The coup d’etat that overthrew Salvador Allende and his Marxist government came nearly 30 years before the 9/11 that most Americans associate with the date. But even for Chile, it will always hold a certain link with the United States, and for most of them, it’s a negative one.
Salvador was declared an enemy of the U.S. government even before he was democratically elected in 1970. A full C.I.A. maneuver, Project FUBELT, was put in place to prevent him winning at the ballot box.
When that failed, the U.S. provided logistical support to a coup that brought the military general August Pinochet to power. If the people of Chile wanted Salvador as their leader, then the people would have to be corrected. That was despite the fact that Allende was enjoying a nearly 50 percent approval rating at the time of the coup, up significantly from the 36 percent with which he won the presidency. This growing support was even more worrisome to the right-wing, according to a quote from the time by French political scientist Maurice Duverger, re-published recently in Jacobin.
“As long as the Chilean right believed that the experience of Popular Unity would come to an end by the will of the electors, it maintained a democratic attitude. It was worth respecting the Constitution while waiting for the storm to pass. When the Right came to fear that it would not pass and that the play of liberal institutions would result in the maintenance of Salvador Allende in power and in the development of socialism, it preferred violence to the law.”
— Kacper Kaczmarek (@KacperFK) September 11, 2016
While Operation Condor linked Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia’s military dictatorships together, it was in Chile that the U.S. took the most hands-on role after Salvador’s fall. Its economy was taken over by Chicago-trained economists who used the country as “its neo-liberal guinea pig,” as some modern critics assert.
These ideas of a free markets, privatization and curbed government spending were directly in contrast with what the Chilean people had chosen in Salvador. A population that had voted for Allende, a man who wanted to fight the country’s gaping income inequality with progressive policies, was ushered out in favor of authoritarian capitalism, according to an article from the Center for Research on Globalization.
“Pinochet asked America economist Milton Friedman for economic advice… [to which he responded that the] key economic problems of Chile clearly were inflation and the lack of a healthy market economy— standard free market dogma… [He said:] ‘There is only one way to end inflation: by drastically reducing the rate of increase of the quantity of money’ and that cutting government spending is by far and away the most desirable way to reduce the fiscal deficit, because it… strengthens the private sector thereby laying the foundations for healthy economic growth.”
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) September 11, 2016
Troves of C.I.A. documents have steadily been declassified since the dictatorship ended in 1990. Many of them indicate that both President Richard Nixon, who was president from the time of Salvador’s presidential campaign up until after the coup, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger very actively sought to thwart Allende in Chile. In 2013, Wikileaks cables showed Kissinger downplaying the abuses that were taking place in the country to the Vatican. One such C.I.A. cable, released in 2003, also indicated that Kissinger sought to control the situation in Chile, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”
These cables come in conjunction with thousands of others that have been revealed about the C.I.A.’s role in the military dictatorships of South America. Salvador’s counterparts, all similar left-wing figures, were knocked out by military forces across the region. These new regimes were re-affirmed by the backbone of Operation Condor, the codename for the co-ordination between each dictatorship – facilitated both monetarily and diplomatically by the U.S. government.
Salvador Allende’s legacy in Chile on the other 9/11 is like any influential political figure, mixed. There are those who still support the bloodthirsty dictator August Pinochet who came afterward, despite the fact that human rights groups estimate his regime murdered or otherwise disappeared at least 3,000 people. A total of 40,000 victims of human right abuses are recognized by the Chilean government, reported CBC News.
[Image via Luis Orlando Lagos Vázquez/Keystone/Getty Images]