Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11 - Nevar Forget!

1973 Chilean coup d'état

The Chilean coup d'état of 1973 was a watershed event in the history of Chile and the Cold War. Historians and partisans alike have wrangled over its implications ever since.

On September 11, 1973, less than two months after the first failed coup attempt (Tanquetazo), and less than a month after the Chamber of Deputies, where the Opposition held a majority, condemned Allende's alleged breaches of the constitution, the Chilean military overthrew president Salvador Allende, who died during the coup. US intervention in Chilean politics and support to opponents of Allende, including support for an assassination, has been documented by the declassification in 1998 of documents concerning the Project FUBELT operations, although its exact nature is still controversial. General Augusto Pinochet took over and established an anti-communist military dictatorship which lasted until 1990.

It has sometimes been argued that the removal of the democratically-elected socialist Allende by the US-backed Pinochet, among other factors, led the Soviet Union to partially step away from détente, and pursue a more ambitious foreign policy concerning Third World influence. As such the coup may have had a considerable geopolitical impact.

The Coup:

On September 11, 1973, by 7:00 AM, the Navy took over Valparaíso, stationing ships and marines in strategic places throughout the central coast and closing down all radio and TV networks. The prefect of the province called Allende to inform him of the mysterious actions by the Navy. Allende immediately left for the presidential palace together with his personal bodyguards (Grupo de Amigos Personales, GAP). By 8:00 AM, the Army had silenced many TV and radio stations in Santiago, while others were bombed by the Air Force. The information that reached Allende was still very sketchy, and he was convinced the coup was by a "sector" of the Navy.

Allende and his Minister of Defense, Orlando Letelier, fruitlessly attempted to contact the leaders of the Armed Forces. Admiral Montero, the commander of the Navy and a loyalist, had had his telephone lines cut and his cars sabotaged before the coup began to ensure he did not interfere in the coup. The leadership of the Navy was transferred to second-in-command and coup-planner José Toribio Merino. Augusto Pinochet, General of the Army, and Gustavo Leigh, General of the Air Force, did not respond to Allende's phone calls. The General Director of Carabineros (uniformed police), José María Sepúlveda, and the head of the Investigations Police (plainclothed detectives), Alfredo Joignant, were the only ones who responded to Allende and went immediately to La Moneda. When Letelier arrived at the Ministry of Defense, controlled by Admiral Patricio Carvajal, he was immediately arrested: the first prisoner during the coup.

Ring some bells?


nota said...

Maybe you ought to mention that Orlando Letelier was later assassinated in Washington D.C. At the time, the CIA Director was none other than Poppy George Bush.

Orlando Letelier
from the book The CIAs Greatest Hits

I was born a Chilean,
I am a Chilean,
I will die a Chilean.
They, the fascists, were born traitors,
live as traitors
and will be remembered forever as fascist traitors.

-- ORLANDO LETELIER (1932-1976), Madison Square Garden, 10 September 1976

Taban Khamosh said...

nota, thanks for that reference, empire fails to see its own crimes as such.

But in final analysis, it is much better to have an empire of your own than to bitch about the tyranny of another's.


nota said...

Just came across this so thought I might pass it along:
35 Years After Original 9/11: New Transcripts of Kissinger's Role in Chilean Coup
...Two weeks after an aborted coup in Santiago, Nixon phoned Kissinger from his summer home in San Clemente, California, to chat about Allende and the prospects that he might be soon overthrown.

Nixon: You know, I think that Chilean guy might have some problems.

Kissinger: Oh, he has massive problems. He has definitely massive problems.

Nixon: If only the Army would get a few people behind them.

Kissinger: And that coup last week - we had nothing to do with it but still it came off apparently prematurely.

Nixon: That's right and the fact that he just set up a Cabinet without any military in it is, I think, very significant.

Kissinger:. It's very significant.

Nixon: Very significant because those military guys are very proud down there and they just may - right?

Kissinger: Yes, I think he's definitely in difficulties.

Only ten weeks later, the military did move to overthrow Allende in a bloody coup on September 11, 1973. On September 15, Nixon called Kissinger again. They commiserated about what Kissinger called "the bleeding [heart] newspapers" and the "filthy hypocrisy" of the press for focusing on the Chilean military's repression and the condemnations of the U.S. role. In this telcon--which was declassified in May 2004--Nixon noted that "our hand doesn't show on this, though." "We didn't do it," Kissinger replied on the issue of direct involvement in the coup. I mean we helped them. [Deleted] created the conditions as great as possible."

As Kissinger told the President: "In the Eisenhower period we would be heroes."

nota said...

Oh how could I forget September 11, 1991...