The coup that changed the Americas forty years ago

by , under Enrique

Today, 9/11, is the fortieth anniversary of the overthrow of President Salvador Allende by General Augusto Pinochet. A democratic era in Chile was abruptly and violently put to an end thanks to the support of the US President Richard Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger.

In many respects, the coup of September 11, 1973 in Chile changed the Americas because Salvador Allende was a democratically elected president.

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La Moneda, the Chilean presidential palace, was bombed on September 11, 1973 by the Chilean air force to pave the way for de facto president  General Augusto Pinochet.  The coup was assisted and supported by President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Even if the pictures from Santiago and Chile were grim on that day, the country’s new military rulers couldn’t destroy or erase the most priceless attributes of a nation: its collective memory.

Listen to Allende’s last speech (in Spanish) here.

The last song that Victor Jara composed a little before 9/11:


Excerpt from an unpublished short story, The conspiracy of clocks: A return to the past. How many did the military detain, tortur and murder?

…After a long wait I was locked up in a prison cell. Coarse dark walls with carved messages greeted me. As the iron door shut and locked behind me, my eyes ventured through a small iron-barred window that was big enough for a baby to climb through. I looked outside but was stopped from venturing any further by coiled barbwire where a lone leafless branch hung just above it. Not knowing what was going to happen to me and for how long I’d be detained, I decided to rest my hopes on the leafless branch and imagined if I were a bird, I could fly to freedom.

Two police guards opened the cell door and ordered me to a large office where I was told to sit in front of an enormous desk that took a few seconds for my sight to travel to a police officer at the other end. His face was expressionless and his left eye twitched every time he spoke.

”You’ve committed a serious crime,” he said hinting at nothing. ”Do you have any idea what you’ve done?!”

The fear that torments me now feels like layers of bricks being stacked on my chest. The bricks kick the air out of me but don’t crush my ribs because my interrogators know the exact weight they must apply in order not to kill me.

”Let me give it to you straight: Only the meek have stayed on, the bare minimum to sustain military rule so we can still run our factories,” he said as his eye twitched. ”Just enough people to make our cities, towns and villages not appear too deserted. This is going to be a long war against the terrorists but we’ll prevail in the end.”

The interrogation ended abruptly…