Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR)

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Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR)

The Movement of the Revolutionary Left (Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria—MIR) is an extremist Marxist political organization founded in the 1960s largely by young, middle-class students who accused both the Socialist and the Communist parties of lacking sufficient revolutionary zeal. Influenced by Régis Debray and the Cuban experience, the MIR believed that the working class should eschew cooperation with the bourgeoisie and take power immediately. In 1969, just prior to the presidential elections, the MIR went underground and began a series of assaults and bank robberies to finance their activities. While refusing to participate in the political process, the MIR nonetheless supported Salvador Allende's 1970 candidacy for the presidency. Upon his election, members of the MIR organized illegal seizures of farmland called tomas, as well as organized urban centers of political support called cordones industriales (industrial zones), which they ran. Apparently, the organization also helped plan the abortive 1973 naval mutiny that immediately preceded the fall of Allende's government.

Although most of the MIR's leadership escaped the repression following the September 1973 coup, taking refuge in foreign embassies and ultimately leaving Chile under safe-conduct passes, some clandestinely reentered Chile to launch a series of urban assaults, assassinations, and attempts to create a guerrilla base in Chile's south. Operating from abroad, the MIR maintained close relations with various terrorist organizations, publishing a newsletter and in a few cases joining other groups such as the Argentine People's Revolutionary Army (ERP).

The Pinochet government that followed Allende's seemed to enjoy some success running to ground leaders of the MIR. Eventually, the group seemed to lose its enthusiasm for continuing the revolutionary struggle and was replaced in large part by the Communist-backed (Frente Patriótico) Manuel Rodríguez. Since the late 1980s, the MIR has faded from the public eye.

See alsoAllende Gossens, Salvador; Debray, [Jules] Régis; Pinochet Ugarte, Augusto.


Carmelo Furci, The Chilean Communist Party and the Road to Socialism (1984), pp. 98-100, 120, 124, 137-139, 150-152, 155, 157-162, 164, 166-167.

William F. Sater, The Revolutionary Left and Terrorist Violence in Chile (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Ibáñez Santa María, Adolfo. Abrazado por la revolución: Ideología y totalitarismo en Chile 1960–1973. Santiago: Editorial Biblioteca Americana, 2004.

Scully, Timothy. Rethinking the Center: Party Politics in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Chile. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

                                         William F. Sater

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