2 SEPTEMBER 1972, Page 23

'Dictator' Videla

Sir: In his review of Pablo Neruda's Extravagaria (August 5), Mr Doug las Dunn refers to "the dictator Gonzales Videla." It must be pointed out that Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, President of Chile from 1946 to 1952, was in no sense of the word a dictator; he was the legally elected president of his country. Wisely or unwisely, he outlawed the Communist Party, thus unleashing on himself a systematic campaign of defamation and slander led (it is fair to say) by Neruda himself. One can readily understand Neruda's distaste for Gonzalez Videla, and one can reasonably doubt the propriety of suppressing any political party, but Chile between 1946 and 1952 was a very long way indeed from being a dictatorship.

Simon Collier Dean, The University of Essex,