Chile was conquered by the Spaniards, most forcefully starting in 1540. Indigenous groups, most notably the Mapuche, made the conquest slow. In fact, the Mapuches never were fully conquered. Today, there are many Mapuche words in the Chilean vocabulary- how much does that say about the strength of their group?! (Remember the picture from my last update?) There is also still a lot of conflict between the Mapuche people and the Chilean government.
Fast foward: February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic.
The War of the Pacific, which pitted Chile against Peru and Bolivia, resulted in Chile expanding north, cutting off Bolivia's access to the ocean and gaining valuable natural resources... hence the tensions still lingering today.
1891: Civil War, establishing a parliamentary style democracy.
1970: Salvador Allende became president. His ideas of creating a Socialist Chile included nationalizing many industries, government administrated health care, a program of free milk for children, and the redistribution of land. His ideas were intended to improve the welfare of Chile's poorest. However, as the nationalization of US owned companies in industries such as copper mining as well as fear of communism (my opinion) led to some very dirty tricks. The Nixon administration worked to destabilize the government, by doing everything in their power to hurt the economy, funding opposition parties, and paying off the media to report complete lies. (fact: When bodies were found, such as one tied to a pole after being dumped in the ocean, it was claimed by the media as results of fighting within the opposition parties. Some Chileans still refuse to buy the newspaper Mercurio for accepting bribes from the U.S. and printing these types of lies.) For this along with many other factors, the economy went into crisis.
On September 11, 1973 a military coup lead by Augusto Pinochet overthrew Allende.
Pinochet led as dictator until 1990. This period of time was marked by horrible human rights violations. An estimated 4,000 were killed, 30,000 forced into exile, and tens of thousands detained and tortured. It is hard to think of these numbers, I know. But for some perspective, my Chilean grandfather was tortured for a week in 1973, without his family (aka my Mama and Abuelita Chilena) knowing if he would return. Due to international pressure, Pinochet held a plebiscite and was voted out, by a slim margin of 56% to 44%. (There are still a shocking number of Chileans who are pro-Pinochet, one friend telling me that if some deaths were the cost of turning around the economy and creating social order, so be it. ) If you don't believe me that the U.S. played a significant role, read these. I think that this is so important because as U.S. citizens we are horribly uniformed about the reality of the international actions of our country. (And until we as the people are informed and organized I have reason to believe this pattern of imposing our values, reacting due to our fears, and protecting our economic interests without remorse of the consequences will continue.)
- "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves." — Henry Kissinger
- "Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty." — Edward M. Korry, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, upon hearing of Allende's election.
- "Make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him" — Richard Nixon, orders to CIA director Richard Helms on September 15, 1970
- "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup.... It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG and American hand be well hidden..." — A communique to the CIA base in Chile, issued on October 16, 1970
- "We didn't do it. I mean we helped them. [Garbled] created the conditions as great as possible. — Henry Kissinger conversing with President Nixon about the coup. Telephone call from Kissinger to Nixon
- "So, let’s imagine how [the September 11th attacks] could have been worse for example. Suppose that on September 11, Al-Qaeda had bombed the White House and killed the President, instituted a murderous, brutal regime which killed maybe 50,000 to 100,000 people and tortured about 700,000, set up a major international terrorist center in Washington, which was overthrowing governments all over the world, and installing brutal vicious neo-Nazi dictatorships, assassinating people. Suppose he called in a bunch of economists, let’s call them the 'Kandahar Boys' to run the American economy, who within a couple of years had driven the economy into one of the worst collapses of its history. Suppose this had happened. That would have been worse than 9/11, right? But it did happen. And it happened on 9/11. That happened on September 11, 1973 in Chile. The only thing you have to change is this per capita equivalence, which is the right way to look at it. Well, did that change the world? Yeah, it did but not from our point of view, in fact, who even knows about it? Incidentally, just to finish, because we [the U.S.] were responsible for that one." — Noam Chomsky.