On the 47th anniversary of the coup d’état in Chile

September 11 marks the 47th anniversary of the US imperialist coup d’état organized in Chile. To this day, relatives of the victims are fighting to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

March in Santiago, September 2017, commemorates 44th anniversary of the coup in Chile.

By Dougal MacDonald

September 11 marks the 47th anniversary of the U.S. imperialist coup d’état organized in Chile in which the Pinochet regime murdered, tortured, and imprisoned thousands of people. On this occasion, let us remembers the victims of the Pinochet regime and Operation Condor[1] that extended these crimes to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. To this day, relatives of the victims are fighting to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

Today, as the U.S. state cites adherence to “American values” as the criteria to decide who are enemies of the state, it is proper to recall that the crimes committed in Chile and throughout Latin America were against those identified as “enemies of western Christian civilization.” Their “crime” was their political beliefs, affiliations or activism.

In 1973, with Santiago’s stadium converted into a holding pen, people were rounded up and massacred. At the Moneda presidential palace the constitutional President Salvador Allende was murdered. These crimes extended throughout the years of Pinochet’s rule and far beyond Chile’s borders even to Washington, DC itself. The military junta led by army general Augusto Pinochet, with the full support of the U.S., ran Chile officially and “unofficially” for the next 25 years.

Clearly exposing the U.S. role in the Chilean coup, an October 1970 cable to CIA operatives in Chile from Henry Kissinger’s “Track Two” group states: “It is firm and continuing policy that [the democratically elected government of] Allende be overthrown by a coup…. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [United States Government] and American hands be well hidden.”

In 2007, it was revealed that millions of dollars that Pinochet stole from the Chilean people had been held in a secret account in the Bush-connected Riggs Bank in Washington, DC since 1994, with full knowledge of U.S. banking officials.

No U.S. President or other official has ever apologized for U.S. backing of Pinochet’s crimes and U.S. involvement in the 1973 coup.

Display in Santiago Museum memorializes the victims of the Pinochet coup in Chile.

Prior to the coup in Chile, the U.S. already had a long and bloody history of organizing and backing violent coups d’état in Latin America, for example, Guatemala, Brazil, Nicaragua, Grenada and Panama to name only a few. The 1823 Monroe Doctrine served notice that the U.S. claimed Latin America for itself. Almost immediately, the U.S. grabbed one-third of Mexico through military force. Since the 1890s, when it achieved regional supremacy over Spain and Britain, the U.S. has forcibly intervened in Latin America over fifty times.

Often overlooked is the fact that the coup was prepared and carried out under the logistical direction of the offshore and onshore presence of American naval units and the annual U.S. naval exercise called UNITAS, which means “unity” in Latin – the largest U.S. directed multi-national naval exercise in the Western Hemisphere. The Chilean navy formed the vanguard and strike force of the military blitzkrieg of the fascist putsch. Naval infantry began to occupy the Pacific coastal city of Valparaíso (Valley of Paradise) on the night of the tenth of September, as the first phase of Chile’s occupation by air, land, and sea. The United States initiated the UNITAS naval maneouvres in 1959, precisely on the eve of the anti-imperialist revolution of the Cuban people, as an annual exercise with selected South American navies, along with forming the Conferences of Naval Chiefs of the Americas, to extend its “inter-American defence system” under the Organization of American States (OAS). It came to form a principal means to integrate the naval forces under U.S. Command and its policies and means of operation. The junta that deposed Salvador Allende boasted six graduates of the US School of the Americas (SOA), imbued with the American spirit and interest.

A significant role in these interventions, including in Operation Condor, has been played by the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation which was founded in 1972 by Guatemalan death squad leader Mario Alarcon as the Latin American branch of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), co-founded in Taiwan in 1966 by the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations comprised of Nazi war criminals with the backing of the United States.

The role of Kissinger, the CIA and U.S. multinationals such as ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph) are well known but US-owned Canadian mining corporations such as Falconbridge played an active role in destabilizing Chile which had nationalized all large scale mines in 1971. Chile was the world’s largest copper producer and exporter.

The Pierre Trudeau government which had already levelled the War Measures Act in 1970 against the Canadian people, was hostile to Salvador Allende’s elected government and Trudeau swiftly washed his hands of Allende, quickly recognizing the dictatorship of Pinochet on September 29, 1973, four days after the U.S. recognition on September 25. Ambassador Andrew Ross’s sympathetic attitude toward the generals was revealed in classified telexes called the military killings “abhorrent but understandable.”[2] Many Canadians denounced the Trudeau’s pro-fascist policy and some occupied various Chilean and Canadian government offices in protest. It refused Chilean refugees for four months, then adopted a policy of “ideological screening” in which scores of refugees were criminalized for “extremist leanings”; this practice formed the basis of developing the Canadian refugee policy. Investment by Canadian banks and business relations with Chile grew substantially after the coup. Under the Pinochet dictatorship, Canadian investment in the mining sector averaged about 25 per cent. By 2015, Canada had $15 billion worth of investments in Chile and was the third largest investor in Chile after the U.S. and Spain.

Forty-seven years after the coup in Chile, the U.S. continues to organize and back violent coups d’état as it did in Honduras in 2009. The U.S. continues to form aggressive alliances, build military bases in client states like Colombia, treat the surrounding bodies of water like American lakes, and carry out subversive actions against those democratically elected Latin American governments such as Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia that exercise the right to choose their own political system, free of U.S. interference. Two major channels for this subversion are the millions of dollars channelled to U.S.-supported political groups in Latin American countries through USAID and the so-called U.S. “National Endowment for Democracy” (NED). The secret “Dirty Wars” that the U.S. previously conducted in the Southern Cone and Central America in collusion with local military forces have now become open.

La Esmeralda

In 1976, when the U.S. Congress tried to reduce aid to his junta, President Ford approved a $9.2 million arms sale to the Chilean air force. In gratitude, Chile sent the La Esmeralda – a so-called “tall ship” used by the navy for burnings, electric shock treatments and sexual assaults during the coup – to the U.S. bicentennial celebration that summer. The Esmeralda subsequently visited the Port of Halifax on at least three other occasions in 1984 and 2000 as part of its visits to U.S. ports – also in gratitude – and in 2017 the Justin Trudeau government as part of Confederation 150 hosted its “visit” to Halifax along with the lethal aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower strike group. The Canadian Forces routinely participate in sabre-rattling U.S. naval exercises under the pretext of “inter-hemispheric solidarity” such as UNITAS, Op Caribe, Fairwinds and Panamax in South America and the Caribbean Sea which menace any government pursuing a course that Washington deems hostile.

Of growing concern is the pernicious role that the Trudeau government is giving itself in the name of promoting “democracy, prosperity and security” in the hemisphere. As the countries of the Americas work to defend their sovereignty and establish alternatives to an economic model which devastates them, the Trudeau government is praising the so-called Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), infamous for perpetrating U.S. coups d’état and the dirty wars of the sixties, seventies and eighties.

Today the Justin Trudeau government is also playing a leading role in the so-called Lima group, a coalition of countries created in 2017 to support the bid to overthrow the Venezuelan government. In February 2020, Trudeau hosted a Lima Group meeting where the intent to remove the Maduro government by force if necessary was made clear. The government has implemented four rounds of murderous sanctions against Venezuelan officials, shuttered its Embassy in Caracas, funded opposition groups and decided a marginal opposition politician was the legitimate president.

Trudeau’s pronouncements about so-called democracy in Latin America cast aspersions on Venezuela and other countries which are defending their right to follow their own paths to development. This reveals the agenda of the Trudeau government to carry on interfering in the internal affairs of the countries of Latin America and paints a grim portrait of what “advances of democracy” the Trudeau government has in mind for the Americas.

Needless to say, the peoples of the Americas are not passive, waiting for the kind of democracy the Trudeau government advocates. Their struggle for freedom is written in their blood and nothing confirms this more than the struggle for justice for the crimes committed by the U.S.-installed Pinochet dictatorship and the dirty wars which still carry on in the name of free trade, democracy, the war on drugs, etc.

On this occasion, we once again express our deepest sympathies to the heroic Chilean people and to the families and friends of all those killed and disappeared in the infamous coup and subsequent regime. Families and friends continue to look for the disappeared and to demand justice for what happened to them. Incredibly, political prisoners continue to linger in jail while virtually none of those responsible for human rights violations have been prosecuted for their crimes. Pinochet himself, protected by the imperialists, eluded justice and died without conviction.

Hail the resolute struggle of the Chilean people to achieve justice for the crimes committed by the Pinochet regime and its U.S. patrons. The September 11, 1973 U.S.-backed coup d’état in Chile, an act of state terrorism, exposed the true character of U.S. imperialism and will never be forgotten by the people of the world.


1. Operation Condor was a campaign of political assassination and repression officially created in 1975 in Santiago, Chile by the ruling circles of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil to eradicate socialist and communist influence and ideas and to eliminate opposition movements against the participating governments. The U.S. first proposed the plan for Condor in 1968, calling for “the coordinated employment of internal security forces within and among Latin American countries.” Condor was responsible for a minimum of 60,000 deaths, 30,000 “desaparecidos,” and 400,000 incarcerated.

2. Previous to joining External Affairs this “ambassador” was employed by the Canadian Intelligence Service, a John Birch style clique based in Flesherton, Ontario and part of the WACL.

From a Facebook post by Dougal MacDonald, expanded by Tony Seed


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Filed under Americas, Canada, History, South America

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