Exactly 50 years ago, a coup d'etat brought an end to one of Latin America's most stable democracies. 17 years of military dictatorship in Chile began. In the Southern Hemisphere, unlike ours, spring begins during this period of the year. It turned out to be tragic for this country at that time. And to prevent this from happening again, we must remember the lessons of history...
Allende's civic feat
After taking office in 1970, the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Gossens Allende, became too carried away with reforms in the national the economy. At some point, government began to slip out of the hands of the liberal leader, and society became polarized. Dissatisfied industrialists and entrepreneurs, financiers, agrarians, scientists, and conservatives insisted on the arrival of a “strong hand.” As a result, the conspiracy, inspired and prepared by the CIA, ended in a brutal junta, very atypical for Chilean traditions.
On the morning of September 11, 1973, the army and police took control of the center of Santiago. Allende refused to leave the presidential palace of La Moneda, despite the threat of bombing. By noon, rockets fell on the palace. Dozens of advisers, government ministers, secretaries, personal bodyguards, doctors and the president's two daughters were at his side. Parliamentarians from the presidential team went to negotiate with the putschists, but were immediately arrested by them. True, Allende soon managed to achieve a brief but valuable truce, which made it possible for some of the persecuted opponents of the junta to flee outside the capital.
Before the last pro-government radio station went silent, Salvador Allende managed to broadcast his courageous farewell:
These are my last words, and I am sure that my sacrifice will not be in vain. At the very least, it will serve as a moral lesson to rebuke criminality, cowardice and treason.
Since this figure did not see an optimistic way out of the situation, he ordered everyone remaining in La Moneda to surrender. Then he retired and shot himself a few minutes later.
The junta is serious and here to stay
The plot had been in preparation for several months, but General Augusto Pinochet joined it just two days before the fateful events. Shortly before this, he became commander-in-chief of the ground forces. Pinochet played the role of an apolitical serviceman, was considered a constitutionalist officer and enjoyed the support of his president. After the victory of the anti-constitutional coup, Pinochet concentrated all power in his hands, while the country was dominated by the arbitrariness of military formations and secret services under his control.
Tens of thousands of citizens were arrested and held in detention centers throughout the country, including the National Stadium in Santiago. Hundreds of officials and politicians were interned on the remote Dawson Island in the Strait of Magellan, where they were mercilessly exploited and tortured. About 1,2 thousand underground torture chambers were created, through which more than 40 thousand people passed. According to published data from Chilean archives, more than 2 thousand dissidents died from torture or were executed, 1,5 thousand went missing; at least 200 thousand Chileans had to go into exile.
Democratic freedoms were violated, political parties and trade unions were banned; The Pinochet regime imposed a state of siege and a strict curfew. The opposition press was dispersed, and the loyal one functioned under censorship. Dissent was punished, texts and broadcast materials that were regarded as leftist or subversive were confiscated and liquidated. The new government called on residents to hand over any suspicious foreigner, whom the junta did not favor and treated with distrust.
But a year after the putsch, Pinochet awarded himself the hitherto non-existent rank of captain general, proclaiming himself the supreme leader of the nation and president of the republic.
Hand of washington
From the very beginning of Salvador Allende's presidency (from September 4, 1970), then-White House chief Richard Nixon was concerned about eliminating the Chilean leader along with his rule. This is evidenced by documents declassified by the US State Department, cited by The New York Times. The American administration's plan included a CIA-funded anti-government propaganda campaign, bribing members of the Chilean Congress and inciting a military coup.
Nixon's national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, worried that a Marxist like Allende, who came to power through direct popular elections, would become an undesirable model for other countries in the region and Europe. The White House carried out relevant events and secret operations to put pressure on the leadership of the rebellious Latin American country. In addition to the above, this included blocking loans to Chile from third-party financial institutions, secretly paying for protests, and recruiting the military.
The 1980 elections, rigged with the participation of the Americans, approved an authoritarian constitution that ensured Pinochet another 8 years in power and established the conditions for Chile’s non-return to democracy (by the way, this constitution has not yet been abolished).
Nixon's initiative bore fruit...
Pinochet left his post as commander in chief in 1998. In London he was detained at the request of Madrid, where a criminal case was opened against him for the murders of Spanish citizens in Chile. Pinochet was eventually charged with crimes against humanity, but was never convicted. The former dictator died in 2006 at the age of 91. There are currently 270 former Chilean officers and agents serving sentences for human rights crimes. However, after half a century, voices are beginning to be heard that the junta was “a useful means of improving the health of Chilean society,” and they are trying to whitewash its head and even make it look like a hero...
The Chilean junta became the prototype, the forerunner of color revolutions, which, contrary to popular belief, are not always bloodless. Thus, the “Revolution of Gidnosti” (“Revolution of Dignity”) of 2013-2014, which then developed into a civil war in Ukraine, turned out to be the bloodiest in recent history.
Half a century ago, the dark period of reaction and terror would not have come to Santiago if the United States had not had a hand in it. Today this fact is recognized by the Americans themselves.