• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Condor Model

In Santiago on September 11, 1973 I watched as Chilean air force jets flew overhead. Moments later I heard explosions and saw fireballs of smoke fill the sky as the presidential palace went up in flames. Salvador Allende, the elected Socialist president of Chile died in the palace.

As an American the death of General Augusto Pinochet brings back many memories of the military coup and the role played by my government in the violent overthrow of Allende. From the moment of his election in September, 1970 the Nixon administration mounted a covert campaign against him. Henry Kissinger, then Nixon’s National Security adviser, declared: “I don’t see why we need to stand idly by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.” Weeks later the pro-constitutionalist head of the army, General Rene Schneider, was assassinated in a failed attempt to stop the inauguration of Allende.

For the next three years CIA-backed terrorist groups bombed and destroyed state railroads, power plants and key highway arteries to create chaos and stop the country from functioning. The goal was to “make the economy scream” as Nixon ordered. US corporations such as IT&T also participated in the efforts to destabilize the country.

In the midst of this struggle for control of Chile, Allende insisted, almost stubbornly, on maintaining the country’s democratic institutions. He enjoyed immense popular support from below, even in the waning days of his government when the economy was in shambles and virtually everyone believed a confrontation was imminent. I’ll never forget the last major demonstration on September 4, 1973, when the Alameda, the major avenue of downtown Santiago, was packed with tens of thousands of marchers, all intent on passing by the presidential palace where Allende stood on a balcony waving to the crowd. This was no government-orchestrated demonstration in which people were trucked in from the barrios and countryside. These people came out of a deep sense of commitment, a belief that this was their government and that they would defend it to the end.

In the aftermath of the coup over three thousand people perished, including two American friends of mine, Charles Horman and Frank Terrugi. The United States knowing of these atrocities, rushed to support the military regime, reopening the spigot of economic aid that had been closed under Allende. When the relatives of Horman and Terrugi made determined inquires about their disappearances and deaths, the US embassy and the State Department stonewalled along with the new military junta. Four weeks after the coup, I fled across the Andes, returning to the United States to do what I could to denounce the crimes of Pinochet and my government.

I returned to Chile for the 1988 plebiscite that finally forced Pinochet out of office after seventeen long and brutal years. But for eight more years his dark hand hung over Chile as he continued in his role as the commander in chief of the army. Finally as a result of years of hard work by the international human rights movement, Pinochet was detained in London in October 1998 for crimes against humanity. Five hundred days later he was sent back to Chile, allegedly for health reasons. There the Chilean courts lead by Judge Juan Guzman squared off with the general’s right wing supporters and the military, stripping him of his immunity from prosecution as “Senator-for-Life,” a position he bestowed on himself when he retired from the army.

As the proceedings against Pinochet advanced, new reports of US complicity in the coup and the repression began to surface, particularly about the role of Kissinger. The Chilean courts tried to compel Kissinger to testify, but they received no cooperation from the US Justice Department. French courts also issued orders for the interrogation of Kissinger, making him realize that he like Pinochet did not enjoy international impunity from prosecution. Small wonder that Kissinger wrote an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, decrying the use of the principle of ‘universal jurisdiction’ by courts to bring human rights violators to justice.

In Chile President Michele Bachelet whose father died in prison under Pinochet has refused to grant the ex-dictator a state funeral. Only military bands will play at his interment. Eduardo Contreras, a Chilean human rights lawyer, declared, “Pinochet should be buried as a common criminal,” adding, “The dictator died on December 10, the International Day of Human Rights. It is as if humanity chose this special moment to weigh in with its final judgment, declaring ‘enough’ for the dictator.”

The burial of Pinochet comes at a moment when the current Bush administration is being scrutinized for its atrocities and crimes against humanity that are even more appalling than those of the former Chilean dictator. It is another irony of history that Pinochet died on Donald Rumsfeld’s last full day as Secretary of Defense. Like Pinochet and Kissinger, Rumsfeld may very well spend the rest of his life trying to escape the grasp of domestic and international courts. Eleven Iraqi prisoners held in Abu Ghraib and a Saudi detained in Guantanamo are filing criminal charges in German courts against Rumsfeld and other US civilian and military officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. And on last Friday as Rumsfeld was making a farewell speech to his cohorts at the Pentagon, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a Washington D.C. federal court that Rumsfeld and three senior military officials should be held responsible for the torture of Iraqi and Afghani detainees.

The Pinochet affair has shaped a whole new generation of human rights activists and lawyers. They are determined to end the impunity of public officials, including that of the civilian and military leaders in the United States who engage in state terrorism and human rights abuses while violating international treaties like the Geneva Conventions.

ROGER BURBACH is director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He is co-author with Jim Tarbell of “Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire,” His latest book is: “The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice.

 

 

More articles by:

ROGER BURBACH is the director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Pinochet Affair.

Weekend Edition
May 29, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Nick Pemberton
White Supremacy is the Virus; Police are the Vector
T.J. Coles
What’s NATO Up to These Days? Provoking Russia, Draining Healthcare Budgets and Protecting Its Own from COVID
Benjamin Dangl
Bibles at the Barricades: How the Right Seized Power in Bolivia
Kevin Alexander Gray - Jeffrey St. Clair - JoAnn Wypijewski
There is No Peace: an Incitement to Justice
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Few Good Sadists
David Schultz
Trump isn’t the Pope and This Ain’t the Middle Ages
Joshua Frank
In Search of a Lost Socialism
Charles Pierson
Who are the “Wrong Hands” in Yemen?
Andrew Levine
Trump Is Unbeatable in the Race to the Bottom and So Is the GOP
Ramzy Baroud
Political Ambiguity or a Doomsday Weapon: Why Abbas Abandoned Oslo
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
A Growing Wave of Bankruptcies Threatens U.S. Recovery
Joseph Natoli
Conditions Close at Hand
N.D. Jayaprakash
No Lessons Learned From Bhopal: the Toxic Chemical Leak at LG Polymers India 
Ron Jacobs
The Odyssey of Elias Demetracopoulos
J.P. Linstroth
Arundhati Roy on Indian Migrant-Worker Oppression and India’s Fateful COVID Crisis
Melvin Goodman
Goodness Gracious, David Ignatius!!
Roger Harris
Blaming the COVID-19 Pandemic on Too Many Humans:  a Critique of Overpopulation Ideology
Sonali Kolhatkar
For America’s Wealthiest, the Pandemic is a Time to Profit
Prabir Purkayastha
U.S. Declares a Vaccine War on the World
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the Telecom Crisis
Paul Buhle
Why Does W.E.B. Du Bois Matter Today?
Mike Bader
The Only Way to Save Grizzlies: Connect Their Habitats
Dave Lindorff
Pandemic Crisis and Recession Can Spark a Fight for Real Change in the US
Nyla Ali Khan
The Sociopolitical and Historical Context That Shaped Kashmiri Women Like My Grandmother in the 1940s
Louis Proyect
Does Neo-Feudalism Define Our Current Epoch?
Ralph Nader
S. David Freeman: Seven Decades of Participating in Power for All of Us
Norman Solomon
Amy Klobuchar, Minneapolis Police and Her VP Quest
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuela in the 2020 Pandemic
Ron Mitchell
Defending Our Public Lands: One Man’s Legacy
Nomi Prins 
The Great Depression, Coronavirus Style: Crashes, Then and Now
Richard C. Gross
About That City on A Hill
Kathleen Wallace
An Oath for Hypocrites
Eve Ottenberg
Common Preservation or Extinction?
Graham Peebles
Air Pollution Mental Illness and Covid-19
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Unearned Income for All
Evan Jones
The Machine Stops
Nicky Reid
Proudhon v. Facebook: A Mutualist Solution to Cyber Tyranny
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What is a “Native” Plant in a Changing World?
Shailly Gupta Barnes
Why are Our Leaders Still Putting Their Faith in the Rich?
John Kendall Hawkins
In Search of the Chosŏn People of Lost Korea
Nick Licata
How Hydroxychloroquine Could Help Trump…Politically
Jill Richardson
Tens of Millions of Are Out of Work, Why on Earth is Trump Trying to Cut Food Aid?
Susan Block
Incel Terrorism
Mitchel Cohen
Masks and COVID-19: an Open Letter to Robert Kennedy Jr and Children’s Health Defense
May 28, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War on Arms Control and Disarmament
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail