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My Reaction To Burning Spear’s 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the US Coup Against Chile

On September 11th, 2023, Burning Spear hosted an online event with editor of Orinoco Tribune, Jesus Rodriguez-Espinoza, as well as Cuban based author Edelso Moret. Comrades Penny Hess and Mwezi Odom hosted alongside Chairman Omali Yeshitela himself. Orinoco being an important river in Venezuela which borders much of Colombia, the Tribune is an English language Venezuelan outlet that presents leftist views, Comrade Moret is also a leftist, respectively. The program clearly demonstrated the significance of the coup going beyond Chile, however there is a personal connection to me, me being the great grandson of a Chilean. I have met a number of Chileans who descend from those who fled the coup upon my trip to Venezuela in 2021, Venezuela itself is a country where Pablo Allende Sepulveda resides, a supporter of Maduro and grandson of Allende himself.

This event was meant also as a precursor to the 15th annual Black Is Back rally planned in the imperial capital of Washington DC November 4th of this year. According to “The Black is Back Coalition’s 15th Annual Black People’s March on the White House is being co-sponsored by the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! committee and the massive Anticolonial Free Speech Coalition that recognizes that the attack on the APSP and Uhuru Movement functions as the proverbial canary in the coal mine.” Indeed, Comrade Rodriguez-Espinosa referred to the anti colonial free speech movement in his opening statement to highlight this event as well.

As for the commemoration, on September 11th, 1973, the Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile, was being bombed by General Pinochet’s forces, while this was happening Allende gave his farewell address to the public on the radio, which I have listened to, it was clear he was going to either go down fighting or take his life with honor. In 2011 an autopsy confirmed he did indeed take his life. Regardless, the coup plotters made the conditions for Allende to have to make that move, as he knew had he been captured he would have likely been tortured and killed as 1000s of other leftists did following the tragic coup. 

The coup commenced a reign of fascist terror which emerged over the South American continent orchestrated by the CIA and its “allies”, many of them trained by the School of the Americas in the US in torture methods and other fascist means as mentioned in the program. I do not use the term terror lightly, the textbook definition of terrorism is the targeting of civilians for political gain, and certainly civilians were targeted in Chile. Also I put allies in quotations since Henry Kissinger once said, in an actual truthful statement, that the US has no allies, only interests. We know when former “allies” of the US step out of line they become enemies, there are many examples of this in Latin America namely Manuel Noriega, who was actually trained in the School of the Americas as well, but later became the US’ enemy in Panama and suffered a coup as well.

This Latin American 9/11 commemorated, first started in Chile with the coup against democratically elected Socialist, Salvador Allende indeed, and quickly spread to other countries, such as Argentina, with far right military juntas taking over. Many of these juntas had as advisers Nazis wanted in Europe who were smuggled into South America by the CIA and others post-WWII with the emergence of the Cold War, which was a hot and bloody war for many in the Third World. There has been a lot of attention lately on Nazis and their collaborators being sent to North America, or talk of Operation Paperclip and how they came to the US as scientists, but what is largely ignored is their role in the terrorist regimes of South America. 

Among these Nazis were Klaus Barbie, who along with the CIA, helped train the rangers who captured Comandante (Commander) Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967. The “anti guerrilla” tactics included torture methods, such as those used against the Jews in the camps that Mr. Barbie had done with his own hands. In the years prior to the fascist reign, Nazis were already in place, as we see with Che’s capture and assassination with Nazi involvement in neighboring Bolivia. The fascist reign is also known as The Condor Years. Condor being an important bird to South America, much like the Eagle is to the imperial US.   

Comrade Moret made the case of the methods used against Cuba of sabotage being similar to that used against Chile prior to the coup during the 3 year rule of President Allende, he also pointed out the friendship between President Fidel Castro and Allende himself. Comrade Rodriguez-Espinoza, continued in the same vein, showing how methods of sanctions and sabotage against Venezuela were very similar to Chile, indeed the term “desaparecidos” or disappeared, often used in reference to those missing in Chile from Pinochet’s regime, actually originated from the 1960s prior in Venezuela with the US backed regime there making countless leftists disappear as well, as Comrade Rodriguez-Espinoza pointed out. The comrade started out his speech stating: “We need to build now more than ever the anti colonial free speech movement.” Comrade Moret also stressed: “The hands of the CIA were always behind the (Chilean) coup.” 

Often when these instances in history are covered by the bourgeois press the US role, clearly demonstrated, is ignored. Australian and European governments were also complicit in the coup, and wanted to get a hold of the resources of Chile such as copper, with the new client regime in power. Justice did not catch up to Pinochet till the 1990s when current Julian Assange & Alex Saab lawyer, Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon, made an international arrest warrant against him on behalf of Chileans of Spanish nationality, for human rights abuses against them, upon Pinochet’s state visit to the UK during the Thatcher regime. Eventually he was returned to Chile just before his death, but he lost power as a result and justice is finally reaching many of the families affected, as the process continues to this day with a more left leaning government in power (Boric). To conclude, according to “The government hit the black liberation movement of the 60s with assassinations, mass imprisonment of black leaders and organizers, slander and infiltration”, this is in reference to groups within the US Empire itself, therefore the meddling that nations in the Third World faced, primarily nations with people of color, has been felt at home as well in a form of internal imperialism. The Chairman (Omali) contributed to the program of the 11th, not with questions as the hosts posed that to the guests, but with an impassioned and important speech, where he made the point that the colonized people of Chile and every nation under the colonial system one way or another must be free. This is an important point, many of Allende’s allies were indigenous, such as the Chilean leftist singer assassinated by the Pinochet regime, Victor Jara, who was of Mapuche blood, Mapuche being the principal tribe in Chile and Argentina. The expression Che from Argentina, which more or less means buddy, comes from the word Mapuche, che meaning people, mapu land, people of the land. Che Guevara being the only Argentine among the Cubans he developed this as a nom-de-plume. Another example of indigenous people being targeted because of a US backed coup is the indigenous Mayan people of Guatemala who suffered a genocide with the US backed regime placed there in the 1950s with the coup against President Arbenz. We see now with the left rising up in Latin America through democratic means, as Allende tried to do, a continuation of Allende’s legacy, and like Che said to Allende once, Allende was trying to do what they did in Cuba but through other means. The tactical differences did not prevent Che or Fidel from being friends or allies of Allende, and such differences should not divide us together either as we are a half a century on since this vicious coup. 

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