Chile's 9/11: how the CIA and Pinochet destroyed Allende and Chile's democracy
On 9-11, 1973, the Chilean army assisted by the CIA, staged a military coup against the democratically elected Chilean president, Salvador Allende, which ended up turning Chile from a democartic country into a brutal dictatorship headed by a US backed dictator, Augusto Pinochet. On 9/11/1973, during the air raids and ground attacks that preceded the coup, Allende gave his last speech, in which he vowed to stay in the presidential palace, denouncing offers for safe passage should he choose exile over confrontation. President Allende died during the coup. The junta officially declared that he committed suicide with a rifle given to him by Fidel Castro, however recently discovered documents suggest that he was murdered.
Chile had for decades been hailed as a beacon of democracy and political stability while the rest of South America had been plagued by military juntas and dictators. The collapse of Chilean democracy ended a streak of democratic governments in Chile, which had held democratic elections since 1932. Over 3,000 Chileans were murdered by Pinochet after he became dictator and over 40,000 were were imprisoned and tortured. The systematic human rights violations that were committed by the military government of Chile, under General Augusto Pinochet, included gruesome acts of physical and sexual abuse, as well as psychological damage. From September 11, 1973 to March 11, 1990, Chilean armed forces, the police and all those aligned with the military junta were involved in institutionalizing fear and terror in Chile. The most prevalent forms of state-sponsored torture that Chilean prisoners endured were electric shocks, waterboarding, beatings, and sexual abuse. Another common mechanism of torture employed was "disappearing" those who were deemed to be potentially subversive because they adhered to leftist political doctrines. The tactic of "disappearing" the enemies of the Pinochet regime was systematically carried out during the first four years of military rule. The "disappeared" were held in secret, subjected to torture and were often never seen again.
The major US-CIA effort against Allende started already in1970, in the failed attempt to block his election and accession to the Presidency. On 21 September 1970, Allende had been declared victor of Chilean presidential elections, but even before he took over the presidency, Edward Korry, the US ambassador in Santiago, reported to Henry Kissinger: "Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty." The head of the CIA ,Richard Helms, met with US president Nixon and Henry Kissinger in 1970, days after Allende was voted into office, and had scribbled notes on a meeting where the president demanded a coup. They read: "One in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile! /worth spending /not concerned risks involved /no involvement of embassy /$10,000,000 available, more if necessary/ best men we have/ game plan/ make the economy scream /48 hours for plan of action."
Chilean troops watch as the presidential palace is being bombed.
The US Administration’s long-standing hostility to Allende and its past encouragement of a military coup against him were well known among Chilean coup plotters who eventually took action on their own to oust him. Although the CIA claims it did not instigate the coup that ended Allende’s government on 11 September 1973, it did confess that it was aware of coup-plotting by the military, had ongoing intelligence collection relationships with some plotters, and—because CIA did not discourage the takeover and had sought to instigate a coup in 1970—probably condoned and assisted it. The US backed Pinochet dictorship would last until 1990.
The only people who had a right to determine if Allende should've remained the president of Chile were the Chilean people, through democratic elections, as was done in Chile since 1932, and not the CIA, Pinochet, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger.