Today, we remember the death of Salvador Allende.
In 1970, then-US President Richard Nixon wanted Allende stopped. Nixon gave instructions to the US CIA to consider an Allende-led government in Chile to be unacceptable. Nixon authorised $10 million to be used against Allende: to stop Allende from coming to power; or, failing that, to unseat him; via whatever means necessary.
In early September 1973, following Nixon’s instructions, the US CIA had succeeded in creating violent divisions between Allende and various opposition groups. Allende wished to resolve the political tensions in the country via a referendum on his policies, but he was never able to deliver the speech which called for such a referendum — because on 11 September 1973, the day that that speech was to be delivered, the Chilean military staged a coup d’état.
Allende was forced to instead deliver a farewell speech, with explosions audible in the background, via live radio from the Palacio de la Moneda — “Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society.”
Moments after the radio speech was delivered, the Palacio de la Moneda was overrun by soldiers loyal to Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet’s military junta was immediately recognised as the government by American diplomats, and the US CIA helped the junta close its fist around Chile.
Pinochet stayed in power for 17 years as the leader of a brutal dictatorship — one which killed between 1,200 3,200 people, interned up to 80,000 people, and tortured as many as 30,000, in its efforts to stamp out popular resistance to its rule.
As the junta was an ally of the USA, the crimes committed by Pinochet’s men against common Chileans never triggered an armed intervention by American troops.