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‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende’ by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera – The Washington Post

21 Mar


Marie Arana is a writer at large for The Washington Post and the author, most recently, of a biography of Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar.

‘I left the woman I really loved — the Great Society,” Lyndon Johnson once rued, “in order to get involved with that bitch of a war on the other side of the world.” He meant the Cold War and its all-consuming obsession with the Soviet Union. More emphatically, he meant the military quagmire in Vietnam. But repercussions of the obsession were being felt elsewhere.

LBJ didn’t live long enough to see what Latin Americans consider the most nefarious detonation of the U.S. war against communism, when on Sept. 11, 1973, bombs from British-made Hawker Hunter jets pounded the presidential palace, La Moneda, in Santiago, Chile, as the CIA’s Operation Fubelt unleashed a fierce coup, ousted a democratically elected government and left President Salvador Allende sprawled on a red couch with part of his skull gone.

By then, the war on communism, which had swiftly replaced the war on fascism, was well into its 25th year. Washington’s efforts to curb left-wing initiatives in Latin America had already led to a flurry of U.S.-backed military operations. In 1954, Operation PBSuccess, overseen by CIA Director Allen Dulles, had toppled the democratically elected but inconvenient government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. In 1961, Dulles’s deputy for plans, Richard Bissell, mounted the catastrophic Bay of Pigs invasion, an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. When Cuban soldiers foiled the CIA-backed brigade, shaming the United States and embarrassing President John F. Kennedy in the process, Attorney General Robert Kennedy secretly initiated Operation Mongoose, a calculated campaign of terror to assassinate Castro and bring Cuban communism to its knees. Four years later, in Operation Power Pack, LBJ ordered 42,000 U.S. troops into the Dominican Republic to rid the Caribbean of the pesky “revolutionary” regime of President Juan Bosch.

All these preliminaries to what Latin Americans call “that other September 11” — whose 40th anniversary was quietly, even inconspicuously, marked two months ago — are recounted in Oscar Guardiola-Rivera’s fascinating, if haphazardly organized, “Story of a Death Foretold.”“Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup against Salvador Allende, 11 September 1973” by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera. (Bloomsbury Publishing)

We know, after a belated autopsy of Allende’s remains, that the president opted to end his own life rather than die at the hands of his assailants. As mortars and missiles slammed into La Moneda’s walls, Gen. Augusto Pinochet — a former student at the U.S. Army School of the Americas — screamed to his soldiers that there would be no negotiations. The raid, he said, had to end in unconditional surrender. If the army managed to capture Allende, the general added, they’d fly him out of the country, “but the plane falls in mid-flight.”


When the army swarmed into La Moneda late that afternoon, Allende’s populist experiment was stilled forever. Pinochet took power and ruled for 17 years. Chilean intelligence operatives swept through the country in what became known as “the Caravan of Death,” executing Allende loyalists. With U.S. oversight starching their resolve, Pinochet’s agents proceeded to “disappear” more than 100 of Allende’s followers and dump their corpses in Argentina, so they would seem to be victims of common crime. Eventually, the web of murder and torture that became the infamous Operation Condor reached across the globe, wreaking revenge on Allende partisans who had managed to flee. Gen. Carlos Prats, a critic of Pinochet, was bombed to kingdom come along with his wife as he started a car in Buenos Aires; Allende’s ambassador Orlando Letelier was blown up with his American assistant on the streets of Washington.

Guardiola-Rivera is not new to this difficult history. A senior lecturer in law at the University of London, he has studied the 25-year run-up to the Chilean coup carefully. A relatively young Colombian, he is considered a fresh, bold voice on the politics of the region. His previous books, “What if Latin America Ruled the World?” and “Being Against the World,” are, like this work, commendable for their originality and research. But “Story of a Death Foretold,” like the García Márquez novel it echoes, also runs the gamut from logic to passionate rage.

It’s not hard to see who plays the villain. The book marshals a damning case against Washington, the CIA and what Guardiola-Rivera calls the Import-Export coalition — the joint U.S.-British economic engine that has dominated Latin America for 200 years. The idea that history does not take place in South America — a notion as old as John Locke, espoused by America’s founding fathers and hammered home most famously by Henry Kissinger — would have the world believe that Latin Americans are hopelessly childish, perhaps less than human, and therefore better governed by the coalition.

Guardiola-Rivera depicts a continent held in virtual submission, languishing in invisibility, its natural resources extracted, for centuries, at the Import-Export coalition’s whim. He reserves his harshest criticism for President Richard Nixon, who, even as the flames of Watergate engulfed him, worked indefatigably with Kissinger to bring down Allende. Why? Because Allende was dangerously independent, irredeemably leftist, irresponsibly anti-business and — perhaps worst of all — because he openly thumbed his nose at the United States.



With its Manichaean view, Guardiola-Rivera argues, the Nixon administration hardly considered the subtleties of Allende’s political philosophy. True, Allende had visited Castro, befriended Che Guevara and won the Communist Party’s vote (along with that of its poet-candidate, Pablo Neruda), but he had also carved out an “ism” all his own. He had rejected the Cuban model as too extreme, Che’s revolution as too violent. He was adamantly against armed struggle. Winning the presidency on Sept. 4, 1970, he vowed to overturn Chile’s harsh economic injustices. He put forward a doctrine of “geo-economic sovereignty” and self-determination: a U.S.-free future, in which Chile would make its way alone. “The United States must realize that Latin America has now been changed,” he said during one of his campaigns. Once in office, he would try to prove it so.

Allende immediately nationalized the copper and nitrate industries, which had been controlled largely by the United States and Britain. He challenged American business with his “doctrine of excess profits,” arguing that the wages in Chile were paltry compared with extravagant gains by big U.S. corporations. Latin America, the argument went, had been reduced to a mere colony of the United States. Though Spain had leeched the continent from 1492 to 1824, the axis between North America and Britain had done so ever since.

Allende’s goal was not so much “the dictatorship of the proletariat,” Guardiola-Rivera says, as the creation of a new kind of Latin America, free of predatory “multinational vampires” (which is how the novelist Julio Cortázar characterized the north). Relying on the input of a new generation of intellectuals — among them socio-economist Fernando H. Cardoso, the future president of Brazil — Allende and his like-minded colleagues set out to complete the project of independence begun two centuries before. Henceforward, he said, he wanted a Chile free of foreign intervention, with a narrative all its own.

But by 1970, as Guardiola-Rivera chronicles, anti-communism in the United States had reached a state of religious dogma. The war in Vietnam was at full throttle, and Allende’s politics were seen as another festering boil. Would the Chilean brand of socialism spread? Would his anti-capitalism cost U.S. markets billions of dollars?


As Allende’s presidential campaign gained traction in 1970, corporations with interests in Chile — PepsiCo, Chase Manhattan, ITT, Anaconda, Kennecott, Ford — made their panic known to the U.S. government. Once Allende was elected, Kissinger advised Nixon to mobilize “quietly and covertly . . . to oppose Allende as strongly as we can and do all we can to keep him from consolidating power.” Kissinger quickly implemented Track I and Track II (also known as the CIA’s Fubelt), which would employ subversive means, even violence if necessary, to provoke a military coup and install a more palatable leader. Nixon instructed his foreign, security and intelligence services to “make the [Chilean] economy scream.”

“All’s fair on Chile,” Nixon told Kissinger. “Kick ’em in the ass. Okay?”

Later, he said to Treasury Secretary John Connally, “We’re going to play it very tough . . . we’re going to give Allende the hook.”

Perhaps we have reached such a level of permanent crisis — with CIA surrogates pulling Saddam Hussein from a spider hole, with the spectacle of Moammar Gaddafi’s mutilated corpse in a freezer, with Navy SEALs descending on Osama bin Laden, with drone attacks so much in evidence in Pakistan and Afghanistan — that a Sept. 11 attack on a remote Latin American country 40 years ago just doesn’t provoke the collective outrage the author hopes for. In such a state of disconnect, can Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent address to the Organization of American States, promising the end of U.S. intervention in Latin America, have any meaning?

Reading this sometimes meticulous, sometimes maddeningly erratic chronicle of how America trained its sights on a pacifist president makes for a bracing tonic. As Guardiola-Rivera tells us: Look at the reality. Forget what you’ve heard about Allende mismanaging the Chilean economy. Forget your natural, red-blooded aversion to the idea of nationalizing anything. Forget the quixotic, even naive nature of Allende’s utopian vision. Were the air raids, the bombs, the executions, the Caravan of Death necessary?



Source: ‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende’ by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera – The Washington Post



By this time 40 years ago, Allende was in his grave; his widow was in panicked exile in Mexico. Neruda had died of heart failure, Pinochet was in power, the Chilean purges were in high gear, and — for another reason entirely — Nixon was yelling to the U.S. media, “I’m not a crook!”

Marie Arana is a writer at large for The Washington Post and the author, most recently, of a biography of Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar.


The Coup Against Salvador Allende,
11 September 1973

By Oscar Guardiola-Rivera

Bloomsbury. 472 pp. $30


We will never be Free while the Rich Rule Over Us!! #BecomeUngovernable – beungovernable .com

I Am Your Negro Sometimes by Terrance Hayes

18 Mar

Poet Terrance Hayes on the James Baldwin documentary: “It seemed, for a moment, we had come around a big bend on the racial mountain. It seemed, for a moment, we were beyond Negro.”

When I watched the James Baldwin documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, for the second time, I pondered the intended audience. Who was the your in the title, I wondered. What does your average White James Baldwin fan really know about Negroes, I wondered.

Who was the your in the title, I wondered.

Both times I waited in line for the film, I stood in a stream of mostly middle- to late-aged, well-to-do, eye-glassed White people. Both times they hummed, nodded, and clapped at the end of the documentary. Also before both viewings, a trailer for some black-and-white, French-drenched romance swelled on screen. A tear ran down a woman’s cheek, orchestral music gushed beneath the subtitles. Might the mostly White audience for a Baldwin documentary also be interested in such highbrow melodrama?

Yes, if only because James Baldwin’s story has a dramatic sweep to it. He was the gay, Black son of a shoeshine man. He was the poor boy preacher who pulled himself out of poverty by means of a silver tongue. Baldwin’s peculiar face alone was a feat of shifting, morphing emotional theatrics. It is the first thing Haitian director Raoul Peck puts on screen: Baldwin’s amazing face on a talk show. His chain-smoking barely cloaks his cautiousness. Against a blue set background, Baldwin’s visage is the color and feel of wet driftwood. His big eyes look a little lost, self-absorbed while absorbing everything. His poise was sometimes mistaken as haughtiness. His inherent shyness could be mistaken as meekness.

Maybe Baldwin seemed harmless to the mid-20th-century American talk show audience. He was not as suave as Harry Belafonte, nor as tall as Malcolm X, nor as sonorous as Martin Luther King Jr. Sometimes in the footage he is slightly hunched (note the scene of the standing ovation in Cambridge for evidence) as if there is something wounded in him. He is forthcoming, forthright, and compassionate. Indignation and pride, testimony and witness whistle through the gap in his teeth.

He seems, to the White imagination, a safe American Negro.

Who before Baldwin put such an existential fire to Blackness?

The film may be a mostly auditory encounter. The script consists of Baldwin’s writing and interviews. You can drift for stretches on his language. His prose style, like his manner, owes something to Emersonian Enlightenment and Black Church rhythms. His sentences can lull with the seriousness of a book report or sermon if read by the wrong person. Both times, I was almost lulled to sleep at the start of the documentary. Narrator Samuel L. Jackson underplays his trademark vernacular jolts, and the result is a drowsy monotone. Very Ken Burns, very PBS mini-series gravitas. Both times I wondered who other than Jackson could have conveyed Baldwin’s tone. Not Morgan Freeman, for too much affability; not Angela Basset, for too much theatricality. Maybe Oprah Winfrey, whose voice can hit the sly notes of a trickster. Toni Morrison, obviously, if I could have anyone on the planet read me James Baldwin sentences for a couple of hours.



But he’s got to be in the top five of any serious list of American prose stylists. His sentences are conscious but just shy of flamboyant. Read his prose if you’re looking for evidence. Listen to the film. When I closed my eyes in the theater, I could hear Jackson breathing carefully between James Baldwin’s winding, twirling sentences; he never sounded calmer. He might have been stupefied reading Baldwin. Who before Baldwin put such an existential fire to Blackness? Everything he wrote and said concerned the lives of Black people. Baldwin had plans for a book about Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.; he knew each of them. The book would be an elegy to his brothers, a testament to brave, brilliant Black men, a record of the civil rights struggle. (It was a good idea. Why didn’t it happen? Perhaps shifts in the publishing economy meant Baldwin’s editor was unable to secure the advance necessary to fund Baldwin’s travel, housing, and research; or Baldwin’s editor, having received over the years several other book ideas, typed hastily and smelling of sea salt, extravagant wine, and tobacco, was well aware of the size of advance necessary to fund Baldwin’s travel, housing, and research.) Baldwin’s notes for the book provide the film’s scaffolding. His language runs seamlessly from images of the last century to footage of Black Lives Matter, from shots of Times Square post-9/11 to shots of Black people staring nobly into the camera.

Could I Am Not Your Negro have been made at any time in the past 40 years or so? Yes, because Baldwin’s sensibility and sentences are timeless. Yes, because Baldwin’s concern for America is akin to a doctor’s concern for a terminal patient. There is some cynicism in what I’m suggesting here. He doesn’t believe there is medicine to cure White people: He is trying to describe a disease called racism. Sometimes he is as measured as a counselor. Sometimes he is as hot as a preacher. Sometimes he’s a comic. In the 1960s, Bobby Kennedy said that a Negro could be president of the United States sometime in the foreseeable future. In the documentary, Baldwin almost winks at Kennedy’s assertion, before mocking it.

If one must ask permission to be free, it ain’t freedom.

Both times I saw the film, the audience chuckled at this scene. As if the idea of a Black president were still ridiculous, somehow. As if Obama’s time had been a dream. It is very likely White people have far fewer definitions of Negro than Black people do. I have never used the word as an adjective, as in “Negro College Fund,” for example. (I also have never said the words “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” out loud.) With Black people, Negro is not neutral. It is used ironically, euphemistically, dismissively, always in judgment. As in: Several Negroes showed up at James Baldwin’s funeral. For my mother, saditty is a synonym for Negro. I am a Negro sometimes. The ending of I Am Not Your Negro implies Baldwin might have titled the film I Am Not Your Nigger. In the closing scene, he uses the word with an almost imperceptible grimace, a questioning of familiar, fickle labels like Negro, Black, African American. Yes, this makes the film timeless. James Baldwin is always on time. After considering Bobby Kennedy’s talk of foreseeable emancipation, Baldwin scoffs at the notion of permission. It is not that Baldwin couldn’t imagine a Negro president; it’s that he couldn’t believe the vanity of White folk. Their assumption of White power is so pervasive that they can’t see beyond it. (If one must ask permission to be free, it ain’t freedom. If one must ask for power, it ain’t power.)

The irony, of course, is that Bobby Kennedy’s prediction for America was, for a moment, more accurate than Baldwin’s prediction. It seemed, for a moment, we had come around a big bend on the racial mountain. It seemed, for a moment, we were beyond Negro. It’s unlikely Kennedy considered the difference between a Negro president and a Black president. An African American president. Barack Obama seemed to have struggled with the distinctions himself. Me too, Brother. I have been the Black person saying to another Black person, “I am not your Negro.” I have also been the Black person saying to the mirror, “I am not your nigger.”




We will never be Free while the Rich Rule Over Us!!  




Source: I Am Your Negro Sometimes by Terrance Hayes — YES! Magazine

A Battle for the Common Good: Join the May Day General Strike 2017 « Revolutionary Radar

15 Mar


Reform will come and only come through the building of mass movements and alternative centers of power that can overthrow – let me repeat that word for Homeland Security – overthrow the corporate state. If we fail to sever these chains, we will become like many who did not rise up in time to save their civil society’s human chattel. This means we too must defy the law and engage in civil disobedience.”

-Chris Hedges

America is in a desperate state, and it is not just because of Donald Trump. He is a symptom of a corrupt fascist system whose puppeteers believe in elite privilege and corporate rule, and dog-eat-dog competition that impoverishes people and destroys families and communities. Make no mistake about, this abhorrent behavior isn’t limited to the GOP. We have, since the late 90s, watched the total disintegration of the Democratic Party into a corrupt, festering cesspool of unbridled power and dirty money. There is no difference. Before we can make any real change, we must face the facts and stop believing in false narratives.

It is clear that, while we do not all agree with the specific tactics necessary to effect real transformation in our government, we recognize that we must band together in this battle for the common good.

To this end, we are calling for a National Strike on May 1, 2017, known and celebrated around the world as International Workers Day. This day commemorates the Haymarket martyrs, who fought for an 8-hour day and defended workers’ and union rights.

We know we are being lied to about taxes funding anything on a national level. Our currency is sovereign. We don’t just use the money. We produce it. We have enough money to take care of what the people need, including health care for all as a right, good jobs for all at a decent living wage, and free education. They have no shortage of money when it comes to waging war; they run into financial problems when it comes to taking care of us. Our elected officials must understand that if they do not spend on we the people, they will be voted out.

Unions must stand up against “right to work” legislation, which is nothing more than a transparent attempt at union-busting and an assault on workers’ wages. Yet, conservative union leaders still believe they can work with Trump, while other leaders believe that the Democrats – in spite of their dismal track record – will save them. History has shown that unions are saved by the workers themselves, not by labor leaders. It is up to us to put the pressure on from the bottom up.

Immigrants are being unfairly scapegoated as the cause of Americans losing jobs. We know better. We know that it is because of the greed of the corporate state that disastrous trade agreements, like NAFTA, have resulted in American jobs being outsourced overseas. We also know that American corporations are exploiting undocumented workers here at home by paying them slave wages. Make no mistake about it: We are in this situation because we have legislators who do not legislate. They have not been able to pass comprehensive immigration legislation for decades now. We believe in comprehensive immigration reform, but we demand that every undocumented person currently in this nation be offered a path to citizenship. They should not be made to suffer because our government does not do its job.

We believe in a new direction for this country that puts the needs of the majority above the wants of few oligarchs that control our lives right now. We need a strong third party that is built outside the established empire, a party that puts people over profits. We cannot continue to prop up a corrupt system and expect things to improve. There will be no change coming from either established party because as long as we continue to return to them, there is no need to change.

We reject the notion of endless war as a business model. We stand in solidarity against America’s imperialist interventionist aggression that seeks to overthrow foreign governments in order to feed the never-ending greed of the globalist war profiteers.

They are the few. We are the many.

In order for a strike to work, we need numbers. We are the many. The only thing holding us back is our belief that we have no power. In fact, we hold all the cards. They have brainwashed you into believing that.

On May 1, what would happen if NOBODY showed up for work? It would be a thing of beauty. Washington would have been served notice that we the people are in power and we are in control. We can do this again if they’d like. There would be nobody to cook dinner for the elites, bathe their children, clean Trump’s hotel rooms, unload boats at the docks, run the cash registers at the local stores, drive the trucks that move the product, manufacture the product that makes the profits, and on and on. This is what a strike is all about.

May 1 should be a day of disruption and mass action. Non-violent actions like shutting down highways, airports and other critical infrastructures is what civil disobedience looks like. It is not a new concept, and is a bedrock of a true democracy where the power lies with the people.

We know this is a long battle. We are just getting organized, and there is not much time between now and May 1. Talk is brewing in the labor unions. The board of directors of the nurses in Minnesota, MNA, has issued a resolution that “calls upon the NNU, [the National Nurses Union], the AFL-CIO and the wider labor movement to start an intense discussion about workplace education and information meetings and protest action on May Day, May 1, 2017, including a discussion within the AFL-CIO about a call for a nationwide strike that day.” [resolution text]

We have the power to make this happen. We call on all American farmers, bartenders, auto workers, steel workers, dock workers, waitresses and waiters, fast-food clerks, bank tellers, truck drivers, pilots, cooks, teachers, clerks, mailmen and the unemployed to join the fight for the common good.

For more information, write:

Source: A Battle for the Common Good: Join the May Day General Strike 2017 « Revolutionary Radar


Protests and Strike May Day Weekend – SHUT IT DOWN – No work as usual; Strike and Boycott on May Day.  Order, Compliance, Obedience these are not Liberties – but unobstructed Civil Disobedience Is! All Oppression is connected! All Oppression is Violence! We will never be Free while the Rich Rule Over Us!! / #BecomeUngovernable. 

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