In addition to being the 12th anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11/2001, today is another important anniversary: the 40th anniversary of the military coup in Chile that toppled socialist president Salvador Allende and led to the brutal 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. For a discussion of the 1973 coup, I would refer you to the excellent diary by Metero Blades yesterday, entitled "The other September 11 is 40 years old. Joyce Horman thanks those who sought justice in Chile." I would also refer you to this excellent Democracy Now interview of Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.
Here's an excerpt from the interview:
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger launched a preemptive strike against Salvador Allende. They decided to stop him from being inaugurated as president of Chile. He hadn’t even set foot in the Moneda Palace, when Nixon and Kissinger just simply decided to change the fate of Chile. Nixon instructed the CIA to make the Chilean economy scream, to use as many men as possible. The first plan was to actually keep Allende from being inaugurated as president. And then, when that plan failed, after the assassination of the Chilean commander-in-chief that the United States was behind, General René Schneider, Kissinger then went to Nixon and said, "Allende is now president. The State Department thinks we can coexist with him, but I want you to make sure you tell everybody in the U.S. government that we cannot, that we cannot let him succeed, because he has legitimacy. He is democratically elected. And suppose other governments decide to follow in his footstep, like a government like Italy? What are we going to do then? What are we going to say when other countries start to democratically elect other Salvador Allendes? We will—the world balance of power will change," he wrote to Nixon in a secret document, "and our interests in it will be changed fundamentally."Now, in a just world, Kissinger would have been prosecuted and imprisoned for war crimes. Instead, he's a well-paid foreign policy consultant. And, today, he has the ears of Secretary of State John Kerry:
I just got back from Chile, and I did a number of TV shows there, and everybody said, "We’re trying to hold our own people accountable here for the atrocities that took place during the Pinochet regime, but why isn’t Henry Kissinger being held accountable? Why isn’t the United States held accountable for the role that they played in the atrocities that were committed in Chile, starting with the coup itself and then going on with the repression that followed?" And Kissinger really is the—not only the key survivor of the policy-making team of that era, but truly when you go through the declassified documents that are laid out in the book, The Pinochet File, you see that he is the singular most important figure in engineering a policy to overthrow Allende and then, even more, to embrace Pinochet and the human rights violations that followed.
He had aides who were saying to him, "It’s unbecoming for the United States to intervene in a country where we are not—our national security interests are not threatened." And he pushed them away. "Nope, we can’t—we can’t let this imitative phenomena—we have to stop Allende from being successful." He had aides that came to him the day after the coup and said, "I’m getting reports that there’s 10,000 bodies in the streets. People are being slaughtered." And he said, "Go tell Congress that this new military regime is better for our interests than the old government in Chile." And we have this fabulous document of him talking to Pinochet, a meeting in 1976, in which his aides have told him, "You should tell Pinochet to stop violating human rights." And instead he says to Pinochet, "You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende. We want to support you, not hurt you."
Kerry is scheduled to meet one-on-one with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Wednesday afternoon, and address a meeting of the 25-member Foreign Affairs Policy Board Wednesday morning. On Wednesday evening, Kerry will host a dinner for FAPB members at the State Department, according to an official schedule.Chile has been holding a week of remembrances dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the coup, the most tragic day of its modern history. Our Secretary of State is spending that day seeking advice from the man who made the coup happen.