On June 2, 2010 Luis Corvalan Lepe, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of Chile (1958-1989), passed away peacefully in a hospital in Santiago, Chile.
Comrade Corvalan was born September 16, 1916 in Pelluco, a small town in the most southern part of Chile. He embraced a commitment to socialism while studying to be a teacher in Chillan, 500 kilometres south of Santiago. In 1932 he joined the Communist Party of Chile, which was founded 20 years earlier by the lithography worker Luis Emilio Recabarren.
At the end of 1937 Corvalan was called to Santiago to work with Carlos Contreras Labarca, general secretary of the party. He also worked in the central committee of the Chilean Young Communist League. This period in Chile saw the creation of the Popular Front and a solidarity movement with the struggle of the Spanish Republic against fascism.
In the 1940’s the C.P. Chile entered a time of remarkable growth, winning 17% of the votes in the municipal election of 1947, to become the second political force in the country. But President Gonzales Videla succumbed to the anti-communist pressures of the U.S. and in 1948 outlawed the Communist Party of Chile. Many of its leaders and militants were interned in concentration camps, including Luis Corvalan. But the Communists continued to call for united action of left wing forces against the government.
In the election of 1952 the party supported Socialist Senator Salvador Allende, who finished with 5% of the votes. By 1958, still outlawed, the tenth congress of the Communist Party named Luis Corvalan as its General Secretary. The profound political friendship with Allende culminated in the victory of the Popular Unity coalition in 1970, when Comrade Corvalan said: "Never before were the prospects of a popular victory so large and so significant as the victory today. For our party to succeed; The people must be the government and with it we will be able to create a new social order".
During the thousand days of this unique political experience, Corvalan and the Communist Party of Chile were the most staunch and loyal allies of President Allende, until September 11, 1973, when the government was overthrown by a military coup. Corvalan was sent to Dawson Island in southern Chile, along with other leaders of the Popular Unity Coalition. He also went through other concentration camps, such as Ritoque and Tres Alamos. In December 1975, he was sent into exile by the military dictatorship, exchanged for a Soviet dissident, and lived in the USSR for a few years. His son Luis Alberto died from torture at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police.
Corvalan was one of the main theorists guiding the evolution of the political line of the "Popular Rebellion of Masses", which meant that in the struggle against such a brutal dictatorship, the people have the right to use all forms of resistance, including armed struggle against the dictatorship. Loyal to this political line, Corvalan went back to Chile clandestinely, risking his life to continue the struggle in the country that he loved so much. He remained General Secretary of the Party until 1989, with Chile still under Pinochet’s dictatorship. Until the last days of his 94 years, Luis Corvalan, "Don Lucho" as he was called by his comrades and by the people, worked and lived as a revolutionary, as a true Communist.
He contributed all his life to the fight for a better world, for peace and socialism for all humankind.Â