Last Monday was the 22nd anniversary of what the world has come to know as 9/11. It was on September 11th, 2001, that four large passenger planes crashed into three sites in New York, and the fourth in Pennsylvania. Two of the planes crashed into the two World Trade Centre buildings in Manhattan, the heart of the American financial capital. In real time, the world was able to watch the smoking towers, each over 100 stories high, collapse straight down, sending debris and dust miles across New York city, wreaking more destruction as the plume moved along the narrow streets. It was impressive and frightening.
The American power structure kicked into gear. Within a few hours they knew who were the perpetrators and their base of operation was located. The name of the organization was Al Qaeda, which was led by Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian who had vowed to get back at the US following the 1992 invasion of Iraq. Bin Laden had set up camp in Afghanistan.
The table was set for US president George W, Bush to declare war on terror and terrorists wherever they were. Less than a month later, they bombed Afghanistan, two years later they invaded Iraq, and nine years later they bombed Libya. All in the name of fighting terrorists.
Every year on September 11th, the US mourns the loss of over 3,000 of its citizens.
Last Monday, September 11th, was the 50th anniversary of a devastating military coup in Chile which gave way to one of the most brutal dictatorships in Latin American history.
On September 11, 1973, the democratically elected government of Chile led by President Salvador Allende, was overthrown by the Chilean military, led by General Augusto Pinochet. The General went on to lead a 17-year dictatorship and launched a killing spree – more than 3,000 were killed, 40,000 tortured, thousands disappeared, and hundreds forced into exile. The deposed Allende was either killed or committed suicide. The US government whipped up and underpinned the coup that paved the way for these atrocities.
The 1973 coup in Chile was on the drawing board of President Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger since 1970 when Salvador Allende was elected president on September 8, 1970.
Just like the present day sanctions the US on governments the it doesn’t like, in 1970, President Richard Nixon ordered Henry Kissinger to “make the economy scream” in Chile to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him”.
In 1976, Kissinger visited General Pinochet at the height of his brutal rule to reaffirm the US support for the bloodthirsty General.
The Chilean coup followed the US engineered overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, the US invasion of the Duncan Republic, and numerous attempts to assassinate Cuba’s Fidel Castro. All this of course are in official US documents released to the public.
The juxtaposition of the two 9/11s is not meant to diminish the pain of America’s suffered on that fatal day; they are still suffering the pain. It is also important to mention that a number of Canadians lost friends and family members in the tragedy. So this was a human tragedy.
What the juxtaposition is intended to do is to help America see that the effect of its actions in Chile in 1973 caused as much pain to Chileans as Al Qaeda caused to Americans on 9/11.
The hope is that the moment of reflection demanded of the US on this 9/11 anniversary includes a reevaluation of the way it treats other nations, and to realize that it is not immune to deadly responses.