Chilean society is once again at the culmination of a transformative constitutional process. This pivotal juncture will decide whether the constitution drafted by a legislature dominated by conservative and right-wing parties will replace the current constitution which was established during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. After a first failed attempt to establish a new constitution, this new draft introduces stricter measures concerning irregular migration, firmly entrenches the existing pension and healthcare systems—both subjects of substantial critique. It additionally introduces provisions that pose significant threats to sexual and reproductive rights, specifically through the establishment of “rights for those who are about to be born” and the legalization of “conscientious objection” regarding the provision of goods and services.
For the few remaining women of Calama in Chile’s Atacama desert, September 11 holds a terrifying meaning. They understand the pain of watching forensic investigators meticulously scour through particles of dust, seeking to retrieve the tiniest fragments of lives brutally taken from the world. They know what it means to face devastating absence, knowing the bodies of loved ones will never be returned. But their loss has nothing to do with the attack on New York’s twin towers. Fifty years ago, in the early morning of Sept. 11 1973, a U.S.-backed coup led by General Augusto Pinochet began with Chile’s military taking control of strategic locations in the capital city Santiago, including the main radio and television networks.
The Puebla Group has demanded that the United States present a formal apology for its role in the 1973 coup d’état against President Salvador Allende of Chile as part of the commemoration events for 50 years since one of the bloodiest coups in the world. On Sunday, September 10, the Puebla Group and the Latin American Council for Justice and Democracy (CLAJUD) released a joint declaration highlighting that “it is essential to recognize the responsibility of foreign actors in the events that led to the coup” that overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973, and ushered in the 17-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who led the coup.
In the early hours of September 11, 1973, the coup forces carried out Operation Silence, in order to silence the media supporting Salvador Allende’s government. The military’s mission was a complete success. However, before they managed to bomb all the transmitting antennas, Allende was able to address the country for the last time. The president’s last speech to the country was through Radio Magallanes in the midst of the shooting in the vicinity of La Moneda Palace, the seat of the executive. Journalist Leonardo Cáceres informed the microphone that Allende would speak to the country. It was 09:20 in the morning of September 11, 1973, the day of the coup d’état.
The Labor Education Project on AFL-CIO International Operations (LEPAIO), an international group of labor activists, scholars, and journalists will hold two actions to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the horrific 1973 military coup in Chile. September 11, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the coup that overthrew the democratically elected coalition government of Salvador Allende and ushered in a military dictatorship led by Army General Augusto Pinochet. The coup and subsequent brutal dictatorship were aided and supported by the US government of Richard Nixon and the AFL-CIO of George Meany.
The United States was able to actually overthrow, oust and defeat electorally, as a result of this pressure, several countries in the region, several left-wing governments, starting from the one in Honduras in 2009, then Fernando Lugo in Paraguay in 2012. Tried, nearly successfully, a coup d’etat in Ecuador in 2010 and then everybody knows who was behind the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in 2016 and obviously was training, Sergio Moro, the judge that managed to imprison Lula and even was involved in many ways in the 2019 coup d’etat against Evo Morales in Bolivia. So by 2019-2020, it looked like the United States had recovered the region. The only problem was that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were still standing.
Laura Richardson, the Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military operations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, spoke about the importance of Latin America’s resources for U.S. foreign policy in an interview with the U.S. think tank Atlantic Council. “Why is this region important?” Richardson asked. “With all its rich resources and rare earth elements, there is the lithium triangle, which today is necessary for technology. Sixty percent of the world’s lithium is found in the lithium triangle: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile.” She also pointed out that “the largest oil reserves, including light and sweet crude, [were] discovered off Guyana more than a year ago.” The general also mentioned Venezuela’s rich oil, copper, and gold resources. She highlighted the importance of the Amazon as “the lungs of the world,” and added that “we have 31 percent of the world’s fresh water in this region.”
Just one week ago, people went to the polls in Chile for the historic constitutional referendum, where the social forces supporting the idea of a new constitution were swept away. The negative vote exceeded 61%, while the draft constitution go just a little more than 38%. Many may think such a result speaks for itself, but it goes deeper than that. Understanding what happened in Chile is not only an exercise for politicians and analysts, but an obligation for progressive movements throughout the region. Just the day before the vote, we analyzed the situation and concluded the new Constitution could pass. We based our analysis on two studies elaborated by two recognized teams, which contradicted all the opinion polls spread by Chile’s mainstream media.
Sept. 1 was the last day to campaign for the Constitutional referendum to be held on Sept. 4 in Chile. In this vote, Chileans will decide whether to approve the country’s new Constitution, closing over a decade of social struggles, whose final stage began with 2019 people’s massive protests in the subways and streets. The first step of this constitutional process was the entry (first) referendum, in which 78.28% of voters decided it was necessary to overrule the Pinochet Constitution from 1980. In only 72 hours, this process will end, but tension and uncertainty grow as time goes by. Many opinion polls point out that the Constitution won’t be passed. It has been something repeated to exhaustion. This prediction never withstood any analysis of the Chilean political context.