Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another missed anniversary

The weeks just fly past so quickly these days, and I keep missing significant anniversaries. Not so much personal ones, but historical ones.

One week ago was the anniversary of a terrible day of tragedy, when a group of unscrupulous, murderous thugs committed an atrocious crime against a democratic nation:

The September 11, 1973 military coup which overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile and replaced it with a right-wing junta lead by General Augusto Pinochet.

After the election of leftist Salvador Allende in 1970, the US government (then lead by Richard Nixon) waged undeclared economic war on Chile, hoping to bankrupt the nation. U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry said:

Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty.

President Nixon ordered CIA director Richard Helms:

Make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.

For three years the US and Chilean right-wingers tried to destabilize Chile and cause Allende's government to fall, leading to severe economic problems (including runaway hyperinflation) but despite this his party's popularity was actually higher than ever.

So in 1973, encouraged by the CIA, the Chilean military attempted, but failed, a coup in June, followed by a second, but successful, coup on September 11.

Within days, the military junta had arrested 40,000 people. Many of them were tortured and killed. Pinochet's regime was likely responsible for the murder of close to three thousand political enemies, and the torture of tens of thousands of others. In the first three years of the coup alone, 130,000 people were arrested. Over the course of Pinochet's criminal regime, at least 27,000 people were imprisoned and tortured without trial.

By the standards of some murderous dictators, Pinochet was relatively small-time. Nevertheless, a crime is a crime, and 3,000 murders is enough of a crime for some countries to invade two countries.

Amusingly, while Pinochet was no friend to the poor and middle-class of Chile, neither was he the lapdog of the old right-wing industrial oligarchy that supported his grab for power. Pinochet removed the trade protections and subsidies that allowed the oligarchy to maintain their economic and political power. Pinochet ran the country for the benefit of the wealthy, but they were his wealthy friends and international investors, not the old guard.

There's no honor among thieves.

Which reminds me... apparently there was another historically significant crime committed on September 11. Details of that crime and its consequences have not fully come to light.

2 comments:

Herdingcats said...

It's an interesting time of year. The menopause season is beginning, summer weather is still usually with us, and people's plans begin to be acted upon.

Jase said...

Looks like there's another anniversary you've missed - the one month anniversary of your last blog post!!!