September 11 1973 and 2001, we should remember both and say never again.

I am old enough to remember September 11, 1973 and young enough that the terrible coup in Chile had a lasting effect on my life despite the fact that I was far away in Vancouver at the time.  Hundreds murdered that day and thousands over all , killed, tortured, exiled and disappeared. 

Of course I also remember September 11, 2001. I watched it live on TV in the rabble office, hardly believing my eyes and dreading not only the terrible toll of lives on that day but what I feared would be the price that the people of the Middle East would pay for that single act of terror.

Both events should be remembered and never repeated.  US backed coups were fairly common place in Latin America in the 70's and 80's but Chile had a particular impact.  Salvador Allende attempted to achieve socialism peacefully without armed struggle.  As you can see from the photo below, it was a popular revolution based on the mobilization of the people, not unlike the revolutions in Bolivia and Venezuela today.  But Pinochet's coup was particularly brutal.  Allende himself was shot in the palace and an entire generation of activists was slaughtered or exiled.The lesson drawn by much of the Left in Latin America was that peaceful revolution was not possible. It took almost until the  21st Century for a new generation of peaceful revolutionaries to emerge on the continent.  On top of that Pinochet's Chile became a laboratory for the neo-liberalism that has now been imposed on the entire globe. For a moving and profound look at this history check out Patricio Guzman's  Chile An Obstinate Memory

The impact of September 11, 2001 was just as devastating.   In addition to the terrible mass slaughter of the act of terror itself, there was the devastating wars in Afganistan and Iraq with many more thousands of civilian deaths in payment for those killed in New York. The "war on terror" institutionalized discrimination against Muslims,  marginalized the just emerging youthful anti-globalization movement and increased police repression against any radical direct action. violent or not.   Perhaps most disturbing the "war on terror" made villains into heros giving imperialist powers like the United States, Sri Lanka and Israel a framework that painted them as the victims and the nationalist resistance to their occupations,  especially if it resorted to violence, as the aggressors. 

We are just beginning to emerge from the terrible period of history partly defined by these events.  Most of the Left in Latin America is once again seeking  a peaceful road to change and is having considerable success in challenging neo-liberalism and setting up a counter power to the domination of the United States.  Nevertheless the coup in Honduras bodes ill of what could come in the future should the solidarity that has been built across Latin American governments in defence of democracy fracture or break. 

Barack Obama's election gives us a faint hope at least that we are emerging from the war on terror.  Certainly his talk is different, it remains to be seen how different is his walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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