“I will pay for my loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that seeds that we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shrivelled forever.”
–Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973
As bombs rained down on La
Moneda, democracy came to an end
in Allende’s Chile.
There is a famous saying, “History repeats itself.” History does so, but sometimes in an ironic manner where selectivity of incidents defines the importance of an event. September 11! Most of us remember it for attacks on the twin buildings of World Trade Centre. The accident was catastrophic for the United States of America. The consequences of the attack were devastating for Afghanistan and Iraq. The regions where these countries are located are in complete disarray. Thanks to the US led “War on Terror” aptly defined by John Pilger as the “War of Terror”.
However, another September 11 that finds a rare mention in public discourse happened in Chile. The year was 1973. CIA backed Chilean general Augusto Pinochet replaced the elected government of Salvador Allende – country’s first democratically elected socialist president. When troops entered the presidential palace, La Moneda, he president was already dead. He had shot himself with the gun that was Fidel Castro’s gift to him. What followed were years of repression, torture, forced disappearance, fear and for many Chileans, exile.
The aim of the Nixon administration in attempting to overthrow Allende was to destroy independent nationalism or what was called a “virus” that might “infect” others. It was the domino effect that the US feared.