[News] Poetic Justice for Pinochet
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Mon Dec 11 12:49:54 EST 2006
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December 11, 2006
Death of a Pig
Poetic Justice for Pinochet
By RON JACOBS
Look around--there's only one thing of danger for you here--poetry.
Pablo Neruda, during a search of his home and grounds after the
September 11, 1973 fascist coup in Chile
Let's get it straight. Augusto Pinochet ordered the deaths of perhaps
4000 people, if not more. He did this after violently overthrowing a
legally elected government in the sovereign nation of Chile. Of
course, he had a little help in this endeavor from Richard Nixon,
Henry Kissinger, Anaconda Copper, IT&T, and that always
friendly-to-dictators bureaucracy -- the Central Intelligence Agency.
That's another story, however, and one that would also be dealt with
if there were true justice on this planet.
One of the most moving times I ever heard Joan Baez sing was in
Washington, D.C. at a funeral procession for Orlando Letelier and
Ronnie Moffitt. These two individuals were killed by Pinochet's
secret police -- the DINA -- by a car bomb in the middle of the U.S.
capital city. As Joan sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," fascist
demonstrators threw dirt and insults at those of us who had gathered
to commemorate these two individuals and condemn the governments
responsible for the murder. Business as usual. The men directly
responsible for the car bomb were eventually arrested, tried and
jailed, (after years of intense pressure from several governments and
individuals), but their leaders weren't.
I was living in New York when the coup occurred. There were protests
downtown and the Weather Underground bombed IT&T's Latin American
Division offices in Manhattan. Pablo Neruda died of prostate cancer a
week or two after the coup. Funeral processions were banned but
thousands of Chileans defied the fascist government and marched in
memory of Neruda and against the fascist coup. Phil Ochs organized a
concert for the disappeared the following spring. We were pissed off
in the way that seemingly hopeless despair makes one. A genuine hope
for a humanistic future had been destroyed by the forces of evil
right in front of our eyes and most of our countrymen didn't give a
shit. Business as usual, you know. What can you do about it?
There's a place in Berkeley, CA. called La Pena Cultural Center. The
front of it is covered by a mural done by O'Brien Thiele, Osha
Neuman, Ray Patlan and Anna DeLeon. A panorama of the popular
struggles of the peoples of Latin America, the first thing about it
that catches your eye is the bas-relief sculpture of the Chilean folk
and protest singer Victor Jara. Jara was killed by the forces of
repression during the 1973 coup. The popular story goes is that first
the assassins cut of one hand and then the other before they killed
him. Like Woody Guthrie's guitar that killed fascists, Victor Jara's
songs threatened the living bejesus out of those Chileans carrying
the fascist mantle.
Augusto Pinochet escaped earthly justice, but I get the feeling he
isn't going to enjoy his afterlife. Him and Jeanne Kirkpatrick in one
week. Maybe there is a god. But, then again, if there is then why the
hell is Henry Kissinger still around giving his deadly advice?
Ron Jacobs is author of
Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is
just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is
featured in CounterPunch's new collection on music, art and sex,
in the Garden. He can be reached at:
<mailto:rjacobs3625 at charter.net>rjacobs3625 at charter.net
December 11, 2006
The Atrocities of Gen. Augusto Pinochet and the United States
The Condor Model
By ROGER BURBACH
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
Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire," His latest
Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice."
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