Wednesday, 11 September 2013

40th Anniversary of Chilean Coup: Justice Must be served


September 11, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup d'etat,  that ousted the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende, which led to a 17 year old repressive dictatorship and the torture and murder of thousands of innocents, under the auspices of General Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990. On this day air force planes  bombed the presidential palace, and in the aftermath Allende lay dead, having committed suicide rather than be captured.
More  than 3,000 people were killed by state agents or dissapeared during this era, and more than 27,000 were tortured, with many thousands more being forced into exile. All told, the  present Chilean government now recognises that more than 40,000 people were killed, imprisoned and tortured for political reasons.

Sadly  many years after this brutal dictatorships demise, for many victims of the dictatorship has proven elusive. Many people  are still demanding truth and justice, and will not rest until they have found out was has happened to their loved ones, who were arrested, and went missing, never to return.
Barak Obama declared on Margaret Thatcher's death that she was "one of greatest champions of freedom and liberty." This is the same bit of poison that told her friend Pinochet that, she was " very much aware that it was you that brought  democracy to Chile, you set up a constitution  suitable for democracy."
Throughout Pinochets regime of terror he was supplied by UK Defence Manufacturers, the military junta that took power  bombed the presidential palace  using British Hawker Hunter aircraft. She personally after coming into power lifted the arms embargo on his regime. Whilst Thatcher fawned over him, Pinochet carried on killing, critics, and any form of opposition, among them the revered Chilean singer Victor Jara, who was arrested by the military and tortured at Estadio Chile, in front of thousands of onlookers, who was subsequently shot as he defied the taunting soldiers by singing, his body left bloodied, his bones and his hands broken and battered full of bullet holes.

Victor Jara

 Pinochet would always be thankful to Thatcher, visiting her on an annual pigrimage to London.
Pinochet eventually died in 2006, under house arrest, with many millions of pounds laundered in banks, but had  managed to avoid going on trial and thus avoiding justice.

Thatcher and Pinochet
Pinochet the murderous fascist dictator

For  many his legacy is one of state terrorism, and rampant disregard for human rights, he caused a whole society to become fearful, their daily lives one of terror. We must not forget, the dead and the missing, nor the human rights activists who shone a light on this dark regime. For many victims of the dictatorship justice has proven elusive, people still waiting to hear the outcome  of eight retired army officers who have been indicted in Chile in connection with the murder and torture of Jara.
According to Amnesty Internationals Deputy Director at the Americas Programme, Guadalupa Marenga " It is not acceptable that 40 years after the military coup the search for justic, truth and repatriation in Chile continues to be hampered. An amnesty law continues to shield human rights violators from prosecution, there are still long delays in judicial proceedings and sentences fail to reflect the severity of the crimes committed."
There is a petition by Amnsty International signed by thousands that you can sign here, calling on the Chilean authorities to put an end to all obstacles protecting the perpetrators of human rights violations in the country. The fight for justice continues.

Victor Jara of Chile - Adrian Mitchell

Victor Jara of Chile
Lived like a shooting star
He fought for the people of Chile
With his songs and his guitar

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

Victor Jara was a peasant
Worked from a few years old
He set upon his father's plough
And watched the earth unfold

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

When the neighbours had a wedding
Or one of their children died
His mother sang all night for them
With Victor by her side

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

He grew to be fighter
Against the people's wrongs
He listened to their grief and joy
And turned them into songs

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

He sang about the copper miners
And those who work the land
He sang about the factory workers
And they knew he was their man

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

He campaigned for Allende
working night and day
He sang take hold of your brother's hand
The future begins today

And his hands were gentle
is hands were strong

The bloody generals seized  Chile
hey arrested Victor  then
They caged him in a stadium
With five thousand frightened men

 And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

Victor stood in the stadium
His voice was brave and strong
He sang for his fellow prisoners
Til the guards cut short his song

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

They broke the bones in both his hands
They beat his lovely head
They tore him with electric shocks
After two days of torture they shot him dead

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

And now the Generals rule Chile
And the British have their thanks
For they rule with Hawkers Hunters
And they rule with Chieftain tanks

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

Victor Jara of Chile
Loved like a shooting star
He fought for thee people of Chile
With his songs and his guitar

And his hands were gentle
His hands were strong

Reprinted from:-
The Apeman Cometh - Adrian Mitchell
Jonathan Cape, 1975

This ballad was later set to music  by Arlo Guthrie, which you can hear here :-

 Earlier post  on Victor Jara's and his Last Song

Venceremos- A Chilean Popular Song

March organised by National Association
of Human Rights in Santiago, to mark
40th anniversary

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