The coup d’état that overthrew Salvador Allende and the world’s first democratically-elected Marxist government came nearly 30 years before the 9/11 that most Americans associate with the date. Yet Chile’s own 9/11 also holds a link with the United States. One that is, for most Chileans, a dark stain on relations between the two countries.
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 an Allende victory at the ballot box through propaganda and government money funneled into opposition groups.
When that failed, the U.S. provided logistical and diplomatic 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.
The move couldn’t have been more anti-Democratic. Though he had won the presidency with just 36 percent of the vote, Allende was enjoying a nearly 50 percent approval rating at the time of the coup. This growing support greatly disturbed the country’s right-wing parties, according to a quote at 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.”
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 free markets, privatization, and curbed government spending were directly in contrast to 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 silenced 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.”
Troves of C.I.A. documents have steadily been declassified since the dictatorship ended in 1990. Many of them indicate that both Richard Nixon, who was president from the time of Salvador’s presidential campaign up until after the coup, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger actively sought to thwart Allende in Chile.
This goal was often achieved through the use of the U.S.’ domination on the international stage. In 2013, WikiLeaks published cables that illustrated 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 — many of them trained at the U.S.’ infamous School of the Americas. 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.
[Featured Image by Luis Orlando Lagos Vázquez/Keystone/Getty Images]