A Selective Amnesia

Posted by in October's Magazine

This sort of excessive violence happens to other people and not to us, we have only known this form of destruction through movies and books and remote photographs…We have lost our innocence, the world will never be the same again.” Live newsreel testimony from 9/11/1973.

The anniversary of the other September 11th – a military coup in Chile on that date in 1973, staged by General Pinochet supported by President Nixon and his henchman Henry Kissinger, which overthrew the twice-elected government of Chile – was forgotten by most around the world as attention focused on the tenth anniversary of the twin towers bombing on the same date in 2001.



Thousands were tortured and died in the Estadio Chile, a recent report put the death toll at over 40,000 – out of the 130,000 arrests made during the coup. All three of the main protaganists escaped justice for their roles in the coup, though there is still time to indict Kissinger. The poet Pablo Neruda did not mince his words…

I Begin by Invoking Walt Whitman
Because I love my country
I claim you, essential brother,
old Walt Whitman with your gray hands,

so that, with your special help
line by line, we will tear out by the roots
this bloodthirsty President Nixon.

There can be no happy man on earth,
no one can work well on this planet
while that nose continues to breathe in Washington.

Asking the old bard to confer with me
I assume the duties of a poet
armed with a terrorist’s sonnet

because I must carry out with noregrets
this sentence, never before witnessed,
of shooting a criminal under siege,

who in spite of his many trips to the moon
has killed so many here on earth
that the paper flies up and the pen is unsheathed
to set down the name of this villain
who practices genocide from the White House.

Poem courtesy of the estate of Pablo Neruda

Nor indeed did the singer Victor Jara writing moments before his broken body was shredded by 34 bullets…

To see myself among
So many moments of infinity
In which silence and screams
Are the end of my song.

And the American ‘facilitators’?

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist…the issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” — Henry Kissinger

“Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty.” — Edward Korry, U.S. Ambassador to Chile

“Make the economy scream in Chile to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.” — Richard Nixon to CIA director Richard Helms on September 15, 1970.

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