Chile: Another 9/11
Donald Trump's approach to the crisis in Venezuela is reminiscent of the role of the U.S. played in the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.
“In an increasingly dangerous world ravaged by so many natural disasters and unspeakable tragedies of our own creation, the U.S. is about to arrive to another sorrowful anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. September 11, 2001 is a date forever seared in the nation’s memory, the day when the world watched in disbelief the steel and glass of the mighty twin towers come crashing down, taking with them the lives of nearly 3,000 New Yorkers.”
That was the lead paragraph of a column I wrote last year that was published in AL DÍA News on Sept. 7, 2017. The article was about the terrible evil that struck the U.S., but also the nightmare that engulfed the South American nation of Chile on the same day 28 years before.
Yes, Sept. 11 is a tragic date not only in the U.S. On that day, Chile also darkens at the memory of the death of President Salvador Allende and the coup d’état staged by Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1973 with Washington’s support.
On that day, Chileans remember with pain the way the chief of this country’s armed forces betrayed the democratically elected president of Popular Unity and his people, to whom Pinochet subjected to 17 years of terror, disappearances, torture and murder.
Last year, President Trump, with a few words filled with arrogance and ignorance brought back memories of not too distant military interventions, coup d’états and economic wars –all of which were inflicted on Chile to depose Allende—and revived the old fears and mistrust among U.S. neighbors to the south.
“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary,” Trump told a news conference at his golf club in New Jersey. A military option, he said was “certainly something that we could pursue.”
That was one of the rare instances in which Trump was not lying, as the New York Times revealed on Sept. 8. According to the Times, U.S. officials and Venezuelan officers disaffected to president Maduro had been holding secret meetings for several months.
“We denounce before the world the United States’ intervention plans and help to military conspirators against Venezuela,” said on Twitter Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s foreign minister, as a reaction to the Times’ piece.
Mari Carmen Aponte, who oversaw Latin American affairs during the Obama presidency, added that any such intervention “is going to land like a bomb” on the region.
It certainly will. After all, the long history of U.S. invasions, support of coups to install murderous dictators such as Pinochet, arming right-wing death squads that killed thousands of Central and South Americans, its criminal neglect of Puerto Rico and merciless economic embargoes make it impossible for any government of the region, even those eager to acquiesce to every order from Washington (and there are several) to go along with any such action without history condemning them as traitors.
Seventeen years after the tragic 9/11 of the U.S. and 45 years after Chile’s, 450 immigrant boys and girls are still separated from their parents. Plans are under way by president Trump and his minions to change the rules so children can be kept indefinitely imprisoned, a humanitarian crisis precipitated by Washington’s racist politics of cruelty. But this is only one of the Trump administration’s multitude of sins, which makes one wonder how much longer the U.S. will have to endure the bigotry, the greed and the ignorance of this man.
On this tragic date the message to Trump is clear and direct: Keep out of Venezuela and Latin America.