FIVE YEARS AGO Monday, Pinochet's military stormed the presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, to depose and murder Salvadore Allende Gossens. Five years ago today, Nixon and Kissinger chortled over the success of their best laid plans to foment the coup, to "make the economy scream" in Chile, to make the world safe for democracy.
At a time when Jimmy Carter's pious announcements about "human rights" presume to add a moral tone to American foreign policy, we need to remember Allende and the thousands of other Chileans that the junta continues to torture and imprison with the financial support of U.S. banks.
U.S. foreign policy toward Allende's Chile included withdrawal of all foreign aid except to the military, wholesale cuts in World Bank, Export-Import Bank, private sector bank loans and credits to Chile, payments of millions of CIA dollars to finance anti-Allende demonstrations and mouth-pieces such as El Mercurio, and direct CIA encouragement for the coup. U.S. multinational corporations such as ITT also funded anti-Allende subversion, although ITT executives have avoided jail because the U.S. government says too many "national security secrets" would come out in a trial.
All this was directed against a democratically-elected president whose government, despite the U.S.-sponsored economic destabilization, managed to increase its popular vote plurality from 36 per cent in 1970 to 43 per cent in 1973, six months before the coup. So much for democracy.
We need to remember that the United States role in the world often runs directly counter to Carter's rhetoric. The U.S. government serves certain rhetoric. The U.S. government serves certain interests regardless of human repression and suffering--corporate interests as in South Africa, military interests as in the Philippines.
But despite the history of U.S. intervention and penetration in most of the rest of the world, the people of South Africa, the people of the Philippines and the people of Chile continue to hope and struggle for control of their destinies. They should be a lesson to us: Allende lives.