The Rebel Press Independent Media Network

40 Years After The U.S. Sponsored Coup In Chile: A Survivor's Testimony

40 years ago, on Tuesday September 11th, President Salvador Allende was to address the Chilean people of a proposed referendum. Gridlock had consumed the Chilean Congress as the reactionary National Party blocked all efforts by the Popular Unity government, a historic coalition of center-left parties that for the first time gave voice to factory workers, students, humanists, and peasants. 1971 saw tremendous economic resilience as workers headed the call to lift Chile on a peaceful road to socialism.

Allende had assumed the presidency in November of 1970. His Popular Unity government was sabotaged from the outset. It would later be uncovered, during a U.S. Senate investigation in 1975, that the Nixon administration had conspired with right-wing politicians and seditious elements of the Chilean Armed Forces to destabilize and eventually depose the Popular Unity government.

What followed were 17 years of dictatorship: the Congress was shut down along with the free press; dead bodies turned up on the streets and thousands upon thousands went missing. Terror reigned. Over 37,000 Chileans were tortured; over 3,000 remain disappeared. An estimated 100,000 were forced into exile for decades. Among the first casualties of the violent coup d'├ętat were Salvador Allende, Victor Jara, and Pablo Neruda.

On this occasion, a then university student, member of Popular Unity movement, and supporter of President Salvador Allende, speaks about the aftermath of the coup d'├ętat in his country, in Chile. Consider: What does it mean to understand the fragility of civilian government and representative democracy?