September 11 is now engraved on the consciousness of Americans. Yet for the South American country of Chile, the date has a different and much more tragic significance. It was on that day in 1973 that the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown in a CIA-backed military coup. Augusto Pinochet seized power. In the ensuing years, tens of thousands of Chileans were killed, jailed, tortured and driven into exile. The U.S. role, under Nixon and his National Security Advisor Kissinger, in first destabilizing and then overthrowing the Allende government was decisive. It will rank among the most grotesque interventions ever undertaken by the U.S. A few years after the coup, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kissinger visited Chile. He told General Pinochet, “In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here.”
Peter Kornbluh is senior analyst at the National Security Archive in Washington, DC. He is the author of Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report and The Pinochet File.