We are taught in America that our nation operates on the highest of principles, freedom, democracy, and justice for all. We are the good guys that wear the white hats with selfless intent, and it is our sacred duty to protect and preserve these principles. That is what we are told by our government and our media, but all too often in the recent past we have learned that our government has not always behaved with such integrity and nobility. All too often our government has done things not for freedom and democracy, as we are told, but for the benefit of wealthy corporations and rich individuals, things done in secret that we only learn about twenty, thirty, fifty years, after the fact, and then only with the release of sealed documents after lengthy legal battles.
Most Americans view September 11th as a day that is our own personal day of horror and loss. We can remember exactly where we were, and what we were doing when our nation suffered the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, and on every September 11th that followed that attack, we remember how we felt. Our emotional pain overwhelms our politics. We are all Americans and we are united….but we are not alone, as we relive that anniversary date. We share that date with the people of Chile, except the attack they suffered on that date in 1973 lasted for seventeen years and was created and enabled by the US government.
At the end of WWI the United States replaced Britain to control Chile’s resources and economic activity, essentially preventing Chile from gaining any economic independence. Two major US companies Anaconda and Kennecott took control of Chile’s ‘highly profitable’ resources, and after WWII Chile could not even exploit any extra copper they produced since the copper was marketed solely through subsidiaries of the U S companies, and there was a ceiling price on copper products fixed by the allied government during the war.
As Chile’s working class began to demand a higher standard of living, higher wages and better working conditions, the idea of a leftist government as the people’s salvation gained ground.
According to the 1975 Church Commission Report, covert U.S. involvement in Chile between 1963 and 1973 was ‘extensive and continuous’. The CIA spent $8 million between 1970 and the military coup on September 11.1973.
In a report released September 19, 2000 acknowledging relations with Pinochet’s regime ( “CIA Activities in Chile,”), the CIA revealed that the head of Chile’s secret police, DINA, was a paid CIA asset in 1975, and that the CIA maintained contact with him long after he sent agents to Washington D.C. for the purpose of assassinating former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and his American associate, Ronni Karpen Moffitt.
“CIA actively supported the military Junta after the overthrow of Allende,” the report states. “Many of Pinochet’s officers were involved in systematic and widespread human rights abuses….Some of these were contacts or agents of the CIA or US military.”
Documents discovered at the US national archives and records administration in Maryland, by Chilean journalist Loreto Daza, detailed Reagan administration debates on policy options for removal of Pinochet as head of Chile’s government. US army general John Galvin went to Chile in 1986 to ‘assess the growing street protest and guerrilla efforts to overthrow Pinochet’, and fears of civil war forced the Reagan administration to consider alternative plans including, as one document stated, “An honorable departure for President [Pinochet], who would be received as a guest of our [US] government.”
“One of the possibilities was to offer him [Pinochet] asylum. It was an offer to travel to the US and leave power,” said Daza, head of the journalism faculty at the Universidad del Desarollo in Santiago.
While the US encouraged a military coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of a socialist, Salvador Allende, ”… by the mid-1980s, Pinochet had become such a polarizing figure that US officials feared his continuation in power might help the Chilean left regain public support”, said Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File.
“An asset like Pinochet becomes a liability when he is no longer seen as capable of stopping the forces of the left and creating a stable economic climate,” said Kornbluh. “Reagan admired Pinochet and wanted to go to Chile to personally thank him for ‘saving Chile’ and tell him [Pinochet] that ‘it was time to go’,” Kornbluh said (per declassified White House records). “But George Shultz [then secretary of state] said absolutely not. Pinochet had too much blood on his hands”.
According to official figures, 40,000 people were victims of human rights abuses under the Pinochet dictatorship and more than 3,000 were killed or disappeared.
Pinochet was ‘our boy’, put into power, and kept in power by us.
Saddam Hussein was ‘our boy’. He was put into power with a coup turned bloodbath, backed by the CIA under John F, .Kennedy in 1963, making it possible for Western Corporations like Mobil, Bechtel, and British Petroleum to set up business in Iraq In the 1980’s President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush both supported Hussein against Iran.
The agents of the US government have created and backed a number of dictatorships in the name of freedom, justice and democracy, but in reality it has been for the benefit of wealthy corporations to take control of a country’s resources. In Chile it was copper, in Iraq it was oil.
It is important for Americans to look past the sacred history projected at us by a media that receives the bulk of its information from our government, and not just accept everything we’re told as sacred truth. We should not fail to recognize that, especially in these days of ‘Citizens United’, our politicians serve the wealthy that lobby them, before the people of the United States, and the information they put out just may be designed to sell us on the program they’ve been told to sell. It might help us to better understand why we may not be seen as the noble good guys by the rest of the world, and why they may just hate us enough to become terrorists, whose sole agenda is to destroy us in a holy war.