An honourable soldier, who died for his country.
(Raises his glass) To his memory. And our success. (They drink)
ALTAMIRANO: (softly) And what are we going to do about the others?
ALLENDE: (blankly) What others?
ALTAMIRANO: The dishonourable soldiers. The ones who had him killed.
ALLENDE: The main plotters have been arrested. All retired lunatics. And the general staff have sworn they will root out any serving officer who was in any way involved.
ALTAMIRANO: (scoffing) Theyíll root them out! Iíll bet! (flatly) Why not send the police in to grill the lot of them, get to the bottom of this?
ALLENDE: (calmly) Because they wonít accept it, Carlos. Military honour and all that. Besides, what would we be trying to find out? Their sympathies? Their political views? All a bit inquisitorial, isnít it? No, theyíve agreed to clean out their own stables. Thatís the best way.
ALTAMIRANO: But can they be trusted to? I would say this is the moment to go for the jugular. Purge the top ranks, now that public opinion is against them.
ALLENDE: They wonít wear it. And weíve signed these constitutional guarantees. Non-interference with the armed forces.
ALTAMIRANO: (darkly) Your first mistake.
ALLENDE: (Pause) Listen, even if we removed ten troublemakers among them, whatís the point? We would cause so much resentment it would create ten more. What we have to do is win them over. Convince them we donít pose any threat to them or to the country.
ALTAMIRANO: (sceptically, scornfully) With their mentality, how will that be possible?
ALLENDE: (gravely) It must be possible. It is them who have force on their side. We are the government, but it is still the opposition who hold power. (He paces about.) They control Congress, they control the law-courts, the army, the police, the economy, most of the media.(Turns to look at him; conscious of the historic moment) We have entered the lionsí cage, Carlos. We have the whip, the symbol of power, but at any moment the lions can tear it from our hands. It will take all our skill to avoid that point of rupture.
ALTAMIRANO: You are forgetting the weapon we have -- the people. (Warming to the subject) We must mobilize the workers.
ALLENDE: (mildly) Of course we shall mobilize all the support we can.
ALTAMIRANO: (eagerly) But we must use them to break down the institutions of the state. Create a parallel power. The power of the street and the factory floor. (With passionate conviction) Even the army, we can infiltrate it, subvert it, turn the ordinary soldiers against their officers. We must weaken the force they think they have, so that when they come to use it against us, it will break in their hands like a rotten stick.
ALLENDE: (quietly) There are two problems with that. We canít allow anarchy. It will lose us votes. And we canít try and subvert the army. That is exactly what theyíll be on the look-out for. (Pause) The problem with armies today, Carlos, is that they have read all the revolutionary handbooks. They have their own intelligence services keeping watch. The first sign of any subversive activity in their ranks and theyíll start thinking about a putsch. I donít intend to give them that pretext. (Enter BEATRIZ, glass in hand, from the party in the next room, from which comes a gust of noise as she opens door.)
BEATRIZ: (gaily) Father, so thatís where you are? (Seeing ALTAMIRANO, she stops and her mood becomes more serious) Do excuse me.
ALLENDE: (put out by the interruption) Beatriz, you know Carlos Altamirano, I think.
BEATRIZ: (offhand, curtly) Of course. We met through my husband. Comrade Altamirano is a great admirer of Cuba. (To her father) We were wondering where youíd got to, father. Ollie was proposing a toast to you and suddenly you werenít there.
ALTAMIRANO: (coolly, bowing slightly) I shall not keep him long, Senora.
BEATRIZ: (with slight mockery) But doesnít the Comrade General Secretary want to come and join us for a drink?
ALTAMIRANO: (dryly) No, thank you, Senora. I feel at least one member of the government should always be sober.
BEATRIZ: (bantering, tipsy, but with a sarcastic edge) Oh, how terribly boring!
You sound depressingly like my husband. I do hope this in not going to be a dull revolution. All speeches and slogans and grey streets. We want people to be happy. That was the whole point. (Glancing at her father, who is frowning at her) All right, father, I shall leave you to more serious things. (Leaves as she came)
ALTAMIRANO: You were saying?
ALLENDE: (lightly, hopefully) I canít remember. Have another drink?
ALTAMIRANO: No, thanks. (Tenacious, implacable) I believe you were making
clear your refusal to create a parallel peopleís power.
ALLENDE: (filling his own glass; impatient, groaning) Oh, do we need to, Carlos? Isnít it all a bit tiresome -- this ideological squabbling? On this of all nights?
ALTAMIRANO: (coldly) I donít find it tiresome in the least. The survival of our government is at stake.
ALLENDE: Carlos, weíll survive by winning votes. That is our first priority. To
win a majority in Congress. Then we can make all the changes we want. But we canít start off with anarchy in the streets.
ALTAMIRANO: (coldly, critically, pacing about; this is an old argument between them, and there is tension as it re-surfaces) That sounds like a retreat into reformism, Salvador. That was not what this coalition of parties agreed on. Our aim is not reform but revolution.
ALLENDE: (firmly) Of course, but we must keep the revolution within the bounds of legality. The peaceful road to socialism: thatís what we believe in.
ALTAMIRANO: (challenging) And when we get to the end of the peaceful road and find a
barricade with tanks and soldiers blocking it? What then?
ALLENDE: (smoothly) Then weíll go round it.
ALTAMIRANO: Look, isnít it time to drop the masquerade? You know these bastards will never let us change anything. A handful of families own the country and they want to keep it. Theyíll resort to force. Weíve got to be ready for that moment. Create a workersí militia.
ALLENDE: (worried) That would be fatal, Carlos. It would trigger the
confrontation we fear.
ALTAMIRANO: (stonily) That confrontation will come.
ALLENDE: Not if we are clever enough.
ALTAMIRANO: (grimly) Do you think you can outwit them?
ALLENDE: (not giving an inch) And do you think you can outgun them?
ALTAMIRANO: (disapproving) You are not being realistic, Salvador.
ALLENDE: I am playing the hand that we have been dealt, not the one we would like to have been dealt.
ALTAMIRANO: (Heatedly) The people cannot be kept out of this. Their hopes will be raised. Theyíll want to move forward. There is going to be a class war whether you like it or not!
ALLENDE: (slowly, deliberately) Carlos, when will you intellectual ideologues stop trying to stir up the people into a violence they donít feel, in order to take your revenge upon your own class?
ALTAMIRANO: (scornful) And when will you stop imagining that the bourgeoisie can be brought tamely to collaborate in its own overthrow? (Earnestly, appealing) Canít you see that your peaceful ideal of change is so naive it belongs in a fairy tale?
ALLENDE: (gently mocking) And your dream, Carlos, the guerrilla war in the Sierra Maestra, donít you think that has an element of fairy tale in it too? Youíre a romantic adolescent at heart. Youíve never got over Che Guevara. (Softly) Youíve forgotten, he failed, Carlos. He wound up being shot.
(Enter BEATRIZ and OLIVARES from the next room, unnoticed )
ALTAMIRANO: (ominously) There are many ways to wind up being shot.
BEATRIZ: (coming forward) What cheerful talk for a night of celebration! Iíve come to reclaim my father, but youíre welcome to join us.
ALTAMIRANO: Not tonight, Senora. It has been a tiring day.
OLIVARES: (bantering, slightly drunk, but with an edge) Come on, Comrade General Secretary, all work and no play makes Karl a dull boy. Itís time for celebration.
ALTAMIRANO: (coldly) I think celebration is premature, Comrade Olivares. Good night. (EXIT)
OLIVARES: (scornful, after him, drunkenly) What a wet blanket!
BEATRIZ: (enthusiastic) Father, theyíre all asking where you are. Come along! Youíre looking so sombre.
OLIVARES: (slapping ALLENDEís back, convivial) Donít let that prissy, whey-faced prig get you down, Salvador. He wonít be ready to celebrate till he opens the first gulag. Come and have a drink with me. Weíll talk of old times.
ALLENDE: Thanks, Ollie. I confess Carlos has the knack of depressing me.
BEATRIZ: (amused, bubbly) Father, you must come back in and see mother. Sheís in fine form. Sheís suddenly realized sheís the presidentís wife! And sheís talking to La Payita, theyíve hit it off, they seem to have reached an agreement to share you!
ALLENDE: (absently) Really? Thatís nice.
BEATRIZ: Arenít you glad?
ALLENDE: (smiling, focusing on her) I love domestic harmony.
BEATRIZ: (with an edge) Then you must tell me sometime how you manage it.
ALLENDE: (gesturing expansively, with an effort to be jolly) This is part of my famous skill, my sleight of hand, my ability to charm and convince. You have to be born with it.
BEATRIZ: (hopefully) Then it must be hereditary! I must have it too!
ALLENDE: (kindly, mischievously, putting a hand on her shoulder, reflecting on her difficult character) Iím afraid Ö itís not always hereditary, my dear.
BEATRIZ: (with love, softly, intensely, hugging him, resting her head on his shoulder) Dear papa. Iím so proud of you. After such a long, long struggle, so many years, so many battles, you got there!
ALLENDE: (softly; seriously, patting her back) Yes, Beatriz. Now the thing is to stay there ÖÖlong enough to make a difference.
OLIVARES: (wanting to get back to the party) Come on, come on, before theyíve drunk everything! We have a revolution to celebrate!
BEATRIZ: (lifting her glass to him, merry, tipsy) To the revolution!
OLIVARES: (at the same time) To the revolution!
ACT 2, SCENE 1
Freiís house. FREI, MATTE and SAENZ, sitting round a table playing cards. SAENZ is a fortyish entrepreneur of a new technocratic generation. He is suave, private-school elegant, unctuous and pretentious. Sir Humphrey in ďYes, MinisterĒ would be a good model. The crusty old landowner MATTE treats him as an underling; and the smooth, arch-politician FREI is suspicious of him and slightly mocking, as he is of MATTE, whom he likes to provoke because of his extreme reactionary views. FREI is a reluctant conspirator, and has to be dragged against his will into this new alliance with the erstwhile reactionary adversary of his own reformist government. He enjoys winding MATTE up to salve his own bad conscience.
FREI: Whose lead?
SAENZ: Mine. Did you see heís invited Castro here next month?
MATTE: (surly) I hope somebody shoots that bastard while heís here. Imagine that, a communist dictator invited to tour a democratic country making communist speeches, trying to get our country into the same hole heís in.
FREI: Itís a disgrace. Still, Iím not sure that old Fidel will like what he sees here.
MATTE: (indignant) Wonít like it!! Heíll love it! Heíll see a country that has nationalised all the major industries already: copper, iron, saltpetre, textiles, not to mention the telephones and banks. And all that within a year.
FREI: Yes, but itís still a functioning democracy with a free press and a vocal opposition. Castro wonít know whatís struck him. Heíll see demonstrations against him for the first time in his life.
MATTE: (scornfully) Functioning democracy. For how long?
SAENZ: Not long, unless we act to stop him.
FREI: (quickly) What do you mean by that?
MATTE: That was a heart led. You havenít got a heart?
SAENZ: It seems not, doesnít it.
MATTE: We canít let it go on, thatís for sure.
FREI: How can we stop it?
MATTE: There are ways.
FREI: Iím talking about legal ways. Thatís my trick. (Takes the cards)
MATTE: There are legal ways. Saenz here has thought up a plan. Heís going to present it to the Industrialists Forum next week.
FREI: Whatís that then?
MATTE: Who won that lot? How many tricks did you get?
SAENZ: I won. Look. (Shows the cards) And itís my deal. (Gathers the cards, shuffles)
FREI: So whatís this plan?
SAENZ: (starting to deal) The plan is a very simple one.
MATTE: Out with it then. Tell him, for Godís sake.
SAENZ: (dealing) It all revolves around the economy. Thatís his weak point.
FREI: Why is it his weak point?
SAENZ: Because we still control it, by and large, but the government gets blamed if it goes wrong. So, the thing to do is to make it go wrong.
FREI: That sounds a bit destructive.
SAENZ: (suavely) We must be cruel to be kind. Our goal must be to cause shortages, inflation, strikes, economic chaos, an atmosphere of panic and terror. Our press will then blame all this on the failure of socialism.
FREI: (sceptically) But will the people believe you?
MATTE: (impatiently) They will if we tell them often enough and loud enough. I make it spades.
SAENZ: Your lead. As chaos mounts, weíll demand a plebiscite. Allende will have to call one. Heíll lose and weíll be rid of him -- legally and cleanly.
MATTE: (appealing to FREI; enthusiastic, no-nonsense, leading a card) There, you see. A neat, foolproof plan. And clean. Nothing ugly.
FREI: (sceptically) Possibly. Possibly. So thatís a trump. (Plays. To SAENZ) You talk of causing inflation. Allendeís government has reduced inflation by a third in less than a year.
SAENZ: (smoothly; sure of his arguments) Of course, and how has he done it? By rigid price controls and by expanding production. (Takes the trick) Since he raised workersí wages, he has only been able to satisfy the new demand without creating inflation by vastly increasing production, giving us the highest growth rate in the Western Hemisphere. (Leads)
FREI: And whatís to stop him keeping on with that?
MATTE: (impatiently, triumphantly) We can stop him. (Trumps the card) Thatís what. (To SAENZ, peremptory) Tell him.
SAENZ: (proudly, like the prize pupil under the headmasterís gaze) Yes, indeed, we can. Without us, he canít go on expanding production. The economy is now producing at full capacity. To expand any further we need to invest in more machines, more factories, which means more capital. If we refuse to provide that capital, he canít expand production.
FREI: (curious) So, what happens? The economy grinds to a halt? (Plays)
SAENZ: Worse. The higher wages have led to huge new demand. Without a continuing expansion of production, weíll get shortages. Queues, empty shops, the very image of Soviet penury. (His satisfaction rising) A black market, inflation, economic chaos ó and a revolt by the middle class, who have never seen shortages before. If we turn off the tap of capital, we bring Allende down. (Plays)
MATTE: (triumphant; to FREI, as he takes the trick) You see? What did I tell you? This plan will work! (Throws down another lead card)
FREI: (frowning as he considers this, also hesitating over his game) But what if he replies by simply nationalising more companies, more farms, taking control of them so that he can increase production anyway? (Plays)
SAENZ: Thatís where we checkmate him. Your party has got to bring in a bill putting a stop to all further nationalisations. Since your two parties together control Congress, it should be no problem passing it.
FREI: And what if Allende vetoes the bill?
SAENZ: (triumphantly) Then thereís a constitutional crisis. The end of all co-operation by Congress. You can refuse to pass his tax bills, his budget. He wonít be able to govern. (Plays and takes the trick)
FREI: (grudgingly) Well, it might work.
MATTE: (impatiently) Of course itíll work. Itís a masterpiece. A pincer strategy. We screw him at both ends. Turn off all capital and stop him nationalising.
FREI: (to SAENZ, as the latter leads) But if you want to turn off the tap of capital, you have to turn off all the taps, external as well.
SAENZ: (smugly) Oh, thatís already being taken care of. The Americans are keeping up pressure on the World Bank to cut off all loans to Chile. Without foreign credit, our financial system will collapse. And Kennecott are organising a world-wide boycott of our copper Ė because they donít accept the nationalisation of their mines. Since copper revenues make up 70% of Chileís foreign earnings, weíll have no money to pay for imports. (Smiles) We just wait for the rot to set in.
FREI: And how bad will the rot get, do you think?
SAENZ: (airily) Oh, pretty bad. Sky-high inflation like Germany in the twenties, shortages and queues like Stalinist Russia. Itíll be an excellent lesson for the Marxist rabble Ė ďYou hate capitalism, see how you survive when it no longer functions!Ē Itíll be an educational process.
FREI: (musing) A somewhat painful one for Chile. (He plays a card)
MATTE: (sharply) Donít be so blasted wet, Eduardo. There is no alternative.
SAENZ: (sententiously) Itís regrettable, but we must harden our hearts like a good doctor. When a patient has fever, he must be made to sweat. The nation has to sweat out the Marxist virus. (Plays. MATTE takes the trick)
FREI: And how long will it take the country to recover from the damage?
SAENZ: (suavely) Oh, no time at all. Our American friends have promised to keep our side going with all the money we need. And when itís all over and we have a decent government again, weíll get massive loans to get us back on our feet again.
FREI: (sarcastic) Uncle Sam to the rescue. (Looks at the cards. MATTE has led.)
MATTE: (frowning) Your play. The Americans are being generous enough to help us in our hour of need, Eduardo. No need to sneer.
FREI: (ironic) Of course, itís pure altruism on their part too.
MATTE: I suspect it is. They have a deep interest in the welfare of this hemisphere.
FREI: (smiling) Yes, of course. (Plays)
MATTE: (insinuating) They have helped so many of us after all. (Furrowing his brow) Didnít someone tell me they contributed heavily to your last campaign, Eduardo? Not much sign of gratitude there, is there?
FREI: (stung; alarmed) What is that supposed to mean?
MATTE: (soothing) Eduardo, we are all compromised. None of us is pure. None of us could afford to have our sins splashed across the front pages of the newspapers. (Quietly ramming home the implicit blackmail) None of us would survive it. We all have to stick together. (Gathers the trick after SAENZ plays) That was my game. (He begins shuffling)
FREI: (carefully; his eyes narrowing) I am well aware of the interests we have in common, Benjamin. Though it might have spared us a lot if you had kept them in mind during my government.
MATTE: (mumbling sheepishly) Thatís all water under the bridge now.
FREI: (sarcastic, harshly) Yes, water under the bridge! And now you come along proposing a plan to ruin our economy, to destabilise our country, the country I happen to love, and you want me to go along with it.
MATTE: (weakly, still shuffling) Itís our only hope.
FREI: (ramming home his advantage) Well, at least you could have the decency to pretend to regret it! To shed a few tears for the misery weíre going to cause, all because you fat-cat landowners were too bloody selfish to accept moderate reforms!
MATTE: (contrite, desperate) All rght, perhaps we were wrong! (Starts to deal)
FREI: (stops, turns, double take) Sorry, I beg your pardon?
MATTE: (mumbling) We were wrong.
FREI: (cupping an ear) I missed it again. What did you say?
MATTE: (resentful) We were wrong.
FREI: (satisfied) Ah, ďwrongĒ! What a wonderful word! ďWe were wrong.Ē What a wonderful phrase! I think Iíd like to hear it one more time.
MATTE: (shouting) We were wrong, goddamn it!
FREI: (pleased, sarcastic, gathering his cards) Good! Iím glad thatís been cleared up. And now, as for this plan to ruin the economy -- I do hope you are entering into this in the right spirit, in a suitable spirit of regret and remorse. I wouldnít like to see any glee in the ruining of our country.
SAENZ: (unctuous, arranging at his cards) Thereís no glee whatever, and you are absolutely right to insist on it. When I told you my plan, I was interested mainly in clarity. But now that youíve understood the principle, allow me to express how deeply sorry I am that we have to resort to this sort of tactic, for the long-term good of the country.
FREI: (pretending not to see the insincerity of SAENZís speech) Thatís a bit better. (Deadpan, making it hard to guess if he too is being ironical.) Well, gentlemen, in a fitting spirit of sorrow and reluctance, with no malice in our hearts, let us proceed with this plan for the ruin of our own economy. I make it clubs.
MATTE: (counting his cards, grumbling) Iíve dealt myself too many cards. (Throws his hand in) Throw your hands in. And letís concentrate for Godís sake.
ACT 2, SCENE 2.
LAURA on stage alone, addressing the audience.
LAURA: I spent a long time in queues. There was never enough of anything. Sometimes you queued just in case and only found out at the end what it was for. But we workers knew what it was all about. We knew it wasnít the governmentís fault. It was the fault of the bosses, the factory-owners, the landowners who were taking their cattle into Argentina to sell them. So we didnít complain when we had to queue for things. We felt we were lucky to have the money to pay for anything. We knew there were queues because the prices were controlled and our wages had risen. We could eat meat for the first time in our lives. But the rich, the middle classes, they complained. They didnít like it one bit, standing in line with the likes of us. I remember one day, queuing outside a butcherís shop -- that was the day I met Rafael. There was a woman in the queue next to me, and she wouldnít stop complaining about the government, and we got into an argument. (LAURA exits. Lights come up on LAURA 2, herself at the age of 18, and a middle-aged middle-class WOMAN. They are standing in front of a butcherís shop on a side street.)
WOMAN: (with an upper-class accent, turning to the audience as though to neighbours in the queue) Iím sick and tired of these queues. Why donít they do something about this communist government? Itís ruining the country. Itís breeding idleness in the factories. And on the farms. Weíve never seen queues like this before. Iíve never stood in a queue in my life, (disdainfully) and certainly not with people of this kind.
LAURA 2: Well, youíre the lucky one, arenít you? Iíd rather stand in a queue for a bit than look in shop windows at things I could never afford to buy.
WOMAN: (indignantly, contemptuously) Are you answering me back? The cheek of it! Whatís this country coming to? Havenít you got any respect for your betters any longer? (Enter RAFAEL and stands in the queue, listening in)
LAURA 2: (stung) Betters! Itís not money that makes you better than anybody else.
WOMAN: (excitedly, to the audience) There, itís communism, you see. The Christian religionís gone by the board in this country. ďServants be subject to your master,Ē thatís what the bible said.
LAURA 2: It also said: ďblessed are the poor!Ē
WOMAN: (furious) The poor in spirit! And the meek! But you lot are hardly meek, are you? This place is becoming like Russia!
LAURA 2: If it was Russia, you wouldnít be abusing the government at the top of your voice, would you?
WOMAN: (beside herself) Itís what you want, isnít it? A communist dictatorship.
LAURA 2: Dictatorship is more what your side want. Weíre free for the first time in our lives Ė we have some say in things.
WOMAN: Why should the likes of you have a say in anything, you guttersnipe?
RAFAEL: (intervening after much hesitation ) Here, hang on, you canít call her that.
WOMAN: (turning on him) Iíll call her what I like, you long-haired ruffian!
LAURA 2: (continuing) And we can afford decent food for the first time in our lives.
WOMAN: Why should you be able to afford it? Youíve lived on rice and beans for centuries. (Contemptuous) You breed like rats even on that. Thatís whatís ruining the economy. All the guttersnipes with money in their pockets, cleaning out the shops.
RAFAEL: (needling her) You donít like us being able to buy anything, do you? You want the prices to go up again so only you can afford things.
WOMAN: Exactly. As in any well-run economy. (A distant noise of a crowd is heard)
RAFAEL: Well-run from whose point of view?
WOMAN: Well-run from the point of view of decent people. Those with a stake in society.
LAURA 2: Hey, whatís that noise? (Listens to the crowd noise)
RAFAEL: Sounds like a demonstration. (Distant chanting is heard.)
LAURA 2: Itís not something to do with Castroís visit, is it?
RAFAEL: No, Fidelís last meeting is tomorrow. At the stadium. Are you going?
LAURA: Probably, but I hope he doesnít speak for too long. He does go on a bit!
WOMAN: Itís a disgrace that communist dictator speaking here! He should be arrested!
LAURA: (ignoring her) So whatís this demo for today? I didnít hear about it.
WOMAN: (tartly) Oh, but perhaps itís not one of yours, it may be one of ours.
RAFAEL: (remembering; to LAURA) Wait a minute, is that the womenís march?
LAURA 2: (surprised) The what march?
RAFAEL: The womenís march. Theyíre demonstrating against the shortages.
LAURA 2: (horrified) What women? Not working women!
WOMAN: (crushing) No, of course not. Decent women! People with some standards and something to lose. Who donít like queuing for two hours for a joint of beef.
RAFAEL: I saw it in the papers. Big advertisements. Calling on all the women from the posh suburbs to march into town. With saucepans. (Excitedly) Thatís what the noise is -- theyíre banging saucepans. Itís organised by the fascist gang, Fatherland and Freedom.
LAURA 2: (disturbed) Fatherland and Freedom! Those blackshirts? Theyíre allowing them to march?
WOMAN: (gleefully) Yes, and theyíll soon clean out you communist vermin.
RAFAEL: (as the crowd noise gets louder) Theyíre getting closer.
LAURA 2: Fancy the rich women stooping to that!
WOMAN: (triumphant) This is just the beginning, you guttersnipes. The people are coming out against your government. The people who count.
RAFAEL: (going leftstage and looking offstage round the corner of the next shop, and up a main street) Theyíre coming down the street. You can see the black fascist flags with the thunderbolts. (The noise grows louder)
WOMAN: (jeering) And youíre scared out of your rags and patches, you sewer-rats! Youíd better get used to it. Soon it wonít be just women marching, itíll be tanks and soldiers. And then youíd better run to your rat-holes and hide.
LAURA 2: (anxiously) Theyíre shouting something. What are they shouting?
WOMAN: (triumphant, joining in the chant) Weíre sick of empty pots! Thatís what theyíre shouting. (Shouting with the crowd noise, which is now very loud and becomes clear) Weíre sick of empty pots! Weíre sick of empty pots! Allende out! Allende out! Weíre sick of empty pots!
RAFAEL: (going extreme leftstage, shouting defiantly offstage, up the main street, as the chant continues in crescendo and the marchers come abreast of the side-street where the butcherís shop is located) Viva Allende! Popular Unity! Viva Allende! (Going offstage, chanting) Popular Unity! (Exit to go and challenge the marchers)
LAURA 2: (shouting after him, anxiously) Be careful!
VOICES off: (above the chanting) Get the communist scum! Kill the reds! Kill the reds!
LAURA 2: (horrified) No! (RAFAEL runs back onstage, pursued by a hooded BLACKSHIRT, who beats him with a truncheon till he falls. BLACKSHIRT exits again. LAURA 2 runs to RAFAEL and bends over him.) Oh, you fool, you fool, you shouldnít have! What have they done to you?
WOMAN: (with satisfaction) Serves him right!
LAURA 2: (to her, furious) You were best to shut up, you! (To RAFAEL tenderly) Are you all right? Shall I get a doctor? I donít know where to find one! (Anguished) Oh God, look at you, youíre bleeding. Where are you hurt?
WOMAN: (gloating) The day is coming when theyíll hunt you down like rats and drag you off screaming to a cell and you wonít have doctors there, youíll be in the hands of those whoíll know what to do with you. Theyíll make you sing another tune, you communist scum.
LAURA 2: (horrified) Oh, my God, look at the cut on your head! Iíve got to stop the bleeding. How can I stop it? Has anyone got a cloth Ė somebody? (Looks around desperately. The WOMAN ostentatiously rearranges her silk scarf. LAURA 2 stares at it. Suddenly she springs up and snatches it off her and quickly begins tying it round RAFAELís head. The WOMAN screams and begins beating her over the head with her handbag.)
WOMAN: (hysterical, beating her) Thief! Thief! Sheís stolen my silk scarf!
LAURA: (shoves her violently away; she falls) Go away, you stupid bitch, youíll get it back when Iíve finished with it! (RAFAEL is trying to say something; she leans over him) Whatís that youíre saying?
RAFAEL: (hoarsely) Guns! weíve got to get guns. Itís the only way.
LAURA: (horrified) No, it isnít. Listen, Iíll help you up! Try and stand.
(She helps him to his feet and they hobble off, with him leaning on her)
WOMAN: (getting up shakily, in shock, looking around) Wonít somebody help me? Iíve been robbed! Sheís stolen my silk scarf!
ACT 2, SCENE 3
ALLENDEís office in the Presidential palace. ALLENDE, with his Aide OLIVARES and the conservative communist, CORVALAN on one side, and the left-wing socialist ALTAMIRANO on the other, like Vice and Virtue in a morality play, arguing for his soul.
ALTAMIRANO: Salvador, nowís the time to keep your head, to stay the course, to not cave in.
CORVALAN: (heated) Donít listen to him, Salvador. Weíve got to change course. The country is heading for anarchy.
ALTAMIRANO: The class war has begun as I told you it would. You have to decide : whose side are you on?
CORVALAN: There are mobs taking over factories without any plan or any hope of making them work. Production is grinding to a halt. Vuskovic is encouraging this anarchy. Heís got to go.
ALTAMIRANO: He is transferring production to the people. He is nationalising all factories that are failing to produce.
OLIVARES: And most of them are failing to produce because the workers have taken them over.
ALTAMIRANO: They are failing to produce because of sabotage. This is their way of bringing you down.
CORVALAN: This tactic is leading to a fall in production and longer queues.
ALTAMIRANO: Any fall in production will be temporary. At least if we control the factories we can get them working again. Put an end to the sabotage.
OLIVARES. The entire middle class are turning against us. Weíre losing support.
ALTAMIRANO: We reached 50 per cent of the vote in the municipal elections. Weíre getting more and more of the workers out to vote because they see real hope of change.
OLIVARES: That was months ago. Since then weíve lost ground. Weíll never get a majority in Congress at this rate.
ALTAMIRANO: Congress is an irrelevancy. The battle will be won in the streets.
CORVALAN: We canít win a physical battle in the streets. The army will step in and make a coup.
ALTAMIRANO: The opposition arenít united yet. They arenít ready for a coup.
CORVALAN: This will be the fastest way to unite them.
ALTAMIRANO: We mustnít change course. We must continue to advance.
OLIVARES: We are advancing towards anarchy.
ALLENDE: I take your argument Carlos, but I agree with the others. It is time we changed course. We have to reign in the workersí movements. Put an end to anarchy. Get the economy producing again.
ALTAMIRANO: We canít raise production while the factories are in the hands of those who donít want to raise it, who are trying to screw up the economy.
CORVALAN: And we wonít raise it by letting workers take over factories and shut them down to hold meetings all day.
ALTAMIRANO: You see what an anti-worker bias this so-called communist shows!
ALLENDE: Carlos, heís right. We canít go down the road of anarchy and civil war.
ALTAMIRANO: If you try and damp down the workersí actions, the movement will lose all its energy, like a deflated balloon. The initiative will pass to the enemy.
ALLENDE: We must consolidate what we have won, in order to advance again later.
ALTAMIRANO: We have won nothing. There is nothing to consolidate. This is a historic mistake. (Walks out)
OLIVARES: That man is a fanatic, Salvador.
ALLENDE: It is good to have debate within the government. Opposition makes our choices clearer.
CORVALAN: If it is loyal opposition. Carlos is a loose cannon.
ALLENDE: As the Americans say, there are some people it is better to have inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.
OLIVARES: But heís inside the tent pissing in!
ALLENDE: (wincing) God, I wish I could get rid of this pain in my chest. I canít breathe. (He leans on the desk, in pain)
OLIVARES: Salvador! (Calls offstage) La Payita! Quick! His medicine!
(LA PAYITA comes running in with a medicine bottle; grabs ALLENDE as he stands leaning against the desk in pain)
LA PAYITA: Salvador!
ACT 2, SCENE 4 A public square. LAURA enters and sees RAFAEL across the square. He is carrying a spanner and screwdriver.
LAURA: (running to him) Rafael! (Throws her arms round him and kisses him. Relieved and happy, but also reproachful) Iíve been looking everywhere for you! Why didnít you wake me and take me with you? You knew I wanted to come!
RAFAEL: (quietly) Itís dangerous here. You could get hurt.
LAURA: Why, whatís happening?
RAFAEL: Weíre trying to get trucks Ė commandeer them.
LAURA: Whatís that mean?
RAFAEL: (rapidly, urgently) Weíve got to break the truck-ownersí strike. Itís a bossesí strike. The world is upside down. The fascists are sabotaging all the trucks, stealing engine parts. Weíve got to grab the trucks and get them back in working order so we can distribute food.
LAURA: I saw an old woman back there, with a donkey cart full of vegetables.
RAFAEL: Where did you see her?
LAURA: (gestures behind her) Two streets over. She looked lost. She asked me about a workersí co-operative. I didnít know what to say.
RAFAEL: (urgently) Weíve got to find her Ė before the fascists do. Sheís come in from one of the peasant co-operatives. Theyíre defying the strike, bringing in food from the countryside. For us. So we can distribute it.
LAURA: What Ė you mean to the shops?
RAFAEL: (impatiently) No! All the shops are closed in support of the bosses! Weíll by-pass the shops. Distribute everything ourselves. Do you see? If the bosses wonít work, weíll run things without the bastards!
LAURA: (confused) But how can they afford not to work -- the bosses I mean?
RAFAEL: Theyíre being paid by the Americans. The truckers on strike are getting fifty dollars a day from the CIA.
LAURA: (uncomprehending) But why? Why are the Americans against us?
RAFAEL: (carried away by enthusiasm and idealism) Because weíll soon be free of them. Weíll show the world we can be free of their system. We can do everything ourselves. A world of equals! No bosses! Freedom! For the first time anywhere!
VOICES: (offstage, chanting, tramping boots) Strike! Strike! Strike for free Chile! Kill the reds! Kill the reds! Strike for free Chile!
RAFAEL: (afraid, urgently) The fascists! Come on, weíd better get out of here.
(He takes her by the hand and they begin to run) Listen, Iíve got my call-up papers. Iíve got to report to the Navy.
LAURA: The Navy. Youíll serve in Valparaiso then.
RAFAEL: I think I might make a run for it. To the mountains. Join the guerrillas.
LAURA: No, donít, youíll get killed. I donít want you to. Donít join the terrorists. Theyíll kill you.
RAFAEL: (surprised) Theyíre not terrorists.
LAURA: They are. (They are on the point of a major disagreement.)
ACT 2, SCENE 5
A staff-room in the ministry of defence. Generals BONILLA, BRADY, PICKERING, TORRES. BONILLA, a fiery anti-communist fanatic, is trying to stir up support for a coup. BRADY is trying to control him. PRATS (who enters in mid-scene with PINOCHET) tries to marginalize him and win the others over; PINOCHET is trying to stay out of it, keep a low profile and avoid committing himself. PICKERING is a good-natured follower of the gang, who loves teasing his friend TORRES, who is pro-coup, but looks to BRADY not BONILLA.
BONILLA: (with satisfaction) What could be better! A bossesí strike. Everybodyís joining it. Truckers, shopkeepers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, bank clerks, even some of the miners! The countryís grinding to a halt. (Impatiently) Thereíll soon be food riots in the streets! Then itíll be time for us to move.
PICKERING: (sceptical) And how many of us do you think are ready to move?
BONILLA: Thereís nobody against it still except Prats.
BRADY: (coolly) Nonsense. Weíre still a long chalk from being ready, Bonilla.
BONILLA: (impatiently) Listen, Brady-
TORRES: (intervening) No, you listen, Bonilla. (Indicating Brady) This is the man.
BRADY: We canít make a move until we know exactly who we can count on. The Navy, the Air Force. The Military Police. Otherwise weíll end up shooting at each other. And then youíll have a right bloody mess.
BONILLA: Then why donít we talk to them, for Godís sake? The newspapers are yelling for it. People are calling us chicken generals for not acting right now.
BRADY: (irritated) The newspapers havenít got the faintest idea of the planning problems involved. Theyíd be the first to jump on us if we blew it--
TORRES: (warning) Sshh, hereís Prats. And Pinochet.
(Enter General PRATS, brisk, commanding, suggesting his English upper class ancestry, followed by PINOCHET, discreet and self-effacing. PRATS starts the scene totally isolated, faced with the hostility of the others. He ends up winning them all over, by sheer force of argument and personality.)
PRATS: Good morning, gentlemen.
OTHERS: (dutifully, in a ragged chorus) Good morning, General Prats.
PRATS: (striding about, like a lecturer before his students, whom he dominates effortlessly) I have some important news for you. I have just come from a meeting with the President, along with the chiefs of the other armed services. The President made us an interesting proposal. (He looks around at them to gauge their reactions. They look expectant.) In view of the mounting anarchy in the country, he suggested some changes in his government. He invited the four armed service commanders to join his cabinet, with myself as Minister of the Interior and Vice-President.
(There is a stunned silence)
BRADY: (tensely) And what Ö.are you going to do?
PRATS: Iíll accept, of course.
BONILLA: (outraged, exploding) Youíll what? You mean youíre going to join Allendeís government? Now, at this moment, when heís ready to fall? Youíre going to save his skin?
PRATS: (crushingly, his dislike for BONILLA coming through) Bonilla, you donít seem to have grasped that a state of anarchy in a country does not benefit anyone except its enemies.
BONILLA: It does if it brings a bad government down.
PRATS: (magisterially) There is no constitutional means of bringing this government down. There are no elections due for another six months. We cannot have chaos until then.
BONILLA. At moments like this legalism is a luxury we canít afford.
PRATS: (sharply) What exactly do you mean by that remark?
BONILLA: (sullenly, slightly cowed) I mean that this government is violating the constitution. We have the right and the duty to move in and restore legality.
PRATS. (loftily) Until the courts decide there is violation of the constitution, it is not for us to do so.
BRADY: (reasoning with him) But frankly, General Prats, in political terms, our joining the cabinet is going to strengthen a government that is causing economic chaos.
PRATS: (judicious, professorial) This is a conflict with two sides to it. I am by no means sure the government is entirely to blame. The opposition is clearly sabotaging the economy.
TORRES: What would you do, General Prats, if the state decided to nationalise your farm or family business, would you let them?
PRATS: Some redistribution of land and wealth is necessary. These extremes of wealth and poverty cannot continue forever. It is a question of whether a just compromise can be found, and with the army as a stabilizing force there is more chance of finding that compromise.
BONILLA: How can you have a just compromise between those with property and thieves who are trying to steal it?
PRATS: And how can millions of people be expected to go on watching their children go hungry while across town others are rolling in wealth?
BRADY: Other countries manage some kind of justice without massive nationalisations. This is communism, not justice.
PRATS: (reasonably) I agree we must restrain the governmentís policies. And with control of key ministries weíll be able to. Weíll be a counterweight to Altamirano and the Marxist fanatics.
BONILLA: (angrily) Heís just using you, General Prats. Heís just calling in a few uniforms to restore order and then heíll kick you out again and go back to his bloody lunatic Marxism.
PRATS: We can restrain the government best by being part of it, by pushing it to compromise with the opposition.
BONILLA: (passionately) Whatís the use of a patched up compromise? Itíll just draw out the agony. Heís got to go!
TORRES: Do we really want to be part of a Marxist government?
PRATS: This is not a Marxist government, and if we join it we can stop it becoming one. But there has to be social change. In Europe countries have moved forward over generations to some kind of justice. Weíve got behind, thereís been foot-dragging by those with the wealth, and now weíre going to have to do it with a wrench.
TORRES: Inequality is in the nature of things. We canít have equality and an economy that works.
PRATS: There have got to be limits to inequality. Society must be held together. It canít be, if half of society see themselves as victims of the other half. They wonít accept the rules.
BONILLA: We donít want equality that consists of parcelling out equal bits of poverty. Wealth has to be created. By work, by enterprise.
PRATS: Exactly. And those who do the work must be given proper payment for it.
PICKERING: And what about those who created the enterprise?
PRATS: Them as well. Everyone has to get what they think is a fair share, if theyíre all going to accept the rules.
TORRES: Thereís no fairness if a man can lose his business or his farm to a bunch of anarchists who come and occupy it Ė and then the government nationalises it. One of my cousins lost his farm the other week.
PRATS: That is what we have to look into. We have to get the government to give up its nationalisation policy and accept the oppositionís Three Areas bill. Property rights have to be respected Ö up to a point.
BRADY: (dismayed) Up to a point! That lets in a lot of mischief.
PRATS: Look, no property rights are absolute. Once upon a time this country belonged to the king of Spain. When we took it away from him, wasnít that a violation of property rights?
TORRES: (indignant) When we took control of our own country, that was a national revolution.
PRATS: Some people think it is time for another one.
TORRES: (horrified) That is lunacy.
PRATS: And while I donít share that point of view, I believe in bringing changes that will satisfy them without a revolution.
BONILLA: Those changes will be unacceptable to part of the nation.
PRATS. That is why we need strong government to referee while this contest goes on. We must stop it degenerating into violence.
BONILLA: But it is the government that is doing the mischief. You are turning it into a dictatorship. It wonít be an impartial referee.
PRATS: With us in control, it will be.
TORRES: You wonít control these Marxists. Theyíll control you.
PRATS: (curtly) Whoís got the tanks, us or them?
BRADY. (curiously) Are you proposing a sort of legal coup díťtat?
PRATS. Iím proposing military participation in government, on the Presidentís invitation. Nothing more nor less. And with all the influence over policy that that implies.
TORRES: (sceptically) I donít think itíll work.
PICKERING: (conciliating) We could give it a try.
PRATS: (reasonable) If it doesnít work I can always resign from the cabinet.
BRADY. Well, how do you others feel? General Pinochet, as Chief of Staff, number two in the army, we would like to hear your view.
PINOCHET: (tactful, diplomatic, opaque) I support General Prats, our commander in chief, in all his endeavours and plans. I believe a spell in government will be good experience for the army.
PINOCHET: Some people have mentioned a coup díťtat. Coups do not happen in Chile. But in case anyone here might think governing an easy task, a spell of practice at it can only concentrate our minds.
BRADY: (thoughtful) Yes, I suppose a certain amount of experience in government would be a good thing. We can watch the Marxists at work.
TORRES: It will certainly be good for intelligence gathering.
PINOCHET: And at the moment there is no alternative. It is anarchy or us.
PRATS: Very succinctly put, General Pinochet. Well, does anyone have any further objections? (Silence) Right, since weíre all agreed, Iíll send word to the President that Iíve accepted his proposal. Then we can get these gangs of thugs off the streets. And get things back to normal. Good day, gentlemen. (Salutes and exits, highly satisfied with his victory. The others salute half-heartedly.)
BONILLA: (bitterly) This has got be a low-point, when the army does the dirty work of Marxists.
PINOCHET: Bonilla, there is a long road ahead of us, and the unity and discipline of the army every step of the way is essential. Remember, there is no greater danger to an army than disunity. Now, I have some work to do. Good day, gentlemen. (Exit)
PICKERING: (puzzled) What the hell did he mean by that?
BRADY: I can never fathom that man. What does he really think, does anyone know?
BONILLA: (savagely) Heís another bloody Prats. Under the pair of them weíre in a right mess.
TORRES: (thoughtful) I think Pinochetíll fall our way in the end. Heís a dark horse, heíll make his run in the last furlong.
PICKERING: You mean heíll wait till he sees which way the wind blows?
BRADY: (musing) He could be what we need. A sleeper. Who wakes at the right time. Weíll have to talk to him eventually, when the moment comes to get rid of Prats. Meanwhile, weíll have to start talking to the others, sounding them out as discreetly as possible.
PICKERING: That sounds risky.
BRADY: It has to be done. Someone has to talk to the Navy, the Air Force. As for the opposition politicians, thatíll be your department, Bonilla. Youíre keeping up regular contact with your friend Frei?
BONILLA: Weíre in contact.
BRADY: Sound them out. Theyíll be key players. We need to network. Now is the time to start weaving our web. We mustnít be caught with our pants down. Gentlemen, we have to begin planning for the worst-case scenario. Our country may need us at any time.
(Possible moment for an interval, though the best moment seems to me at the end of ACT 3)
ACT 3, SCENE 1
An elegant reception in Matteís grand townhouse. FREI, SAENZ, arriving from the entrance hall rightstage, are welcomed by LAVINIA, Matteís wife, a wealthy socialite of 50, in an evening dress. She has an affected manner of speaking, emphasizing certain words. We can see certain changes in the menís mood since we last saw them. SAENZ is now more confident, the equal of the others, after the success of his plan of economic sabotage. FREI is optimistic about the election but deeply upset when he hears the result. MATTE is quietly contented as he sees his own pessimistic prognosis come true, and the development of a consensus for a coup. BONILLA, who used to be FREIís military aide, is reserved and good-mannered among these upper crust civilians, not the outspoken hothead that he is among his military colleagues, whom he sometimes despises for their lack of breeding.
LAVINIA: (with exaggerated welcome) Eduardo! So nice to see you again! And Mr Saenz!
FREI: Good evening, Lavinia. (Kissing her cheek) Youíre looking lovelier than ever. (She extends her hand to SAENZ, who bows over it)
LAVINIA: Considering the circumstances, it is nothing less than a triumph of improvisation! My dear Eduardo, what have you politicians been playing at? Youíve been promising us the defeat of this rascally government for over two years now. I do hope youíre not going to disappoint us again tonight.
FREI: (smiling suavely) Oh, weíll win, Iím quietly confident of that.
LAVINIA: (vigorously) Yes, but you must win crushingly! You must get two thirds of Congress and impeach this scoundrel tomorrow. The country is depending on you. Now do promise me you wonít let us down.
FREI: Well, thereís not much point in promising, Lavinia. Youíll hear the result yourself Ö.. (looking at his watch) in about half an hour. If they donít put off announcing it yet again. And I must warn you it will be close.
LAVINIA: (disappointed) Oh dear! You men just donít seem to understand how we women are suffering. Thereís absolutely nothing left in the shops. Just try to find a decent dress! Or oneís favourite perfume! We might as well be in Russia! As for the servants (dropping her voice) entre nous, theyíre becoming quite impossible. Something has got to be done before the poor, dear people forget everything weíve taught them.
FREI: Weíll do our utmost to restore things to normal as quickly as possible, Lavinia.
(Enter BONILLA, from the front hall right)
LAVINIA: I do hope so. Ah, hereís General Bonilla. Good evening, General. (He bows over her hand) With such wonderful strong men as the general on our side, it would be quite absurd if we couldnít defend our rights. (Simpering towards BONILLA) I donít know why the army doesnít just go ahead and take control. (Flirtatiously) Iím sure nobody could resist them.
BONILLA: (bowing) Weíre working on it, Madam. (To FREI) Evening, Eduardo.
FREI: (Shaking hands warmly) Oscar, howís things?
(Enter MATTE leftstage, from another reception room in the house)
MATTE: Ah, Eduardo, so glad you could make it. And Orlando. General Bonilla. (Shakes hands all round) Now, Lavinia, my pet, we are going to be discussing dreary old menís affairs, do run along.
LAVINIA: (smiling gracefully) Well, I do hope you manage to sort something out soon, or we women will have to do it for you. (Exit)
MATTE: (to the others) If we can find a quiet corner. (Looks about) Is this all right? (Points to a circle of armchairs round a low table. This could be on a terrace, as it is a balmy autumn evening.)
SAENZ: (showing his new-won status among them) Thisíll do nicely. (They sit down.
Enter a SERVANT, MANUEL, with a tray of drinks)
MATTE: (calling servant as he passes) Over here, Manuel! (MANUEL serves them all a drink and then goes) Hereís to victory, gentlemen. (They raise glasses and repeat the toast in murmurs.)
FREI: (raising his glass) To victory! And a speedy impeachment. (They drink)
SAENZ: (chattering, full of the self-importance and vanity of a social climber) What will the charge be that weíll bring against him, exactly Ė for impeachment Ė assuming we get the two thirds we need.
FREI: Good God, weíve got an embarrassment of choice. Inciting the occupation of private property, subversion of the courts, refusal to enforce court orders to return property, misuse of the presidential veto, misuse of rule by decree, refusal to sign congressional bills into law Ė the list could go on and on. Any number of these charges could result in impeachment.
MATTE: Provided of course, we get the two thirds in Congress. If we have the votes, we can impeach him for dribbling on his tie.
SAENZ. Well, surely we will we get the votes, donít you think?
FREI: With the country in chaos and inflation at 200 per cent Iíd be surprised if he doesnít lose at least four per cent on last time, which is what we need.
MATTE: Under normal circumstances, yes. But are these circumstances normal?
FREI: Well, of course, theyíre not normal. The place is sliding into anarchy.
MATTE: What I mean is: will people react in the normal way to this anarchy? If you look at the polls heís not losing support, because more and more workers and slum-dwellers are going out and voting. Heís raking up the useless dregs of society and turning them into voters. Thatís making up for the votes heís losing in the middle class.
SAENZ: (uneasy) Are you saying we could lose?
MATTE: Iím saying letís not count our chickens. We may not get the two thirds. And we might have to think of something else.
SAENZ: You mean ó force? But thatís incredible: with the country in such a mess, and the money weíve spent on our campaigns Ė not just our money, by the way Ė why arenít we winning the battle for votes?
MATTE: (thoughtful) I really do think weíre facing one of those moments in history when the people go mad. They get swept away by a wave of delirium Ė a primitive faith that the final battle is coming Ė Armageddon Ė when the rich and powerful will be overthrown at last. Itís a kind of mass hysteria, and the normal means of propaganda can do nothing to control it. When people become deaf to reason, politics stops working. Something else has got to take its place.
FREI: Then whatís the answer? Force? Even if we were obliged finally to contemplate that solution, would we be able to govern a nation when part of it has gone mad?
MATTE: Certainly not right away we wouldnít. Weíd have to leave that to the General and his friends.
FREI: (surprised) But a military government, if it came to that, would be short lived. Theyíd call new elections and hand over power to us again. Isnít that the plan, Oscar?
BONILLA: Yes, we have no ambition to rule long-term.
MATTE: But during their interim government, they will of course clean the country up, root out the subversive element. It may take a little longer than we imagine.
FREI: (ill at ease; morosely) The very resort to such a clean-up is a confession of political failure. Chile has never needed it before.
MATTE: Times are changing. The weeds have grown a little too high, a little too thick in recent years. We canít escape the destiny of the whole continent forever.
FREI: (puzzled, irritated) What do you mean Ė the destiny of the continent?
MATTE: (Bluff, no-nonsense) Face facts, Eduardo. The middle and upper classes in this part of the world are still a minority. Democracy sooner or later becomes a threat to our position. Itís the fault of underdevelopment. The masses are poor, so they remain envious, a prey to extremist ideologies. Periodically, this gives rise to dangerous popular movements which have to be trimmed back Ė and the military are the traditional gardeners.
SAENZ: (admiringly) Thatís a fine image! The military as gardeners.
MATTE: We let them in for a couple of years, they clean up the garden, burn the weeds, and then hand back power to us. Itís the Latin American way.
FREI: (dubiously) And you think Chile is going to have to follow that way? (Carefully, showing his concern with his own democratic image)And when the military hand back power to us, we pretend, I suppose, we had nothing to do with the clean-up?
SAENZ: (enthusiastically) Exactly! Thatís the beauty of it!
FREI: (still with some scruples; glumly) Itís an odd way to preserve democracy Ė
to periodically sacrifice it.
MATTE: (reasonably) What are the alternatives? Anarchist chaos or Marxist dictatorship? We have a civilisation here, Eduardo, even if the civilised are a minority. Itís not our fault if ideology is running ahead of economic development.
SAENZ: (seeing a chance to show off his cleverness) The trouble these days is that ideas cross borders. They spread all over the globe. They reach places where they are totally out of sync with the level of development.
MATTE: Yes, weíll just have to stop certain ideas circulating here, thatís all.
FREI: Well, letís hope the whole blasted thing wonít be necessary. Letís hope democracy works.
LAVINIA: (theatrically) Gentlemen, I hope you are ashamed of yourselves!
MATTE: (irritated) Lavinia, is there any call for this?
LAVINIA: (imperious) But the results! Donít you even know them? The first estimates have come over the television.
FREI: Damn, I wanted to see those! (He jumps up)
LAVINIA: (holding up a forbidding hand) Donít trouble yourself! I can enlighten you. Now, tell me again, how many votes did you need to be able to impeach Allende?
FREI: (sitting down again) Two thirds of Congress.
LAVINIA: (grandly, enjoying tormenting them) I believe Allende was elected with only thirty-seven per cent of the vote, was he not? Which means you only had to gain four per cent, and you would have your two thirds. Am I right?
FREI: (impatient) You are quite right, and if you wouldnít mind just telling us.
LAVINIA: (crushingly) Then allow me to inform you that you have failed abysmally. Far from gaining four per cent, you have lost seven per cent. The government parties have won forty-four per cent of the vote and will have forty-four per cent of the seats in Congress.
FREI: (shocked) Forty-four per cent! Up seven per cent!
LAVINIA: (tragically) And I believed your promises. I believed there were politicians in this country that could save us from bolshevism. I feel betrayed.
(Sinks into an armchair, dabbing her brow.)
FREI: (dismayed) Damn it all, itís impossible, with the country in such a mess. There must have been fraud! Thatís why they delayed announcing the results.
MATTE: (with satisfaction) Well, in that case we should have no scruples about turning to the military. General Bonilla, Iím afraid the Chilean nation now have no remedy for their wrongs but the army. You are now our only hope.
BONILLA: Weíll be ready to move shortly, gentlemen. Just as soon as we iron out the last details. But you can help us by calling a bit more vigorously for our action. Some of our colleagues are too cautious Ė they need prodding.
FREI: You mean Prats?
BONILLA: No, Iíve given up on Prats. He is now our main obstacle. He claims to be a constitutionalist, but between ourselves heís a bit of a Marxist. It would help if the press could attack him and try and get him out.
MATTE: Weíll make it a priority.
FREI: And how soon do you think you could be ready to move?
BONILLA: Weíll need a good pretext. Things have got to get a lot worse. At least as bad as the strike last October. Thereís got to be a feeling in the ranks something has to be done.
MATTE: Well, weíll see to that. Weíll stir things up. A bit of street violence. Perhaps the odd shooting.
BONILLA: Anything that can help convince a regimental commander that heís serving the public good by taking power.
FREI: (sombre, reflective, quietly) Itís hard to believe this is happening in our country, isnít it? Three years ago we had normal democratic government, and now weíre plotting a coup. Something unprecedented. Some people have a heavy responsibility before history.
MATTE: (impatiently, knowing FREIís remark has him in mind) Come on, Frei, donít exaggerate. Itís only a blasted coup, not the end of the world. They do this every year in Bolivia. Weíll soon get things back to normal. Letís have another drink, everybody. (Calling) Manuel! Whereís blasted Manuel? These servants Ė what the hellís got into them? (Looks around for the servant) I do believe theyíre turning bolshevik. Manuel!
ACT 3, Scene 2
The tancazo or tank rebellion of June 1973. A public square. Noise of a tank. The silhouette of a tank appears lefstage with the officer visible in the turret. General PRATS enters right, carrying a submachine gun.
PRATS: (shouting) You there, in the tank, whatís your name?
OFFICER: (in the tank turret) Tell me who you are first!
PRATS: Impertinent bastard, donít you know me? General Prats, your commander in chief.
OFFICER: (salutes) Sorry, sir; I didnít recognize you. Lieutenant Garcia.
PRATS: What the hell do you think youíre playing at?
OFFICER: Weíre taking over, sir.
PRATS: Like hell you are. Whose orders are you under?
OFFICER: Colonel Souperís, sir.
PRATS: What reason did he give you for this?
OFFICER: The army wants to arrest him. We refuse to allow him to be court-martialled.
PRATS: The charge against him is insubordination. Do you want it to be treason as well? And do you want to be shot for treason yourself?
OFFICER: No, sir. Weíre not traitors, sir. Weíre patriots. Weíre sick of this government and the mess itís making.
PRATS. (authoritative) Thatís for us to deal with, not you. Youíre being misled, you young fool. And so is Souper. Heís been manipulated. A fascist organization is behind this. Youíre being used. Nobody else is going to follow you. The general staff is loyal to the constitution. And whatever political problems there are will be sorted out by us in good time. Do you hear that? Now, Iím ordering you back to barracks, and I promise you no consequences will follow for you or your men if you obey me right now. Can I rely on you?
OFFICER: (uncertain) Yes, sir.
PRATS: Right, turn this tank around and scram back to your base.
OFFICER: What about the others, sir?
PRATS: Iíll deal with them. Now move.
OFFICER: Yes, sir, General Prats. (The tank moves offstage. BLACKOUT)
ACT 3, Scene 3
Allendeís house. An improvised radio studio. ALLENDE is making a broadcast, speaking into a microphone. AIDE, ALTAMIRANO, OLIVARES.
ALLENDE: (into a microphone) At this hour when the tanks are in the streets, I call on the people to take over the factories, to be vigilant, to march into the centre of the city, but not to become victims. The people should come into the street but not to be massacred. Do it with prudence. If the hour comes, the people will be given arms. (He stops broadcasting. An AIDE takes microphone)
ALTAMIRANO: What the hell is the point of telling them to march into the streets but to be careful? Either they march to fight or they donít march. Youíre confusing them.
ALLENDE: We donít want people to get killed.
ALTAMIRANO: Goddamn it, then why tell them to march?
ALLENDE: As a show of strength, to impress those in the army who might be
tempted to follow the lead of these rebels.
OLIVARES: Salvador, itís General Prats. (handing him a phone)
ALLENDE: Carlos, how are things?Ö. You have persuaded them to go back? I canít
express how much the nation owes you at this hourÖ. So you heard the
broadcast?Ö. I know, but it was merely a precaution in case you failedÖ.
Iím sorry if it made your task more difficult. We were uncertain of the
outcome.... Of course I have absolute faith in you, Carlos, it was the others
I was worried aboutÖ.. Thank you.
(Puts phone down)
OLIVARES: So heís succeeded?
ALLENDE: The tanks are going back to barracks. But Prats thinks my speeches
complicated his task. The general staff are terrified at the idea of a
ALTAMIRANO: Iím sure they are! That is why we have to create one. There wonít always be a Prats to ride to the rescue. Theyíll get rid of him sooner or later and weíll have to defend ourselves.
ALLENDE: Prats has shown himself a hero today. (A phone begins to ring)
OLIVARES: Letís hope he sticks with us. (He picks up the receiver, turns away.)
ALTAMIRANO: Heíll come to you with his conditions shortly, youíll see. That kind of
protection is not for free. He wonít carry the others with him unless he gets
ALLENDE: Weíll see.
ALTAMIRANO: In any case, why do you want them back in government? Itís not the place of generals to be in the cabinet!
OLIVARES: (putting phone down) Salvador, Benjamin Mattť has just taken refuge in
the Ecuadorian embassy. He and Fatherland and Freedom were behind this
ALLENDE: (stunned, musing) Benjamin Mattť. The head of the Farmersí Association. Even the big landowners are going over to fascism.
ALTAMIRANO: You see what is facing us: we must prepare to use force, or they will.
ALLENDE: And if we create an illegal militia, how can the loyal army generals stand by us any longer?
ALTAMIRANO: You have to choose : their protection or the peopleís. You canít have both.
ALLENDE: We must prevent it coming to that.
ALTAMIRANO: You canít put off choices forever.
ALLENDE: We can put them off as long as possible.
ALTAMIRANO: (sarcastic) That will be your epitaph: I put off choices as long as possible.
OLIVARES: (intervening truculently) Better than your epitaph: I provoked civil war when none was necessary.
ALTAMIRANO: Sometimes hard decisions have to be made.
OLIVARES: (tartly) That is probably what Nixon and Kissinger are saying right now.
ALTAMIRANO: Then if they are saying it, isnít it time we said the same?
ALLENDE: (quietly) We are not like them.
ALTAMIRANO: (emphatically) Then we wonít survive!
ACT 3, Scene 4
RAFAEL (the militant of earlier scenes, now doing his compulsory military service in the Navy) and ENRIQUE, two sailors, in a small dormitory in Valparaiso naval base.
ENRIQUE: (shaken) I just saw Alvaro. In the infirmary.
RAFAEL: How is he?
ENRIQUE: Bad. They did some pretty nasty things to him.
RAFAEL: (anxious) What? What did they do?
ENRIQUE: Electric shocks. All over him. You should have seen his feet.
RAFAEL: (frightened) Jesus. Did he talk?
ENRIQUE: He said he told them Ö..what Altamirano and the other socialist politicians told us at the meeting.
RAFAEL: (Fearful) And did he say -- wh Ė what we told them? About .. the officers? About the plans for a coup?
ENRIQUE: Yes. He told them we talked about all the films we have to watch -- the ones on Vietnam, on the communists.
RAFAEL: (shocked; hesitant) And did he Ödid he mention any names?
ENRIQUE: (nodding; distraught) Iím afraid so. He said he couldnít help it. Heís sorry.
He said Ö to tell you especially -- heís sorry.
RAFAEL: (alarmed) Me? You mean he gave them my name?
ENRIQUE: (painfully, with difficulty) He said he couldnít help it. He had to give them a name to make them stop. He asked me Ė to ask you -- to forgive him. (Whispering, horrified) God, you should see him Ö..
RAFAEL: (terrified, pacing about) Oh, Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! Iím going to be next.
What other names did he give them?
ENRIQUE: (fearful) He didnít say. But he swore he didnít give them my name.
RAFAEL: Maybe he didnít dare tell you. What else did he say?
ENRIQUE: (hesitates) He said Ö..he told them you were in the MIR.
RAFAEL: (Shocked) Me? In the MIR? But Iíve never been in the MIR.
ENRIQUE: He said he claimed you told him.
RAFAEL: (in dismay, trying to convince him) I was never in the MIR. I thought of joining them once. When I got my call-up papers. I didnít want to be in the Navy. So I thought of running for it and joining the MIR guerrillas in the mountains. But I didnít because I have a girlfriend. She didnít want me to. She didnít want me to be a fugitive who couldnít come to Santiago to see her. Sheís a leftist too, sheís from a shanty town near mine. But she doesnít believe in violence. I was never in the MIR. She wouldnít allow it.
ENRIQUE: He said youíre a militant. He said you were the one who spoke up at the
RAFAEL: (outraged) I said -- just one thing! Iím not a militant!
ENRIQUE: He knows that. He couldnít help it. He had to give them something.
RAFAEL: (Panicking) Jesus. I need a name. I need a name to give them. Someone whoís already been named so it doesnít matter. Didnít he tell you anyone else he named?
ENRIQUE: No. All I know is Ė he didnít name me. (Struggling with his shame) Just Ö. remember that, will you?
RAFAEL: (distraught) God damn it, Enrique....Ö(Clinging to facts) Who did it to him? Was it that bastard of a Lieutenant from Naval Intelligence?
ENRIQUE: He said he was blindfolded -- he couldnít see them. It could have been.
RAFAEL: They say he was behind the killing of Allendeís naval aide, Commodore Araya.
ENRIQUE: (wildly) I donít understand how they can let them do it to us. (Indignant) The government. How can they stand by while the navy tortures us? For being loyal to them? For warning them? Why did we talk to those damned politicians? I knew it was a mistake. They donít give a damn for us.
RAFAEL: (thinking of his own problem) I should try and get out. Iíll try and get out tonight. Over the wall. Head for the mountains.
(There is a knock at the door. They freeze. Stare at the door.)
VOICE: (harsh, peremptory) Fernandez! Rafael Fernandez! Open up.
RAFAEL: Oh my God, oh my God. (Falls on his knees, slowly, as if his legs have lost all strength. The lights dim suddenly to half darkness. Uniformed figures burst into the room and grab him by the arms and drag him out unresisting. He cries out) No!!!!
ACT 3, SCENE 5
A conference room in the Naval Base at Valparaiso. ALLENDE, standing at the head of a long table at which a number of admirals are sitting in full dress uniform, including Admiral MONTERO, the moderate, constituionalist Navy Commander, a man suffering from the stress of being contested by hostile subordinates, and the violent anti-communist conspirator, Vice-Admiral MERINO.
ALLENDE: (in a demonstration of his rhetorical force, his capacity to use controlled rage; he starts quietly, and his voice gradually rises till at the end he is shouting at them in fury. He holds a file of papers) Gentlemen, the assassination of my Naval Aide, Commodore Arturo Araya Peters, in his house, by unknown killers, is one of the most brutal political crimes in Chileís recent history. And the police have spent a long time on their enquiries and have rendered a full report. What does this report say? I shall leave you this copy to read, but Iíll tell you the essence of it. It says that while no physical evidence can be found, all the circumstantial evidence points to this assassination having been ordered at the highest levels of Naval High Command. In brief, you have among you, gentlemen, a murderer or murderers. That is the conclusion of the police. (With icy menace) And this report, gentlemen, if I were to publish it, would mean civil war. (Heatedly) There will be no holding back the people if they learn of this! Do you think people will fail to understand what this means? Why should any individual in Naval High Command want to assassinate my naval aide? If not because he was loyal to me and to the constitutional government? (His voice gradually rising) If not because he was due to be promoted into Naval High Command and would henceforth be sitting at this table at all your meetings? Was that why some of you conspired with fascist terrorists to gun him down in his own house Ė so that you could go on talking and plotting behind my back without a man loyal to me sitting in your midst? (Shouting) Is that what you have become Ė a nest of plotters and murderers? Do you understand how history will judge you, the High Command of the Chilean Navy? As a bunch of scoundrels and conspirators who pushed this troubled nation over the edge!
MONTERO: (shocked, cowed, pleading) Mr President, we are not guilty of these grave
accusations. It is unjust to accuse us collectively Ė
ALLENDE: (crushing, waving report) Are you telling me, Admiral, that this report is an
invention on the part of the police?
MONTERO: (earnestly) What I mean is, this report cannot possibly implicate all of us. If anyone in our ranks was involved in any degree in this assassination, we will bring them to justice. This I swear to you, Mr President.
ALLENDE: (only half mollified) It may not be enough. It is well known that there are elements in the Navy that are disloyal to the legal government of Chile, and which count on support from you, the High Command. The only way you can bring these disloyal elements into line is by publicly proclaiming your support for this government and the constitutional order. Are you willing to pledge that support?
MONTERO: We are, Mr President. (There are murmurs around the table, not all of them approving)
ALLENDE: Then if so, I expect actions not words!
MONTERO: (Humbly) What actions do you require, Mr President?
ALLENDE: I require you to demonstrate your loyalty by rejoining the government of national unity with the other heads of the armed forces to restore law and order. Are you willing to do that?
MONTERO: We are, Mr President.
ALLENDE: (mollified) Very well, gentlemen. This meeting may well have served some
purpose. Let us hope it has cleared the air, let it be a turning point in our relations, and in the support of the Chilean Navy for the constitution. That is all, gentlemen. Long Live Chile!
ADMIRALS: (in dutiful chorus) Long live Chile! (Exit ALLENDE. There is shocked silence
around the table)
MERINO: (in an undertone) This man is insufferable!
MONTERO: (sharply, glancing round) What was that? Who said that? (There is a stony,
hostile silence around the table)
MERINO: For how long will we tolerate this, Admiral? Donít you see the situation
has become untenable under this man?
MONTERO: (his authority febrile as he senses the general hostility) Vice-Admiral Merino, you will remember that this is the legally elected president of Chile. He represents the constitutional order in this country, to which we owe allegiance. Whatever our political opinions, they have no place here. (His face twitches slightly with tension. He shifts uncomfortably. They stare at him with hostility.)
MERINO: (hissing) They do if he wants us to join his government.
MONTERO: (warning) One day youíll go too far, Merino.
MERINO: Gentlemen, I put it to you that Admiral Montero no longer commands
the confidence of Naval High Command.
MONTERO: (furious, standing) Weíll see about that! This is insubordination!
MERINO: (standing) I demand a vote! (Pandemonium breaks out)
ACT 3, SCENE 6
A room in ALLENDEís house. ALLENDE, OLIVARES, in the middle of a discussion.
LA PAYITA comes in with coffees for both. Puts them on the desk.
LA PAYITA: You need to rest, Salvador. You havenít slept for two days.
ALLENDE: I will rest later, La Payita.
LA PAYITA: Donít tire him out, Ollie.
OLIVARES: Donít worry. (LA PAYITA exists; Resumes their discussion, astonished)
And you showed them the police report?
ALLENDE: I threw it on the table in front of them. (Picks up his coffee and sips)
OLIVARES: Did they read it?
ALLENDE: I told them what was in it.
OLIVARES: And how did they react? (Sips his coffee)
ALLENDE: They appeared stunned, as if no one had ever spoken to them like that.
OLIVARES: (admiringly) I bet no one had!
ALLENDE: (with satisfaction) I told them if I published the report there would be civil war. I put the fear of God into them. They agreed to rejoin the cabinet.
OLIVARES: (soberly) And do you think you can trust them?
ALLENDE: Who knows? But for the moment, theyíll help us restore order.
BEATRIZ: Father, Carlos Altamirano has just arrived. Shall I show him in?
OLIVARES: I think Iíd better go. We canít be in the same room together lately without
fighting. (Finishes his coffee quickly and puts it down)
ALLENDE: Just go into the other room then, till heís gone. Luis is there too. (Exit OLIVARES into the next room, left.)
BEATRIZ: Father, can I have a word with you?
ALLENDE: What is it, Beatriz?
BEATRIZ: (hesitantly, painfully) Itís about Arturoís Ė Commodore Arayaís death Ė does it have to be so politicized? Iím sure he wouldnít have wanted that.
ALLENDE: (softly) I know you were fond of him, Beatriz.
BEATRIZ: (worried) Itís being blown up into a crisis. There is talk on the extreme left of attacking the Navy, of civil war. Itís all so absurd.
ALLENDE: Our people are right to be upset that an officer loyal to us, my own naval
aide, should be gunned down by fascist elements, perhaps among his own
BEATRIZ: How do you know it was fascists? Or Navy people? It could have been something entirely different. Something personal.
ALLENDE: (curious) Did he talk of having any personal enemies?
BEATRIZ: I know he had them.
BEATRIZ: (embarrassed) I canít answer that. His personal life was not exactly calculated to win him only friends.
ALLENDE: (persistent, his curiosity aroused) Are you referring to some love affair?
BEATRIZ: (reluctant) Perhaps.
ALLENDE: (with distaste) The opposition papers have been full of this kind of gossip.
What do you know of his love affairs? Were you that close to him?
BEATRIZ: (sadly; enigmatically) I was closer to him than anyone knew. (Bitterly) Except perhaps the person who killed him.
ALLENDE: (alarmed; very still) What do you mean by that?
BEATRIZ: (painfully, impatiently) Oh, isnít it obvious? The newspapers say there were
Cuban embassy people seen near his house when Arturo was killed.
ALLENDE: (shocked) Cubans? (Sharply) Are you suggesting they were connected with
BEATRIZ: Arturo was such a playboy, and he was always around here with you, we saw a lot of each other -- enough to make any primitive macho husband jealous.
ALLENDE: (quickly) And you think your husband was jealous?
BEATRIZ: (sullenly) I know his nature. I just donít know about this particular case.
ALLENDE: (deliberately, steely-voiced) And was there any reason for him to be jealous Ė in this particular case?
BEATRIZ: (anguished) Do you want to know every last detail Ė to the bitter end?
(Savagely) Then, yesÖ.. (Bitterly; in a whisper) I take after you, in that way as well.
ALLENDE: (shaken) Beatriz, this is rather a shock. Are you sure of what youíre
saying? Did your husband admit anything? Have you talked about it?
BEATRIZ: Oh, he laughed it off when I told him what the papers were saying. He insists that fascists in the Navy killed him. Of course he wants the Navy to be blamed. He shares Castroís belief that you have to act against the armed forces before they act against you.
ALLENDE: (irritable) Yes, heís another know-it-all Cuban, full of advice. (Seething) If your husband was behind this, if he had Araya killed, heís not only mad but evil. If I find he did it, Iíll have him expelled from the country.
BEATRIZ: (subdued, sulky) Go ahead. I wonít be going with him. If thereís a row between you, itís you Iíll side with.
ALLENDE: (reproachful) Beatriz you may have done me incalculable damage.
BEATRIZ: (earnest) Iím sorry, Iím sorry, I had no idea it would come to this. I couldnít help it, Arturo was so sweet, so charming, not like that lout Iím married to.
ALLENDE: (softly, concerned) Youíre that unhappy with him?
BEATRIZ: (bitterly) I married an adolescent illusion. One of the nation of great
revolutionary heroes. Now I know heís just a macho thug.
ALLENDE: (decisively) Divorce him then. And Iíll send him back to Cuba.
BEATRIZ: (softly) Iím pregnant. And I donít want any scandal while things are
difficult for you.
ALLENDE: You must always put your own happiness first. Life must come before
BEATRIZ: (seriously) Thatís always been your motto, hasnít it? (Silence) Poor mother.
ALLENDE: (awkwardly) Your mother suffers a lot less than you might think. She has long since accepted it.
BEATRIZ: (quietly) We can still suffer for things we have accepted.
ALLENDE: Letís not talk of that now. (Pause) You have absolutely no evidence of any of this story, have you -- beyond paranoid suspicion of your husband?
BEATRIZ: (shakes her head) No.
ALLENDE: Then I prefer to believe it was the fascists who killed Araya. With Navy
BEATRIZ: (resigned) Believe what you like. I have done my duty.
ALLENDE: You must say nothing of this. And tell your fool husband to keep his mouth
shut and his nose clean if he wants to remain in this country. Now, go and
get Altamirano. (She goes out. ALLENDE puts his hands over his eyes as
though exhausted and at a loss. Enter ALTAMIRANO)
ALTAMIRANO: (excitedly) So, Salvador, you see now what a nest of vipers the Navy are.
ALLENDE: Youíve read the police report? Keep it to yourself, it is not going to be
ALTAMIRANO: Why not? This is exactly what we need. They murdered your naval aide,
because he was loyal to us. This is dynamite.
ALLENDE: (quietly) Carlos, as I told the Admirals, publishing this would cause civil war.
ALTAMIRANO: (enthusiastic) Exactly. Thatís what we want. It gives us a pretext to purge the bastards, and to use force if they resist Ė now, while the army and air force are not ready to support them.
ALLENDE: You are completely mad. We canít start a civil war.
ALTAMIRANO: Thereíll be one sooner or later. What counts is to start it on our terms, at the moment we choose.
ALLENDE: (immovable) Our aim is to avoid civil war.
ALTAMIRANO: The war has already started. But so far they are the only ones fighting it.
(Holding out a paper) Look, have you seen this report on what the Navy are doing to recruits loyal to us?
ALLENDE: Yes, Iíve seen it.
ALTAMIRANO: And do you think itís normal that we should allow the Navy to torture
recruits who reported their officersí treason to us? These people have risked their lives for us. We canít abandon them
ALLENDE: (gravely) It was irresponsible of you and the MIR leaders to meet navy
recruits and encourage subversion, when you knew you had no power
to protect them afterwards from their officers.
ALTAMIRANO: (defensive) These recruits are citizens. They have a right to meet with their
elected leaders. And we have the right to talk to them.
ALLENDE: Not if it means theyíll be court-martialled for treason.
ALTAMIRANO: (angrily) The whole of Navy High Command should be court-martialled for treason! And we should be doing it!
ALLENDE: (scornful) You know itís impossible. How would we arrest them?
ALTAMIRANO: Send the police to Navy headquarters and arrest the torturers of those men!
ALLENDE: You must be mad! They wouldnít let the police into their base. The Navy
have got twice the firepower.
ALTAMIRANO: Then use the Army. Tell Prats to get off the fence at last and show
which side heís on.
ALLENDE: General Pratsí legitimate position is precisely on the fence. He embodies
Army neutrality. And heís not going to make war on the Navy, unless the
Navy starts it.
ALTAMIRANO: (disgusted) So we leave these men loyal to us to be brutalized by the enemy? What kind of cowardice is that? What kind of signal are you sending the people? (Lashing out) If you wonít fight for them, how can you expect them to fight for you when the time comes?
ALLENDE: Our whole objective is to stop it coming to a fight. We must avert civil war!
ALTAMIRANO: Civil war will come, sooner or later, and we have to prepare for it.
ALLENDE: We cannot prepare for it without provoking it.
ALTAMIRANO: (scornful) That is cowardice. The communist party line. Theyíre betraying the revolution!
(Re-enter OLIVARES, with CORVALAN, from the back room)
CORVALAN: Itís you who are betraying the revolution, Carlos. By provoking a coup
díťtat that will put an end to everything weíve gained.
ALTAMIRANO: (contemptuous) A coup díťtat! For how long will that obsession paralyse
you? For how long will you give in to these fascists out of base fear? We are in the midst of a fight for survival! Are you going to abandon our own people to the enemy? Donít you have the guts to fight for people who put their lives on the line for us?
OLIVARES: We canít interfere with the Navyís internal affairs. We have to stay
within the law.
ALTAMIRANO: (yelling) What law? A fascist law! Isnít it about time we changed the law?
ALLENDE: We canít change the law till we have a majority in Congress. And weíll never get one if we step outside the law now.
ALTAMIRANO: (sarcastic, furious) So these sailors have to be sacrificed? While you sit down with fascist admirals as part of your new cabinet! And that doesnít make you vomit?
ALLENDE: (emotionally exhausted, struggling to remain calm and rational) Carlos, try to understand! We have given guarantees to the armed forces not to interfere with them. If we do, the putchists among there will win and there will be a coup. And then youíll see what repression really is. Is it worth provoking that to save a few men now?
ALTAMIRANO: (disgusted) How long will you go on retreating before this spectre of a coup? Donít you understand theyíll do it sooner or later? If we donít use force, they will. Weíve got to get in first!
OLIVARES: (baffled, thinking he is mad) What the hell are you talking about? How can we use force? What force have we got?
ALTAMIRANO: (excitedly) Exactly, we need to arm and train a workersí militia! Prepare for civil war!
CORVALAN: (heatedly) Donít be damned stupid! Where the hell would we get the guns? Where would we train the men? We need a force of at least a hundred thousand men! You canít train that many soldiers on a couple of anarchist farms up in the mountains. Use your head!
ALTAMIRANO: We could train as many as we wanted if we were willing to try.
CORVALAN: (vehemently) How the hell can you arm and train workers to stand up to a
modern army of seventy thousand men with tanks, helicopters and jet fighters? And all of that within a few days, before the army swoops on your training camp and arrests everybody for treason? Which they have the right to do under the arms control law! (Scornful) Why donít you forget your Marxist textbook drivel ó we no longer live in the nineteenth century when a pitchfork was as good as a bayonet. What have we got to put up against armoured helicopters?
ALTAMIRANO: Look, if a coup is inevitable, then we must prepare for it as best we can. It is better to be slaughtered with guns in our hands than be rounded up like sheep and put against a wall.
ALLENDE: (gravely) We are not talking of our own lives alone, but of the lives of our
people. We must avoid civil war at all cost.
ALTAMIRANO: (challenging) So you intend to give in without a fight?
ALLENDE: (forcefully) We are fighting. To survive, to stay in power within a
constitutional system. Force is not an option!
ALTAMIRANO: (contemptuous, accusatory) You cannot be a pacifist finally! No revolutionary can be a pacifist!
ALLENDE: (stubbornly) I am a pacifist where we cannot win. In other cases, I would have to calculate the cost.
ALTAMIRANO: (persistent; wanting to get to the truth) But if they attack us, if they launch a coup anyway, will you resist?
ALLENDE: (quietly) This government will resist to the end.
ALTAMIRANO: How, if you donít arm the workers?
ALLENDE: (evenly) That will depend on the circumstances.
ALTAMIRANO: (insistent) Under what circumstances will you arm the workers?
ALLENDE: If enough of the army remain loyal to make resistance worthwhile. Only if the army splits do we have a chance.
ALTAMIRANO: And if it doesnít?
ALLENDE: (simply) Why throw away peopleís lives? Our own will be enough to let the
world know the truth.
ALTAMIRANO: (contemptuous) A symbolic resistance only, a futile martyrdom, while the
workers are left at the mercy of the fascist police!
CORVALAN: Better than at the mercy of fascist tanks and bombers. The Spanish civil war killed more than half a million people, comrade. And the workers still lost.
ALTAMIRANO: (passionately) But at least they died with dignity. Surely it is better to be shot in combat than beaten to death in a fascist prison camp! In a civil war we would at least have a chance. The people may never have another one.
ALLENDE: (adamant) Without part of the army we could never win.
ALTAMIRANO: (vehemently) Even the bloodiest war would leave less poison in the soul than fascism will leave! Wars are temporary, they come to an end, fascism
can last for decades, perhaps forever.
ALLENDE: (quietly) You are still assuming we could win, that there would not be fascism still at the end of it. (As he visualizes the reality he is describing, he falls into his oratorís habit of emotional rhetoric. He starts quietly; his rhythm falls more markedly into blank verse as he goes on, and gradually builds to a crescendo.) But it is oppression, not war, which is
A temporary evil. It is subject to change, has its thaws,
And falls under timeís rule. What it does can be undone;
Freedom lost can be restored, prisoners can be released,
Exiles recalled when the regime ends. (Quietly) But the dead
At warís end do not live again. (Pause; he speaks as though seeing a
vision; slowly building towards a second crescendo) To make
What we believe into a fanaticís idol,
And offer tons of blood to it; to make visions
Of a better world a dark to murder men in;
And justice a mere rallying cry for violence
Of millions against millions Ė this is mad,
Meaningless waste! I cannot see good
Coming from such an evil as civil war!
ALTAMIRANO: (shocked and appalled) You cannot surrender the cause of right in the name of pity!
ALLENDE: (passionately) They are inseparable. I will never surrender,
But nor will I plunge the people into a nightmare
From which they may never awaken. The peaceful road,
That is what we believe in, isnít it?
ALTAMIRANO: (savagely) The peaceful road to socialism, comrade,
Not the peaceful road to fascism.
ALLENDE: (harshly, measuring the gap between them, accusing him implicitly of ďred
fascismĒ) And the violent road
To socialism Ė where do you think that leads?
ALTAMIRANO: (pause; deliberately) You havenít learned the lessons of history yet.
ALLENDE: (implacably) I have learned different ones.
ALTAMIRANO: (sharply) They are not our lessons, the lessons of the people.
ALLENDE: (rejecting at last the sectarianism of the left to embrace a universal
humanism) They are the lessons of humanity.
THIS IS THE BEST MOMENT FOR AN INTERVAL
ACT 4, SCENE 1.
The house of General Prats, a suburban house with a garden giving onto a street. The living-room. General PRATS is sitting in an armchair, wearing his uniform trousers and boots but with a dressing gown on top. His uniform jacket is hanging on a hook. Mrs Sofia PRATS is standing near the window looking discreetly through the curtains. Outside on the street a crowd of women can be heard chanting and shouting abuse. Sofia Prats, an elegant aristocrat, is a heroine of leftist women because of Pratsí role and she wants to prod her husband to defend Allende. He is now resigned to his own marginalization and resists her pressure. He does not want civil war.
WOMEN: (off) Prats out! Prats out! Resign Prats, you collaborator. Commie-lover! Faggot! Make room for generals with balls! Faggot Prats out! Faggot Prats out! (etc.)
Mrs PRATS: (ironical) Charming, isnít it? What breeding! Generalsí and colonelsí wives! Last week I had three deputations of factory girls bringing me flowers. They were as courteous as duchesses. And the upper class women have become fishwives. (Glances at PRATS) Isnít it curious? It almost seems like a perverse form of womenís liberation, reaching Chile at last. A pack of foul-mouthed officersí wives howling for a military putsch while their men hide behind their skirts!
PRATS: (stiffly, determined not to show the strain) Is Bonillaís wife still there?
Mrs PRATS: (looking out the window again) Yes, there she is in the front row, yelling her lungs out. And now sheís waving some kind of banner. I canít make out whatís on it. Oh, yes, itís a caricature of you and Allende naked together.
PRATS: (furious) This is intolerable! The gutless bastards donít even dare face me themselves!
Mrs PRATS: (coming to soothe him, concerned) Carlos, darling, theyíre grotesque, thatís all.
PRATS: (still furious, but calmed by her touch) Hiding behind their wives!
Mrs PRATS: (moving away, then turning to him, seriously) What are you going to do?
PRATS: Iíd like to turn the hose on them, but theyíll have photographers out there waiting. Press would have a field day. Assault by commie-loving general on free speech.
Mrs PRATS: (very still) No, I didnít mean about them. I meant Öwhat are you going to do?
PRATS: (after a pause) I donít have much choice in the long term. I canít hang on forever as Army Commander if the entire General Staff want me out.
Mrs PRATS: (softly) Do you think Allende has a chance?
PRATS: One in a thousand.
Mrs PRATS: So you think theyíre ready to make a move?
PRATS: God knows if theyíre ready. But theyíre willing and able, thatís certain. Theyíll do it sooner or later.
Mrs PRATS: (gently, tactfully) And thereís nothing you can do to save him?
PRATS: (sadly) He wonít save himself, Sofia. (Pause; resigned) Besides, what could I do? A general without an army.
Mrs PRATS: (with faint reproach) This is after all our elected government.
PRATS: True, though without a majority in Congress or the country he should have understood he had to compromise. He just refused.
Mrs PRATS: (gently) If you stood by him, perhaps theyíd hesitate. Theyíre paranoid about a split in the army.
PRATS: A split has to be constituted by more than one man. Who else is there?
Mrs PRATS: (softly; the ultimate moment of truth for her) And if it does come to civil war, will you fight for the government? For democracy? Against them?
PRATS: (bitterly, wearily, standing up and pacing about) For democracyÖ.. Do you think democracy will have any meaning after a civil war? The essence of democracy is compromise, and you canít fight for a compromise with machine guns. After a civil war, whoever wins will exterminate their enemies. And once they start doing that, theyíll have to carry on doing it.
Mrs PRATS: Donít you think some dictatorships are at least better than others?
PRATS: (gravely) Of course. But if I have to choose between a dictatorship after a long and bloody civil war, and a dictatorship without one, which should I choose?
(She has no answer. Impasse. In the silence the chanting is heard again.)
WOMEN: (off) Prats out! Prats out! Resign or die with your Red friends!
Mrs PRATS: (sadly, incredulous) Itís hard to believe the hatred this government has provoked. As if the very idea of social change drove certain people mad.
PRATS: (shrugging) Extremes call forth extremes. A man in a reformist position should not wave the banner of revolution.
Mrs PRATS: And if only the banner of revolution can generate the energy needed for reform?
PRATS: (grimly) Men should not inspire revolutions they cannot carry out.
Mrs PRATS: (softly) Even when they are necessary?
PRATS: The business of politics is not the necessary but the possible. He ignored the constraints we in this part of the world live under.
Mrs PRATS: (puzzled, uneasy) What constraints?
PRATS: The constraints of an imperialist superpower that will not tolerate red flags waving in their hemisphere.
Mrs PRATS: (alarmed at this argument) But what is the Cold War to do with us? Allende is not a communist in the Soviet sense.
PRATS: (with growing anger, directed against ALLENDE, because he feels guilty about his own decision to abandon him. He admires ALLENDE and his anger is in proportion to his sense of waste as he sees a good man heading toward disaster.) Of course not. But he hasnít gone to any great pains to make that clear, has he? The fault lies with the perverse ambiguity of the socialist tradition. The man is not in fact a Marxist-Leninist. He does not intend a dictatorship. So why on earth did he use all the trappings of that fanatical ideology? Why did he bring the dictator Castro here for a triumphal tour? Why the devil did he imagine he had anything in common with the butchers of Moscow and Peking? The tragedy of this continent is that for half a century those who wanted social progress have quite absurdly idolised the worst tyrannies on earth Ė sung their songs, waved their flags, pretended to be part of their movement. That intellectual madness is at the root of this tragedy.
Mrs PRATS: (gently, protesting) People find inspiration wherever they can, in struggling against powerful evils in their own countries.
PRATS: (getting carried away) So-called intellectuals ought to have informed themselves a little better. Our country boasts one of the greatest poets of this century. And he writes poems in praise of the centuryís greatest butcher. What led to this blindness? (He pauses. Looks at her, measuring his words so as not to offend her convictions, which are more left-wing than his.) I admire Allende, his heart is in the right place. But he has got himself in with a bunch of madmen who are pushing for civil war. How can you blame an ignorant gangster like Nixon for not seeing the subtle distinctions?
Mrs PRATS: (alarmed, passionately) You canít justify what the Americans are doing, surely? They have financed the opposition, suborned our army to commit treason, blockaded our country, starved our people, organised strikes, spread chaos, financed terrorism, and all this supposedly to defend Western values!
PRATS: (quietly, bitterly) I donít justify them. They are scoundrels. But I despair at those foolish enough to have provoked them into doing it. (A bell rings off)
Mrs PRATS: Thatís the doorbell. Are you expecting someone?
PRATS: I have given up expecting anybody.
(Enter a MAID rightstage)
MAID: Thereís a General Bonilla to see you, General.
PRATS: (bitterly) Bonilla. Of all of them they sent me Bonilla. (To his wife) Hand me my jacket. (He takes off the dressing gown and puts on uniform jacket) Show him in. (Exit MAID)
Mrs PRATS: Iíll leave you. I canít face that snake. (Exit by another door, left. BONILLA enters right)
BONILLA: (saluting with insolent casualness) Good afternoon, General Prats. I hope your cold is better.
PRATS: (curtly) Afternoon, Bonilla. (He stares stonily, waiting) What can I do for you?
BONILLA: I wonít mince words, General. You can see the feeling there is against you from that little scene outside earlier.
PRATS: (sarcastic; superior) Oh, really? Iím afraid I didnít notice it, Bonilla. There are so many well-wishers these days. My wife receives flowers almost every day. You organised something, did you? Iím afraid I was having a nap.
BONILLA: (embarrassed; wrong-footed by Pratsí irony) Nothing organized, General. But public opinion seems to be turning against you.
PRATS: Indeed. (Pause) Public opinion. My wife told me she noticed your wife out there. Having some kind of hysterical fit, apparently. Iím sorry to hear that, Bonilla. It must be quite a trial for you.
BONILLA: (wrong-footed again; awkwardly) I came to ask you on behalf of my fellow generals to resign as Minister of Defence and Commander of the Army. We feel it would be easier for all of us.
PRATS: I see. Must cramp your style a bit having me there. So theyíre all in on it now, are they?
BONILLA: (carefully) We are all in agreement.
PRATS: (casually) Going to indulge in a spot of treason, are you?
BONILLA: (stiffly) It is a matter of opinion on which side the treason lies.
PRATS: (coldly) It is clear enough to anyone who understands what an oath to uphold the constitution means. (Steps up close to him, domineering from his greater height) It is not the government that has broken faith, but you.
BONILLA: (with a sneer) Broken faith? What a quaint phrase. Like something out of another age.
PRATS: Yes, part of a military tradition you have no conception of, Bonilla. Not modern enough for you, is it? Concepts like honour. They donít teach you about honour in Southern Command in Panama, do they?
BONILLA: (coldly) We are not concerned with honour, but with the threat this government poses to freedom.
PRATS: Thatís not for you to judge. Itís for Congress and the courts.
BONILLA: Congress has accused this government of unconstitutional acts. We think your continued support for it is not a support for the constitutional order but for Marxism.
PRATS: (sarcastic) Marxism. What do you know about Marxism? And who is the ďweĒ you speak for?
BONILLA: I speak for the majority on the General Staff. The Council of Generals will meet tomorrow to decide on your case.
PRATS: (levelly) I shall be there.
BONILLA: I warn you already that we have the majority. It would be simplest for you to resign.
PRATS: We shall see. (Pause. Trying to undermine him) I suppose you donít imagine for one moment that your own position is secure, Bonilla? Traitors are notoriously fickle people to work with.
BONILLA: I shall serve my country for as long as I am given the privilege of doing so.
PRATS: (sneering) Serve your country. Serve your masters in the right-wing parties, you mean. (Cuttingly) You are a hireling, Bonilla. A sordid prostitute who has sold your honour to scoundrels for a promise of power -- which will be short-lived, bloody and criminal. You are a disgrace to this army!
BONILLA: (blushing with anger) There is no need to be insulting, General Prats.
PRATS: (enjoying himself, releasing all the venom pent up in him) Oh, I think there is. The occasion positively cries out for it. Iíve seen you at work, Bonilla. I know you through and through. The Chilean army had a great tradition of professionalism, of honour, of loyalty to the constitution, and then you came along, like the carrier of a disease. And you have contaminated that army, poisoned it with your own fanaticism, turned it into a gang of hired thugs to be used to suppress its own people. You and your kind are a cancer in our army, Bonilla. I hope one day it learns how to cut you out.
BONILLA: (trembling with fury, but restraining himself) In the meantime, it is you who are the element to be removed, General.
PRATS: Weíll see. Well, then, I think weíve covered everything. You have delivered your message, and I mine. (He pulls bell rope) So run along back to your masters then, and tell them I shall be in tomorrow. (The MAID enters. To her) Show the general out, will you?
(BONILLA, taken aback, hesitates. Then he salutes perfunctorily and walks out with the MAID. PRATS pointedly turns his back. Mrs PRATS re-enters.)
Mrs PRATS: What did he want?
PRATS: (gloomily) Three guesses.
Mrs PRATS: (slowly) And are you going to?
PRATS: Iíll see tomorrow how many of them still support me. If the majority are against me, thereís nothing for it but to resign.
Mrs PRATS: (her disappointment showing) And so, youíll wash your hands of it all?
PRATS: Iíll try and warn the nation of the treason thatís being prepared. (Bitterly) But if no-one will listen, if youíre like a sane man in a madhouse, what can you do but wash your hands of it?
Mrs PRATS: (softly reproachful) And thatís it Ė we leave them to it? (He says nothing. She stares into space.) Flee into exile? Watch it all from a hotel in Buenos Aires? (Turns to him; reproachful) Can you do that?
PRATS: (furiously) What else can I do, damn it, what else? (Calms down suddenly; in control again, remorseful at his outburst; pensive, staring into space) Sofia, that is what is so terrifying. For three years I seem to have done everything right, I made all the right moves to counter them, to outmanoeuvre them, to stop it happening. And yet it is still going to happen, the catastrophe. Somehow they have outplayed me, men who I thought were third-rate minds that I could easily manipulate, they have parried my moves, driven me into a corner, isolated me till there is no-one left I can count on. And the darkest of nights is about to fall upon my country, and I sit as though paralysed, knowing I can do nothing.
(Enter the maid)
MAID: General, the President is here to see you.
Mrs PRATS: (astonished and pleased) The President?
PRATS: Show him in. (Exit the MAID and after a moment enter ALLENDE)
ALLENDE: Good day, Mrs Prats. General. Please, donít get up.
PRATS: Good day, President.(They both shake hands with him; ALLENDE kisses Sofia Pratsí hand in a gesture of old-fashioned gallantry)
ALLENDE: (handing Mrs PRATS a paper bag) I brought some fruit for our sick warrior.
Mrs PRATS: (warmly, touched; she clearly likes ALLENDE) That was kind of you, President. (Taking the paper bag) Can we offer you a drink?
ALLENDE: No, thank you, Mrs Prats, Iíll only stay a minute. I just wanted to look in on our patient. I hope itís not the Ďflu, General.
PRATS: A slight chill only, President. But at our age we have to be careful.
ALLENDE: We do indeed.
Mrs PRATS: (seeking a pretext to leave, smiling) Itís not everyone whoís lucky enough to have the President as a consultant physician. Iíll leave you two to talk. (Exit)
ALLENDE: I donít want to tire you, General.
PRATS: Donít worry, your visit is by far the most welcome Iíve had today, President. Iíve just been asked by my fellow generals, in the person of Bonilla, to resign.
ALLENDE: (very still) I hope you are not considering anything so disastrous for the country.
PRATS: (sadly) To tell you the truth, Iím thinking about it.
ALLENDE: (looking him in the eye) How bad do you think things are?
PRATS: As bad as they can beÖ. A group of them around Bonilla seem to be close to acting. Itís not just wild talk any more: itís serious planning. They seem to imagine that when they get rid of me, the coast will be clear.
ALLENDE: How much support do you think they have?
PRATS: I canít tell you how many of them are in on it, but I can give you the names of some Iím certain of. (Takes out a piece of paper and hands it to ALLENDE, who studies it intently) Those are the names of the six generals whose wives took part in the little demonstration against me a while earlier. Theyíre certainly part of it.
ALLENDE: (staring at it) How complete is this list, do you think?
PRATS: There may well be others who havenít shown their hand yet.
ALLENDE: What can be done to stop them?
PRATS: Apart from compromising with Congress, you can try and sack those men. Get them out of their commands. If theyíre not ready to move immediately, theyíll have to give in to you. And that will set back their plans.
ALLENDE: (softly) And if they are ready to move?
PRATS: (quietly) Then it makes no difference, does it?
ALLENDE: (point blank) Who do you think can still be relied on?
PRATS: (slowly) I think you can trust Pinochet. But donít trust Brady.
ALLENDE: We have had this conversation before. Brady is a mason. We belong to the same lodge. Whatever our differences, I donít think he would betray a fellow mason.
PRATS: (sadly) Not everyone has your incapacity for betrayal, Salvador. Or your conception of friendship.
ALLENDE: Is it possible for you to stay on in the cabinet, as Minister of Defence, even if they force you out as Commander of the Army?
PRATS: Not if the entire General Staff refuse to sit at a table with me. Iíll see tomorrow.
ALLENDE: (earnestly) I canít emphasise enough how vital it is for Chilean democracy that you stay on.
PRATS: (disillusioned) My usefulness, President, is only proportionate to my influence over the army. And that is rapidly approaching zero.
ALLENDE: (moved, but also trying to talk him round) You have been a great and inspiring symbol of the non-political loyalty of the army to the constitution.
PRATS: (bitterly) Such a symbol is becoming a singular irony under the present circumstances. I donít think I can be of use to the government or the country much longer.
ALLENDE: (sensing his bitterness and responding with deep sympathy) I seem to detect a note of bitterness there, Carlos. The opposition press campaign against you has been particularly vicious lately. That tends to lower the morale at first. (Sadly) But after a while you begin to get used to it. (Alluding with great delicacy to his own similar experience) You understand it is not you personally who count. It is history, the social process you are part of, the great movement forward of the human mind and of human societies towards justice, truth, compassion, brotherhood. And you have played an important part in that.
PRATS: (very personally, revealing his deepest, most pessimistic feelings, sensing that this is his last conversation with a doomed man) You seem convinced that human societies are destined to move forward. That is the trouble with socialism Ė historical optimism. (Gently mocking) Truth and justice will triumph, the people will win in the end. (Pause) Perhaps they wonít. Perhaps human nature is more vicious, corrupt and stupid than you think, and the rot goes deeper than any one system. History in our time defies all predictions, confounds all faiths. If the nuclear annihilation of all mankind is now possible, then surely the permanent defeat of truth and justice is also possible. History stopped being a god when we invented the means to end it.
ALLENDE: (gently) I have never believed that the victory of truth and justice is inevitable. That is why we must fight for them, why we must never give up, never be resigned to the rule of evil, because without our struggle nothing is possible. We are history. It doesnít exist outside of us.
PRATS: (sadly) I have always admired your courage, Salvador, but Iím afraid I donít share your faith.
ALLENDE: Well, I wonít keep you, Carlos. (Gets up) I should leave you to rest and recover your strength for tomorrow.
PRATS: (accompanying him to the door; earnestly, moved by the sense it is their last meeting and he is deserting ALLENDE) President, if the worst comes to the worst tomorrow, I want to say it has been an honour to serve a man of such integrity Ö. and courage. (Shakes his hand)
ALLENDE: (sadly, with faint reproach) I am only as brave as the men who stand by me, Carlos.
PRATS: Good bye, Salvador.
ALLENDE: Till tomorrow, Carlos. Say good-bye to Mrs Prats for me. No, Iíll find my own way out. Iím in the house of a friend, after all.
(He goes out, right. Mrs PRATS re-enters from the other door, left)
Mrs PRATS: (disappointed) Has he gone?
PRATS: (staring into space; oppressed by a sense of tragedy and guilt) Yes. Heís gone.
ACT 4, SCENE 2
A room in the Ministry of Defence. PINOCHET sitting at a desk. Enter BRADY. Brady wants to draw him into the conspiracy; Pinochet, aware of this, is cagey, playing hard to get.
BRADY: (carefully) Augusto, we need to have a little talk.
PINOCHET: (innocently) About General Prats? (Briskly, keeping his distance) So, how are you going to vote this afternoon, Brady? Silly question I suppose.
BRADY: (pointedly) I meant about you. And whether we can count on you.
PINOCHET: (dryly) Thatís odd. Prats just asked me whether he could count on me too.
BRADY: And what did you tell him?
PINOCHET: (teasingly) Of course I told him he would have my vote.
BRADY: (shrewdly) Thatís not necessarily a bad thing. Provided we have the numbers to get rid of him, itís better if you vote for him. That way heíll put in a word with Allende to appoint you in his place. (Challenging; levelly) But we want to know whether youíre going to be our man or his.
PINOCHET: (evasively, cynically, amused) Of course Iíll be Pratsís man till Iím appointed. After that weíll see.
BRADY: (insinuating; closing in) You are aware of our plans, Augusto.
PINOCHET: (coyly) I know your vague intentions.
BRADY: (his impatience beginning to show) The country is in chaos. The
only question is: whether they impose dictatorship or we do.
PINOCHET: (sceptically; probing) And what kind of dictatorship do you have in mind?
BRADY: (fencing in his turn) What kind would you be in favour of?
PINOCHET: (Slowly, sententiously) Overthrowing a democratic constitution is not
something to be done lightly, to further the careers of venal politicians. If
we do it, it must be a revolution. To renew the country completely and make
sure this never happens again.
BRADY: (encouraged) There we agree. We need to stop the rot. Cut out the cancer.
PINOCHET: (carefully) But if we do that, weíll have to make sure we stay in power for
some time. If youíre planning one of these interim regimes to hand back
power to the politicians immediately, then count me out. I know those
jackals. Theyíll use us soldiers to sweep the yard, then turn on us afterwards
because we broke a few pots.
BRADY: (interested; probing) So you want something long-term? And how will you
deal with reactions abroad?
PINOCHET: You mean the Americans? I think I have the answer to keep them off our backs.
BRADY: (curiously) What is that?
PINOCHET: (airily, superior, know it all) Practise their economic policies.
Open up the country to foreign business.
Liberalize the economy. The free market!
Bring their economic gurus down here
To advise our government. Once their business sector
Is happy with our regime, you can forget
The bleating of the human rights brigade.
We will have carte blanche to deal with terrorists
As we see fit.
BRADY: (doubtfully) And how long would we keep this up?
PINOCHET: (cynically) Weíll stay on in power till weíre too old
To haul before the courts. Once weíre old men,
Who will try us? Their own wimpish humanism
Will work in our favour Ė and weíll have the backing
Of every free enterprise guru in the world.
BRADY: You might have a point. (Cautiously) Personally I was always
In favour of a large state role in the economy.
PINOCHET: (Curtly) Like Prats. Like Allende. Itís a mistake.
(Scornful) Governments are lousy at running businesses.
Let those who know how to make money run things.
BRADY: (ironically, probing) I had no idea you were such an economist, Augusto.
PINOCHET: (seriously; the quiet introverted thinker having his first chance to expatiate
on his views with a captive audience, and rather enjoying the attention )
Thereís more to this than economics, Brady.
The great question facing modern societies
Is what can keep the people in their place?
In the past it was God. Now they have lost
All fear of God. The new force that rules the world
Is the free market. Savage market laws
Are the new savage gods. Rulers must always have
Some power to point to beyond their control
To explain the misery they must impose
On the less fortunate. And what power so implacable
As the power of the market?
BRADY: (impressed, surprised) Thatís quite a shrewd idea.
But if we allow economic freedom
Wonít that lead to political freedom?
PINOCHET: (satisfied with the effect he is having on the clever BRADY and wanting to
impress him even further with his home-spun wisdom.) Not at all.
Market freedom can be used to dominate
And crush political freedom. We will have capitalism
But no democracy, no freedom of speech,
No dissent. And our Western trading partners
Will praise our government, which promotes their profits,
And the voice of protest at our ďinhumanityĒ
Will fade upon the wind.
BRADY: (analysing, non-committal) And what will be
The long-term gains?
PINOCHET: (revealing his secret dream) A nation reborn
With the socialist cancer cut out from its soul.
Accepting that the weak go to the wall
As the law of life.
We must get rid of molly-coddling government.
That is the only way to strengthen our nation
For the hard times ahead.
BRADY: (musing; neutral) And how long will it take
To bring about this happy change in attitudes?
PINOCHET: At least a couple of decades. We have to hold on
To power for as long as we can. (Confidential) Not that we need
Tell that to the others. One or two
Like Bonilla are too close to the politicians.
BRADY: (slyly) Iíve always seen Bonilla as a hothead,
Who might prove more trouble than heís worth.
Heís useful for the moment. He has connections.
PINOCHET: He has come out as Pratsí chief enemy.
The movement against Prats must seem to come
Entirely from him and his clique. That way
Allende will think in getting rid of Bonilla
Heís killed the snake. It is essential
Allende should trust us until the end.
That will make everything so much easier.
BRADY: (appreciative) Iím glad we finally have you on board, Augusto.
(Curiously) What took you so long to make your mind up?
PINOCHET: (eyes narrowing) What makes you think I had any hesitation, Brady?
I was merely waiting till the right moment.
BRADY: (frank, shrewd) I donít think so. I think you had a few doubts.
Scruples, perhaps. Overthrowing the constitution?
PINOCHET: I didnít want to show my hand too soon.
(Candidly) Youíve been a good instigator, Brady.
But Allende will never appoint you Army Commander,
You know that. Youíre a fox, but your coverís blown.
Prats knows what youíre up to. The real fox
Must hide his game till the end.
BRADY: (evenly; apparently sincere) I know that, Augusto.
Thatís why Iím happy to let you take the driverís seat.
PINOCHET: (gruffly, ignoring this implicit profession of loyalty to him)
And once weíre in, Brady, remember, itíll be the army
Against the others. Merino is ambitious.
So is Leigh. We must make sure the Navy
And the Air Force know whoís in command.
BRADY: You can count on me, Augusto.
PINOCHET: (patronizing; asserting his new dominance) Good man.
Now, letís avoid being seen too much together.
We know each otherís mind. Thatís enough.
(Roguishly, dryly) Remember. Iím still Pratsí loyal friend, not yours.
(BRADY laughs at his cynicism.)
BRADY: Iíll keep my distance, Augusto. Donít worry. (BLACKOUT))
(Enter LAURA. Spotlight on her)
LAURA: (to the audience) That afternoon General Prats lost the vote in the Council
of Generals, and resigned as Army Commander. A year after the coup, he
and his wife Sofia were murdered in exile in Buenos Aires, on the orders of
his old friend and successor, General Pinochet.
ACT 4, SCENE 3
The dining room in Allendeís house. Around a large table are sitting ALLENDE,
PINOCHET, BRADY, TORRES, PICKERING: the generals he thinks are
ďconstitutionalistsĒ. A different kind of ďLast SupperĒ, where all present are Judases,
and the various biblical references (to wine and blood, to an anonymous betrayer, to
sleeping and waiting up) must be treated with a light but ironical touch. At first an
atmosphere of noisy good humour conceals the inner tensions of the double role the generals
are playing. They have just finished dinner.
PICKERING: (wiping his mouth, contentedly) That was an excellent dinner, Mr President.
TORRES: (bantering) Iíve always said, one eats better with President Allende, socialist though he might be, than with the fattest right-wing capitalists.
ALLENDE: (lightly parrying this thrust) Would that power did not need the trappings of privilege, General Torres. Perhaps one day it wonít.
TORRES: (cheerfully) Ah, letís postpone that evil day, Mr President. I prefer it this way.
ALLENDE: (good-humoured) Well, make the most of it, gentlemen. Next year, according to the opposition newspapers, weíll all be eating beans and rice.
BRADY: (amid general laughter) I doubt that.
TORRES: Well, I donít care what weíre eating, Mr President, so long as weíre still drinking good Chilean wine.
ALLENDE: (delighted) Thereís the cry of a connoisseur. Have another glass, General Torres. (Passes him the bottle)
TORRES: I wonít say no, Mr President. What about you, Augusto?
PINOCHET: No, thanks, Manuel. Iíve had enough.
TORRES: (bantering) Augusto having been elevated to Army Commander thinks he has to set an example of sobriety.
PINOCHET: It wouldnít do you any harm either, Torres.
TORRES: (coaxing PINOCHET) Come on, one drink, what are you afraid of? Your wife is not watching. Nobody will tell her. Be brave, Augusto.
ALLENDE: (joining in the banter) Many a soldier is braver in battle than facing his own wife. Isnít that true, General Pinochet?
PINOCHET: (amid laughter) Thereís many a true word spoken in jest.
TORRES: Come on, just a small one, Augusto. (He tries to pour PINOCHET a glass, but the latter pushes the bottle away. In the friendly struggle TORRES knocks over his own glass onto his own lap. There are roars of laughter. He is comically upset, mopping frantically at his jacket with a serviette.) Look what youíve gone and done, blast it! Red wine. All over my damned uniform.
PICKERING: (laughing) Donít worry, Torres, itís not blood youíve spilt.
TORRES: (frantic) Wine or blood, they both stain like buggery.
ALLENDE: But hardly to the same degree, General. (PINOCHET glances at him quickly) I give you a toast, gentlemen. (Raises his glass. Seriously) To the good red wine of Chileís future. Let us hope that our country will always flow with wine and never with blood. (They stare at him shocked for a moment)
PINOCHET: (with a sickly smile) To Chileís future. (They all join in and drink the toast)
ALLENDE: (drinks, then puts his glass down; gravely) And now, gentlemen, we have a serious matter to discuss. (Tension rises) I need not remind you there have been several attempts by elements in the armed forces to overthrow the government. The most recent one, less than a week ago, was by an Air Force general. We seem to be on the eve of another attempt of this sort, perhaps more serious, this time by some army generals. (There is tense silence)
BRADY: (coolly) Some army generals, Mr President? How many?
ALLENDE: I have been given a list of six names. I donít know how many others are involved who are not on the list. (Takes out a small piece of paper, unfolds it)
PINOCHET: (musing) Six generals. That could be dangerous. Might we ask what are your sources for this information, Mr President?
ALLENDE: The usual intelligence services.
TORRES: (blustering, half joking) If you mean by that your socialist friends, God knows what motives they might have to frame army generals. I mean, they could make up a list at random Ė my name might be on it, for all I know.
ALLENDE: (quietly) No, General Torres, you are not on the list.
PINOCHET: Nor any of us here, I trust.
BRADY: (suavely sceptical) This plot seems to have been exceptionally well-concealed, Mr President, from all of us here on the General Staff.
ALLENDE: (dryly) Yes, I rather assumed it had been, General Brady. (Pause) The question I want to put to you is how we can defend the strategic points of Santiago against an attempted coup of this sort.
PICKERING: (helpfully) But surely if you have the names of the conspirators, you can stop the attempt being made. You can get rid of these people. (There is a ripple of alarm at PICKERINGís faux pas Ė giving too sound advice. PINOCHET comes to the rescue.)
PINOCHET: I think the president is concerned there may be others in the plot he is unaware of, in which case an attempt may still be made. It would seem we need to make contingency plans to defend the Presidential palace and the government buildings and put down the coup by force if that should be necessary.
ALLENDE: Thank you, General Pinochet. That is the point I was making.
BRADY: (shrewdly) The first requirement then would be to determine which units can be trusted to be used against the rebels and which ones cannot be.
PINOCHET: (carefully, on cue from BRADY) For that we will need to know the names of the generals implicated in the plot.
ALLENDE: Very well, gentlemen. Iíll put you out of your suspense. The names I have been supplied with are these six: (reading from the list) Generals Arellano Stark, Baeza Michelson, Carlos Forestier, Cťsar Benavides, Javier Palacios and Oscar Bonilla. (There is a shocked silence)
TORRES: (shocked) Bonilla! Good God!
ALLENDE: You have of course already made contingency plans for the defence of Santiago against armed rebellion?
BRADY: (carefully) Of course, it is part of the normal business of the War Academy.
ALLENDE: But since four of these men are top strategists, they will already know all your defence plans.
BRADY: (fencing, prudent) Thatís true.
ALLENDE: The task then is to make new defence plans which they will not be expecting, to counter their presumed plans.
PINOCHET: That would be the correct strategy.
ALLENDE: General Pinochet, I will entrust you with the preparation of these plans. You are to keep the plans secret from all members of the General Staff except those present in this room. But there is a further point. I want to co-ordinate these plans with those the government will be making for a workersí militia. (The generals look stunned) In the event of a revolt by part of the army, it will be essential to arm some of the workers to help the loyal units in the immediate defence of the city against the rebels. The workers may play a crucial role, both militarily and psychologically. If you could come back later tonight, General Pinochet, you might work out a co-ordinated strategy with leaders of the workersí movements, whom I shall be seeing in a short while.
PINOCHET: Certainly, Mr President.
ALLENDE: And now gentlemen, much as I would like to offer you another bottle of wine, I have another meeting scheduled. (The others stand up to take their leave, TORRES hastily draining his glass.)
TORRES: (sidling over to ALLENDE, sympathetic) A meeting at this hour, President? You donít think youíre overdoing it? You canít burn the candle at both ends.
ALLENDE: At both ends and in the middle, Manuel. We are about the peopleís business.
TORRES: (concerned) Surely even the peopleís servant is entitled to lay his head down for a bit of shut-eye, Salvador.
ALLENDE: Thereíll be time enough for sleep afterwards. At the moment I must ask some of you to stay awake with me. (To PINOCHET) Augusto, I am sorry to have to encroach upon your hours of sleep as well.
PINOCHET: It comes with the job, Salvador.
ALLENDE: The trade union leaders should be arriving in a few minutes to discuss plans for a workersí militia. If you could come back around two oíclock in the morning with the new plans for the deployment of loyal army units, weíll be able to co-ordinate strategies. Will that give you enough time?
PINOCHET: More than enough, Salvador. And let me assure you once again you can count on my loyalty, against any plot whatsoever, no matter whoís in it or how many. (There are murmurs of agreement for the other generals. PINOCHET shakes hands warmly with ALLENDE, who responds with what is almost a hug.)
ALLENDE: (moved) I know I can, Augusto.
PINOCHET: Till later, Salvador.
ALLENDE: (with kindly hospitality, to TORRES) Manuel, your jacket. Are you sure you donít want one of the servants to clean it before you leave?
TORRES: Itíll be all right, Salvador. Iíve got a good laundry-woman at home.
PICKERING: (teasing) His wife! Eh, Torres? (Punches his arm and they go out laughing)
ALLENDE: (To all the generals as they leave) Good night, gentlemen.
GENERALS: (calling back from offstage) Goodnight, Mr President. (They go out, leaving ALLENDE alone on stage, deep in thought. Enter his daughter BEATRIZ)
ALLENDE: Have you called up the union leaders, Beatriz?
BEATRIZ: Yes, papa. Theyíre all on their way.
ALLENDE: Good. (He is lost in thought. She goes to speak. Hesitates)
BEATRIZ: Papa Ö. something odd happened tonight. (He looks at her) I was just listening to the radio and I tuned into one of the fascist radio stations. They were broadcasting the usual propaganda ó calling for a coup díťtat. And suddenly the voice said: ďWe are stronger than we thought. Little Red Riding Hood is with us.Ē I wondered who they could mean Ė it must be a code name for one of the generals. But ďLittle Red Riding HoodĒ Ė it has no connection with any of their names. And then suddenly I thought Ė Pinocchio Ė do you see?
ALLENDE: (sceptical, slightly amused) Whatís the connection between Little Red Riding Hood and Pinocchio? It doesnít add up.
BEATRIZ: But Ö. PinochetÖ..
ALLENDE: Pinochet is General Pratsí closest friend. Heís promised to put down any coup attempt, just as Prats did last time. (Quietly) Heís the one general whose loyalty Iím sure of.
BEATRIZ: But can you be sure? Absolutely sure?
ALLENDE: (softly) What is ever absolutely sure?
BEATRIZ: (darkly) I donít like Pinochet. I donít trust any of them.
ALLENDE: (slowly, sadly, philosophically) If we trust no one
What trust can we expect? If thinking the worst
Will not prevent the worst, better think well of them,
And let our trust show treason its true face,
For as long as men have memories.
(The doorbell sounds. They look towards it)
Those are the comrades. Go and let them in.
BEATRIZ: (As she goes) Shall I tell the servants to wait up?
Or will these be the last to come tonight?
ALLENDE: No, thereíll be someone else. But let them sleep.
They need their rest. Will you wait up instead?
(She nods, with a smile as she exits. A BLACKOUT of several seconds. When the lights come up ALTAMIRANO, CORVALAN, OLIVARES and FIGEROA are sitting around the table with ALLENDE, poring over a map of the city.)
ALLENDE: What is important is that we co-ordinate this strategy of the workersí groups with the loyal units of the army. Obviously, we canít win without them, and it would be fatal not to act in a co-ordinated way, so that each of us knows what the other is doing. Otherwise the coup might succeed through our own confusion.
Enter BEATRIZ, a little uncertain in her manner
BEATRIZ: (to ALLENDE) Father, the general you were expecting is here to see you.
ALLENDE: (glancing at his watch) Ah yes, show him in. (Stands up, moves towards door right)
Exit BEATRIZ, obviously unhappy
ALLENDE: Comrades, here is the man who will help us co-ordinate the workersí militia with the loyal units of the army: our constitutionalist Army Commander, General Pinochet.
PINOCHET enters on his name
PINOCHET: Good evening, Mr President. (Goes up to ALLENDE and shakes his hand warmly, clasping his arm. The actors freeze for a moment on this gesture.
Then PINOCHET turns to the four men sitting round the table.) Gentlemen. (ALTAMIRANO looks uneasy, even shocked. The others murmur a reply.)
ALLENDE: Well, here are the details of our defence plans, General.
PINOCHET: I shall look at them with great interest, Mr President.
(ALLENDEís arm is outstretched, inviting him to the table. A freeze once again on the gesture, which encapsulates the whole nature of the relationship, PINOCHETís treachery, ALLENDEís naive trust. A Brechtian ďgestusĒ. BLACKOUT.)
ACT 4, SCENE 4
The Ministry of Defence, an operations room. Around a table are seated Generals BRADY, TORRES, PICKERING and BONILLA.
BRADY: Well, gentlemen, the time has come to get down to specifics. Where the hellís Pickering? Itís his Second Armoured Division that will play the main role of occupying the key points of Santiago and surrounding the palace of La Moneda.
BONILLA: (irritably) We still havenít decided when this thing is going to happen.
BRADY: The Navy have sent word to Pinochet they want it for the tenth. Thatís the
evening their fleet is due to sail for the Unitas exercises with the Americans.
If they donít sail as planned it will look suspicious.
TORRES: And what does Pinochet say?
BRADY: Heís still hesitating.
BONILLA: (cynical) Heís got cold feet. That man spent too long in Pratsí shadow.
BRADY: (quietly, ruminating) Heís only uncertain about the date. Youíll be
surprised. Heís a lot more determined than you think.
TORRES: (laughs) What have you been doing? Talking to his wife?
BRADY: (thoughtful) No, to him. Augusto is turning out to be a rather different
person from what we thought. Heís no longer so tentative about things.
Quite the contrary, he now wants to go the whole hog.
BONILLA: What do you mean?
BRADY: No temporary regime for him, and then hand back power to the politicians.
He wants to hang on to it.
BONILLA: (uneasy) Frei and the others wonít be happy about that. They expect us to be
out in six months.
TORRES: (derisive) Six months! We wonít even have put down the last resistance in
six months. Some of those workersí districts are like fortresses.
BONILLA: Nonsense. With tanks weíll come to the end of them in a few days. Not to
mention the air force.
BRADY: Augusto seems a bit worried about the transition. If we kill off too many
Reds, how do we give up power again? There might be repercussions.
BONILLA: Weíll get the politicians to vote us an amnesty. We can make that a
condition for handing back power to them.
TORRES: The trouble is -- can they be trusted to keep their word? Especially if the
left gets re-elected.
BRADY: (reflective) I think Augusto wants to gut the left so they never will get re-
elected. (Carefully, gauging their reaction) He seems to want to make a
clean sweep of them.
BONILLA: (startled, uneasy) What, you mean not just the government?
BRADY: No, all kinds of people. Party workers, trade union officials, leftist
professors, journalists, anyone who could be a serious trouble-maker for the
BONILLA: (uneasy) That strikes me as a hell of a lot of people to get rid of.
BRADY: Admiral Merino is also a big advocate of the whole hog approach.
TORRES: (jovially) What: you mean ďKill íem all : let God sort íem outĒ?
BRADY: Bit more precise than that. His intelligence people have drawn up lists.
Bloody long lists they are too. Hereís the one for Santiago, for example.
(Picks up a bound sheaf of pages) Six thousand names.
BONILLA: Bit over the top, isnít it?
BRADY: (reasonably, trying to sound them out) Of course, there are precedents. The
Brazilians got rid of tens of thousands.
TORRES: Not to mention the Indonesians: half a million, wasnít it? (Cheerfully) That
was a damn good score.
BRADY: (seriously) Merino likes the figure of twenty thousand. He thinks thatíll take
care of it. Plus another million fleeing the country. Thatíll make one hell of
BONILLA: (Casually, but clearly disturbed) Bit tricky to palm that off on the world as a
reasonable degree of force.
BRADY: According to him, many of the dead wonít even be recorded. Or missed.
Foreign riff-raff. And with all the movement into exile, people will
get lost. And as he is fond of saying, the Pacific ocean is wide.
TORRES: (smirking) And full of sharks. Now those are real shredding machines.
BONILLA: It wonít make us look good in the history books, though, will it?
BRADY: Depends who writes them. (Philosophically) Donít forget history is the
record not of what happened, but of what can be proved to have happened.
Or what people have an interest in thinking happened. The historians are
always sceptics when it comes to the bad things. Every massacre in history
has seen the number of victims revised downwards to a small fraction of the
original figure. That goes for the Armenians, it would go for the Jews if they
didnít have such a powerful lobby.
BONILLA: Even with just a few hundred dead, we could all end up in the dock, twenty
years down the road. I donít know if Pinochet has thought this through. The
Americans will suddenly treat us like pariahs if this goes too far.
TORRES: What about Indonesia? They turned a blind eye there.
BONILLA: (cynically) Theyíve got different standards for those people. Weíll be expected to be civilized.
BRADY: Theyíll get over it. Anyway, theyíre not being consulted. Nixon and
Kissinger have been spoiling for this, and now weíre giving it to them Ė our
way. They can like it or lump it.
BONILLA: (bitterly) If weíd done this months ago, as I wanted, we could have been in
and out by now, and the rot wouldnít have set in.
BRADY: Well, the rot has set in. Itís them or us now.
PICKERING: (bustling) Sorry, Iím late. Blasted demonstration held me up. There must be
a million leftists out there. Celebrating their anniversary. (Grimly) Be a nice
day to go out with a bazooka.
BRADY: (dryly) Well, youíll get your chance, Pickering. As commander of the
Second Division, youíre going to be responsible for reducing the enemy
strongholds and rounding up a certain number of enemy cadres.
PICKERING: (curious) Enemy cadres?
BRADY: Yes. Hereís the list Navy Intelligence have kindly sent us. (Hands him the
thick sheaf of papers)
PICKERING: (baffled, looking through it) But this list is hundreds of pages long.
BRADY: Yes, thereís about six thousand names and addresses. All from Santiago.
PICKERING: (puzzled) And what am I supposed to do with these people?
BRADY: Pick them up. When you capture enemy strongholds, youíll round up all
those who put up resistance. If their names appear on that list, youíll know
theyíre dangerous Marxists who should be dealt with.
PICKERING: (blankly) Dealt with?
BRADY: Sent to the detention centres. The football stadiums.
PICKERING: (suspicious) And what will happen to them there?
BRADY: Oh, after interrogation, some may be released, some sent to special camps.
PICKERING: And the rest?
BRADY: Some of them, the dangerous ones, it might be necessary to take out of
circulation rather more permanently.
PICKERING: (coolly) I see. So weíre going to do a Djakarta.
TORRES: (astonished) Djakarta! Good God, in Djakarta they killed half a million. Itíll
be nothing like those numbers!
BRADY: (carefully) No, we shall be extremely moderate by those standards.
PICKERING: (casual but pointed) What sort of numbers are we looking at then?
BRADY: (cagey) Hard to say. A few thousand.
PICKERING: A few? How manyís a few?
BRADY: Not more than twenty at the very outside.
BRADY: Of which there wonít be more than six thousand in Santiago, certainly.
PICKERING: (incredulous) Are you serious?
BRADY: Thatís what Pinochet and Merino want. A proper clean-up.
PICKERING: (shocked, disbelieving) Iím not having anything to do with that. Thatís
bloody mass murder.
TORRES: (macho bantering) Come on, Pickering. You were just telling us, werenít
you, about going out with a bazooka into a leftist demonstration?
PICKERING: That was a joke, Torres. (Seriously) Iím not rounding up six thousand
people and taking them to a slaughter-house. What the hell do you think I
BRADY: (dryly) We thought you were the general of a crack armoured division.
PICKERING: (snapping) Exactly. Iím not the fucking SS.
BRADY: (reasonably) The military police will help you, of course. But youíll be in
the front line. Of course, you mustnít think all of them will be killed.
Perhaps a couple of thousand.
PICKERING: A couple of thousand? (Sarcastic, cutting) Brady, I know youíre a mason,
youíve probably never set foot in a church in your life, but I go to Mass
every Sunday, with my wife and children. (Horrified) I canít go with that
much blood on my hands. You people have gone mad.
BRADY: (coldly) Pickering, am I to take it youíre objecting to this plan? Youíre
placing me in a very awkward position. I am after all your direct superior.
PICKERING: General Brady, I think you ought to think about what youíre doing. And that
goes for all of you. (Worried) This is serious stuff.
BRADY: We are planning a coup díťtat, Pickering. Itís not childís play. The enemy is
dangerous. Did you think it was going to happen bloodlessly?
PICKERING: Of course not. But there is no need for a full-scale massacre.
TORRES: (urging, more seriously now as he worries that PICKERING is causing the
gang and himself a major problem) Come on, Pickering. You realize the
danger of a civil war if the leftists get their act together. Theyíve got God
knows how many guns. Thatís why weíve got to hit them a knockout blow.
To prevent a civil war on the scale of Spain.
BRADY: (sombrely) Better twenty thousand dead in three weeks than half a million
dead over three years. Thatís what Spain went through. We donít intend to
risk putting our country through that.
TORRES: The other side are planning to do exactly the same to us only worse.
Theyíve got a list as well.
PICKERING: Have they? Whereís their list then? I can see your list, I canít see theirs.
TORRES: (blustering) We havenít got it yet. But we will.
PICKERING: I canít believe youíre all going along with this. And I doubt very much if
Pinochet will want it. This is the man who only a year ago said: ďCoups
do not happen in ChileĒ.
BRADY: (dryly) Iím afraid youíll find Pinochet much changed.
PICKERING: (incredulous) You people are like sleepwalkers. Youíre walking into
disaster and you donít know it. You canít just make a mathematical
calculation and decide on twenty thousand dead!
BRADY: (blankly) Why not? Thatís what we do in war all the time.
PICKERING: (staring at him) This is not war!
TORRES: (irritated, heated) Of course itís bloody war! War on terrorism! What else
PICKERING: Weíre talking about civilians.
BRADY: Good God, in the Second World War, Pickering the Allies razed Dresden
in one night with over a hundred thousand dead, most of them women and
children, just to increase the psychological pressure on Germany. It wasnít
even a military target.
PICKERING: (quietly) And in my view that was a war crime.
TORRES: (bluff, cajoling) But with that on their conscience, you canít imagine theyíll
blame us for killing a measly twenty thousand, all of them dangerous
Marxist terrorists who could turn this country into another Cuba?
PICKERING: (quietly, firmly) Whether the Americans blame us or not doesnít concern
me. Itís whether I can look my children in the eye ten years from now and say: ďI did thisĒ Ė thatís what concerns me.
BRADY: (dryly) Iím afraid the future of Chile is not going to hang on the sensitivities
of your children, Pickering.
PICKERING: (disgusted) You people are without any sense of honour.
BONILLA: (stung) Thatís a very serious thing to say to a Chilean officer.
PICKERING: (jeering) Challenge me to a duel, Bonilla. What do you want, pistols?
BRADY: Itís not a question of personal honour, Pickering. Itís a question now of
trust. Am I to take it you are refusing to obey an order? That is normally a
court martial offence.
PICKERING: (losing patience) Iíve had enough of this nonsense, Brady. Iím resigning
from my command. You do your own dirty work
BRADY: (Icy) Very well then. Write out your resignation. Here. (Hands him a pen
and paper. PICKERING sits and begins writing)
BRADY: Ah, Augusto. Glad you made it. Weíre just in the middle of a little crisis.
PINOCHET: (irritably) Have you seen the crowd out there in the streets? Some of them
demanding arms from the government? There must be nearly a million
people out there. A million Marxists! Weíre acting just in time.
BRADY: (shrugging) Todayís their anniversary. Tomorrow the opposition are going
to march. Weíll see what sort of show they put on.
PINOCHET: (looking round) So whatís this crisis youíre talking about?
BRADY: (brightly) General Pickering is just resigning.
PINOCHET: (startled) What? What for?
PICKERING: (finishing writing and throwing down the pen) I donít agree with the way
this coup is being carried out.
PINOCHET: What do you mean?
PICKERING: (coldly) I was given a list of six thousand people to be rounded up and killed
off. (Brandishes the list) Iím afraid youíve got the wrong person. Wrong
army. I refuse to do it. (Throws the list on the table.)
PINOCHET: (blustering) What list is this? Itís the first Iíve heard of it.
BRADY: Itís the list Merino sent us. Dangerous Marxist terrorists. Courtesy of Naval
PINOCHET: (dismissive) Oh, that! I donít think thatís entirely serious, Pickering. One of
Merinoís fantasies. We have no plans for that scale of repression.
PICKERING: (careful, neutral, still sceptical) I am glad to hear it, General.
PINOCHET: (reassuring) Besides, it wonít be Merino whoíll be calling the tune. This
will be an army operation. (Pause. He studies PICKERING; they eye each
other, each calculating whether there is any hope of trusting the other.
Suavely) Of course, if you feel this is a case of conscience, PickeringÖ.
PICKERING: (coldly, resisting overtures he distrusts) Iím afraid I do, General.
PINOCHET: (soothing) I understand perfectly. Nothing should get between a man and his
conscience. I had to wrestle with my own before I could bring myself to this
decision. It is unprecedented in Chileís history.
PICKERING: (partly mollified) Iím glad you understand my concerns, General. I also feel
you are underestimating the reaction there will be abroad.
PINOCHET: (suavely) They will react to what they know about, Pickering. We shall be
discreet. And moderate, of course. In the meantime, since you prefer to be
left out of this, we would appreciate it if you would give your word of
honour as an officer not to disclose any of our plans to anyone, at any time.
PICKERING: (hesitates; calmly) I give you my word, General Pinochet.
PINOCHET: (benignly) Good. Well, you can go then, Pickering, and rest assured your
concerns are something we will take note of.
PICKERING: Thank you, General. (Coldly to the others) Good bye, gentlemen. (Salutes.
Pointedly) And God save Chile. (EXIT PICKERING. There is a moment of
awkward tension as they stare at one another.)
PINOCHET: (looking around at the others; appraisingly) Well, well, well. (Strolling over
casually towards TORRES, hands behind his back, ironical) Torres, what do
you make of that?
TORRES: (carefully) Bit of a shocker. Thought Pickering had more backbone.
PINOCHET: (moving on, smiling, to BONILLA) And you, Bonilla?
BONILLA: (carefully, tensely) I feel he was unsuited to the task he was given. I think
Brady should be given the command.
PINOCHET: How about it, Brady? Youíll take over the Second Division yourself?
BRADY: If you agree, Augusto.
PINOCHET: Good. Then itís settled. Best to have it done by someone whoís in this
whole-heartedly. You see how this socialist milk has softened the moral
fibre of the whole nation. Time to cut off the source. As for Pickering, youíd
better add him to the list.
BRADY: (blankly) The list?
PINOCHET: Merinoís list. The six thousand. Right at the top. He might rally to Allende
at the last moment, or speak out against us after the coup.
TORRES: (uneasy) He gave his word of honour as an officer he wouldnít tell anyone.
PINOCHET: (dryly) Iím afraid we canít let the success of our mission depend on
Pickeringís word of honour as an officer. The manís a traitor. Iím sure he
wonít blab until the coup. Itís afterwards he may be a danger. We have to
make sure of him. Torres, that will be your job. On the day of the coup, one
of your first tasks: arrest Pickering, have him court-martialled on the spot,
and shot without delay.
TORRES: (embarrassed, blushing) With respect, General Pinochet, Iíd rather someone
else did it. Pickering was my friend.
PINOCHET: (firmly, coldly) Thatís why Iíve chosen you. You need to prove he isnít any
longer. (Harshly) Anyone who leaves us at this stage must be considered a
traitor. General Sepulveda resigned yesterday. Another one with cold feet.
He will receive the same treatment.
BONILLA: (maliciously) And what about Prats?
PINOCHET: Prats knows nothing about us. At least, the only ones he knows about are
you, Bonilla, and your five friends, whom he betrayed to Allende.
BONILLA: (insistent, needling PINOCHET, who owes his place to his friend, PRATS )
Prats strikes me as by far the biggest danger. He could rally opposition after
PINOCHET: (coldly) Weíll consider Prats again. If he opens his mouth after the coup,
heíll be given the same treatment. (To BONILLA) As for you, Bonilla, Iíve
persuaded Allende to put off your retirement till the promotions review
next month. Itís only thanks to me youíre still in uniform.
BONILLA: (contrite) I appreciate that, General.
BRADY: (maliciously, shopping him; smoothly) Bonilla, did you have any comments
to make to Augusto about the operation?
BONILLA: (embarrassed, furious at BRADYís stab in the back) No, I think he has
already addressed my concerns.
PINOCHET: (approaching BONILLA, quietly, confidentially) You are no doubt worried
about the scale of the clean-up, how long it will take, and the reactions of
your politician friends. It is of course important to us to keep the politicians
on board, especially the Christian Democrats. Thatís why youíre so
important to us, Bonilla. Iíve been thinking that both the Presidency and the
Vice-presidency should be put in the hands of the army as soon as possible,
just to keep the other services in their place. I was thinking of you for my
Vice-president. Would that interest you, Bonilla?
BONILLA: (bowing slightly) I would be honoured, General Pinochet.
PINOCHET: Good. Well, then, weíre all perfectly happy about our roles in this patriotic
and humanitarian operation to rescue our country from the Marxist terror?
(Looking from one to another) Are we?
TORRES: (hastily) Absolutely, General.
BONILLA: (satisfied) Completely, General.
PINOCHET: (totally in command) Splendid. Now, all we have to decide is the timing.
Letís go over the whole plan again, shall we, Brady? Starting with the Naval
occupation of Valparaiso.
ACT 5, SCENE 1
The veranda and garden of Allendeís house. ALLENDE and his daughter BEATRIZ are
standing on the veranda looking at the garden. It is a scene of calm before the storm.
BEATRIZ is trying to cheer her father up, knowing the terrible strain he is under.
ALLENDE is trying to reassure her, while revealing his profound anxiety and self-doubt.
BEATRIZ: (enthusiastic, walking about) Isnít it beautiful? Spring is here already. Look at the garden, Papa! Did you see all the new buds? (With youthful energy and hope) Every day something changes here now ó new buds, new blossoms, new shoots, new flowers Ė
ALLENDE: (amused) Everything new, in short. (With rueful humour) It seems Nature manages her revolutions rather more successfully than we do. (Dryly) Among human beings the old maintains itself with more tenacity.
BEATRIZ: (looking at him; softly, comforting) But not forever.
ALLENDE: (sadly) Sometimes for far too long.
BEATRIZ: (reassuring; with absolute faith) Sooner or later the new prevails over the old, the future over the past, the living over the dead. It is inevitable.
ALLENDE: Letís hope so. (Suddenly despondent)
But what a waste, Beatriz, when we see
How desperately men fight for dead ideas,
As though they were the future. (He is half aware of the irony the audience sees, applying these words to him)
BEATRIZ: (gently) Time will enlighten them. (ALLENDE sits on the veranda edge)
ALLENDE: (troubled) But is time always right? And is it right soon enough?
BEATRIZ: (after a pause; approaches, gently, affectionate, wanting to reach him, to keep him talking as one does with a person in a state of crisis. Suddenly she flinches.) Ouch!
ALLENDE: (coming out of his thoughts) Whatís up?
BEATRIZ: I just felt him kick me. Heís going to be a tough one. (She caresses her pregnant belly)
ALLENDE: Heíll need to be.
(Enter a small boy in a sailor suit from the back door of the house, comes shyly towards
ALLENDE. A womanís voice comes from offstage, inside the house).
VOICE: (offstage, encouraging) Go on, tell him.
BOY: (announcing; self-important) Grandpa, lunch is going to be in one hour.
ALLENDE: Ah, lunch in one hour, captain! (Takes boy in his arms, tickles him) And do you know whatís for lunch? (The boy shakes his head) You go and find out, captain. (Grandly) Tell them: the President of the Republic wants to know whatís for lunch. (BOY runs back into the house; ALLENDE stares after him.)
BEATRIZ: (watching him as he falls into a reverie) What are you thinking about?
ALLENDE: (reminiscent) I was thinking of other children.
BEATRIZ: What children?
ALLENDE: When I was a doctor in Valparaiso, not much older than you, I used to visit the shanty-towns.(Absorbed in his memories) I remember the children. They were so sickly and under-nourished they used to die of measles or dysentery or whooping cough. I swore I would change that one day. (Pause.) If there is one thing I have achieved as president which makes me feel good, it is that. Every child now gets a pint of free milk every day. And they get vaccinated. (Pause, bitterly) But while their parents queue for bread I wonder if that is achievement enough.
BEATRIZ: (Gently) The queues are not our fault. It is them who have caused the shortages.
ALLENDE: Perhaps it is our fault too. An economy can't function when a nation is tearng itself apart.
(Wearily) People are tired of this conflict. They want normality. They'll do anything for it.
BEATRIZ: (worrried) Do you think so?
ALLENDE: (despondent) The situation is impossible. Congress has declared our government illegal. The streets are choked with demonstrations, for us or agains us. There is no way forward like this. It has to end. One way or another.
BEATRIZ: (disturbed) What do you mean?
ALLENDE: (bitterly) Altamirano made a speech an hour ago calling openly for subversion of the Navy. It was an act of pure sabotage of my government. The extreme left is pushing for civil war. The generals will act if we donít.
BEATRIZ: (anxiously) What are you going to do?
ALLENDE: (slowly) I have decided to compromise with Congress,
As General Prats always wanted me to. Iíll sign the bill
Banning any further nationalisations.
And Iíve decided to call a plebiscite. Ask the people
To vote on whether they support our government.
BEATRIZ: (surprised) A plebiscite?
But itís only six months since the election.
ALLENDE: (firmly) This new strike by the bosses has to be ended.
A vote will make everything clear. If we lose,
I resign. If we win, the armed forces
Will have to support us and restore order.
Either way we save democracy,
Which has become our first line of defence.
BEATRIZ: (troubled) But even if we win -- if we compromise with Congress,
That means the abandonment of our programme.
We surviveÖ. but with our hands tied.
ALLENDE: (sadly, realistic; bitterly) Better
Than not survive at all. We should have done this
Long ago. If certain friends had not prevented usÖ.
BEATRIZ: (suddenly afraid of his conclusions; pleading) But you donít believe
We were wrong from the start, in what we did?
At least partly, as all men partly fail,
That the road we chose to follow has not led
To the promised end Ė not that we were mistaken,
But that the geography of things in themselves
Is more complex, more treacherous than we thought,
And that the simple path which we mapped out
Was too naive and hopeful Ė to admit this
Is not to betray what we have believed in,
But to recognize the world in which we live
Is not the one we dreamed of.
BEATRIZ: (desperately, holding his arm; her faith threatened) But you still believe
In everything we did?
ALLENDE: (sadly, touching her cheek, reassuring) We found the world
In a state we thought unjust and tried to change it.
There is no shame in that. But when all our efforts
Break like a beggarís stick against the iron
Gates of reality, we must ask ourselves
Whether we chose the right way.
BEATRIZ: (shocked, disillusioned; in a whisper) And you think we didnít? (Confused, trying to get back to the facts) And now you think this compromise, and calling a plebiscite, is the only way to stave off a coup?
ALLENDE: It will shift the focus of attention from the battle in the streets to a new political battle. It will give them hope they can defeat us politically. If we lose and resign, theyíll have no need to act.
BEATRIZ: (quietly, worried) Youíve made up your mind on this?
ALLENDE: Iím going to announce it privately to the loyalist generals right now. I hope it will help them restrain their fascist colleagues.
BEATRIZ: (anxiously) And when will you announce it publicly?
ALLENDE: I canít till after the week-end. Iíll need that time to persuade the other leaders of the coalition. That wonít be easy, with some of them.
BEATRIZ: (with sudden misgiving) Do you think thatís wise?
ALLENDE: (puzzled) What do you mean?
BEATRIZ: To tell the generals before you tell the public?
ALLENDE: (innocently) Why not?
BEATRIZ: Well, it just seems, if they were planning something Ö.surely this willÖ
(Enter an AIDE)
AIDE: Comrade President, the generals are here to see you.
ALLENDE: Very well. (To BEATRIZ) I mustnít keep them waiting.
BEATRIZ: (in sudden fear) But, Father, surelyÖÖ.
ALLENDE: (waiting, but impatient to leave) What?
BEATRIZ: (helpless, unable to explain her misgivings) No, it doesnít matter.
ALLENDE: Iíll talk to you later. (He goes inside with the AIDE. BEATRIZ stares in horror and helplessness before her, out over the audience, prey to a terrifying vision. She bites the back of her hand, eyes tightly closed, then clutches at the baby inside her. We may divine the torment that will lead to her suicide years later in Cuba. The little BOY runs out again into the garden with news about lunch, stops and stares at her. He looks around for ALLENDE, then doesnít know what to do, and runs off again. Eyes closed, she does not notice him. BLACKOUT)
ACT 5, SCENE 2