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The other September 11

By Troy Duncan - posted Thursday, 26 September 2002

September 11 is indeed a date we must all remember. Last years tragedy in America, however, has overshadowed another significant, and not unrelated, anniversary.

On September 11, 1972, Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown during a military led coup d'etat orchestrated by the US Government and its CIA. It not only brought to power one of history's most repressive dictators – Augusto Pinochet – but ushered in the most repressive societal force the world has ever seen – globalisation.

At the time, Chile was recognised as having a highly evolved and stable democracy. It was hailed the 'Britain of Latin America'. But not long before Dr. Allende was elected President of Chile, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Henry Kissinger, was already plotting the Socialist leader's downfall: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people." A line reeking of American Imperialism, overt back then, but masked by rhetoric now.


Despite a massive CIA led campaign against him, Allende came to power and set out on his "road to socialism" - from nationalizing copper mines to giving children free milk at school. But this was short lived because President Nixon's instructions, to "make the economy scream" through heavy-handed sanctions, worked. When the coup finally came, after two years of CIA cock-ups, it was a terribly messy affair which saw the Presidential palace in Santiago bombed and Dr. Allende murdered.

Enter the military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet, the man responsible for thousands of deaths and disappearances during his 16 year dictatorship. But Pinochet, still revered by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, cannot be given credit for the brutal economic policies imposed upon the Chilean population. Just like the coup, the remedy for Chile's economy was concocted in the US. The masterminds behind what neo-liberal economist Milton Friedman termed: Chile's "economic miracle", were the Chicago Boys.

They were 30 Chilean technocrats - disciples of Professor Friedman's from the Chicago School of Economics. And with the help from the IMF and World Bank, they were let loose upon the Chilean economy.

You see, before applying globalization, they had to test it out. Chile was the guinea pig. But democracy just gets in the way of economic rationalism, so Pinochet despotically rewrote the constitution, and used his death squads to crush unions and student groups.

With resistance almost non-existent and democracy "bathed in blood", a cruel austerity program called "shock treatment" was administered and the privatization of government services, massive deregulation of the market, and the liberalization of international trade, carried on unimpeded in near-laboratory conditions. By the end of Pinochet's rule the Boys would eliminate or privatize all but 27 of the 507 state enterprises, established during or prior to Allende's presidency.

Chile's economy became violently erratic – with soaring growth, deep plunges and skyrocketing unemployment – at one point, in 1983 it was 34.6 per cent! The rich became richer and the poor became poorer, or simply disappeared. After 16 years, poverty and pollution was rife but a massive IMF bail-out and explosion in the unproductive and speculative sectors of the economy saw it grow – albeit artificially and with a massive debt burden to endure. The Chilean miracle became a mere microcosm for what was about to take place on a global scale.


The Chile experiment was hailed a success and the World Bank and IMF, who, incidentally, hold Chile up as an example to the third world, soon set about replicating the Chilean model in other developing nations.

For much of the third-world populace, the World Bank and IMF, with their set-in-stone Structural Adjustment Policies, have become the real terror networks.

As free-trade is forced down their throats, the Western world do as they wish, flooding their markets with cheap commodities, setting up sweat shops resembling concentration camps and arming dictatorships with an array of weaponry. Amidst this economic fundamentalism, it is little wonder a culture of anguish, frustration and hate has developed.

Desperate, with hope all but lost, most struggle on but others turn to their own form of extremism.

We must remember September 11 for two reasons: It was the date reason was unleashed and allowed to run wild; and the date it came back in a hideous and destructive form.

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About the Author

Troy Duncan is a freelance journalist.

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