Nearly 30-years before the Twin Towers fell in New York, a presidential palace fell in Chile.
Little known to Western audiences, that September 11, 1973 began one of the most socially destructive and yet most economically constructive dictatorships in the world.
On one hand, the national private sector boomed in a way that pulled Chile from third to second world country status. It’s economic repertoire on the global scale continues well into the 21st century.
On the other hand, it is estimated that at least 60,000 people were killed or disappeared in the process. Around 200,000 Chileans fled the country.
The United States was present in both 9/11s.
The US and Chile’s 9/11
The coup that took place on September 11, 1973 was part of Operation Condor, cousin of Operation Gladio in Europe.
Stretching between the 1950s to 90s, Operation Condor was launched by then Milton Friedman-influenced United States State Department – mainly through the CIA but not exclusively – to effectively eliminate any leftist socio-political activism in South America.
Exercised tactics included coups, kidnapping, torture, murder, and false flag terrorism aimed at reducing anti-Western policies.
In addition to Allende’s Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia also experienced their own versions of banana republicanization, as did elsewhere in Latin America under separate initiatives.
The coup in Chile, led by General Augusto Pinochet, ended the populist example of President Salvador Allende, and with it its image that non-Western agendas would be tolerated.
In 1970, the Christian Democrats lost the elections in favor of the Popular Unity, led by Chile’s first populist President Salvador Allende.
Marketing to the vast non-elite niche, Allende’s government accelerated nationalizations and agrarian reform, increased the purchasing power of the popular classes and scheduled structural changes and reform of the 1925 constitution.
In a Cold War context, Allende’s existence was a populist example that could be followed by other countries. To Western interests, this was unacceptable.
Comparable to late Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz just one year before, Allende nationalized banking, copper mines and some large companies.
The economic interests of the ruling class and the US capital were clearly under fire.
Pinochet Becomes a House-hold Name
Thus, on September 11, 1973, the extreme right backed a military coup, promoted by the United States and Great Britain, and established a pro-business military dictatorship headed ultimately by Pinochet.
The new regime abolished parliamentarism, deconstructed Chilean progressivism, and in order to solidify the new rule, committed 3,216 political executions.
A drastic economic liberalism that favored the return of foreign companies since 1975, returned the estates expropriated and left domestic industry – such as water, coper and railways – in hands of multinational entities.
The Cost of Destroying, then Re-Building an Ally
From 11 September 1973, Chile became a laboratory in which to experiment ultra-liberal economic policies.
Strategies garnered from this “experiment” would later be implemented by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan in their respective countries and hence would lead to what they called “crisis” which was simply the culmination of a process already long prepared.
Therefore, while economic gain was potent, social cost of the new policy was also irrefutable.