Arriving a year after the brutal coup against the elected socialist government, GRAHAM HOLTON experienced first hand the all-encompassing oppression of the military dictatorship as he travelled — until he too was arrested as a leftist
IT has been nearly 50 years since the infamous coup in Chile on September 11, 1973. The world became aware of the heinous birth of Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’etat when the international television networks showed the Chilean air force’s Harrier jets attacking the Palace de La Moneda, the seat of government.
Truckloads of soldiers across the country arrested thousands of people, who wound up in 13 concentration camps where many were tortured and killed. Some supporters of the Popular Unity (UP) government sought refuge in embassies. Others went into exile.
The life of president Salvador Allende, the world’s first democratically elected socialist president, ended that day. The Pinochet regime tore the fabric of Chilean society asunder, wrenching out the heart of the left. A sinister veil had fallen upon the country, like a plague of locusts devouring everything in its path.
The material presented below is the work of great didacts, talented filmmakers and political analysts. Patricio Guzmán, the Chilean documentary filmmaker and author of The Battle of Chile (BOC), filmed literally in the teeth of the bloody Chilean counter-revolution, with his precious footage smuggled out of the country with the help of a brave anti-fascist, none other than Harald Edelstam, the Swedish ambassador (who had already distinguished himself in World War II by rescuing Jews and many anti-fascists from the Nazis), needs no introduction. The documentary, made with little money, and eventually completed with the help of Cuba, is a masterpiece of astute and precise storytelling. Indeed, Guzmán’s small team seems to be always wherever something critical is happening: * in the copper mines, where the workers, the country’s “labor aristocracy”, stupidly decide to oppose the Allende government; * surveying the critical truck owners’ strike that selfishly and myopically paralysed the country at a decisive moment (an ominous sign that, as Communist party leader Luis Corvalán feared, the middle and lower middle class had not been fully won over to the revolutionary project); * or within the Chilean Congress itself, where one naked betrayal after another seals Chile’s fate in accordance with plans already drawn up in the late 1960s (we now know for certain) in the US White House and in the sordid “intelligence agencies” entrusted with such tasks. All this in perfect coordination with Chile’s native oligarchy.
Sept. 11 marks a dark day in the history of Chile. In 1973 the leftist government of Salvador Allende was brutally overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup that left the president dead, followed by the rounding up, torture, killing, disappearance, and exile of thousands of Chileans over the next decades.
The military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet was to scar the nation, but resistance within the country and internationally never let up.
teleSUR takes a look at the coup, along with the popular president’s trajectory.
The last photo of President Salvador Allende alive at the La Moneda presidential palace, Sept. 11, 1973.Photo:Archive
Archive photo of anti-Pinochet protesters during a march outside of the country’s Supreme Court in Santiago de Chile. | Photo: EFE
Chile’s Supreme court sentenced 33 former intelligence agents of Augusto Pinochet dictatorship for the enforced disappearances of five communist activists in 1987 who were kidnapped, drugged and dumped out to sea.
The court sentenced the defendants to between three and 15 years in prison for the abduction and disappearance of the five members of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriot Front, the militant wing of the country’s Communist Party.
The longest sentences were given to the former head of the National Information Center, General Hugo Salas Wenzel, and Major Alvaro Corbalan Castilla, both of whom will spend 15 years behind bars.
Agosto Pinochet staged a coup against Chilean President Salvador Allende with the support of the U.S. as part of Plan Condor. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A Chilean court condemned 11 agents of the intelligence services of former dictator General Augusto Pinochet Monday over the 1974 forced disappearances of Maria Alvarado Borgel and Martin Elgueta Pinto.
According to testimony, both victims were tortured before they were killed in the facilities of the intelligence service called Londres 38.
Special judge Leopoldo Llanos also ordered the Chilean state to pay about US$77,500 to each of the five brothers of the victims, all activists with the Revolutionary Left Movement, or MIR.