The Chilean 9/11

By: Daniel Nardini

                       Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryWhen most Americans think about “9/11,” they naturally think about what happened on September 11, 2001. However, for the people of Chile, they think about September 11, 1973. This was the day of the military coup against the then legally elected Chilean President Salvador Allende government. While Allende’s policies were not the best that one could think of (that and Chilean military and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency sabotage only added to Chile’s economic woes), the military coup to oust Allende and destroy Chile’s democratic institutions was definitely a crime.
                          We all know what happened—the Chilean military launched a coup. In four hours, they controlled almost the entire country. The Chilean military then bombed the presidential residence, killing most of the people in it. Allende committed suicide rather than be taken alive. The Chilean military strongman who would emerge as the country leader would be General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet would rule Chile with an iron fist for 17 years. It is estimated that 3,000 were murdered under him, and that tens of thousands of Chileans were forced into exile. No opposition was tolerated under Pinochet, and no one was allowed to look for those who had been murdered or held in Pinochet’s prisons.
                         In 1990, Pinochet’s rule came to an end as marches, riots and demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people broke out everywhere in Chile. Ever since that time, Chile has become one of the most democratically stable countries in Latin America. The troubling thing about the whole Chilean coup is that had the U.S. CIA never supported the coup, Pinochet’s rule would have been considered illegitimate. Because of United States’ overwhelming support, we would see similar military coups in Uruguay in 1973 and in Argentina in 1976. The worst aspect of this 9/11 is that the United States had, because of the Cold War, helped destroy a democratic government just as it had done in Guatemala in 1954. Even now, we are seeing the United States trying to meddle in the internal affairs of Syria to force some kind of outcome there. The other 9/11 case should make all Americans rethink the purposes and consequences of interfering in the internal affairs of some countries.

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