In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!
– Pablo Neruda
It is July 26th. A good day for Latin American people. A day of revolutionary importance. The flag of the 26 July movement was a declaration by the revolutionaries of Cuba of the start the revolution, independence from the United States and opposition to the capitalist system.
Not so in Chile.
Corporate subversion in Chile
In 1970, Salvador Allende, the leader of popular unity, was elected president by the people of Chile. Before his inauguration the telecommunications giant, ITT, and US officials plotted to bring his government down.
This was because Allende promised to nationalise of large-scale industries (notably copper mining and banking).
A Chilean metalworker and socialist has sent me internal documents and memos detailing their intrigue from September till November 1970. I have seen reference to these documents on the Internet but have being unable to obtain them. So I have scanned them and make them available here.
These internal memos between directors of ITT and US government officials show the forces opposed to nationalisation of banking, telecommunications and copper industries in Chile.
It should not be forgotten that many Chilean people colluded with the US intervention. Only a small section of the Armed Forces respected the Constitution. The officer in charge of the army, General Rene Schneider was murdered because he refused to support a coup d’etat against a popularly elected government.
These memos were first published in Britain in 1972, a year prior to the coup by General Pinochet. Intellectuals were forewarned but nothing stopped the power of the CIA-backed armed forces of Chile.
These memos display an off-hand arrogance by North Americans to their Chilean cousins. The Cold War was in full swing.
After the coup, by 1980, Santiago was a city of fear. Armed men on bicycles were everywhere. Ordinary people suffered post-traumatic stress. Over 300,000 people had been killed or disappeared. Meanwhile the middle-class were caught up in the fitness craze of Jane Fonda jogging around the city. Australia’s Alan Bond and our own government officials had given assistance to the coup leaders.
Only Cuba has managed to reject both United States and Russian advances thus becoming the only lasting independent state in the Americas. But at a great cost.
Together with these documents, my Chilean friend sent me a copper impression of Pablo Neruda, the leading poet of Latin America. This copper image and the poem with it was made by a political prisoner in a jail in Santiago. The artist now lives in exile in Norway.
Before his Presidency was cut short in a rain of bullets on 9/11, 1973, Allende’s government achieved many reforms. He did his best to bring about equality between the sexes, a departure from the machismo so well known in the country.
′′ They don’t talk with women. She lives much worse than you, who leave work and stay on the street chatting; right away they go to a barcito, have a drink, watch TV. Instead, colleagues can’t stop at the corners; they have to go to the house, work quickly, worry about the kids, make the food and wait for you.
This is the truth.
There is a different moral, distinct from the capitalist regime that establishes a kind of ′′machismo”, by virtue of which man is believed to have more rights. And it doesn’t. It shouldn’t be like this.
So what is your obligation? Talk to your colleagues and explain to them, tell them that Chilean law establishes inequality between men and women, and that the popular government wants equality between them.
The capitalist regime allows equal work to pay men more than women. The woman is very limited and also weigh on her brutal prejudice.” – Salvador Allende, University of Chile Theatre Speech, March 3, 1972.
I list some of the forces arrayed against the Popular Unity government below. It is ironic that most of the forces in the right column tout themselves to be true democrats but at the moment of truth they were for the opposite, dictatorship.
|For Popular Unity||For dictatorship|
|Communist Party of Chile||President Frei (the Kerensky of Latin America)|
|Socialist Party of Chile||Mercurio newspapers|
|36% of the popular vote||Chilean military|
|Christian Democrat leader Tomic||US ambassador Korry|
|Chilean constitution||Henry Kissinger|
|Russia/Soviet Union||Retired Gen Viaux|
|Generals Rene Schneider (murdered)||ITT and copper companies|
|Cuba/Fidel Castro||US President Nixon|
|Mine workers||Truck drivers for the Copper mines|
|General Prat||The New York Times and United States media|
|International capital including the banks|
Costa-Gravas made a film called Missing starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek about US complicity in the coup. Someone should make one about the ITT executives involvement detailed in the memos below.
Chile Solidarity was active in Brisbane during the period of the dictatorship where many lives were lost and many were forced to seek refugee in countries like Australia. Their seeking refuge in Australia is recorded in Vuelo Lan Chile 1131 – Breve Historia de un Grupo de Immigrantes Chileno by Marcial Parada.
Marcial was an active organiser in that group for many years. I thank him for this difficult work. Marcial is collecting an archive of that organisation’s activities over the years so please contact Marcial if you have anything to contribute.
Thanks to Marcial Parada from Brisbane Chile Solidarity for your struggle and for sending me these documents.
26 July 2020
Subversion in Chile was first published by The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation for The Spokesman in 1972. Click on the link below to download the full archive of deceit and intrigue.