Allende and the “other” September 11th

PinochetLesser known (at least in the United States) is the fact that September 11 has long been a crucial date for Chileans. On that day in 1973, President Salvador Allende was killed in a coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power. Pinochet’s military dictatorship ruled the country until 1990 and, in that time, amassed a horrendous human rights record. In addition, the number of poor Chileans increased seven-fold.

It’s important to note that the United States funded this coup. Even more important are the reasons.

Allende, who was elected democratically, pursued a program called “The Chilean Way to Socialism.” This entailed nationalization of large industries, agrarian reform, health care reform, education reform and a free milk to children program. And, as if this weren’t bad enough for the wealthy elite in the US, there’s this:

The previous government of Eduardo Frei has already partly nationalised copper by acquiring a 51 percent share in foreign owned mines. Allende expropriated the remaining percentage without compensating the U.S. companies that owned the mines. (Source: Wikipedia)

Wealthy interests in Chile were also unhappy with Allende. So the US, the great crusader for democracy, decided that these anti-elite policies could not be allowed and that Pinochet was a favorable alternative. Even as Pinochet murdered thousands of political dissidents, US support continued.

Our leaders have priorities and they have values, but they are not freedom or democracy.

One Comment

  1. Chris

    Well… to be fair, they should have paid for control of the mines 🙂