Rewriting of history.
August 8, 2000 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Rewriting of history. Now, I don't really approve of what Pinochet did, but in the same process, those in charge are raising up Allende as some sort of great humanistic leader. All in all, I consider what happened to be part of war. IT has to be looked at in context. If Pinochet didn't do something about Allende, what would have happened to the people of Chile? It's not so black and white.
posted by rich (16 comments total)
Rewriting history? I seem to recall that he was democratically elected by the Chilean people. Augusto Pinochet was elected by Nixon and Kissinger.
posted by lagado at 6:54 PM on August 8, 2000

Ask any soldier: torture and willful murder of unarmed civilians--that's not war, that's a war crime. There was nothing happening in Chile at the time that could warrant it. Pinochet should be brought to justice.
posted by leo at 7:11 PM on August 8, 2000

Absolutely, there was no 'war' in Chile, only a yet another intervention by the US government into the affairs of a Latin American country. Also this was a country that was used to routinely and peacefully elected its leaders. Pinochet was actively courted and financed by the United States government. The USA's culpability in Pinochet's rein of terror is there on the public record. No rewritng of history is required.
posted by lagado at 9:23 PM on August 8, 2000

Why did something "have to be done" about Allende? Because you don't like Allende's politics? Surely that was a matter for the Chilean people to decide, not the USA and the multinationals (I can't help thinking that you'd have been saying how important the Chilean people's views were when Pinochet was locked up here in the UK...)

But hey, I'm biased. My partner's brother was tortured and it pretty much ruined his life (it's not just statistics, it was real people).

posted by andrew cooke at 1:41 AM on August 9, 2000

Allende was a democratically elected president. Contrary to what many Americans have been taught, socialism is not the same thing as communism. Notice how Sweden is staunchly socialist, yet entirely democratic.

The Pinochet coup was yet another case in South America of right-wing oligarchs, unrestrained militaries, and Nixon/Kissinger conspiring to overthrow elected governments in favor of US-sympathizing dictatorships.

posted by erogers at 6:44 AM on August 9, 2000

Allende was the first socialist elected democratically, and soon after it was the people of Chile marching on the streets protesting because there was not enough food (Marcha de las Cacerolas). That was the incentive Pinochet needed.

Of course he was supported by the CIA, but you still need the support of your people to remain in power.

I am not excusing Pinochet's crimes. As I would never excuse Castro's in Cuba. 30 years after, it is absolutely clear that Chile's people are far better off, and peacefully electing their government.
posted by tremendo at 6:54 AM on August 9, 2000

What tremendo mentioned is what I was referring to. Allende wasn't all that and a bag of chips, regardless if he was elected 'properly' or not.

He drove Chile into the ground almost immediately. Pinochet did something about it. While how he did it and what he did in regards to torture and hunting down people and killing them is obviously wrong, let's keep it focused on that.

I'm not about politics. Socialism works in some places, not in others just as republics work in some places, not in others, and so on. And the reason is usually not the theory behind the method, but the ability of the people implementing it.
posted by rich at 7:09 AM on August 9, 2000

Rich the reason Chile got "driven to the ground"
was an undeclared enbargo by Nixon and the Chilean ruling class, this coused a tremendous shortage of every day items , I AM CHILEAN, I was there the morning of 10/11/73 and I remembered the way things got back to normal a short time after the Coup.

It bothers me when milk fed dopes try to talk about politics like it is a game with clear cut laws "works in some places, not in others"

Rich, international politics are about power and money
and the game is played by those rules

posted by matucana at 8:43 AM on August 9, 2000

Just remembered, I have some quotes from an excellent book by Eduardo Galeano related to this here, but I guess it's too late for anyone to notice this post! :-)

PS I don't claim for a moment that Galeano is politically neutral.

posted by andrew cooke at 9:22 AM on August 9, 2000

I had said that philosophies work in some places and not others not because of the philosophy, but because of the people involved implementing that philosophy.

Whether they are inept, or at the mercy of some other power is basically the same thing.. failure is not a result of the philosophy or politic, but of outside circumstance.

But since I am a milk fed dope, I apparantly wasn't clear on that point last time, and you obviously misunderstood what I was saying.

Chile didn't get driven to the ground solely through the might of Nixon and the Chilean ruling class. Allende invited the ire of companies by nationalizing them without compensation. He caused inflation by pushing up wages en-mass without any corresponding productivity output increase, meanwhile his rag-tag coalition government worked at opposing ends, one trying to rope in the upper class while the other distanced that class by striking and seizing land and factories.

The middle class was hard hit, returned to the opposition party's support and formed labor unions which struck against the government because of shortages related to lower productivity and higher wages. (US embargo or no.. Cuba does fine without US trade).

Yes, the US government had a hand in the goings-on, and probably prodded Pinochet personally to attempt the second coup. But the conditions for Pinochet to come to that point were not orchestrated step by step the the US government - you give them way too much credit. It was misstep after misstep by Allende. Not that his philosophy was wrong, but he did a horrible job of managing it.
posted by rich at 9:32 AM on August 9, 2000

well this all boils down to how you want to whitewash pinochet. the facts are that the US actively undermined the government of Chile and backed elements within the military to overthrow the constitution and institute a rein of terror. And then grant themselves immunity from prosecution. Rich, you can argue all you want but the normal way to get rid of unpopular governments in democracies is via the ballot box. Pinochet should stand trial.
posted by lagado at 4:31 PM on August 9, 2000

Rich: you're defending a violent coup against a democratically-elected government, carried out by a military dictator acting with the encouragement and aid of a hegemonic foreign power wanting to stop the peons from getting any funny ideas about running their own countries.

In what sense exactly is this "not about politics"?
posted by Mocata at 6:46 AM on August 10, 2000

Mocata, you are talking about politics; I was saying nothing had to do with the actual philosophies of running a country (socialist, commununist, republic, democratic, whatever). I never said it was 'not about politics.' If you would read more carefully, I said 'philosophy or politic' - referring to the way of thinking, not the soap opera that is politics.

Oh, and I'm not defending anything. But theorizing. Let's say the US didn't fund Pinochet and he didn't attempt the coup. There had already be one non-US backed coup that failed. Plus, the middle classes' labor unions were actively striking in the streets and going hungry - not because of any embargo, but because of inflationary pressures. I see chaos in any case.


The normal way to get rid of an unpopular government in a FUNCTIONING democracy is of course through the ballot box. When the government stops functioning due to graft, incompetence or some other reason, control is typically usurpt. In fact, in many governments, this process is scripted out specifically, helping prevent the military-type coup scenario. In the US, it is called impeachment, but is no less than a bloodless coup.

When things run out of the bounds of 'normal' and there is no process for managing them, then the game is open to whatever players want to come in. I'm not defending Pinochet. But as I said, Allende is being raised up as a great leader in a re-writing of history just to villify Pinochet, who doesn't need any help being villified.
posted by rich at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2000

Rich: by all means dick about with definitions of 'politics', but don't deny that you write "I'm not about politics" on this page - before going on to explain that you feel Allende is undergoing an unwarranted rehabilitation. That's political, son.
posted by Mocata at 3:14 AM on August 11, 2000


Context, people, context.

If you had an e-mail address, I'd just take this offline.

On a single point - socialism versus other forms of government, I said that it isn't the philosophy of the politics that causes it to fail, it is the people who implement it. People, for the most part, up to that point were accusing me of disliking Allende on the basis that he was a socialist. I don't. Hence my statement at that point that I wasn't about politics.

(Of course the failure of someone in government most likely involves a different kind of politics - which, if you can't understand the contexts or different definition, I suggest you visit where there are no less than 5 completely different meanings for the damn word).

But I guess in a sound-byte society, people only take the time to read what they want to read without understanding the basis behind any statements that were made.
posted by rich at 6:52 AM on August 11, 2000

Isn't it a general rule that military coups are a challenge to democratic order? (I know that when it's the US doing the takeover in places like Grenada, that doesn't count. And that GWB welcomed the takeover in Pakistan, but that's just because he's not much good with foreign stuff.)

The constitutional attempts to impeach Allende's government failed, and Pinochet sent in the troops. Yes, Allende has been transformed into a martyr for socialism, but let's face it: with the attempts of the US to strangle the Chilean economy, and the subsequent love-in between Pinochet and Thatcher, it's hard not to regard him as a martyr for democracy.
posted by holgate at 1:11 PM on August 11, 2000

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