❤ Sharing Folkworthy Stuffs ❤
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12 days after September 11, 1973 coup d’etat that overthrew Salvador Allende’s government, on September 23, 1973, the new military junta prepared a stunt in which would show publicly the extirpation of the “marxist cancer”. In Torres de San Borja department, in Santiago, soldiers raided apartment towers, seizing thousands of books, magazines, vinyls and other publications and burned them on the streets.
The books considered subversive included not just political or leftist literature but several other publications, often not political at all. Books about cubism were burned, as they were thought to be related with Cuba, even physics or medical books were mistakenly destroyed, for including in their titles the words *resistance* or *red*.
[Footage of the September 23, 1973 operation in San Borja.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOvwhFBsKT4)
Picture by David Burnett.
For those who don’t know much about Pinochet, a little background: in 1970, Chile elected the western world’s first socialist President, [Salvador Allende](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Allende), who began a process of collectivization and nationalization, hoping it would improve the economy. The US, under Nixon, responded by doing our best to undercut their economy and helped drive the Chilean economy into a recession, leading to instability within the country.
On this day (9/11) in 1973, with at least some US support, Pinochet overthrew the government and took power, leading to a military dictatorship. One of Chile’s most famous soccer stadiums was turned into [a torture chamber by the military regime](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estadio_Nacional_Julio_Martínez_Prádanos#Use_as_a_detention_center), as one instance of his brutality.
In *Story of a Death Foretold* by Guardiola-Rivera, I believe, the claim is made that at least part of the reason Nixon and Kissinger allowed the coup to occur is because they feared that if they didn’t, Allende would undercut a lot of the basis for the Cold War. Allende offered to hold elections, which actually prompted the coup members to move up the date of their coup; this is part of the reason Guardiola-Rivera makes the claim that the idea of a socialist who willingly stepped down from power when he lost the election would undercut a lot of the Cold War paranoia that once a socialist took power, they would become a dictator. As I understand it, both Allende and Pinochet remain highly controversial figures in Chile to this day.
The Sting song [*They Dance Alone*](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/They_Dance_Alone) is in part about the haunted mothers, wives, and sisters, who would ‘dance alone’ with photos of their missing loved ones, the closest they could get to a protest. [Isabel Allende, the famous author](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabel_Allende), is the daughter of Allende’s first cousin once removed, though she has referred to him as “uncle” in public and private life. *My Invented Country* is a great memoir by her, reflecting, as a Chilean immigrant to the US, on her experiences living through both 9/11/1973 and 9/11/2001 and how it impacted her.
Those cultural aspects aside, [Allende’s farewell speech, from 9/11/1973, is powerful; you can hear explosions and bombs going off in the background as he says goodbye to his people](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC8UirZLCZQ):
> They have strength and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested neither by crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history. > > Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the Constitution and the law and did just that. At this definitive moment, the last moment when I can address you, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the Armed Forces broke their tradition, the tradition taught by General Schneider and reaffirmed by Commander Araya, victims of the same social sector which will today be in their homes hoping, with foreign assistance, to retake power to continue defending their profits and their privileges. > > I address, above all, the modest woman of our land, the campesina who believed in us, the worker who labored more, the mother who knew our concern for children. I address professionals of Chile, patriotic professionals, those who days ago continued working against the sedition sponsored by professional associations, class-based associations that also defended the advantages which a capitalist society grants to a few. > > I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours — in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to protect them. They were committed. History will judge them. > > Surely Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to [inaudible] the workers. > > The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either. > > Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again where free men will walk to build a better society.
For those interested in learning more, I’d recommend *Story of a Death Foretold*, *The Pinochet File*, and Isabel Allende’s *My Invented Country*.