Carlos Altamirano

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Carlos Altamirano
Carlos Altamirano Orrego.jpg
Occupation Lawyer, politician

Carlos Altamirano Orrego (December 18, 1922, Santiago de Chile) is a lawyer and one of the most influential[citation needed] politicians of Chilean socialism. He was the general secretary of the Chilean Socialist Party (PS) between 1971 and 1979. Before that, he was deputy from 1961 to 1965 and senator from 1965 to 1973. He escaped after Pinochet's coup d'état on September 11, 1973 and lived as a refugee in Cuba. As a young man he was an accomplished athlete, winning medals in the high jump event at the 1946 and 1947 South American Championships in Athletics.


Carlos Altamirano started as professor of financial law and public finances in the University of Chile. During the Salvador Allende's rule, Altamirano was one of the leaders of the more radical left-wing, revolutionary faction of the Socialist Party. He ruled out any compromise with the Christian Democrats whom he regarded as reactionary and counterrevolutionary, and supported an armed struggle of the workers. After the anticommunist coup of 11 September 1973, he first fled to Cuba and later lived in the GDR. Altamirano became one of the main protagonist of the ideological renovation of Chilean socialism. He wrote Dialéctica de una Derrota en 1977 ("Dialectics of a Defeat"). He now favoured more Western style social democratic positions. In 1979, supporting an alliance with the Christian Democrats, he was expelled from the Socialist Party, that split in two: the PS-Almeyda (nostalgic of the positions of the Allende era) and the PS-Briones, that later became the PS-Nuñez (favorable to Altamirano's positions).

He returned to Chile after the end of Pinochet's dictatorship in 1993, and although he did not participate actively in politics, he did continue his political reflections.

Carlos Altamirano led the way for armed struggle against the bourgeoisie, in particular after the tanquetazo failed right wing coup. During Salvador Allende's government, he had a very strong discourse, calling to "advance without compromise" (avanzar sin transar — that might be compared to Marceau Pivert's tout est possible, "everything is possible", during the 1936 Popular Front in France). In 1973, sectors of the Chilean Navy tried to convince leaders of the far-right paramilitary organization Patria y Libertad to assassinate him.[1] The plan, however, was not enacted. After the September 11, 1973 coup, Altamirano fled to Cuba.

According to lawyer Alun Jones, representant of the Spanish justice during Spain's request to Great Britain for the extradition of Augusto Pinochet, Augusto Pinochet had planned an attack against Carlos Altamirano just after Franco's funerals in 1975.[2] A declassified FBI document suggests that Altamirano had become an obsession of DINA director Manuel Contreras, who wanted him assassinated at all cost, but that others within the agency cast doubts, because Altamirano seemed to be a decisive factor among the Chileans living in exile. The same document indicates that the neo-fascists associated with Stefano Delle Chiaie were to assassinate Bernardo Leighton instead.[3]

Carlos Altamirano (1974)


  1. ^ Confesiones de un ex Patria y Libertad, TVN, 12 February 2006 (Spanish)
  2. ^ Ezard, John (1999-02-05). "Lords reserve Pinochet ruling". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  3. ^ "Attempted Assassination of Bernardo Leighton" (PDF). FBI Chile Declassification Project Tranche III (1968-1972). Federal Bureau of Investigation. 1980-04-09. 


  • Dialéctica de una Derrota (1977) (Spanish)
  • Después de Todo ("After Everything") (Spanish)

See also[edit]