Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11 – 1973

In recent days, and continuing through tomorrow, there have been numerous newspaper articles and radio & TV programs about the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. Since there is already so much in the media this week about the tenth anniversary of those attacks, I decided to write about events on 9/11 twenty-eight years earlier, in 1973.
As horrific as 9/11/01 was, and with respect for the victims’ families, I am writing about 9/11/73 partly to help us realize that we in this country are not the only ones to have been victims of terror.
Salvadore Allende (b. 1908) was elected president of the South American country of Chile in 1970. That was an attention-grabbing occurrence, for he was the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in the Americas.
Allende’s election was of grave concern to U.S. political leaders—and to the many U. S. companies (especially IT&T and the Anaconda and Kennecott Copper companies) with heavy investments in Chile.
The U.S. government, as well as the U.S. companies, spent millions of dollars trying to keep Allende from being elected. Having failed to prevent his election, they began to work for his overthrow. President Nixon reportedly told Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA, to do whatever was necessary “to get rid of” Allende.
Although it was denied for years, it became clear, especially after certain documents were declassified in 1998, that the CIA and U.S. companies were involved behind the scenes in the overthrow of the Allende government on 9/11/73 and that they directly supported the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006), who led the coup d’etat.
President Allende apparently died by suicide on that 9/11, choosing that means of death rather than the imprisonment, torture, and likely execution that would have occurred when his government was overthrown by military violence.

There were around 3,000 deaths caused by the terrorists on 9/11/01. The events in Chile on 9/11/73 began a period of terror for many Chileans (as well as for some North Americans and other foreigners living in Chile) that resulted in an even greater number of deaths there.
As late as 2000, a BBC newscast said, “According to an official report, more than 3,000 people were killed under General Pinochet’s regime and more than 1,000 are still unaccounted for.”
A few days ago (for at least the third time) I watched Missing, the 1982 movie starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. That sad movie is based on the true story of Charles Horman (1942-1973), an American journalist who was one of the victims of the 9/11/73 coup in Chile.
Not only were thousands of Chileans killed by the ruthless military junta and government led by Pinochet, at least three North Americans “disappeared” (were executed) as well. Horman was one of those, killed eight days after the coup, even though his death was not acknowledged until weeks later.
So, today and tomorrow as we once again grieve the death and destruction caused by the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, let us also remember the many Chilean, as well as some American, families who still grieve their loss because of the events of another 9/11.


  1. Well put, and thanks for the reminder of this terrible action from our own history. There's a very good book detailing a lot of America's needless and ruthless meddling in other countries during the 20th century. It's Jonathan Kwitny's "Endless Enemies: the Making of an Unfriendly World," published in 1984. The first printing got published with a lot of "damaging" information; the CIA had portions blacked out of later printings, so it's probably difficult to find an original without the blacked-out portions. I would guess there have been similar books since. If not, we're overdue.

  2. My husband and I are traveling to Chile and Easter Island in November, 2011. I find it increasingly difficult to travel internationally without apologizing to the world for our government's behavior. There was a brief period of time when I beamed with pride (November 2008 I was in Egypt) when we elected Barack Obama, but that faded quickly as our endless wars and obsession with our homeland security continued to drain our treasury (money and people). "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, we will know peace." Thanks for the post.

  3. I appreciate these comments by Thinking Friend Anton (of Kansas City) and Thinking Friend Marti (of Connecticut).

    I like the words, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, we will know peace," and I was surprised to find that they are attributed to Jimi Hendrix (1942-70).

  4. My esteemed Thinking Friend (b. 1931) in Kentucky wrote:

    "Thank you for remembering that incident, Leroy. It is one of the most shameful in American history. It's another instance in which we must express deep remorse and repent. But the repentance should mean, as the Hebrew "shuv," to turn from our evil ways. I wonder if we ever will, for most Americans don't know our country has done anything wrong."

  5. An USAmerican Thinking Friend who lives in Japan commented (by e-mail):

    "I wish more Americans were not so myopically focussed on the terrible suffering that took place on 9/1/2001, and had a greater awareness of the suffering that others have had to endure . . . often as a result of American political and corporate policies."

  6. Reviewing dates, antedates, and counter-dates can certainly be depressing. This leads toward more cynicism, and points to the polarity of viewed actions and resolutions. As the Scripture records: "There is none righteous, no, not one." Pretty inclusive. Including all political and religious, national and tribal groups. Most atrocities of history tend to be forgotten except by the descendants, where generational and millennial grudges are still held.

    And yet to the optimistic and hopeful it seems that most people and groups bring some good and balance.

    On the American side I recently made a list of who I consider to be our best and worst presidents (pretty evenly split Democrat and Republican on both lists), the names of which shocked my immediate family. Nixon made the middle of one list. Even the worst had significant good points and the best had significant bad points, and the one statesman I consider by far the best was never president (neither was he a Democrat or Republican).

    GOD save us all.