Broadening the Field of Perception and Struggle: Chilean Political Exiles in Algeria and Third World Cosmopolitanism
Named the 'Mecca of Revolution' by Amilcar Cabral, Algeria was in the 1960s and the 1970s a hub for revolutionary movements and political exiles coming from all over the world, as well as a major player in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). This article focuses on the Chilean exiles that settled in Algeria after the 1973 military coup against Salvador Allende and its Popular Unity (PU) government. Though highly revealing both about Algeria's position in the international landscape and about the 1970s Third World 'activist cosmopolitanism', this case is not widely known. Based on empirical data (Chilean and Algerian press, Archives of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, oral sources and the Chilean exiles' publications), this paper analyses the political connections between Algeria and Chile through the 1970s political exiles. The settlement of an important community of Chilean exiles in Algeria reveals the strong ideological bonds created between the two countries in the framework of the NAM during the years previous to the Chilean coup. The analysis of the exiles' establishment in Algeria provides an understanding of how the exile experience transforms militant subjectivities and, in this case, how it allows the exiles' increasing identification with a Third world transnational activism. More generally, I argue that this period's 'revolutionary cosmopolitanism' took place in regions with no tight relationships between them until the 1950s. Members of a new political community - the 'Third World' - often had to invent a common identity, based on a supposedly shared memory of common struggles (namely against imperialism and colonialism). Whereas the Third world 'activist cosmopolitanism' initially built upon interstate and inter-national policies, the 1960s-1970s political exiles contributed to the rise of a 'grassroots' transnational activism and to the formation of militant subjectivities anchored in a popularized Third Worldist political thought.