Skip to main content Start of main content

‘Struggle as Culture’: The Museum of Solidarity, 1971-73

Poster for the exhibition ‘El pueblo tiene arte con Allende’ (‘The People Have Art with Allende’), 1970, offset lithograph, 56 × 58cm. Courtesy Fundación Salvador Allende, Santiago de Chile
María Berríos presents the museum as a tool of popular resistance and revolution in a history of Chile’s Museo de la Solidaridad.
Poster for the exhibition ‘El pueblo tiene arte con Allende’ (‘The People Have Art with Allende’), 1970, offset lithograph, 56 × 58cm. Courtesy Fundación Salvador Allende, Santiago de Chile

Can a museum be a weapon? What follows is the story of how a small-scale early-1970s counter-information campaign to defend the Chilean ‘revolution without arms’ against a transnational imperialist smear campaign materialised into an experimental museum, based on the principle that art and politics are intrinsically inseparable.01 Initially simply a ‘beautiful and generous’ idea of a museum free and open to all, and against the geo-political monopoly of art by the interests of the capitalist metropolis, the ‘museum of solidarity’ – self-proclaimed as such before the existence of a collection or a building to house it (the latter came only decades later) – would indeed become an important organ for resistance.

The museum in question, the Museo de la Solidaridad (Museum of Solidarity), was founded in 1971. Conceived as a collection ‘for the people, by the people’ to support the emancipatory struggles of the Third World, at the time of the military coup on 11 September 1973 – only two years after the project was born – it comprised over 700 art works, and continued to grow during its itinerant existence as an ‘international museum of resistance’. The present text will focus on how the project emerged and the urgencies it tried to address at the time – what it built on and what it destroyed– by following the Museum as a collective and internationalist experiment in art and politics strongly grounded in the revolutionary struggle that had been taking shape for some time in Chile.

Concentrating on how the project emerged means stepping aside from a prevailing emphasis on the value of its collection – the outstanding individualised works of art it contains – to instead focus on the Museum of Solidarity as an expanded collaborative work, wherein artists and artworks become key elements of a community of agitators and organisers that materialised as a seemingly utopian experiment in museography. Looking into its origins – the becoming of a museum, and the foundations set by the local workings of art and revolution before it – enables an understanding of the radical differences between its collection and other prestigious Latin American modern art collections. What it came out of and how it came to life makes very clear how and why the Museum of Solidarity Salvador Allende is an operation of a fundamentally different nature and aim. 02

Art and the ‘Revolution Without Arms’

After the triumph of the Unidad Popular (Popular Unity) candidate Salvador Allende in the 1970 Chilean presidential election, a nation few people could locate on a map suddenly began to appear in mainstream international media as a dangerous threat to the ‘free democracy’ of capitalist imperialism. The media’s portrayal was part of a deliberate scare campaign to effectively impede Allende from coming to power: because he only had a relative majority, according to Chilean law he would have to be ratified in Congress. His national and international opponents saw a window of opportunity to stop Allende from occupying the presidential seat. Simultaneously, Chile attracted progressives from around the world, especially heterodox, nonaligned leftists. In the context of the disenchantment that followed after 1968, Chile’s ‘revolution without arms’ was viewed as an inspiration and a source of new hope (as Cuba had been in the previous decade).

One of the trademarks of Popular Unity in general, and of Allende’s presidential campaigns in particular, was the pivotal role of culture and cultural workers. Never before or since has a Chilean candidate had such enthusiastic support across an immense portion of the artistic community. The active participation of cultural workers – not as advertising agents but through their own artistic practices – was considered a main asset in what had been an otherwise severely underfunded presidential campaign. The magnitude and force of the diverse artistic knowledge the ‘artists with Allende’ provided was the one clear advantage the Popular Unity campaign had against its opponents, the centre and right-wing candidates (who were well funded and backed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency03) and the corporate media. The electoral triumph of Popular Unity was recognised with the ratification of Allende’s president by Congress on 26 October 1970. At that time, it is fair to say that artists were not only extremely invested in politics, but already experimenting and reflecting on how art and politics could together contribute to the revolutionary struggle. The project of the Museum of Solidarity can be traced to the principles developed through art workers’ practices.

One of the first art exhibitions to take place after the election was ‘Homenaje al triunfo del pueblo’ (‘Homage to the Triumph of the People’), which involved the participation of over 200 artists from Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. 04 Organised by the Instituto de Arte Latinoamericano (Latin American Art Institute, IAL), it opened at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Contemporary Art Museum) on 4 November 1970 – the same day Allende was sworn in as president. The catalogue’s opening statement reads:

More than an exhibition in the traditional sense, ‘Homage to the Triumph of the People’ is a manifesto of visual artists. The show does not intend to define a style but simply to assert Chilean and foreign artists’ militant position, total support and contribution to the construction of a new society. 05

Allende’s presidential campaign had already used art and the exhibition form as modes of political action through the itinerant exhibition ‘El pueblo tiene arte con Allende’ (‘The People Have Art with Allende’). Organised by the Comité de Artistas Plásticos de la Unidad Popular (Committee of Visual Artists of Popular Unity), it consisted of a set of 30 silkscreen prints simultaneously exhibited in 80 different locations throughout Chile on 12 August 1970, just weeks before the election. The stylistically heterogeneous prints – abstract compositions, reinterpretations of folk art, agitpop and more lyrical figurative images – could be purchased at a price affordable to the common worker. In Santiago, the show was installed inside a circus tent behind the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Fine Arts Museum). The same prints were exhibited around the globe and donated to institutions in Cuba, Colombia, Peru and the German Democratic Republic, in line with the internationalist approach of their notions of art and revolution. The ‘catalogue’, consisting of a single sheet of paper, states:

This show, which will be seen by many thousands of Chileans of all social and cultural conditions, is an expression of our fervent desire that art cease to be about unique objects to be purchased by the wealthy, the exclusive privilege of a few. We emphatically reject this buy-out/sell-out of art.

The cruel conditions that we are subjected to by the capitalist regime denigrate our role as artists, which is, at the same time, used to divide people into first- and second-class citizens. We believe that due to its social nature, art must be within the reach of everyone. …

We want to make an art that can bear testimony to the struggles and realities of the people, a free art that does not allow itself to be colonised. An art that is rebellious and new. A courageous art that cannot be bought off.06

Luis Poirot, Acto Cultural: El pueblo tiene arte con Allende, Campaña presidencial de Salvador Allende (Cultural Action: The People Have Art with Allende, Salvador Allende’s Presidential Election Campaign), 1969, silver-gelatin print, 32.5 × 48.4cm. Courtesy the artist

In January 1971, two months after Allende initiated his mandate, a similar set of prints travelled as part of the ‘El tren popular de la cultura’ (‘The Popular Culture Train’), for which over fifty artists travelled around Chile for forty days. ‘The Popular Culture Train’ was a revised version of other train wagons and rickety buses turned into itinerant culture platforms used in Allende’s previous campaigns07. It travelled to remote localities, where artists performed live theatre, dance and music; screened films on a portable canvas; presented makeshift exhibitions; and produced in situ silkscreen prints. Loosely inspired by the ‘pedagogical missions’ and ‘popular museums’ of the Second Spanish Republic as well as the Soviet ‘agit-trains’, ‘The Popular Culture Train’ travelled the country focussing on isolated populations and shaping their presentations, most notably their theatre performances, through encounters with locals08. The convoy was often the first contact people had with art, cinema and live performance, and in many places the train was awaited with great anticipation, greeted by entire towns dressed in their Sunday best and cheering.09 Many participating artists described it as a life-changing experience, and it was a great success in terms of shattering the general assumption that ‘high art’ cannot be popular.

Campaign bus for Salvador Allende’s 1961 campaign for the senate seat of Valparaiso and Aconcagua. Courtesy Fundación Salvador Allende, Santiago de Chile

Operation Truth

The more precise origin of the Museum of Solidarity lies in the radical communications campaign ‘Operación verdad’ (‘Operation Truth’), an international counter-information strategy to defend the revolution from reactionary attacks by the national and international press. According to one of its instigators, Renzo Rossellini, an Italian cinema producer and communications consultant for Popular Unity living in Santiago at the time:

Operation Truth was a cultural and political necessity, we had to explain to the planet that a revolutionary experience without arms and within democratic elections was occurring in Chile, something that had never before occurred on planet Earth, a revolutionary anti-imperialist process. Operation Truth had as its main objective to show the world what the Chile that Popular Unity had to govern looked like. 10

The dirty ‘rumour’ campaign against Popular Unity and Allende was the front of an escalating communications war, and took place in an already violent climate that included political assassination and economic sabotage from a heavily financed and extreme right backed by the United States.11 The reactionary communications offensive became so belligerent that from the very beginning of his mandate Allende felt forced to dedicate relevant portions of almost every presidential speech to refuting the false information published daily by the right-wing-dominated press. This situation, together with the distorted portrayal of Chile by the international press as an authoritarian communist regime, made it imperative for the government to find a way to fight back. Rossellini and Augusto Olivares, press director of Televisión Nacional during the Popular Unity era, organised the counter-strategy that would become Operation Truth; they involved other important close collaborators of Allende, including the Uruguayan film producer Danilo Trelles, personal friend and communications advisor to the president.12 They knew their communications counterattack had to take place in a scenario outside the mainstream media, for the limited economic resources of Popular Unity meant they did not have a chance against the combined multinational press magnates (represented by the Associated Press and the Inter American Press Association). So they opted for a more personalised strategy, based on real and potential political friendships and solidarity.

The Chilean Operation Truth stood out from other ‘truth campaigns’ because it was not based on notions of ‘objectivity’ – despite the obvious aim of denouncing malicious rumours and correcting outright lies13. While the right-wing media insisted on its political ‘neutrality’ journalism, Operation Truth was an attempt at sharing and opening up the subjective, lived experience of the revolution.14 On the international front, it took advantage of international curiosity about the ‘Chilean model’ (it did not take much convincing for people to agree to make the trip), and brought journalists, intellectuals, artists and activists together in informal meetings and wanderings – insisting that theirs should not become an exclusively ‘official’ programme (which was partially offered through press conferences with Popular Unity ministers and the president himself). Operation Truth was launched as an open invitation to international guests – potential friends of the revolution – to visit Chile to observe, enter into dialogue with and experience the revolution on their own terms.

We dispensed with detailed programmes that are overwhelming for guests. The idea is to give the foreigners free rein. Let them explore the country devoid of obstacles or guides of overbearing amiability.15

For an international ‘event’ in April 1971, over fifty guests arrived in Santiago, amongst them artists, musicians, film-makers, playwrights, left Christian Democrats, poets, priests, anti-fascist activists, politicians and journalists.16 The guests were provided with information regarding activities they were invited to join, including meetings of the workers union and peasant co-ops as well as visits to copper and coal mines and student political assemblies.17 They were also encouraged to explore on their own, and even urged by the president himself to meet with representatives of the opposition.18 There was no protocol or expected outcome, although the devisers of Operation Truth hoped that firsthand contact with the revolutionary process would touch and motivate people to become a part of the struggle in whatever way they saw fit.

Museum of Solidarity

One of the most exceptional and unexpected long-term outcomes of this meeting would be the Museum of Solidarity. It is said that the idea of a museum emerged during Operation Truth, in a relaxed conversation between friends in a hotel room. Other versions say it was while the small group strolled through downtown Santiago. But all accounts coincide in one of the guests, José María Moreno Galván, a Spanish communist and art critic who discussed with local artist friends the possibility of an international museum made up of artists’ donations as a way that international artists could contribute to the Chilean revolutionary struggle.19 Instantly his friend José Balmes, a Catalan painter living in Chile, urged that the idea be proposed to the president. Fellow guests of Operation Truth supported the motion, and some later became important contributors. Allende himself wrote a personal letter to Moreno Galván soon after Operation Truth, asking him to please ‘accelerate the museum project’ to be ready to open for the third edition of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which Chile would host in less than a year’s time.20 Most supporters were aware that the likelihood of a museum based in sheer solidarity with the aim of having a collection substantial enough to exhibit within ten months (and all of this for ‘free’) was close to impossible. Yet their enthusiasm for the Chilean ‘revolution without arms’ somehow convinced them it could be done.

Cover and inside pages of the catalogue for the first exhibition of the Museo de la Solidaridad collection, 1972. Courtesy Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago de Chile

Immediately the project began to take shape in Chile. The Latin American Art Institute (IAL), which had been actively supporting the Committee of Visual Artists of Popular Unity (involved in some way in all the aforementioned exhibitions), became the local headquarters of the project and put its modest team, which included María Eugenia Zamudio (coordinator), Carmen Waugh (public relations) and Virginia Vidal (press agent), to work on promoting the future museum.21 The IAL was a small yet ambitious organisation led by Miguel Rojas-Mix, who was linked to the arts faculty of the University of Chile, directed at the time by José Balmes and later by Pedro Miras. It was decided that an organ for the promotion and development of the project was needed and also that it should have exclusively international members; thus the Comité Internacional de Solidaridad Artística (International Committee of Artistic Solidarity, CISAC) was founded.22The exiled Brazilian art critic Mário Pedrosa, also a member of the IAL, was asked to preside,23 while Danilo Trelles, one of the organisers of Operation Truth, was named secretary. By November 1971, a considerable body of artworks had already been donated or committed to the future museum. CISAC released a three-page document, ‘Declaración Necesaria’ (‘Necessary Declaration’), consisting of five points that more or less stated:

1. The artists who had donated artworks did not do so in isolation, but as a ‘community, deeply devoted to the ideal of a society that is more just, free and human than that which prevails in most of the world’.

2. Artists have historically been involved in supporting diverse emancipatory movements; socialism is a natural and fundamental position for artists who today feel that the work they produce is being degraded by its commodification in capitalist society.

3. Artists call for widespread access to their artworks and ‘cannot be indifferent to their works being monopolised for the aesthetic pleasure of those privileged collectors able to purchase them’; they reject the confinement of their works to ‘the rich countries of the north-western hemisphere and their metropolis’. On the contrary, they demand their ‘works be made profusely available to the large underprivileged areas of the Third World. Chile and its revolution against oppression represent that world.’

4. The gift of artworks to the people of Chile ‘does not obey political partisanships or sectarianisms’, but is ‘political in the highest sense of the word; in a fundamentally ethical, humanist and libertarian sense’.

5. The CISAC has ‘clumsily tried to translate to words what the artists simply do through their actions: with artworks’.24

Talleres gráficos FF. CC del Estado de Chile, poster for ‘El tren popular de la cultura’ (‘The Popular Culture Train’), 1971, offset lithograph, 69 × 53.5cm. Courtesy Fundación Salvador Allende, Santiago de Chile

The declaration put the donating artists and their artworks at the forefront and recognised their solidarity as political action. Simultaneously, it provided an outline of the principles guiding the museum underway – a museum that openly denounced how the art system and its segregating institutions of concentrated wealth ultimately degraded art and artists. In this sense, the Museum of Solidarity was born as a museum against museums, an anti-museum: the basic notions of the proposed museum were an assault on existing art museums, especially the prestigious and admired institutions of the metropolis; it questioned their geo-political monopoly by calling out the absolute incompatibility of their social function and the principles of the artworks (and artists) in their care. Following this logic, the Museum of Solidarity initiated a motion that would attempt to ‘reclaim’ Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937): they argued that the Museum of Modern Art in New York, positioned in the centre of ‘history’s most prominent producer of guernicas’, was unfit to be its custodian. They wrote a letter explaining their reasoning and offering to relocate the painting to the Museum of Solidarity, where it could be ‘honoured and housed decently’.25 As Pedrosa would note in a letter to another CISAC member, ‘art and politics are today inseparable’.26

The Museum of Solidarity was born as a museum against museums, an anti-museum; its basic notions were an assault on the prestigious and admired institutions of the metropolis.

In the intense two years that followed the initial motion for the Museum of Solidarity, the project continued to develop and certain ideas were further clarified. Although it was considered strategic and fundamental to include ‘first-category artists with firm political positions’,27 the non-partisanship they insisted on can be observed in the group of works that came together during those brief first years. The collection is unique in its heterogeneity and in the way it quite literally embodies a slice of time and no specific style (although great care was taken in reviewing the kind of works received through the donation process).28A commitment to changing the world inevitably involved a conception of art as change, so in this sense there was a natural affinity with modern art reflected in the collection. But, as correspondences between CISAC members attest, they – and particularly Pedrosa – considered it crucial to also incorporate ‘experimental artists’: ‘new artists, non-artists, anti-artists and their “non-objects”’.29 The Museum itself should become an open, permeable space involving artists through their own ‘experiences’ and research. It was planned that contemporary artists should travel and spend some time in the country – as they had done in Operation Truth – so that they might gain familiarity with the revolution on their own terms without particular outcomes in mind (although discussions about in situ works were already taking place).30

While the donations were made to the ‘people of Chile’, it is impossible to know if the Museum of Solidarity could have become the popular museum it wanted to be. Despite much effort, including the direct involvement of the president, during the rule of Popular Unity the Museum of Solidarity never managed to secure a building. It was to be a museum without walls for almost twenty years. The museum was to be open and free to all, and there were plans for parts of the collection to be itinerant, moving to different locations, factories, mines and rural or remote areas. ‘The Popular Culture Train’ was evoked in the attempt to have a first iteration of these exhibits in a copper mine in the north. 31 Three large exhibitions managed to open: one in the Contemporary Art Museum; the others simultaneously in that museum and in the building that had been constructed to host UNCTAD. The latter building was to become the home of the Museum of Solidarity, until it was realised that the architecture was not fit to house an art collection. For a short period of time after UNCTAD took place in Chile, the building became an active and popular cultural centre, and it was in this context that the exhibition taking place was interrupted by the military coup. There remains little documentation of these exhibitions, with the exception of their mention in correspondences, some scant glimpses in press coverage, and a modest first catalogue (full of embarrassing typos, as one CISAC member complained). At the time of writing, almost no surviving images have been found.

Nonetheless, that any of it existed, especially the Museum of Solidarity itself, is already an incredible exception. Even under ideal circumstances, it goes against all odds that a museum without funding could manage a first exhibition within a year of its founding and acquire a significant collection of over 700 artworks in little more than two years. Pedrosa responded to Dore Ashton’s understandable frustration with the misspelt names in the 1972 catalogue by explaining that it was all pulled off under conditions of extreme precariousness. It was explained to another CISAC member that ‘currently in Chile everything is done without funding and in an improvised way’.32 These conditions gave a new sense to Pedrosa’s definition of art as the ‘experimental exercise of freedom’, applicable to the new museum in the making. During those first two years, the artworks would arrive at the IAL through the Chilean embassies, frequently in diplomatic ‘pouches’, their registration consisting of a handwritten line in a small notebook. Some works arrived just in time for scheduled exhibitions; it is said that an early icon of the Museum, a cockerel by Joan Miró, was still wet when it was hung in the opening show on the 17 May 1972. All of this took place in an increasingly tense and complicated political context that Pedrosa himself described as an unarmed civil war. In this setting, the Museum was a work not only of solidarity but also of militant audacity on behalf of all involved. It represented the ‘beautiful chaos’ 33 that had overtaken many spheres of daily life in the times of Popular Unity.

Disappearance and Exile

The project was cut short, as was the political experiment of Popular Unity, with the 11 September 1973 military coup – roughly two and a half years after the idea for the museum was first uttered. Its collection comprised art then valued at 8 million US dollars, an amount that surpassed the direct investment made by Richard Nixon’s regime to destabilise Chile within the same period of time. Among the first images to come out of Chile under military power were those of house raids and book burnings; for example, young military cadets were portrayed on French television scorching books including literature on Cubism. (Apparently some kind of link to Cuba was suspected – books in shades of red suffered a similar fate.) The material destruction of all things even remotely linked to Popular Unity and leftist culture was immense. All of those involved with the Museum were forced into exile shortly after the coup; despite several attempts to recover the works in the years after, including a plan to temporarily house the museum in Mexico, the fate of the collection was uncertain for decades.

‘Esta tarde inauguramos el más valioso museo de América Latina, regalado por los propios artistas’ [This evening we inaugurate the most valuable museum in Latin America, given to us as a gift by the artists], Clarín, 14 May 1972. Courtesy Fondo Museo de la Solidaridad, Fondo Archivo Institucional Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (FAIMAC) and University of Chile, Santiago de Chile

The project was reborn as a museum in exile in 1975, as the International Museum of Resistance Salvador Allende (MIRSA in its Spanish acronym).34 The people that had been involved with the Museum of Solidarity in Chile began to collect new works, and continued to do so over the course of the dictatorship. The spirit of the Museum materialised through this new nomadic existence: artworks accumulated in people’s homes and borrowed institutional storage spaces, and different fragments of the growing collection were shown in all kinds of venues during the seventeen years of military rule, from festivals to international solidarity events. Murals and large-scale paintings were often produced in situ by one of the several nomenclatures of the international anti-fascist painters brigades, made up of Chilean and Latin American artists-in-exile and their European collaborators.35 This continued existence of the Museum – its second life – was supported by the widespread surge of solidarity for those displaced by the repressive dictatorial regimes of Latin America in the 1970s. National Committees for the Museum were created in Cuba, Spain, France and Mexico, in which prominent intellectuals took part, pooling efforts to rebuild the collection. As a museum-in-exile, the project remained a campaign, but with a new cause: the plight of Chile under military rule. 36

Despite the military’s attempt to erase any trace of Popular Unity, the collection that had been amassed by the Museum of Solidarity survived. Apparently this was because the ideologues of the dictatorship were afraid that were it to be destroyed, it would have turned into an international campaign against them37– a chilling fact given their lack of consideration for human life. If Operation Truth had failed to halt the offensive against the revolution, the fact that the artworks of the Museum of Solidarity in and of themselves were something to be feared is not an insignificant detail. It was only after the end of the dictatorship that the museum-in-exile and its disappeared collection came to form what is today the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (Museum of Solidarity Salvador Allende, as of 1991). Its first director was Carmen Waugh, a relentless advocate of the Museum in all its stages, who stored much of the collection in stuffed closets during her exile, from Italy to Spain to Nicaragua. Waugh led the political and legal struggle to reclaim the disappeared initial collection that had been stashed in different bureaucratic corners of state patrimony, some of which was only passed over to the Museum of Solidarity this year.

The Museum of Solidarity itself was born as an act of struggle – a cultural response to a political urgency. Initially part of a strategy of radical communication, it turned the very notion of a museum on its head. ‘Mediation’ as it is understood today (conventionally: socialising, learning with and making a collection public) is not something that emerged as a necessity after the Museum of Solidarity’s collection was assembled – it was a basic condition of its founding. In the process emerged an unprecedented experimental institution for art and politics, an international utopian ‘museum’, born in a small country in the south that had initiated an equally unprecedented revolutionary transformation.


  • This essay is adapted from a paper given at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (São Paulo Museum of Art, MASP) on 15 April 2016, commissioned by Luiza Proença. I am deeply grateful to those whose rigorous work and research made my own research possible: Carla Macchiavello; Carla Miranda; and Claudia Zaldívar, current director of the Museum of Solidarity, whose team includes Federico Brega, María José Lamaitre and Caroll Yasky. Special thanks to Virginia Vidal, agitator for the cause since the early 1970s, and a secret protagonist of this story.
  • A conventional hanging of the Museum’s ‘key’ modern works can be hard to distinguish from that at any prestigious modern Latin American art collection.
  • Allende’s rivals in the 1964 and 1970 elections received substantial financial ‘covert’ support from the CIA. Anti-Allende propaganda was spread through press articles, editorials, radio spots, pamphlets and posters. In 1964, these famously depicted child soldiers and tanks sieging the government house, thereby equating an Allende presidency to a militarised communist dictatorship. Regarding the 1964 triumph of the centre-right candidate Eduardo Frei Montalva, the US Select Committee reported: ‘The CIA regards the anti-communist scare campaign as the most effective activity undertaken by the US on behalf of the Christian Democratic candidate.’ In 1970, right-wing candidate Jorge Alessandri received CIA funding through El Mercurio and its director Agustín Edwards. See Frank Church and John Tower, ‘Covert Action in Chile 1963–1973, Staff Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States, 94th Congress, 18 September 1975’, US Government Printing Offices, 1975. See also Seymour Hersh, ‘The Price of Power: Kissinger, Nixon, and Chile’, The Atlantic Monthly, vol.250, no.6, December 1982, pp.31–58.
  • Among them, the Argentineans León Ferrari, Marta Peluffo and Luis Felipe Noé; the Uruguayans Luis Arbondo and Jorge Nieto; and the Chileans José Balmes, Juan Dávila and Luz Donoso. Many of the artists in the exhibition later donated works to the Museum of Solidarity.
  • Homenaje al triunfo del pueblo (exh. cat), Santiago de Chile: Instituto de Extensión de Artes Plásticas, Universidad de Chile, 1970. Unless otherwise specified, all translations and emphases are my own.
  • El pueblo tiene arte con Allende (leaflet/catalogue), Santiago: Impresora Horizonte, 1970.
  • Joris Ivens’s 1964 film Le train de la victoire (The Victory Train) is a beautiful document of that year’s campaign. There was no train in the 1970 campaign; a small plane transported Allende through the country, but the campaign rallies did rely heavily on the cultural participation that had developed in previous campaigns. M. Casals Araya describes how the 1970 campaign perfected the ‘use of culture for the massification of the message’. See Marcelo Casals Araya, El alba de una revolución: La izquierda y el proceso de construcción estratégica de la ‘Via chilena al socialismo1956– 1970, Santiago de Chile: LOM Ediciones, 2010, p.119. For a detailed account of ‘El bus de la victoria’ (1961), see Orzen Nikola Agnic Krstulovic, Allende, El hombre y el político: (Memorias de un secretario privado), Santiago de Chile: RIL Editores, 2008.
  • According to the testimonies of participants and artists as well as people who encountered the train at the time, from Carolina Espinosa’s documentary film El tren popular de la cultura (2010).
  • Virginia Vidal was the only journalist who joined the trip to cover the event at the time. She provides a compelling testimony in V. Vidal, ‘El tren popular de la cultura’, El Siglo, January 2009, p.24. A parallel project was the ‘Tren de la salud’ (‘Health Train’), with travelling doctors, dentists and nurses. It has been said that Allende’s use and identification with the train system was one of the reasons the dictatorship made such efforts to dismantle the railroad circuit in Chile – despite the relevance, necessity and geographical logic of the railroad in a problematically centralised country that is basically a long narrow strip of land.
  • Renzo Rossellini, email correspondence, January–February 2016. Rossellini’s involvement in Operation Truth continued his commitment to creating collaborative networks for revolutionary struggle: he was involved in the creation of Free Radios in Italy and later in Afghanistan; he also set up the San Diego Cinematográfica, an important hub for the Third World Cinema Committee (1973–74) and a point of intercontinental encounter between committed film-makers, especially Middle Eastern and Latin American.
  • The assassination of General René Schneider on 22 October 1970 was the most well-known attempt to impede Allende from being ratified by the Congress. An interesting document in this regard is Cuban director Santiago Alvarez’s short film Cómo, porqué y para qué se mata a un general (1971). For a detailed account of US involvement, see S. Hersh, ‘The Price of Power’, op. cit.
  • Trelles had much experience in creating networks of political and cultural solidarity. He made an immense contribution to bring together politically committed Latin American film-makers in the 1950s while living in Uruguay. He set the foundations for what became the Third World Cinematheque, in addition to his work on the regionally relevant publication Marcha.
  • It is improbable that those involved in designing the Chilean Operation Truth were unaware of the Cuban Operation Truth, but the latter is, probably intentionally, never mentioned as a reference. It took place on 21 January 1959, shortly after the triumph of the revolution, and consisted of a day- long meeting of international journalists with Fidel Castro, who offered his counter-views to the international portrayal of Cuba in the media.
  • Internally Operation Truth called for journalists to defend the revolution by getting involved in work with the people, not only in witnessing the everyday trials and struggles of shanty town dwellers and workers, but also by collaborating with them in the creation of popular ‘correspon- dents’, at the same time investigating and denouncing the thinly veiled interests involved in the ‘objective’ journalism of the reactionary media and their power connections. A major milestone on the local front was the Primera Asamblea de Periodistas de Izquierda (First Assembly of Leftist Journalists), where thorough analyses of the economic and political connections of the national press were presented and collective working strategies devised. See Punto Final, no.129, April 1971.
  • ‘El abre lata necesario’, Revista Ahora, 27 March 1971, p.5. This description was by the person in charge of receiving the guests, named in the article only as the ‘Coordinator of the First Assembly of Leftist Journalists’.
  • There is contradictory information about the dates, characteristics and guests of this event. I have based my data on primary sources such as a document handed out to guests and press during the event, in addition to information provided by people who attended or were involved in the organisation of Operation Truth, such as Renzo Rossellini and José Antonio Gurriarán. Other participants included Pedro Altares, Carlos Castilla del Pino, Corrado Corghi, Alberto Fillipi, Moreno Galván, Mario Gaviria, Marcella Glisenti, Claude Julien, Giorgio La Pira, Catherine Lamour, Carlo Levi, Gilles Martinet, François Mitterrand, Alfonso Sastre, Mikis Theodorakis and Father David Turoldo.
  • ‘Operación verdad. Programa del 19 al 24 de abril, 1971’, Florence: Fondazione Giorgio La Pira, n.d.
  • See José Antonio Gurriarán, Caerá Allende?, Barcelona: Dopesa, 1973, p.16.
  • The conflicting stories, involving varying dates and people, respond more to the vertiginous temp- orality of Popular Unity rather than claims of authorship. The project was developed collectively from the beginning and all those involved were deeply invested in its conceptualisation and reali- sation. See Moreno Galván, document B.1.b0020; as well as recorded interviews with José Balmes, Miguel Rojas Mix, Archivo Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago (MSSA Archive).
  • Thanks to Carolina Olmedo Carrasco for sharing with me a transcription of this letter, currently at the Archivo José María Moreno Galván, Centro de Documentación, Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sofía, Madrid.
  • When the museum became the International Resistance Museum, Carmen Waugh – in exile – shared her flat in Madrid with around 300 works she had helped bring together. After the dictatorship, she became a director of the Museum of Solidarity (1991–2005).
  • The official committee members were Rafael Alberti, Louis Aragón, Giulio Carlo Argan, Dore Ashton, Eduard de Wilde, Carlo Levi (who was a part of Operation Truth), Jean Leymarie, José María Moreno Galván, Aldo Pellegrini (a prominent Argentinian critic living in Chile at the time and also part of the IAL staff), Mariano Rodríguez and Juliusz Starzynski. In 1972, Harald Szeeman and Sir Roland Penrose would also contribute.
  • Pedrosa arrived in Chile in October 1970, as part of a growing population of Brazilians in exile that included Paulo Freire among many others. This was after spending three months in the Chilean consulate in Rio de Janeiro, waiting for asylum after having fled the ‘preventive’ prison ordered by the dictatorial regime in Brazil. In Chile, he was invited by Rojas-Mix to form part of the IAL. I thank Bel Pedrosa for providing me with this information.
  • ‘Declaración Necesaria del Comité Internacional de Solidaridad Artistica por Chile, noviembre 1971’ (facsimile), in Claudia Zaldívar (ed.), 40 años Museo de la Solidaridad por Chile: fraternidad, arte y política, 1971–1973, Santiago de Chile: Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, 2013, pp.15–17. Apart from the statements within quotation marks, the extract here paraphrases the original.
  • What remains is a draft of a letter to Picasso, as well as detailed notes on how to transport Guernicasafely to Santiago. See ‘Proyecto de carta a Picasso’, July 1972, MSSA Archive. A similar logic was exercised by the Art Workers’ Coalition in the 1970 action involving Guernica as a counter-point to the explicit anti-Vietnam war poster And Babies (1969). On the latter, see Julia Bryan-Wilson, Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
  • Letter to Dore Ashton, June 1972. Quoted in Carla Macchiavelo, ‘Una bandera es una trama’, in Claudia Zaldívar (ed.), 40 años Museo de la Solidaridad por Chile, op. cit., p.41.
  • M. Pedrosa, letter to D. Ashton, 9 January 1972, MSSA Archive.
  • Dore Ashton quite bluntly affirmed that she did not accept ‘minor works’: they had to be relevant works and this frequently meant studio visits and continued conversations. Pedrosa’s correspondence is clearly just as careful and attentive to detail in relation to the discussions around the works to be donated. See the interview with Ashton in C. Zaldívar (ed.), 40 años Museo de la Solidaridad por Chile, op. cit.
  • M. Pedrosa, letter to Hélio Oiticica, 9 June 1972, MSSA Archive.
  • These discussions are attested to in much of Mário Pedrosa’s correspondence at the time, where he mentions a proposal to Ferreira Gular to install his ‘poema enterrado’ (buried poem) as well as an invitation to Hélio Oiticica to realise an ‘experiencia’ on the future site of the Museum. See MSSA Archive. Regarding Pedrosa’s role and vision for the Museum of Solidarity, see María Berríos, ‘Por el futuro artístico del mundo’, in Gabriel Pérez Barreiro and Michelle Sommer (ed.), Mário Pedrosa. De la naturaleza afectiva de la forma, Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sofía, 2017, pp.86–101.
  • The plans for an exhibition in the El Teniente copper mine, which had just been expropriated for nationalisation by the US company Kennecott, were highly advanced, but there are no traces of it ever taking place. It is probable that such an exhibition was impeded by the urgent situation that arose due to the right-wing-supported strike in the mine, initiated in late April 1972, with devas- tating economic consequences for the government.
  • M. Pedrosa, letter to Eduard de Wilde, 10 January 1972, MSSA Archive.
  • ‘Beautiful Chaos’ is what Ernani Maria Fiori believed a learning institution should be. Fiori was, like Pedrosa, a Brazilian exile in Chile. He was briefly vice chancellor of the Catholic University in Santiago, the first after the implementation of the 1967 University Reform. Quoted in Carla Rivera, ‘La construcción de un campo de saber’, doctoral thesis in history, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
  • Regarding this period, which surpasses the aims and limits of this essay, see Caroll Yasky and Claudia Zaldívar (ed.), Museo Internacional de la Resistencia Salvador Allende, MIRSA 1975–1990, Santiago de Chile: Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, 2016.
  • The Chileans involved include José Balmes, Gracia Barrios and Guillermo Nuñez, among others. They were mainly active between 1974–78. See J. Balmes, ‘Las brigadas muralistas en europa’, in Eduardo Castillo (ed.), Puño y letra: movimiento social y comunicación gráfica en Chile, Santiago de Chile: Ocho Libros, 2006, p.144.
  • To a lesser degree, it was also used as a fundraising campaign for the resistance to the dictatorship. This aspect was more polemical, as it was not clear to which specific organisations the monies raised should be given. Also, many artists and some of the organisers were not in agreement about artworks being sold. In any case, the donators usually specified if they allowed the works to be sold.
  • According to testimonies of former cultural ‘officials’ of the dictatorship. See Claudia Zaldívar, ‘Museo de la Solidaridad’, thesis in art history, University of Chile, 1992.