Very few things in American history can shadow the events of September 11, tragedies in our history resonate impactful similarities; the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, the great depression. September 11, 2001, will forever be synonymous with the fall of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City. Nonetheless, other life altering events have happened on this date around the world. Other events which American imperialism has had its hand in; the coastal country of Chile, located on the South American continents west side with its Pacific Ocean beaches and democratically elected socialists. In 1973, a military overthrow of the democratically elected government led by Augusto Pinochet, the man who would become the dictator/president for the next 16 years. His military assault against the people’s choice of President Salvador Allende began on September 11, 1973. Nearly 2,000 people lost their lives in this civil unrest. Nearly 80,000 were imprisoned and 30,000 tortured by the bloodthirsty regime of Pinochet. Using his rank and power of Commander in Chief of the Chilean Armed forces, which he obtained through appointment by President Salvador Allende; Pinochet led the coup using air attacks against the Presidential palace, La, Moneda, bombarding the palace from all sides, effectively destroying the government and ending the regime of the democratically elected, Salvador Allende. Thousands of Chileans that were perceived as threats to the coup, quickly found themselves interned in the national stadium, many of them murdered, setting the stage for decades of brutal repression that followed. As many as 3,000 people may have died during Pinochet’s years in power; still, more than 1000 are missing.
A prominent figure in modern Latin culture and a witness to the crimes of Pinochet whom also lived through the terrible attacks on New York City some 28 years later, Ariel Dorfman served as a cultural adviser to Salvador Allende from 1970 to 1973. After the coup, Dorfman went into exile. Recognized as one of Latin America’s greatest writers; several of his essays, novels, poems and plays have been translated into more than 40 languages. In 2004, he published a collection of essays titled Other Septembers, Many Americas: Selected Provocations. The epitaph reads as follows, “That September 11, that lethal Tuesday morning, I awoke with dread to the sound of planes flying above my house. When, an hour later, I saw smoke billowing from the center of the city, I knew that life had changed for me, for my country, forever.” The words of Ariel Dorfman recounting the morning of September 11, 1973 and the coup of the government he worked for and respected. He knew life had changed forever. Ariel Dorfman is now a Professor at Duke University, North Carolina.
Fittingly coincidental, our nation too was assaulted though not from within, on the 28th anniversary of this Latin American tragedy. According to declassified documents, The U.S. provided material support to the military regime and the coup, although criticizing it publicly. The document released by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2000, titled “CIA Activities in Chile”, revealed that the CIA actively supported the military dictatorship after the overthrow of Allende and that it made a number of Pinochet’s officers into paid contacts of the CIA or U.S. military, even though some were involved in human rights abuses. Most infamously, the CIA maintained contacts among the Chilean intelligence service while its leaders led the multinational anti-communism campaign known as Operation Condor, resulting in assassinations of prominent politicians and activists on the left in various Latin American countries. American capitalist oppression of communist, albeit democratically elected, motives shine bright the fact is that the Pinochet regime was a proxy government for our own agenda. Despite our American praise for the democratic system, we cannot help but demonstrate the sharp imperial thorn in any democracy not capitalist; a nation not willing to trade, not willing to play our global game of poker with the livelihoods of its people and their resources.
That September 11, 38 years ago will not be forgotten, just as our ten-year anniversary will be remembered. In the September 8, 2011 broadcast of Democracy Now, Ariel Dorfman commented on the irony of the two nation’s tragedies, “Chile reacted to the terror that was inflicted upon us with nonviolent resistance. In other words, for instance, give you an example, we did not go and bomb Washington because Washington had ordered and helped to create the coup in Chile. On the contrary, we created a peaceful revolution against Pinochet. And if you contrast that to the United States, to what Bush did as a result of this very small band of terrorists, the results have been absolutely terrible. I mean, you know, if this was a test— and I think great catastrophes are always, tests of national values and national will—alas, the United States has failed that test terribly. If you look, I mean, at the results of September 11th, 2001, it has been just terrible what has happened.” How should we have acted in response to 9/11? How could we have done anything else besides what we did, given our present state, a state warring over resources, a player at the global table, lubricating our turning gears with foreign oil unsustainably? To choose another path would have been the fate for another dimension, an alternative history. Every aspect of our culture proves our fate is sealed. Even if we bleed, dry in the desert searching for our American dream. Our capital advances will not save us; we’ve been too busy assassinating leaders with our foreign policy we didn’t see our nation crumble.