Violence on Chile’s 9-11 commemoration

Clashes erupted in the Chilean capital of Santiago the night of Sept. 11 as protesters erected burning barricades and battled police with firearms and rocks on the anniversary Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 military coup. Authorities said two police officers were hospitalized with gunshot wounds, one of them in the chest. Local media reported at least one civilian was also shot. Protesters also threw chains at electrical lines, knocking out power to more than 120,000 homes. Police used water cannons and tear gas to quell protesters, and shots were heard at several points.

Earlier in the day, President Michelle Bachelet inaugurated the restored office suite where democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende reportedly committed suicide as the presidential palace was under attack in the military uprising of Sept. 11, 1973. (AP, Sept. 11)

On that same day, the National Security Archive in Washington published for the first time formerly secret transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s telephone conversations that set in motion the US effort to overthrow the newly-elected Allende government. “We will not let Chile go down the drain,” Kissinger told CIA director Richard Helms in one phone call. “I am with you,” the Sept. 12, 1970 transcript records Helms responding.

The telephone transcripts—known as “telcons”—include conversations between Kissinger and President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State William Rogers. Just eight days after Allende’s election, Kissinger informed the president that the State Department had recommended an approach to “see what we can work out” with the new Chilean government. Nixon responded by instructing Kissinger: “Don’t let them do it.”

After Nixon spoke with Rogers, Kissinger recorded a conversation in which the Secretary of State agreed “we ought, as you say, to cold-bloodedly decide what to do and then do it”—but warned it should be done “discreetly so that it doesn’t backfire.” Secretary Rogers predicted that “after all we have said about elections, if the first time a Communist wins the US tries to prevent the constitutional process from coming into play we will look very bad.” (Merocpress, Sept. 11)

See our last post on Chile.