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50 Years Ago Democracy Died in Chile — Poster of the Week



¡Todos Solidarios con Chile Contra El Terror Fascista!

Unite in Solidarity with Chile Against Fascist Terror!

World Peace Council

Salsedo Press

Offset, Circa 1980s

Chicago, IL

66957


Monday, September 11, 2023, marked the 50th anniversary of the United States-engineered coup-d’état in Chile. This was the first September 11th that lives in infamy.


On that date in 1973 the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende was violently attacked by the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet, destroying Chile’s first socialist government and instituting nearly two decades of brutal military rule.

Over the next 17 years, Pinochet’s military dictatorship killed or “disappeared” more than 3,000 people, and arrested and tortured 40,000 political prisoners. Thousands more fled into exile or remain missing.


Prior to the Chilean coup, the U.S. had grown concerned about the spread of communism and socialism in Latin American countries following the start of the Cold War. As a result, Salvador Allende, a self-proclaimed Marxist and a member of the Chilean Popular Socialist Party, was targeted by U.S. officials, including former President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. They perceived his pledge to nationalize the mostly U.S.-owned copper companies in Chile as a threat to the U.S. economic interests and would contribute to the spread of socialism in Latin America.


The Chilean coup marked the start of Operation Condor, a covert U.S.-planned and supported state terror network that joined eight military dictatorships in the Southern Cone countries of South America–-Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Ecuador.


In the 1970s, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State in the Nixon and Ford administrations, was a major architect of Operation Condor, a campaign of political repression involving assassination, torture, and intelligence operations. The program aimed to eradicate alleged socialist and communist influence and ideas and to destroy active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments. Due to its clandestine nature, the precise number of deaths directly attributable to Operation Condor is unknown, but the death toll is estimated to be over 60,000.


U.S. military and intelligence officials secretly collaborated with Operation Condor and provided organizational, intelligence, financial, and technical assistance to the operations.


Although the U.S. spent hundreds of thousands of dollars against Allende’s presidential campaign, he narrowly won the presidency in 1970. Nixon and his allies continued to devote millions of dollars to obstruct Allende's ability to govern, and they eventually succeeded—by funding and training the Chilean military—in overthrowing Allende’s democratically elected government three years later.

Many families of the victims continue to call for justice and accountability from the Chilean government. This past August, the Chilean government announced the first official search for the disappeared victims of the violent state-sponsored kidnappings. The remains of 307 people have since been identified and recovered, over 1,100 people are still missing.


With the death of Allende came the death of democracy in Chile. The coup led to the dissolution of the Chilean Congress, the suspension of their constitution, and sent shockwaves through Latin America, raising concerns about the threats to democracy in the region.

 

Recommended Viewing:


“Missing,” 1982 film based on the true story of Charles Horman, a young American writer and filmmaker who was “disappeared” during the early days of the Chilean coup. Directed by Academy Award winning Costa-Gavras and Starring Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, and David Clennon.

 

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