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September 07, 2006

Orchids and the Other 9-11

Orchids and the other September 11
Chris Arsenault wonders if this year, people will be talking about 9/11/1973

Here Magazine September 7th- September 14th

They say everything changed on September 11. And for Jorge Dietrich, owner of a Fredericton orchid nursery, everything certainly did.

"I lost one of my best friends," he said, reminiscing. "They were killers." His friend wasn't murdered in the World Trade Center. The killers weren't Islamic extremists. This terrorist attack, a crime which killed more people than 9/11 in New York, happened in Chile.

The year was 1973. Salvador Allende, Chile's democratically elected socialist President, was in the third year of his six year mandate. On September 11, General Augusto Pinochet launched a military coup, with the support of the CIA and American government officials.

"I was involved in a social movement about poverty in Latin America," said Dietrich, a 19-year-old student living in Argentina when the 9/11 political hijacking began. "To me, Salvador Allende's movement in Chile was so important. It was a shock when the military interrupted the process and killed him with the support of the CIA." "Within hours of launching its coup in 1973, the military began filling the national soccer stadium with political prisoners. Between September 11 and November 7, some 12,000 people were held in this urban concentration camp." "The vast majority were supporters of the Allende government. They included more than a thousand foreigners (among them the American, Charles Horman, whose fate was the subject of the film Missing).

Many were savagely tortured and hundreds were murdered," writes Alex Wild, vice president of public relations, and former director of Chilean operations, for the pro-corporate Ford Foundation.

When repression and violence became all consuming, many students, professionals, artists and young leftists fled Chile to neighbouring countries. "After September 11, 1973, we received many young people between 17 or less years old," said Jorge Dietrich, the Argentinian native and past President of the New Brunswick Latino Association.

"These young people were the best people I've ever met: well prepared, very good hearts and concerns about justice. I fell in love with one of them," said Dietrich. "As far as I know, this girl I was in love with was missing after two years in Argentina." Dietrich thinks his former fiancée was swept up in 'Plan Condor', a collaboration between dictatorial regimes in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and, later, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador to eliminate suspected leftists. The international terrorist operation which made Dietrich's fiancée disappear was often directly facilitated through the communication networks of senior U.S. government officials.

There are varying estimates on the total number of political killings and murders during General Pinochet's 17 years of post 9/11 dictatorial rule.

The BBC pegs the number of dead at 3,000; Florida's St. Petersburg Times says between 3,200- 10,000.

"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people," said Henry Kissinger, principal adviser to the President of the United States on matters of national security, at a meeting about the Chile situation on June 27, 1970.

Roughly 30,000 people were tortured during Pinochet's post September 11 reign of terror, according to a 2004 National Commission conducted by Chile's new democratic government. Victims were raped, and sodomized with electrified wires, in front of family members.

When it comes to the popularized New York 9/11 -- an injustice the world deems worthy of concern-- it's clear the 'war on terror' has been little more than a war of terror, and an unsuccessful one at that.

The number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005 to 11,111, with strikes in Iraq accounting for 30 per cent of the total, according to statistics released by U.S. counterterrorism officials and reported by The Washington Post.

To any rational observer, this should indicate that current policies: violence, war, torture and not so covert racism aren't meeting their desired objectives.

If anything has changed since September 11, 1973, it's that the powerful can act with more impunity to create terror.

During Pinochet's reign, the American government could only use covert means to aid and abet his authoritarian campaign of horror.

Most information about U.S. involvement in the coup came out through documents declassified 30 years after Chile's 9/11. Today, interventionist powers act openly: overthrowing governments, violating international law and torturing suspects.

General Augusto Pinochet has never been prosecuted for his crimes. In 2002, Henry Kissinger, the intellectual architect of United States support for Pinochet's terror, was appointed by President Bush to lead an investigation into how the 9/11 attacks on America were able to take place.

"Asking Henry Kissinger to investigate government malfeasance or nonfeasance is akin to asking Slobodan Milosevic to investigate war crimes," wrote David Corn, Washington editor for The Nation.

As mainstream media saturates its terror coverage around the 9/11 anniversary, we probably won't hear much about Chile, and the CIA; Pinochet or Kissinger.

We'll be sure to hear stories of heroism from New York; tales of evil from the Middle East and platitudes from subservient intellectuals about 'our values' being under attack. What exactly are 'our values'?

And whose values were attacked in Chile on September 11, 1973?


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