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Letter: The other 9-11

This Sept. 11 was also the 40th anniversary of what has been called “The Other 9-11,” another act of terror that began on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 1973, in Chile. I just returned from my sixth long-term visit to that beautiful South American country. I have promised my friends that I will never forget the “Other 9-11.”

On that date, the Chilean military, with the support the Nixon administration, overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende, a socialist considered a threat to U.S. corporate interests. Since the 1950s, the U.S. had poured millions into trying to prevent Allende’s election. When he was elected anyway, more was provided to “make the economy scream.” Then, the Chilean military, with U.S. support, staged a bloody coup.

The coup led to a military dictatorship that lasted 17 years. The leader of the military junta, General Augusto Pinochet, claimed he was fighting “terrorism” and “communism.” In addition to the thousands killed or “disappeared,” close to a million Chileans were exiled, including some of Chile’s best artists, musicians and academics. More than 100,000 were arrested and brutally tortured.

Apologizing for a wrong done is not a sign of weakness but rather of strength. The United States should formally apologize to Chile for our role in these horrors. Perhaps our president or secretary of state could visit the Chilean Embassy and tenure that apology.



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