by David Ransom
A group of women, very wet from the water-cannon, shout at riot police at a protest on International Women's Day in Santiago on 1985.(© Julio Etchart )
9/11 – the same date as the attacks in the US – is also, for millions of Chileans, the anniversary of the 1973 military coup. The elected government of President Salvador Allende had to go, and the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet started. Thousands of people were murdered – far more than on the US’s ‘9/11’ – and tens of thousands more were tortured or ‘disappeared’ over the following 17 years.
In the early 1970s, the ‘Southern Cone’ countries of Latin America – Chile, Uruguay and Argentina – joined Brazil, Peru and Bolivia under terrible repression. Added to this was the dark role of the US and big business. Henry Kissinger, US President Nixon’s Secretary of State at the time, said: ‘I don’t see why we should do nothing and watch a country go communist because its people are irresponsible. The issues are much too important – we cannot let the Chilean voters decide for themselves.’
The CIA now openly admits that it worked very hard to stop the election of Allende’s Popular Unity party in 1970. After the election, they worked hard to undermine the government, and then to support the violent coup. After the nationalization by Popular Unity of the very large (mostly US-owned) Chilean copper industry, US businesses were officially free to do what they wanted under the ‘economic sanctions’. Ford, which made most of the buses, stopped selling spare parts, so people could not move around the long country. And in a country with so much of the most drinkable wine in the world, they did not have enough bottles, so you had to have an empty bottle before you could drink any of it.
A million Chileans had to leave the country. In Britain, the next generation has now grown up in full awareness of its past. Through the “Chile 40 Years On” campaign, they are now planning to commemorate their ‘9/11’ – see: http://chile40yearson.org/
As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: http://newint.org/sections/agenda/2013/09/01/chile-marks-forty-years-after-military-coup/