Today we look at another September 11th. It was 40 years agothis week, September 11, 1973, that General Augusto Pinochet ousted Chile’sdemocratically elected president, Salvador Allende, in a U.S.-backed military coup.The coup began a 17-year repressive dictatorship during which more than 3,000Chileans were killed. Pinochet’s rise to power was backed by then-President Richard Nixon and his secretary of state and national security adviser, Henry Kissinger.In 1970, the CIA’s deputy director of plans wrote in a secret memo, quote, "It is firmand continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. ... It is imperative thatthese actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [that’s theU.S. government] and American hand be well hidden," unquote. That same year,President Nixon ordered the CIA to, quote, "make the economy scream" in Chile to,quote, "prevent Allende from coming to power or [to] unseat him."After the 1973 coup, General Pinochet remained a close U.S. ally. He was defeated in1988 referendum and left office in 1990. In 1998, Pinochet was arrested in London ontorture and genocide charges on a warrant issued by a Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón.British authorities later released Pinochet after doctors ruled him physically andmentally unfit to stand trial.Last week, Chile’s judges issued a long-awaited apology to the relatives of loved oneswho went missing or were executed during the Pinochet dictatorship. This is JudgeDaniel Urrutia.
JUDGE DANIEL URRUTIA:
[translated] We consider it appropriate and necessary.We understand, for some citizens, obviously, it’s too late, but nothing will ever be toolate to react to what may happen in the future.
The relatives of some victims have rejected the belated apologyand called for further investigations into deaths and disappearances during thedictatorship. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said the country’s courts had failed touphold the constitution and basic rights.
PRESIDENT SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA:
[translated] The judiciary did not rise up totheir obligations or challenges, and could have done much more, because, byconstitutional mandate, it’s their duty to protect the rights of the people, to protecttheir lives—for example, reconsidering the appeals, which they had previouslymassively rejected as unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, on Sunday thousands of Chileans took to the streetsof Santiago to mark the 40th anniversary of the military coup and remember thethousands who disappeared during the brutal regime that followed. This is the president of the Families of Executed Politicians group, Alicia Lira.
[translated] Forty years since the civil military coup, the issue of human rights, the violations during the dictatorship are still current. This denial of justice, there are more than 1,300 processes open for 40 years, for 40 years continuingthe search for those who were arrested, who disappeared, who were executed withoutthe remains handed back. Why don’t they say the truth? Why don’t they break their pact of silence?