September 11?... Chile 1973, Chicago 2013: 40 Years of Neo-liberal attacks on our societies
by Kim Scipes
What do you think of when you hear the term “9-11”? September 11. A date. Does it remind you of the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, or the attack on the Pentagon, or the attack that was frustrated by passengers in Pennsylvania? Will a local Chicago school be marking the date by honoring "first responders"?
It reminds me of all of these things but, more importantly, it reminds me of the FIRST 9-11, September 11, 1973, when the US helped overthrow the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. This wasn't the first time in the post-World War II period that the US Government had helped overthrow a democratically-elected government.
The US had done that in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Brazil in 1964. Plus, the U.S. government and corporations had supported dictators in a number of countries in the Caribbean, "Latin" America, Africa and Asia by that time.
On September 11, 1973, the Presidential Palace in Santiago Chile was bombed by the Chilean Air Force as part of the military coup d-etat that overthrew the elected government of President Salvador Allende. Organized in cooperation with American corporations (including Anaconda Copper and IT&T), the coup leaders, including General Augusto Pinochet (who would become dictator for 17 years) rounded up as many popular, trade union, community and student leaders as they could on the day of the coup and in the following days. Many of those were rounded up based on lists provided to the CIA and Pinochet's people by American unionists working for the CIA-funded American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD). Hence, the blood of those who were tortured and murdered by the Pinochet people is on the hands of several American unions, most notably the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), whose Cold Warrior policies included working with AIFLD and other CIA fronts in the "international free labor movement."
But September 11, 1973 was the first one that many of us who came to political consciousness in the “1960s” experienced it directly.
Nobody denied the basic facts, or denies them today. Salvador Allende was an experienced Chilean politician who worked to gain the presidency. He won in 1970 with a plurality, and according to the Chilean Constitution was put into power legally. He was no radical; politically, he could be described as a social democrat, someone who sought some form of “socialism” but wanted to achieve it through electoral politics.
Protests against the September 11, 1973 coup d'etat in Chile were quickly and brutally suppressed, and leaders and members of protests were rounded up by the military and police and then tortured and murdered at various locations in the country, including the infamous soccer stadium in Santiago.
Allende realized that Chile was being raped of its natural resources — most importantly, copper — by US multinational corporations such as Anaconda. These multinationals had invested something like $800,000 in Chile, yet had taken over $5 billion out—and climbing. Allende realized that he could not successfully address the development problems in Chile — the poverty, the lack of nutrition for children, the slums — without nationalizing the facilities owner by US corporations, and using the profits from the copper operations for the good of the Chilean people.
When he nationalized the US investments, he put himself on a collision course with the US Empire.
President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger were personally involved in developing a strategy and providing resources to members of the Chilean military high command to help overthrow President Allende. [Also involved, unfortunately, was the leadership of the AFL-CIO, who were operating behind the backs of American workers and without their knowledge through an organization they had created for such purposes, AIFLD (American Institute for Free Labor Development).]
Following his 1970 election as President of Chile, Salvador Allende moved to nationalize the country's resources from the international corporations, many of them American, that had gotten control because of the corruption of previous Chilean governments. The coup d'etat that overthrew the Allende government and murdered thousands of its key activists on September 11, 1973 was organized by the Chilean military, the American corporations, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Diary is Reposted with Permission From the Author and Substance News
Nixon and Kissinger did all they could to cut off development aid to Chile, both by the US government, but also by multilateral development institutes like the InterAmerican Development Bank and the World Bank, while increasing aid and training to the Chilean military.
When the military attacked on September 11, 1973, it was very carefully planned and resolutely followed out. La Moneda, the Presidential Palace in Santiago, was bombed, shelled by artillery and then invaded by troops. President Allende was found dead, with a weapon by his side. Initial reports were that over 30,000 people had been killed in the first few days, although current estimates are that between 3-5,000 died in those early days. But it was only a beginning. (Many bodies were hidden, buried in mass graves, or flown out over the Pacific where they were dumped out of aircraft and were fed to the sharks, never to emerge.)
Thousands “disappeared,” some after being confined in the National Stadium, or were killed while in the stadium. (Two Americans—Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman—were among those killed. The movie “Missing,” starring Jack Lemon, was an account of Horman’s father’s efforts to find out the fate of his son. Teruggi had done some organizing in Chicago earlier).
The military took over after the coup, and later General Augusto Pinochet became the “main man.” Soon, it was time for the infamous "Chicago Boys." Pinochet invited a group of economists trained at the University of Chicago to advise on reviving the economy. Nicknamed "The Chicago Boys" (since many of them were young proteges of economist Milton Friedman), they implemented a "free market" and privatization program that would later go by the name of neo-liberal economics. The objective was to remove any government regulation of the economy that had been implemented by the Allende administration. The only value they projected positively was profit-making, the so-called "free market" -- if something made a profit, it was good—if not, it was bad. And it didn't matter at what cost to the people the profits came.
Trade unions and any pro-workers organizations were disbanded, and their leaders tortured and killed.
Social programs that fed the poor, or educated the masses, those that provided services to the mentally disabled, or supported working class families were terminated by Pinochet and the Chicago Boys at first opportunity. Charter schools proliferated, long before they were pushed in the USA. Social Security was largely privatized. The list could go on, and anyone interested can read much about it easily now that the Internet is available, as it was not in the 1970s.
The world famous Chilean singer Victor Jara was among the thousands of activists tortured and murdered by the CIA-backed coup d'etat. According to the reports of witnesses, the torturers cut off Jara's finger and then taunted him to play his famous songs against oppression while his hands bled and he suffered in extreme pain. A lawsuit filed in the United States this month (September 2013) asks that one of those torturers, now living in the USA, be brought to justice in the United States 40 years after his crimes.On the morning of September 12, Jara was taken, along with thousands of others, as a prisoner to the Chile Stadium (renamed the Estadio Víctor Jara in September 2003). In the hours and days that followed, many of those detained in the stadium were tortured and killed there by the military forces. Jara was repeatedly beaten and tortured; the bones in his hands were broken as were his ribs. Fellow political prisoners have testified that his captors mockingly suggested that he play guitar for them as he lay on the ground with broken hands. Defiantly, he sang part of "Venceremos" (We Will Win), a song supporting the Popular Unity coalition. After further beatings, he was machine-gunned on September 16, his body dumped on a road on the outskirts of Santiago and then taken to a city morgue where 44 bullets were found in his body.
Pinochet also smashed anyone or any organization that challenged the coup or his rule. His rule was all-but-absolute, and was not overturned until the early 1990s. Since then, there has been a struggle to find and publish the truth about what was done during those days, as two recent New York Times articles illuminated this month (see below).
Chicago 2013? The massive expansion of charter schools. Privatization wherever possible. "Race to the Top" in education...
Although we’ve yet to have the violence of the Pinochet dictatorship in the United States, our leaders — beginning particularly with Ronald Reagan and continuing today under Barack Obama — have been carrying out neo-liberal economic policies since the early 1980s and, just like in Chile, they have been a disaster for most of the people.
The United States is the most economically unequal of all of the so-called “developed” countries — in fact, we are more unequal that some of the poorest countries in the world, such as Bangladesh, Uganda and Vietnam. We have the highest imprisonment rate in the world. The contrasts between the "one percent" (start at the Gold Coast) and the lives of the "99 percent" (then drive to Englewood and continue south and east from there) is as stark in Chicago as anywhere.
And in 2013, another group of Chicago Boys, on orders from Rahm Emanuel, closed the largest number of public schools in the history of the USA. I could go on and on. When profitability is the only acceptable value, it empowers the wealthy and those who operate for them, while devastating the social reality we call “society.” At the same time, the US Government has put massive amounts of money into building its war machine; over $10 trillion dollars, conservatively, between 1981 and 2010.
We spend more money each year than our 14 closest military competitors combined! This is money than cannot be put into education, health care, rebuilding our infrastructure, addressing global climate change, or taking care of our people. We can try to dominate the world, or we can try to take care of our people, but we cannot do both.
For an in-depth look at the changes in the US economy since World War II, and the social impact of these changes, please see my 2009 article,This brings us to Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel is on a “mission from god,” to destroy the Chicago Public Schools, and replace them with charter schools. Besides any ideological animosity to public education that might come from this graduate of one of the most expensive private colleges in the country, Sarah Lawrence — and his kids are in the private, and very expensive, University of Chicago Lab School — Emanuel wants to turn public education into a “for profit” venture. Key to doing this is to break the Chicago Teachers Union.
The developments I report are prior to the Great Recession and, thus, were not caused by the recession.
Now, Emanuel will complain about the high cost of a unionized work force — and they do get paid more than non-union teachers, for sure — but the real issue is power. Emanuel wants no one to challenge his plans, and certainly wants no one to have the power to stop them and tell the public that the Emperor is naked, which the CTU did in the 2012 teachers’ strike. He cares not for the students, the parents, the teachers, or Chicago: it’s his way or the highway. Ultimately, he has this delusion of becoming the President of the United States, and he’ll throw anyone necessary under the bus to get his shot.
I’m sure, in his private moments, he wishes he could use the Pinochet option.
Think I’m exaggerating? Guess who closed down much of the South Loop in May 2012, and mobilized over 3,000 police—including state troopers—to defend a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the greatest war-killing machine in the history?
I didn’t get the Mayor’s last name, but it sure sounded like Pinochet.Wait until you see the new movie, “Four Days in Chicago,” which can be found at http://www.fourdaysinchicago.com.
Kim Scipes, Ph.D., is a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps, who now is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central in Westville, IN. He lives in Logan Square, Chicago. He focuses on the coup in Chile as a case study in his recent book, AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage? (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010 hardback; 2011 paperback.)Diary is Reposted with Permission From the Author and Substance News
His web site is at : http://faculty.pnc.edu/....
Chile Recalls Coup With Flurry of Events and New Openness
By PASCALE BONNEFOY
Published: September 8, 2013
SANTIAGO, Chile — Sunday dawned with the dark shadow of a Hawker Hunter jet painted on a Santiago street, pointing toward the presidential palace. Hours later, tens of thousands of Chileans marched through the capital to commemorate when 40 years ago Chilean Air Force jets bombed the palace, helping to overthrow an elected socialist government and obliterate what had been one of South America’s healthiest democracies.
The resulting military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled for 17 years, suspended political and civil rights; censored the press; and imprisoned, tortured, exiled, abducted or killed tens of thousands of its opponents. Though there have been official reports about the human rights abuses since then, and some military officers have been prosecuted, many Chileans say the country has not yet fully come to grips with what happened.
Chilean’s Family Files Suit in U.S. Over His Torture and Death in ’73
By PASCALE BONNEFOY
Published: September 5, 2013
SANTIAGO, Chile — A former Chilean Army officer charged with murdering Víctor Jara, a popular folk singer, shortly after the 1973 military coup has been sued in a Florida court under federal laws allowing legal action against human rights violators living in the United States.
Mr. Jara, then 40, was a member of the Communist Party and an accomplished theater director and songwriter whose songs of poverty and injustice remain vastly popular. He was arrested with hundreds of students and employees at the Santiago Technical University, where he was a professor, a day after the Sept. 11 coup that ushered in 17 years of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
The detainees were taken to Chile Stadium, used to hold thousands of prisoners. There, Mr. Jara was singled out with a few others, beaten, tortured and shot. His body, with 44 bullet wounds, was found dumped outside a cemetery with four other victims. The arena was later renamed Víctor Jara Stadium.
Diary is Reposted with Permission From the Author and Substance News