Our Other September 11

Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Chile

Let’s not forget Chile.

On September 11, 1973, warplanes began strafing radio stations and newspapers. Images arrived of people scattering in fear ahead of tanks in the streets. Fearsome generals in coats with starred epaulets ordered President Salvador Allende, the world’s only elected Marxist leader, to step down. A military communiqué: “The armed forces and the body of carabineros are united in their historic and responsible mission of fighting to liberate Chile from the Marxist yoke.” Signed; General Augusto Pincohet Ugarte, Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Pinochet’s coup came the day before a planned national referendum scheduled by Allende, a man fastidiously obsessed with observing his nation’s constitution. Unlike Allende, the military chose not to chance democracy. Instead, they rounded up thousands and deposited them in the national stadium, some marked for execution. In the streets of Santiago, loudspeakers barked out commands: “All people resisting the new government will pay the price.” For at least seventy-five, in the first three weeks, the price was execution by Pinochet’s Caravana de la Muertethe “Caravan of Death.” One bullet-ridden body, belonging to the popular, pacifist singer Víctor Jara, was found dumped in a Santiago back street, his hands broken and his wrists cracked....

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