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A Tale of Two Chileans:
Pinochet and Allende
by Robin Harris
Published by Chilean Supporters Abroad
Chilean Supporters Abroad is a group of people in Britain and elsewhere who have come together to raise the funds for this paper by Robin Harris which has been sent to opinion formers in Britain and abroad.. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author. If you would like to receive additional copies, please write enclosing a cheque for £9.99, made out to Chilean Supporters Abroad, to:
Chilean Supporters Abroad
Box Number SO 235 Earls Court Road
London SW5 9FE
A Tale of Two Chileans:
Pinochet and Allende
by Robin Harris
Chapter One The Gathering Storm
Chapter Two Allende's Programme - "Total, Scientific, Marxist Socialism"
Chapter Three The Attack on the Constitution
Chapter Four The Problem of Resistance
Chapter Five Background to the Marxist "Self-Coup"
Chapter Six The Battle for Chile
Chapter Seven Pinochet's Achievement
Violent Deaths under Allende
(Reproduced from pp 81-84, The White Book of the Change of Government in Chile,
11 September 1973. Printed by Empresa Editora Nacional "Gabriela Mistral ".)
Appendix B: "Plan Z"
(Reproduced from pp 56-63, The White Book of the Change of Government in Chile, 11 September 1973. Printed by Empresa Editora Nacional "Gabriela Mistral ".)
Published by Chilean Supporters Abroad
"The military saved Chile....!"
The following is an extract from an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC, published on 10 October 1973, given by the former Chilean President, Eduardo Free. He was commenting on the widespread misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the situation in Chile under Allende, and explaining why the military took power:
"People cannot imagine in Europe how ruined [Chile under Allende] was. They don't know what happened...
"The Marxists, with the knowledge and approval of Salvador Allende, had brought into Chile innumerable arsenals of weaporns which they kept in private houses, offices, factories, warehouses. The world doesn't know that the Chilean Marxists had at their disposal armaments superior in number and quality to those of the army, enough for over thirty thousand men...The military saved Chile for all of us....Civil war had been perfectly prepared by the Marxists. And that is what the world does not know or does not want to know.
"..The military were called in, and they fulfilled a legal obligation, because the Executive and the Judicial Power, the Congress and the Supreme Court had publicly denounced the President and his government for their infractions of the Constitution....Allende's aim was to install communisn2 by violent and undemocratic means, and when the democrats who had been tricked realised the scale of the trap that had been set it was already too late. Already the masses of guerillas were armed and well prepared for their planned extermination of the military leaders.
"I tell you this [to the interviewer, Luis Calvo]...when a government refuses to fulfil the social laws, ignores the warnings of the Bar Association, insults and disobeys the Supreme Court, scorns the great majority of Congress, provokes economic chaos, arrests and kills workers who go on strike, crushes individual and political liberties, depletes the market so as to direct food and other goods to the Marxist monopolists in the black market; when a government behaves in this way, when there arise in Chile conditions never seen on such a scale anywhere in the world, then the right to rebel becomes a duty".
When Senator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was arrested on a defective warrant, served as he lay in pain in a London clinic, it doubtless seemed the kind of public relations triumph which Britain's New Labor government relished. Who after all would come to the defence of a sick old man with a shocking reputation for brutalities against idealised Left-wing heroes - let alone speak out for him at a time when the whole respectably enlightened world was celebrating the cause of international human rights? But it is a strange irony, not unknown in life, that those who cynically exploit other people's vulnerability themselves come unstuck. And there are already clear signs that this is happening. For though it may be precious little comfort to Senator Pinochet, still languishing (at the time of writing) in a gloomy rented house on the Wentworth estate, or indeed to Chile whose political stability has been threatened, the whole sorry affair may yet yield some benefits. Above all, it has made people in Britain sit up and ask questions of quite fundamental importance nationally and internationally.
To many with little interest in the political upheavals of Chile in the 1970s, or even the situation in Chile today, it came as a considerable shock to learn that former heads of government can now expect to be arrested on British territory at the demand of foreign judges in order to answer for their alleged previous political decisions and actions. There has, naturally, been speculation as to which other visiting foreign statesman might next fall victim to this novel form of kidnap. Surviving British Prime Ministers, and indeed other Ministers, whose past actions could be deemed to infringe the "rights" of some politically influential foreign pressure group, will certainly have to review their travel plans. Hardly less serious, though, may be the likely effects on current and future leaders, when faced with difficult but necessary decisions, if those leaders know that they might later be dispatched for trial before a hostile foreign court and a politically motivated judge. There are worrying implications for national democratic institutions too. Claims of extra-territorial jurisdiction so wide-ranging as those now advanced by the Spanish courts, combined with the interpretation currently being placed on the various international "human rights" instruments, threaten to make a mockery of the democratic mandates and responsibilities of national politicians.
It is, indeed, worth remembering that not one of the countries involved has ever had any practical national interest in Senator Pinochet's detention and extradition - quite the contrary. It is clearly in Chile's national interest that the Senator should be allowed to return home, in order to maintain the delicate political balance on which that country's democracy rests. (And almost all Chileans are agreed on this). Similarly, it is not in Spain's well-developed interests in Latin America to incur the wrath not only of Chileans but of most other countries in the region, which see this Spanish action as both contemptuous and neo-colonialistic.
Above all, perhaps, it is not in Britain's interests to antagonise, perhaps permanently, our closest and oldest ally in South America. The economic price of doing so looks likely to grow sharply as the Chilean government throws its full weight behind retaliatory measures. Moreover, without General Pinochet's and his countrymen's almost imprudently strong support for this country in 1982, the British Falklands would now be the Argentine Malvinas. (It has recently been revealed how Chilean radar and communication intelligence equipment monitored all Argentinean airforce movements at the time and that the Chileans then relayed this information to the British fleet by direct satellite link). With Argentina showing no signs of conceding its claim to the Falkland islands, the Pinochet affair has seriously, and unnecessarily, jeopardised their defence.
All these clear national interests - of Chile, of Spain and of Britain - are currently being overridden because of the novel doctrine that the authority of judges and international conventions and bodies must prevail against all other considerations. Indeed, we have reached such a state that the British Home Secretary, whose wide political discretion the Law Lords have noted, pretends to act like a judge, while certain foreign judges appear quite uninhibited in acting like politicians.
The other focus of discussion has, of course, been on what happened in Chile in the 1970s and afterwards: but this, it is fair to say, is still heavily dominated by hysteria, confusion and a large amount mendacity. Extraordinarily, only the "victims" of Pinochet ever receive a hearing, as if the rest of the Chilean people's opinions and experiences were not worth anything. And even those politicians and journalists who argue that General Pinochet should be permitted to return to Chile usually include in their remarks disclaimers such as "Of course, no one defends what happened under Pinochet", or "Much as I deplore Pinochet's rule", or "Evil as he clearly is...". Whereas the murderous Fidel Castro or the genocidal Chinese gerontocrats or the corrupt tyrants still ruling a large number of African states are all duly qualified as "Presidents", "Prime Ministers", "Leaders" and so on, the only description deemed appropriate to Senator Pinochet by the British media is "former dictator". The almost universal assumption is that Pinochet personally is guilty of unspeakable crimes: indeed, if there were one single, over-riding reason to return the Senator to Chile it is because it is absolutely clear already that there is such prejudice against him in Britain and Europe that he has not the slightest hope of a fair hearing.
Most people have, of course, very little knowledge of why Pinochet and the military took power in Chile. That ignorance is understandable and excusable. Those, however, who do know the circumstances in which that action became necessary and the facts about the continuing threat of Marxist terrorism which the country subsequently faced, have also, with a few exceptions, so far remained silent. That too is understandable, but it is not excusable.
Although the military coup on 11th September 1973 was the result of factors within Chile, not of CIA plots (as the paranoid Chilean Left claimed), the change of regime did have a hugely beneficial impact that extended far beyond Chile. The West, after all, fought and won the Cold War by proxy - and so in the process avoided its becoming a "hot" war. Within Latin America the Cold War was won, above all, and most completely, through the action of General Pinochet, backed overwhelmingly by the Chilean people.
The principal purpose of this pamphlet, however, is to begin the task of trying to explain the truth about Pinochet by examining one specific question in detail - why the armed forces acted to overthrew the Presidency of Salvador Allende. The importance of this to the broader "Pinochet case" should be immediately obvious. Over half of all the violent deaths in Chile between 1973 and 1990 (1261 out of 2279 - figures that include members of the armed forces) occurred soon after the military coup of 11 September 1973. If we can explain why what happened then did happen' we can gain an essential perspective on most of the "crimes" with which Pinochet is (in a loose sense) charged.
In the final section of this pamphlet I go beyond the events of 1970-1973 to examine briefly the enormous achievements (and serious but limited shortcomings) of the military government during the period until Pinochet handed over to the new President, Patricio Aylwin. To fail altogether to cover these events would be to leave too much of the true story still untold. (In the course of this I also deal briefly with some of the specific accusations now brought against Pinochet.) But a full and authoritative treatment of these and other matters will shortly be available in England with the publication of an important book written by the distinguished Chilean journalist Hermogenes Perez de Arce, Europa vs Pinochet: Indebido Proceso. (I have also myself drawn on Senor Perez de Arce's work, as well as the other sources noted below and in the footnotes).
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