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Chile's military coup anniversary exposes a divided country

Friday, September 12th 2014 - 06:40 UTC
Full article 29 comments

“In Chile there's no room, and there can be no room, for violence or fear,” President Michelle Bachelet said Thursday at a ceremony commemorating the 41st anniversary of the 1973 military coup and several days after a bomb blast injured 14 people in this capital. The 17-year military dictatorship remains controversial and a rift in Chilean society. Read full article


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  • Chicureo

    Everyone has their own distinctive experience from 1973 and I have my own.

    Chile experienced a civil war. People died on both sides. Yes, almost everyone regrets the tragedy.

    Fidel Castro spent an entire month in Chile. Productive farms were being confiscated and broken up into tiny land holdings for the pheasants, which changed my country from an agricultural net exporter into a country dependent on donations from “our new socialist friends” in the Soviet block. We lived the nightmare of waiting hours in line for the grocery cooperative to open, not knowing what was being offered for that days sale. (Not very different from what's happening in Venezuela today) Toilet paper was really a luxury item, but worse was Russian frozen fish, Polish ham in bulging tins, rancid cooking oil and currency that was basically worthless as there was nothing worthwhile to purchase.

    Just like Hugo Chavez, Allende was a democratically elected Socialist/Marxist/Communist, who formed the UP coalition, looking to radically transform our country into what we currently see in Venezuela. In our case, key segments of our society revolted, including the truck drivers who effectively shut down the country.

    Military officers were constantly insulted on the streets of Santiago, including women throwing chicken feed at their boots. There were nights that these same women would bang their pots and pans in protest as their rice or flour rations were scarce to be bought at any price. The Junta was cheered by the rich, middle and many of the poor classes on the 11th of September 1973.

    Perhaps the grandest insult of all is that we have had since 1990 a strong democracy, dominated by the left during the majority of those years and yet the left continues to protest with Molotov cocktails, burning buses, destroying schools and harming innocent people in the name of social justice...

    I'm very proud of my nationality, but there are days that I feel really frustrated.

    ¡Viva Chile!

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 11:51 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • 313toBioBio

    In Panama and Venezuela there were presidents willing to call out Maduro for his crimes against humanity. Then there were changes of presidents and now it's silence and approval....A reestablishment of ties fom Varela and nothing much from Bachelet. Maybe if people here spent a little less time laughing and making fun of Argentines and Cristina, they could have saved Chile from the same fate. But no, now there's an administration that ideologically approves of what's going on next door. The violations of personal and monetary liberty....The genocide done on rural populations for the Kirchner's soy profit. Socialism. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results.

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 02:26 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    #2 BioBio


    Sep 12th, 2014 - 02:37 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • 313toBioBio

    My first sentence should have began In Panama and Chile.

    It appeared that everywhere in the world knew 21st century socialism was the road to ruin...I guess not. Hugo Chavez called himself Hijo de Allende. That means that Allende still kills today. Believe what you want about Allende and Pinochet...This regime known as Cristina has nothing to do with “Cristo” and wasn't sent to make our lives easier. The Argentine contagion question is something for 2012. Chilean capitalism wanted us to ignore it and keep spending and getting into debt. Chilean socialism now asks everyone to accept Kirchnerismo as fair and progressive for democracy and inclusive societies.

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 03:25 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    I had assumed you were referring to the late Ramón José Velásquez. He also spoke out against Chavez before his death.
    Leftist governments get a free pass on human rights violations.

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 04:07 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ElaineB

    @1 That is an interesting post. I was speaking with a Chilean in Italy this last week and she was telling me of her experiences under Allende. She was one of the poor that Allende's paradise was supposed to help and she remembers being hungry and desperate. No flour, no food, three days of queuing for anything. The communists came, looked and decided they were not interested and left. She remembers 'terrible, terrible times'.

    “the left continues to protest with Molotov cocktails, burning buses, destroying schools and harming innocent people in the name of social justice…” But are they really representative of the left? Are they not just malcontents and misfits claiming to operate in the name of the left? They exist in any society - particularly democratic societies where they can express themselves; until they break the law.

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 05:57 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman

    @1 Chicureo

    “Chile experienced a civil war. People died on both sides”.

    How many poeple were killed by socialists/comunists in CHile by those days. I know how many were killed by the “democratic” Gral Augusto Pinochet.....

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 06:45 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    In the 1960's the true poverty level in Chile was well above 60%, and the misery level for the peasants was at least 20%. We were a country that needed social reforms and certainly Communism seemed the solution for many, including some of the idealists of the upper classes.
    In the beginning when Allende took power, the poor celebrated, but by late 1971 the shortages became a serious problem. Large productive farms were confiscated and divided into small plots for grazing and family gardens. The farmers that were able to hang on to their land stopped planting as the cost of production exceeded the controlled market price. (What's currently happening in Venezuela) International investment disappeared and domestically produced goods became very scarce. My family began plans to send me abroad with my siblings “for studies” as there seemed no future in Chile. ( I did actually attend an American university AFTER the overthrow, but that's another story)
    When we had money, we'd sometimes cross the Andes over to the paradise of Argentina. You could buy soap, decent clothes, car parts, and they had everything in the supermarkets... I remember really admiring the Ford Falcons which were considered a luxury car.
    By 1973, there was anger in the streets and mobs of angry women would parade down the streets banking on pots and pans. Lines in front of the supermercados were ridiculous. Rumors started going around about plan “Zeta”
    The workers, including the independent truck drivers, were furious. Corruption was widespread and the church was very concerned about forced new government obligatory curriculum being forced upon Catholic schools.
    I was attending a private British school and remember when my professor was deported for speaking openly how Communism was evil.

    It was just like Orwell's “Animal Farm”

    I regret the violence, but clearly Pinochet saved us from both the communists and later our brotherly Argentines that were planning war against us.

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 06:56 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ElaineB

    @8 I have heard stories from wealthy landowners to the very poor and it is hard to find anyone that remembers the Allende years with any affection. He was an idealist but the reality was grim.

    If you think about it, the reason Pinochet stayed in power for so long was the memory of the Allende years. People wanted change but feared going back to the communist years because of the hardships. I am not suggesting that it was easy moving to a free market economy. People suffered for the future prosperity and stability of Chile. It is too simplistic to look at that era of Chile as black or white. No one would chose to live under a dictator like Pinochet now but worse would be communism.

    There will always be troublemakers in a free society. It is a price we pay but is ultimately better than the alternative.

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 07:57 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • aussiesunshinee

    *8 yeah!! Bloody latin America always in a bloody mess!! if it is Allende and if it is not Allende is Pinochet and if it is not Pinochet it is Castro and if it is not Castro it is Chavez and if it is not Chavez it is..............................shame really!!

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 08:10 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Englander

    Freedom for Catalonia. It's only a matter of time, tic toc.

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 08:44 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • aussiesunshinee

    *11 keep on dreaming !!

    Sep 12th, 2014 - 09:12 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    #7 pgerman
    From 1973 to date, terrorists have directly killed over 642 persons in Chile.
    Somewhere over 3,000 revolutionaries, social agitators and terrorists died as well. Obviously, many did not deserve their fate and human rights were violated.

    The higher numbers reported by some organizations are fabricated.

    Sep 13th, 2014 - 12:31 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Bisley

    Aside from the violent tactics he used (which were probably the only way to accomplish anything under the circumstances), General Pinochet put Chile on the path to prosperity and liberty. The present socialist regime is undoing the good that was done at a very high cost, and moving the country in a direction that will ultimately result in poverty and tyranny.

    Sep 13th, 2014 - 01:53 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Heisenbergcontext

    @14 Bisley

    ”...( which were probably the only way to accomplish anything under the circumstances )...“

    The current Presidents father, Alberto Bachelet Martinez, a Brigadier General of the Air Force, was tortured for months by the Pinochet regime. His 'crime'? Protecting the constitution of the nation and honouring the oath he had sworn. He wrote a letter to his son whilst recovering in hospital.

    . To quote: ”I broke inside, at one point I burst morally - never knew hate anyone, I always thought the human being is the most marvelous of this creation and should be respected as such, but I found comrades FACH [ Air War Academy ] I've known for twenty years, my students, who treated me like a criminal or a dog“.

    He was 50 years old when he died. I fail to see what torturing this man, his 23 year old daughter and wife ”accomplished”.

    Allende went too far and paid the consequences. Pinochet also went too far and when innocent people are tortured...we are all diminished IMHO.

    Sep 13th, 2014 - 05:47 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ElaineB

    I am not suggesting Pinochet's methods were acceptable or just. I am suggesting that Allende has passed into folk law as some kind of hero by some Chileans looking for justification for their troublemaking. He wasn't. And life under Allende was so bad for the majority - particularly the poor - that Pinochet was able to assume power for so long.

    The pendulum swung too far left, too far right, and now has settled at just either side of centre. This is why Chile now prospers. That elements of the far left and right still exists is the result of a free society where people are allowed to hold views that may or may not support the current government. As long as they stay within the law, that is fine.

    Sep 13th, 2014 - 08:52 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    My thoughts exactly ElaineB.

    Sep 13th, 2014 - 12:50 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Hepatia If, as you say, Allende was so universally unpopular then it is evident that he would have been thrown out at the next election.

    In order to understand your justification of the thugs who overturned the Chilean Constitution I think you should expand upon your argument. How many people should be illegally interred in order for you to be able to excise your right to attend a private British school? How many people is it necessary to torture to send you to a US university? And how many people must be murdered so that you may wipe your ass in comfort?

    Sep 14th, 2014 - 02:35 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    #18 Hepatia

    Slightly over 3,000 by my estimate. Sadly you seemed to have missed the list... that what you want to respond with? Well, I won't because I did not commit any crimes against humanity, nor do I condone those who do...that includes the Marxist-Socialist terrorists that have directly killed over 642 persons in Chile since 1973.

    You'd be surprised how many however would become violent over a roll of toilet paper...

    Sep 14th, 2014 - 03:02 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    I am glad you responded in such a mature and considered manner to that idiotic troll. It shows that your are far more intelligent and sophisticated than some one who is blatantly trying to annoy you.
    Hepatia/British Bomber is finally becoming more eloquent in order to argue her points after being denigrated for so long.
    Is making a return?

    Sep 14th, 2014 - 04:32 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    #20 thank you

    #18 Allende, Fidel Castro, “Che” and many other enlightened revolutionaries all attended elite private schools. I'm certain they had far better marks than my own.

    They ALL used their respective countries constitutions to wipe their arse with and they had no qualms with brutally killing those who opposed them. So what's your pathetic point?

    Sep 14th, 2014 - 10:18 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Heisenbergcontext

    Allende's final act in life was to blow his head off with an AK47 bestowed upon him by Fidel Castro. I wonder if he was aware of the irony. I bet it gave Fidel a few anxious moments too.

    Sep 14th, 2014 - 11:02 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Sergio Vega

    Chicureo, BioBio, Ealine, Bilsey......Agreed 100% with you....
    Allende was far of an hero.....he was more an evil for his countrymates....
    The 3 years UP coalition ruled the country were the worst thing that ever you can wishes for your worst enemy and even worst if it´s posible....violence from Gvt. agents and unofficial Gvt. agents (guerrilleros like MIR, FPMR, VOP and others), desorder in all levels in education, economic, health, justice, labour, etc. leading to a deep social unrrest.....Money was too much into the pockets but nothing to buy with it and inflation reached 1.000% (ONE THOUSEND).....The corruption reached the highest level you can tinkh the black market was fed by the same Gvt. officer on charge of the warhouses.....a booklet with the permited ration depending on the family size were demanded to buy the few things you can find....
    The family behaviour was broken up today, because there weren´t neutrals into the Chilean society....or one side or the other, the opposition newspapers were cut of paper for their press, the factories and farms were expropiated using legal openings and ruled by fraudulent interveners and the workers armed with weapons provided from Cuba (Carrizal incident is a good example)....The Armed Forces were infiltrated by agitators and some traitors (as Bachelet and others) were trying to degrade its discipline and commitment with the homeland......But, as a civil requirement, the military took action and stopped the disaster and assumed the task to recover the country in all aspect of the broken society, economy and legality before they return the command to the political class through a detailed schedule wihich ended with a democratic election .....
    What it was showed to the world by the leftist about the facts ocurred in Chile from before 1970 and on was the biggest lie you can imagine.....
    Anyone that behaved correctly during the 17 years of “dictatorship” suffered any abuse or human right loss.....

    Sep 15th, 2014 - 01:38 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    Well done Sergio! ¡Muchos saludos!
    I raise a cup of wine to your post! Have a nice 18th and 19th...
    ¡Viva Chile!

    Sep 15th, 2014 - 03:17 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Heisenbergcontext


    Sergio: A history teacher once pointed out to me that had Robespierre not unleashed the Terror on post-revolutionary France things might have been even worse for the nation. I was forced to concede that he might be correct.

    I'm willing to make all kinds of concessions for what occurs when conditions become as bad as they were for Chile in '73, but I draw the line at torture. I've never heard a convincing justification for it and I will go to my grave decrying it's use.

    Sep 15th, 2014 - 06:07 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    #25 Heisenbergcontext

    Fair comment and I respect you for your feelings, but what do you think the poor innocent Venezuelan woman's opinion is after recently had the misfortune of part of her hand being blown off by a terrorist bomb in a Metro station in Santiago?

    Do you think that the investigations police (PDI) empowered by the president with special terrorist act provisions, won't use “enhanced interrogation” on any terrorists they apprehend?

    Say that, I also note that many atrocities were committed during the military government and it saddens me greatly. As I originally noted, in my opinion, chile experienced a civil war.

    Sep 15th, 2014 - 06:58 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Hepatia The two are not equivalent. The Junta were foreign to Chile who overthrew the constitutional government. The “terrorist” were a resistance movement who were Chilean patriots. It was the duty of ever Chilean to resit the Junta.

    Sep 16th, 2014 - 03:17 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Heisenbergcontext

    @26 Chicureo

    I don't want to appear 'holier than thou'. I hope the terrorist(s) who committed this crime are caught and punished to the full extent of the law. If I were the woman you speak of I expect I would be enraged. I would hope, though, that I would eventually get beyond that - if only for myself. Gill Hicks, an Australian woman who lost both her legs in the 7/7 London bombings forgave the bombers who did this to her. It was a long process, but she did it for herself - not for the bombers. I find her story inspiring.

    I simply don't believe it's ok to torture human beings, regardless of their sins. It's often counter productive in any case - people will say anything if they believe it might stop the treatment. I would. It's also a guaranteed way of losing the moral high ground. I sure you remember the aftermath of the Abu Graib revelations.

    I've seen FBI interrogators interviewers talking about how they would've conducted the Gauntanamo Bay sessions. You don't need coercion if you know what you're doing, and these guys do. If indeed the PDI resort to using 'enhanced interrogation' techniques I won't waste my time feeling sorry for the criminals - they would've had to be aware that might well be consequences of their actions. Torture has consequences too though, which is why we are still discussing events that occurred over four decades ago. It leaves a stench.

    Sep 16th, 2014 - 03:35 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Philippe

    Indeed, what ought to be remembered is the liquidation of Chile's red government
    on that unforgettable date.


    Sep 21st, 2014 - 07:05 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

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