Popular Action Unitary Movement (MAPU)

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Popular Action Unitary Movement (MAPU)

The Popular Action Unitary Movement (Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitaria—MAPU) was formed in 1969 by radical Christian Democrats unhappy with the slow pace of reform under the government of Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964–1970) and with their party's unwillingness to work with Marxists and other leftists in the construction of a socialist society. MAPU joined the Popular Unity coalition that backed Salvador Allende for president in 1970, and several of its members served in his cabinet. Some mapucistas wanted to create a distinctively Christian socialist party, and in 1971 they formed the Christian Left (IC) movement with other dissident Christian Democrats. Those who remained moved farther left, embracing orthodox, and increasingly secular, Marxist-Leninist positions and either abandoning or setting aside their Christian faith.

During the next year, two wings emerged in MAPU: the more moderate wing, led by Jaime Guzmuri, aligned with the Chilean Communist Party and committed to the development of a national political force; and the more radical wing, led by Oscar Garretón, which favored the Socialist Party (PS) and stressed the development of social movements at the local level. A formal split occurred early in 1973, with the moderates forming MAPU Obrero-Campesino (MAPU—OC, or MOC) and the radicals continuing to function as MAPU.

During the years of military rule, most mapucistas abandoned their radical Leninist positions. Those associated with the MOC, such as Manuel Antonio Garretón and José Antonio Viera-Gallo, were particularly influential in critical discussions, in Chile and among exiles in Italy and Holland, of the Popular Unity experience and the future of Chilean socialism. They were active in promoting the renovación (moderate renewal) and reunification of the Socialist Party, with whose moderate Nuñez wing most were identified, and to which many of their erstwhile MAPU comrades were later attracted. A smaller number of mapucistas, most of whom were younger Christian community activists, were active in the paramilitary MAPU-Lautaro, which carried out sporadic armed attacks against the military government.

Former mapucistas who have held influential position in postmilitary governments include Viera-Gallo (PS), who was president of the chamber of deputies and later a senator; Enrique Correa (PS), who was general secretary of the government under Patricio Aylwin Azócar; and José Miguel Insulza (PS), who was minister of foreign relations under Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, minister of interior under Ricardo Lagos, and later secretary general of the Organization of American States.

See alsoAllende Gossens, Salvador; Aylwin Azócar, Patricio; Frei Montalva, Eduardo; Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Eduardo; Lagos, Ricardo.


Edwards, Carlos Bascuñán. La izquierda sin Allende. Santiago, Chile: Planeta, 1990.

Israel Zipper, Ricardo. Politics and Ideology in Allende's Chile. Tempe: Center for Latin American Studies, Arizona State University, 1989.

"La Ruta de un CamaleLón." Punto Final no. 5172 (July 2004); "Rebeldes con Vocación de Poder." Punto Final no. 5173 (August 2004).

                                         Michael Fleet

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