September 11th and its legacy in Chile

Today marks 20 years since the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in the U.S. and the subsequent U.S. ‘war on terror.’ As SOA Watch Council member Dr. Maha Hilal explores in her new book, Innocent Until Proven Muslim: Islamophobia, the War on Terror, and the Muslim Experience Since 9/11, the past two decades have been marked by a profound deepening of the apparatus of state violence rooted in Islamophobia. The war on terror and creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also took ‘the intensity, scope, and funding of the U.S. border and immigration enforcement to heights previously unseen in the nation’s history’ with DHS operating on the false premise that migrants were a national security threat, as Ryan Devereaux writes in an excellent article in The Intercept.

Today also marks 48 years since the 1973 coup d’etat against Chilean President Salvador Allende. The U.S. supported coup ushered in a dark era of military dictatorship in Chile, the effects of which still are visible in Chile today.

Today, we remember those who have been killed, disappeared, tortured, imprisoned, and had their lives destroyed in Chile, in Afghanistan, in the United States, and around the world. We also recommit ourselves to acting in solidarity with those most affected by state violence who are organizing for liberation and self-determination.

Social movements in Chile today continue to struggle to free the country from the extreme neoliberal model which was violently imposed during the military dictatorship and enshrined in the country’s constitution. The social protests in Chile paved the way for a landslide victory in Chile’s 2020 Constitutional plebiscite and Chilean voters have elected a Constitutional Convention to work on drafting a proposal for a new Constitution. SOAW-Chile has submitted several proposals to the Constitutional Convention.

Alicia Lira, president of the Agrupación de Familiares de Ejecutados Políticos and part of SOAW-Chile recently spoke to the Human Rights Commission of the Chilean Constitutional Convention, calling for the new Constitution to ensure “guarantees of non-repetition of crimes against humanity.” She noted that to do so, “it is fundamental to end the National Security Doctrine that has reigned since the dictatorship.” She denounced the School of the Americas for teaching that doctrine, in which “the internal enemy is us.”

Finally, we do not forget the role and responsibility of the United States:

  • We do not forget that the military coup in Chile was carried out with the support of the United States, as documented in the report “Acción Encubierta en Chile 1963-1973“, which was presented to the U.S. Senate in 1975.
  • We do not forget that the CIA, acting upon orders of U.S. President Richard Nixon, carried out undercover actions to generate the conditions for the overthrow of President Allende.
  • We do not forget that the U.S. trained 1,049 Chilean soldiers at the School of the Americas between 1970 and 1974.
  • We do not forget that SOA graduates from Chile include Manuel Contreras, Álvaro Corbalán, Miguel Krassnoff, Carlos Herrera Jiménez, Humberto Gordon, and numerous other secret police of the dictatorship.
  • We do not forget the ‘Chile Project’ organized in the 1950s by the U.S. State Department to influence Chilean economics, including the training of the ‘Chicago Boys’ and the resulting deregulation and privatization.
  • We do not forget that today, Chile continues to have a strong military relationship with the United States, including joint military exercises, training at WHINSEC and beyond, U.S. Marine presence in Chilean territory, and U.S. financing of the Fort Aguayo military base.
  • We do not forget that the Chilean Army, Air Force, and Navy all have agreements with the U.S. military, and all have been repeatedly accused of abuse, torture, and war crimes.
  • We do not forget that over 5,500 Chilean soldiers have been trained at the SOA-WHINSEC.

Most of all, we do not forget that the United States has never been held accountable for its actions and complicity in the state terror imposed upon the Chilean peoples.

SOA Watch