Panel on U.S. role in Chiles coup

DALLAS – On Sept. 11 the Dallas Peace Center presented a program titled “Terrorism, Theirs and Ours” at the Magnolia Theater. About 150 peace activists gathered to view the film documentary “The Battle of Chile, Part II” by Patricio Guzman. Then they held a panel discussion with local experts on the situation in Chile at the time of the 1973 coup d’etat and now.

The film documents U.S. participation in destabilizing the democratically-elected government of Dr. Salvador Allende, a socialist who was elected president of Chile in 1970. Hours after his election the U.S. government, and particularly the CIA, started to undermine Allende’s government. In 1973, the CIA helped install a brutal military dictatorship that killed thousands, imprisoned still more, and drowned democracy in blood for years afterward.

Panelists Dr. Ron Wilhelm, Dr. Adrianna Cobo-Frenkel, and peace activist Duane Ediger described the sequence of events and the role of the U.S., including the personal involvement of President Richard Nixon and then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Wilhelm brought a reading list that included the new book by Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File.

Dr. Cobo-Frenkel, a Chilean who has lived in Dallas for 40 years, said that the day’s remembrances of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York only invited comparison to the earlier tragedy in her home country. She said that films of airliners crashing into the World Trade Center reminded her of the coup in Chile.

President Allende, as the film showed, refused the generals’ command that he leave the presidential palace, La Moneda. Planes then bombed their own seat of government to pieces in order to kill their elected president.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org