Chilean Path to Socialism Debate

This role play debate has participants take on the perspective of leftist Chilean university students in the late 1960s, just before Socialist Salvador Allende won the presidency and shortly thereafter was toppled by the military.


Directions: Imagine it’s 1968 and you’re a student at the Universidad de Chile, the biggest Chilean public university in Santiago.  You’re an idealistic and outraged college student, disgusted by the oppression, injustice, and poverty in your country.  Like any good university student, you want to change these conditions and move the country toward socialism.  You’ve watched student movements across the world fight for civil rights, rise up in anti-colonial movements, and help in the Cuban Revolution.  Student debates are hugely important at the Universidad de Chile and so you've gathered to present your cause to the entire student body.  

*Split the class into groups (half the class in each) and let them discuss for 5 minutes*

Group A: I want you to pretend that you believe in a revolutionary path to socialism.  Try to convince your classmates to follow you and join the MIR.  Make sure to tell your classmates why a non-violent democratic path to socialism will fail.  

Group B:  I want you to imagine that you support the democratic path to socialism. Convince your classmates to join Salvador Allende's Popular Unity party.  Make sure to explain why this path is superior to taking up arms and will fulfill your ideals.

Each group presents their case to the other group.  After the arguments, the class discusses which group "won" and why.