Imagine this scenario. On 11 September 1973, the reactionary sections of the Chilean army, led by General Augusto Pinochet and given a green light by the US government, did not leave their barracks. President Salvador Allende, who led the Popular Unity government, went to his office in La Moneda in Santiago to announce a plebiscite on his government and to ask for the resignation of several senior generals. Then, Allende continued his fight to bring down inflation and to realise his government’s programme to advance the socialist agenda in Chile. Until the moment when the Chilean Army descended upon La Moneda in 1973, Allende and the Popular Unity government were in a pitched fight to defend Chile’s sovereignty.
Covert U.S. planning to block the democratic election of Salvador Allende in Chile began weeks before his September 4, 1970, victory, according to just declassified minutes of an August 19, 1970, meeting of the high-level interagency committee known as the Special Review Group, chaired by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. "Kissinger asked that the plan be as precise as possible and include what orders would be given September 5, to whom, and in what way," as the summary recorded Kissinger's instructions to CIA Director Richard Helms. "Kissinger said we should present to the President an action plan to prevent [the Chilean Congress from ratifying] an Allende victoryâ€¦and noted that the President may decide to move even if we do not recommend it." The document is one of a compendium of some 366 records released by the State Department as part of its Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. The much-delayed collection, titled "Chile: 1969-1973," addresses Richard Nixon's and Kissinger's efforts to destabilize the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, and the U.S.-supported coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973. The controversial volume was edited by two former officials of the State Department's Office of the Historian, James Siekmeier and James McElveen.
There seems to be some confusion among Americans including some of those involved in people-powered movements in the United States. Some differentiate among street protests that challenge government and recognize some are consistent with our ideals of people-powered governments and see that other protests actually undermine democracy and are not social movements for economic, environmental and social justice. In the case of Ukraine, discussed in the article below, the situation is particularly complicated because the government of President Viktor Yanukovych was distasteful. Despite our dislike for Yanukovych and our admiration for the Ukrainian people we do not applaud this coup of a democratic government. Frankly, we did not find either side advocating for the economic, environmental and social justice that is needed. Even though these can be complicated situations we urge people to be cautious and not assume that just because there are people in the street that the US social movement should support those efforts.
On the 40th Anniversary of the U.S.-supported military coup in Chile, SOA Watch is calling for the extradition of Pedro Barrientos, a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, who currently lives in Florida in the United States. Among the dictatorship's first victims was Victor Jara. He was killed on September 16, 1973. Victor Jara was an admired Chilean folksinger and one of the founders of a new genre of Latin American song. His body was dumped in the street and found with 44 bullets and signs of torture. SOA Watch supports the extradition of Pedro Barrientos, who currently lives in Deltona, Florida to stand trial for the torture and killing of Jara.