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Remembering September 11th, 1973

The principles so dear to my fatherland I will defend with my life” – Salvador Allende, 9/11/73

With the recent collaborations between the United States and the right-wingers in Bolivia, forcing Bolivia and Venezuela to expel the US ambassadors there, it would be good to remember exactly what happened on September 11th, 1973 in Chile and the role of the United States in the coup.

On September 11th, 1973 Pinochet and his cohorts were able to turn good portions of both the Navy and the Army against the Allende government. At 10am the rebel’s tanks opened fire on the palace, and by 2 that afternoon Allende was dead, the coup complete.

Although the U.S. denies specific involvement with the coup, they did everything in their power to make it happen. The CIA readily admits that it tried to kidnap Chilean officials who would be swearing Allende in, and that they trained and collaborated with coup-plotters, assassins, and false propagandists. This is only one of the many times that the United States has taken upon itself to forcibly oust a democratically-elected government in favor of a military junta, or other forms of government that are more susceptible to U.S. influence.

U.S. support for Pinochet did not end with the coup, however. There is documented evidence of CIA payments to the head of DINA (secret police). DINA committed the worst of human atrocities and rights violations. During the first three months of Pinochet’s reign, thousands of Leftists were disappeared. Death squads were sent out to all areas of Chile. The Caravan of Death was one such death squad, targeting Leftists kept in prisons. Within the space of a month, this death squad traveled from prison to prison and killed 97 people.

The over-arching campaign to eradicate Leftists and their influence was called Operation Condor. Anywhere between thousands and tens of thousands of people were killed as a result of Condor. The U.S. supported right-wing regimes in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru as a front of the Cold War. Labor activists, members of Leftists parties, and sympathizers alike were kidnapped, tortured, and systematically killed. One of the smaller operations of Condor, called Operation Silencio, was aimed at impeding Chilean judges from investigating human rights abuses by flying key witnesses out of the country. There is evidence that the U.S. coordinated communication among these different countries during Condor in order to better facilitate the different operations. This allowed the leaders of different countries to discuss torture techniques, such as near-drowning or playing a tape recording of the torture to family members.

What we are seeing now in Latin America is a resurgence of the Left and a strong resistance to the former regimes of torture and oppression, as well as to the country that supported them all. Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia have all stood up for their countries. They know the threat that the United States poses to their people even today, as we can see in Plan Colombia. The people of Latin America have a right to stand up and fight back against U.S. domination and terror, and they are bravely doing so through the Bolivarian movement.

We also must salute the brave women and men of the FARC-EP, who are still fighting against a reactionary and murderous regime in Colombia and have been doing so for decades. It is right and just to defend your people and your country against death squads that target labor activists, students, and Leftists as well as standing up against the transnational corporations that pillage the land and build roads that nobody else can use. The courageous women and men of the FARC-EP are fighting for what is right, and Marxists-Leninists should support their efforts.

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