Monday, August 27, 2007

Overthrow #10: Chile

The Chile ( I like to chee-lay) overthrow is what you get when a country has lots of experience w/ overthrows. But why did we even care about Chile? Well, Chile does have lots of copper, and the 2 biggest copper companies were American companies. Additionally, Chile's phone company, ITT, was also an American firm. So when Chile's new President began talking about nationalizing their resources, some US business men were not happy. Nationalizing is sort of a double whammy for developing countries (See Iran). It both greatly upsets our businesses and sound a little bit Commie.

The US had first gotten involved in Chile in 1961. Kennedy was looking for a country he could positively reinforce for not being communist, and Chile, w/ its already long democratic tradition (since 1833), was picked. Their reward was US money. At first this was a good thing, but by 1964 the CIA began to get involved (never a good sign) and they began to move the money towards the Center-Left candidate and purposely in the other direction of Leftist Allende. This was enough at first, but eventually, in 1970, Allende received the most votes.

The US responded with every covert and uncovert trick they could muster from up its overbearing sleeve. Congress still needed to approve his presidency (Allende had a plurality not a majority), and the CIA paid to fill the Chilean press w/ anti-Allende propaganda. This failed and Allende was approved to be president. Next, the US focused on convincing the military to coup his ass. General Schneider, a supporter of democracy, refused and found himself dead less than 2 months later. Still, the Chilean military would not move on Allende.

Then the CIA upped it to the next level. Economically, American foreign aid banks stopped assistance, the World Bank suspended its $21 million loan, and Chile's credit rating was reduced from B class to a D. Additionally, US companies in Chile began a slow-down campaign that included delayed payments, slow deliveries, and credit denials. Politically, the CIA sent $3.5 million to opposition parties, $2 million to a propaganda campaign, and $1.5 million to groups to help them organize demonstrations.

By 1973 Chile was falling apart. The economy was in shambles and people were striking across the country. At this point the US finally found a general interested finishing the job, Augosto Pinochet. Once Allende had heard of the impending coup, he fled to La Moneda, the presidential palace, for the final showdown. The military showed up and ordered him to step down, Allende replied, "I will not resign. I will not do it. I am ready to resist by all means, even at the cost of my own life... Long live Chile! Long live the people! These are my last words. I am sure that my sacrifice will not be in vain. I am sure it will be at least a moral lesson and a rebuke to crime, cowardice and treason." The Chilean military responded w/ artillery fire, a British plane bombing the palace, and a charge inside. Allende was found inside, dead.

The aftermath in Chile was not pretty. General Pinochet became president and began a general beat down of all opposition. Leftist leaders were executed, officials from Allende's government were sent to a desolate island, and tens of thousands of people were arrested. Eventually (1990), Chile would get rid of him and Pinochet would be arrested for kidnapping, torture, and murder charges. A government-appointed commission estimated that 27,255 people were tortured under his rule

Ranking (Worst to Least Worst)
1. Guatemala

3. Chile

4. Iran

7. Cuba

This one is bad bad bad. I put it over Iran b/c it seems like Pinochet was worse than the Shah. You could argue it's worse than Guatemala and Nicaragua, but Chile at least avoided Civil Wars and is in much better shape today than both. Not sure this is b/c of the US takeover, but still...

I guess I also see it as a little less bad then Guatemala and Nicaragua since Allende was a bit more of a troublemaker. He did nationalize the copper companies and the phone companies, and gave them nothing. Now, I understand his thinking. But what makes Arbenz and Zelaya's fall even worse for me was they were actually trying to work w/ the US and its business interests. Both agreed to pay off the foreign companies and Arbenz was only taking land that was not being used. I'm not saying Allende asked for it, I'm just saying...

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Blogger Jenny! said...

Moved to #3 spot...ohh! I want some chili now...sorry, totally unrelated and a bit inappropriate!

8:00 am  
Blogger Michael5000 said...

This may not be quite fair, but in my gut I'm inclined to make Argentina #1. The reason is that it started off as a relatively stable, relatively prosperous country with a long tradition of relative democracy. As opposed to, say, Vietnam, which was already thoroughly fucked by the first day Truman found it in his atlas from the legacy of French colonial rule.

I guess I'm implicitly arguing that if the U.S. hadn't happened to Vietnam, some other damn thing would have, whereas Argentina would have been fine if the U.S. had kept its paws off. Not a foolproof argument, but I don't think it's completely stupid either.

3:43 pm  
Blogger chuckdaddy2000 said...

I don't know much about the US in Argentina (But let me make a guess. Did we support a corrupt army regime?), but that's my same thinking on why I put Chile so high.

7:46 pm  
Blogger chuckdaddy2000 said...


After reading your blog I've gotta say that's probably the least inappropriate things you've ever said.

8:04 pm  

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