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.