September 11 – Chile 1973, Chicago 2013: 40 Years of Neo-liberal Attacks on our Societies

Published on ZNet, by Kim Scips, September 11, 2013.

What do you think of when you hear the term “9-11”? A date. Does it remind you of the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, or the attack on the Pentagon, or the attack that was frustrated by passengers in Pennsylvania?

It reminds me of all of these things but, more importantly, it reminds me of the FIRST 9-11, September 11, 1973, when the US helped overthrow the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. This wasn’t the first time in the post-World War II period that the US Government had helped overthrow a democratically-elected government—the US had done that in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Brazil in 1964, plus had supported dictators in a number of countries in the Caribbean and Asia by that time—but it was the first one that many of us who came to political consciousness in the “1960s” experienced directly.

Salvador Allende was an experienced Chilean politician who worked to gain the presidency. He won in 1970 with a plurality, and according to the Chilean Constitution was put into power legally. He was no radical; politically, he could be described as a social democrat, someone who sought some form of “socialism” but wanted to achieve it through electoral politics.

Allende realized that Chile was being raped of its natural resources—most importantly, copper—by US multinational corporations such as Anaconda. These multinationals had invested something like $800,000 in Chile, yet had taken over $5 billion out—and climbing. Allende realized that he could not successfully address the development problems in Chile—the poverty, the lack of nutrition for children, the slums—without nationalizing the US facilities, and using the profits from the copper operations for the good of the Chilean people. When he nationalized the US investments, he put himself on a collision course with the US Empire.

President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger were personally involved in developing a strategy and providing resources to members of the Chilean military high command to help overthrow President Allende. [Also involved, unfortunately, was the leadership of the AFL-CIO, who were operating behind the backs of American workers and without their knowledge through an organization they had created for such purposes, AIFLD (American Institute for Free Labor Development).] Nixon and Kissinger did all they could to cut off development aid to Chile, both by the US government, but also by multilateral development institutes like the Interamerican Development Bank and the World Bank, while increasing aid and training to the Chilean military.

When the military attacked on September 11, 1973, it was very carefully planned and resolutely followed out. La Moneda, the Presidential Palace in Santiago, was bombed, shelled by artillery and then invaded by troops. President Allende was found dead, with a weapon by his side … //

… This brings us to Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel is on a “mission from god,” to destroy the Chicago Public Schools, and replace them with charter schools. Besides any ideological animosity to public education that might come from this graduate of one of the most expensive private colleges in the country, Sarah Lawrence—and his kids are in the private, and very expensive, University of Chicago Lab School—Emanuel wants to turn public education into a “for profit” venture. Key to doing this is to break the Chicago Teachers Union.

Now, Emanuel will complain about the high cost of a unionized work force—and they do get paid more than non-union teachers, for sure—but the real issue is power. Emanuel wants no one to challenge his plans, and certainly wants no one to have the power to stop them and tell the public that the Emperor is naked, which the CTU did in the 2012 teachers’ strike. He cares not for the students, the parents, the teachers, or Chicago: it’s his way or the highway. Ultimately, he has this delusion of becoming the President of the United States, and he’ll throw anyone necessary under the bus to get his shot.

I’m sure, in his private moments, he wishes he could use the Pinochet option.

Think I’m exaggerating? Guess who closed down much of the South Loop in May 2012, and mobilized over 3,000 police—including state troopers—to defend a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the greatest war-killing machine in the history? (Wait until you see the new movie, “Four Days in Chicago,” which can be found at”I didn’t get the Mayor’s last name, but it sure sounded like Pinochet.
(full text).

(Kim Scipes, Ph.D., is a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps, who now is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central in Westville, IN. He lives in Logan Square, Chicago. He focuses on the coup in Chile as a case study in his recent book, AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage? [Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010 hardback; 2011 paperback] His website).


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