Recabarren, Luis Emilio


Recabarren, Luis Emilio
(1876–1924)
   Chilean theorist, activist and politician Luis Emilio Recabarren left an indelible mark on the Latin American workers’ movement. Having joined the Partido Democrático in 1894, he set about radicalizing the impoverished peasantry of his homeland through education, chiefly via his editorship of the newspaper El Trabajador, and of the periodicals El Proletario, La Vanguardia and El Grito Popular. A conviction that Marxist literature comprised a crucial apparatus for the spread of socialism underpinned Recabarren’s writing and editorial work.
   Recabarren was elected to Congress for the Partido Democrático to represent the mining district of Antofagasta in 1906, but his refusal to take an oath of office that contained a pledge of allegiance to God saw him denied his seat. Having split with the Partido Democrático, in 1912 he founded the more explicitly socialist Partido Obrero Socialista (POS). Having unsuccessfully stood as presidential candidate for the party in 1920, Recabarren was elected to Congress in 1921, the same year in which he negotiated the dissolution of the POS and its supplanting with the Partido Communista (PC). He subsequently served in Congress under the banner of the PC. He also presided over a number of practical accomplishments in the trade union arena, organizing many of Chile’s poor into unions for the first time, and playing a determining role in the creation of a Marxist labor movement centered around the Chilean nitrate mining region. This movement was the first of its kind in the region, and signaled Recabarren’s success in putting Marxist theory into practice. Recabarren propounded an unparalleled system of worker control for Chile, with trade unions central at every point. His three-tier governmental system would consist firstly of industrial assemblies containing workers, secondly of municipalities run by delegates from these assemblies, and finally of a national assembly made up of delegates from the largest municipal territories and led by committees.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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