September 11th is a dark day in history for freedom, democracy, and equality. We’re not talking about the Trade Center. On September 11th, 1973, Chilean president Salvador Allende was ousted in a bloody coup by his reactionary military generals, Augusto Pinochet among them. This is yet another example of imperialism’s bloody hand in Latin America:
On September 4th, 1970, Salvador Allende and a social-democratic coalition were elected. CIA agents had been operating in Chile for months before the election. (1) After Allende was elected into office, he quickly began implementing moderate reforms, moving Chile away out of the US orbit, closer to the Soviet Union. Social-democratic efforts to help the poor were promoted, such as a program to give free milk to Chile’s children. Important social services were made more accessible. Chilean workers began to occupy their factories, demanding more rights. Tax breaks were granted to poorer sections of the population. (2) Chile’s unemployment rate was cut almost in half, and 300,000 pensioners got an increased level of income. Prices were frozen. Wages were raised. Efforts were made to give indigenous peoples more respect and power. Even the petty bourgeoisie, who were some of the most vocal opponents of the new social-democratic Allende government, benefited, receiving labor insurance. (3) The UP government also nationalized industry. This effectively cut the American imperialists off from their parasitic hold on Chilean resources, which include, copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, and hydro-power. (4) At the time, copper was Chile’s main export. The nationalization of what were foreign-owned copper mines (mainly owned by the United States, but also owned by others), as well as other industries such as steel, coal, and nitrates, was met with opposition among the First World corporations. By 1972, a US-imposed international blockade had hurt the Chilean economy. This, in combination with CIA subsidies financing the right-wing opposition, caused social unrest and dissent. (5)
Allende’s social-democratic efforts were not unlike those in other countries where the leftwing of the patriotic bourgeoisie in the Third World allies with poorer sections of the population. Even though the patriotic regimes are not truly socialist, they take on a socialist flavor in order to remain in power. They implement limited reforms as a way of rallying the poor to the regime. This class alliance is made by the patriotic bourgeoisie because this section of the bourgeoisie is too weak to stand on its own against the imperialist bourgeoisie and its comprador allies. What results from such alliances are left-flavored, nationalist, populist regimes that enact moderate social-democratic reform and nationalist-oriented development. However, even this moderate reform was too much for the United States.
The United States decided that Allende had to go. It was on 9/11 that a successful military coup destroyed the elected government. Salvador Allende was killed. (6) Thousands of people were rounded up, tortured, and killed. Chile’s national stadium became a make-shift death camp that held thousands. Thus Pinochet’s regime was born. Pinochet effectively reversed the progressive policies and changes made by Allende’s government. Industry was privatized and once again open to Western investment, and ultimately, the Chilean people were once again open to American oppression and exploitation. Chile, under Pinochet’s brutal regime, became a showcase for the wisdom of neo-liberal, Chicago school economics. (7)
The true death toll will never be known. Official estimates tend to downplay the numbers in the name of so-called “national reconciliation.” However, recently, the current, moderate social-democratic Chilean government has stated that previous estimates of the victims were too low. Another 9,800 people are estimated to have been victimized by the dictatorship. Total of those tortured, abused, and killed now stands at 40,018. (8) Many more were incarcerated and suffered in other ways. These deaths in Chile were part of a bigger picture. All over Latin America, the United States established death-squad regimes that brutalized their populations. (9) (10)
Following a 1989 election, Pinochet was out of office, but kept a seat in the Chilean senate. He never faced trial. Today, the Chilean people remain victims of American imperialism. The lessons of Chile are clear. Imperialism will stop at nothing to retain its power. It will set up bloody dictators. It will use death squads. It will turn whole countries into graveyards with its bombs. It will even overthrow “democratically elected” regimes that play by the rules that Western liberals claim to uphold. Similarly, the Indonesian Communist Party was massacred at the hands of the Indonesian dictatorship. Today, the so-called “Maoists” of the UCPN(M) in Nepal have once again given us a negative example. They have shown that parliamentarianism is not a path to New Power; it is not a path to proletarian power. Bourgeois elections are not a path to socialism and communism. Power is seized, not given. This lesson is at the heart of Lenin and Mao. It is part of the ABCs of Marxism. The path to real power is global people’s war led by the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism.
1. Salvador Allende wins the elections: first coup attempt http://ada.evergreen.edu/~arunc/texts/chile/torre/Allende.html
2. The Government of the Popular Unity http://ada.evergreen.edu/~arunc/texts/chile/torre/UPgov.html
3. supra 1.
4. FIELD LISTING :: NATURAL RESOURCES https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2111.html
5. supra 2.
6. September 11, 1973: the definitive coup http://ada.evergreen.edu/~arunc/texts/chile/torre/September11.html
New Files Tie U.S. to Deaths of Latin Leftists in 1970’s http://www.remember-chile.org.uk/news/01-03-06nyt.htm
7. Pinochet’s Giveaway: Chile’s Privatization Experience http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1991/05/collins.html
8. Chile recognises 9,800 more victims of Pinochet’s rule http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-14584095
9. Flashback: Caravan of Death http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/850932.stm
10. CJA: Background on Chile http://www.cja.org/article.php?list=type&type=196