Spectre of U.S. Interventionism Still Haunts Latin America 50 Years After Military Coup in Chile

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On Sept. 11, 1973, exactly 50 years ago, the Hawker Hunter fighter jets that bombed the La Moneda Palace in the Chilean capital Santiago flew over my head with a shocking noise. The socialist president Salvador Allende, who was right there, refused in a speech to be forced to abandon the site of the government, where the people of Chile had democratically installed him.

The jets didn’t stop passing and kept shaking the windows with their low-altitude flights, and that’s when I heard a shout: “The Americans are behind all this!”

These were the same words that I heard after the news of the assassination of the commander in chief of the Chilean Army, General Rene Schneider, on Oct. 25, 1970, and that of his successor, Carlos Prats, who was murdered with a bomb in Argentina. I heard the same thing, in tears, about the assassination of Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, in Washington, on Sept. 21, 1976.

The participation of the United States in the coup d’etat in Chile in 1973 was not part of a Hollywood production, but a harsh reality. This is how the CIA operated in Chile and in the world, murdering people just according to their ideas.

For decades, those of us who were convinced of the interference and action of the United States against Allende were mocked. “Too many movies about secret agents,” they told us. It was repeated at that time that dictator Augusto Pinochet acted alone, that there was no black hand from the CIA. However, the U.S. role in the Chilean coup d’etat surpassed fiction and any American film production.

As President Salvador Allende noted in his farewell speech in the midst of the bombing, the United States and the CIA had been blowing up oil pipelines, knocking down electrical towers and bridges since many years before the coup, in order to create chaos, and they had murdered soldiers who were loyal to the Chilean Constitution and its laws.

The United States intervened in Chile, destroying a unique process of change in Chilean society which led towards socialism through democratic and non-violent means. The United States has never been interested in the democracy of the people of America, but only in their own economic and political interests. And under such interests they act, whether in a hidden or a direct way.

“We must make the economy scream” in Chile. This was an example of the clear and precise orders of President Richard Nixon and the instructions of Henry Kissinger, contained in the documents declassified since the coup. For the United States, Chile and the other Latin American countries are their property and anyone who affects their interests automatically becomes an enemy.

The dramatic fact is that, 50 years later, the interventionist policy is still present and in force. Today, when Latin America stands up and moves to forge a closer partnership with China, the United States perceives this as an aggression and responds to it with sanctions, military threats and so-called “soft” coups, as what happened to regional heads of state including Evo Morales (Bolivia), Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay) and Manuel Zelaya (Honduras).

However, as the world is shifting toward multipolarity, the United States has lost some importance as a hegemonic country. This is no longer a hope, but a global reality.