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The Pinochet File: How U.S. Politicians, Banks and Corporations Aided Chilean Coup, Dictatorship

Web ExclusiveSeptember 10, 2013
Media Options

Part 2 of our conversation on the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup with Spanish lawyer Juan Garcés, a former personal adviser to ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende, and Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.

Related segments:
40 Years After Chilean Coup, Allende Aide Juan Garcés on How He Brought Pinochet to Justice

'Make the Economy Scream': Secret Documents Show Nixon, Kissinger Role Backing 1973 Chile Coup

See all of Democracy Now!’s coverage of the 1973 Chilean Coup.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Aaron Maté. Our guests are Juan Garcés, who also has written a book, simply called Allende, about the president who he advised, his closest adviser until September 11th, 40 years ago, 1973, when the palace was being bombed by the Pinochet forces and Salvador Allende took his own life. He was surrounded by his other advisers, but he walked Juan Garcés to the door and said, “Tell the world.” Juan Garcés went on as a Spanish lawyer to work to hold Pinochet responsible, and ultimately, through Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge, had him—had him call for Augusto Pinochet’s extradition to Spain to be tried. Augusto Pinochet was in London, and Augusto Pinochet was held for about a year there before ultimately he was allowed to return home to Chile.

We’re also joined by Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.

I was just speaking about Joyce Horman, the widow of the freelance journalist Charlie Horman. Peter Kornbluh, tell us what Charlie discovered in those days leading up to the coup, why he was so dangerous, and what you learned in declassification of documents of Kissinger.

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Charles Horman and his wife Joyce were part of a large group of Americans who went to Chile during the Allende years. Chile was, as Juan Garcés will tell us, was a dynamic, exciting place. The whole world was watching what was happening there. It was something new and vibrant. And—

AMY GOODMAN: What was it? What was happening? I mean, so a new president was elected.

PETER KORNBLUH: The via—the famous via pacifica of—toward social change—not armed revolution to bring fundamental change to a Third World country, but democratic revolution, in which the people would vote, and institutions would gradually be changed to spread the wealth equally, to nationalize resources so that U.S. copper companies and corporations like IT&T then suck the money right out of the country. This was an exciting, new model of change for Latin America and the world. That’s what made it so dangerous for the Nixon and Kissingers of the world.

So, Charlie and his wife Joyce were there. Charles Horman was actually, as part of his journalistic approach, he was actually investigating the murder of the Chilean commander-in-chief, General René Schneider, that took place in October of 1970 and was part of a CIA operation to foment a coup, to create a coup climate in Chile that might stop Allende from actually being inaugurated the first week of November. This was an atrocity, a bald assassination of the commander-in-chief of Chilean armed forces right in broad daylight on the streets. There was a trial that had taken place in Chile. There were documents, that really did focus on the contacts with the United States and the coup plotters. In my book, The Pinochet File, I have one still-secret CIA document, which reveals that the agency paid the people that killed René Schneider $35,000 to close their mouths about the U.S. role and to help them escape from Chile to get beyond the grasp of justice. But some people were arrested, tried. Charlie Horman was investigating that, looking at the trial file. He also happened to be in Valparaíso on the day of the coup and met a number of U.S. officials—

AMY GOODMAN: Where is Valparaíso?

PETER KORNBLUH: Valparaíso is a coastal—very famous coastal town. He went to Viña del Mar. He went to Valparaíso. It was where the U.S. Navy group that was advising the Chilean military was based.


PETER KORNBLUH: The U.S. MILGROUP was there. He met the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, Captain Ray Davis, who actually drove him and a companion back to Santiago because there was a curfew. And so the implication was, is that he had talked to these Americans, that he might actually know something about the coup. It is still—the details of his death and why he was killed are still murky, and the case is going forward. And actually, almost 40 years later, a Chilean judge actually indicted Captain Ray Davis, the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, for his death. So, we are hoping in the months to come that we learn more about the circumstances under which he died.

AARON MATÉ: Peter, the role of the ITT Corporation, this huge U.S. firm that had a lot of interest in Chile?

PETER KORNBLUH: ITT owned the telephone companies in Chile, owned the Sheraton Hotel. They were a very aggressive company in Latin America. And they decided they should have their own foreign policy, and they started pushing for meetings with the—with the CIA. It helped that they had on their board of directors a former CIA director, John McCone. And he was able to gain access to the CIA rather easily. There was more than 40 meetings between CIA officials and ITT officials. ITT wanted to start funneling secret funds to Allende’s opponent in the 1970 election. One of the—for students of this history, the first real documents that came out on U.S. intervention in Chile were ITT internal memos that recorded their meetings with the CIA and the U.S. ambassador, as your audience heard in the tape that was played on your program. So, this was the first kind of real inkling of what was happening. The scandal arose—Juan Garcés can remember what happened, because Allende was president at the time, and he simply declared, “Well, we were negotiating to nationalize and compensate ITT, but now that we see that they’re a completely criminal enterprise intervening with the CIA in our internal state of affairs, we’re going to expropriate their holdings in Chile.”

AMY GOODMAN: And how, Juan Garcés, was Allende dealing with ITT? Kissinger, Nixon—what did he understand was their role in supporting Pinochet? Did he?

JUAN GARCÉS: Well, Allende wanted always a good agreement with the United States. And certainly, he said that he should govern in conformity with the willingness of the Chilean people, of the Chilean Congress, but looking for a way to preserve the good relations with the United States. And, in fact, several months before the coup, a high delegation from Chile came to Washington to open formal negotiations to try to solve the differences that—in terms of investments or in terms of economic differences that were present in this period. And the doors of the U.S. government in Washington were practically closed—no dialogue, no negotiation, coup d’état.

So, what is—40 years later, what is interesting is that you see this coup d’état against a very active democratic society articulated by an operation where one of the legs is a mass media group, El Mercurio, asking the intervention of the U.S. government through Secret Services, in relation with some corporations that have private investments in Chile. And with those three leaks—excuse me, legs, the coup and the destabilization of the society was done. Now, with the technological means that currently are at our disposal, at the disposal of the governments, you realize that the three legs are still working—corporations that are linked—have links with Secret Services and the articulation with the government, the government, to prepare interventions in other countries, invasions. And that has been the case particularly after the tragedy of the attack to New York in 2001. But the violence that we can do, and many countries do, and the United States citizens are doing also, is what is the cost of those options, to follow this path, for the economy of other countries and for the health of our democratic system.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask about something remarkable that you did in your efforts to bring justice to the people of Chile and to hold Pinochet accountable. And that was to get at his money, which was the people’s money of Chile, the millions of dollars he had stashed away. Peter, first—Peter Kornbluh, sort of lay this out for an American audience. Talk about the story of Riggs Bank.

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, let me just say it’s such a pleasure to be on this show with Juan Garcés, for what he did during the Allende period and what he did to bring Pinochet to justice, and then what he did to really try and recover the money that Pinochet had clearly stolen and hidden away in secret bank accounts. The CIA documents on Pinochet described him as “hard-working” and “honest.” But it turns out that he was completely corrupt, as—in addition to be murderous. And he secretly took more than $26 million of Chilean money, hid it in 120 bank accounts, some—many of them offshore accounts, using false passports, the images of which are in the new edition of The Pinochet File, and using kind of variants of his name, but without the name Pinochet, to try and hide the fact that these were his assets.


PETER KORNBLUH: He used the name Augusto Ugarte P., or simply Augusto Ugarte, or Ramón Ugarte, because his full name was Augusto Ramón Ugarte Pinochet, no? Or Pinochet Ugarte.


PETER KORNBLUH: Right. And some other false names. And he had some of his aides’ names, and he had some of his—variants of his children’s names on these accounts. And Riggs Bank, the famous bank of Washington, D.C., owned by Joseph Allbritton, had approached Pinochet for years. And at some—one point, they actually held the secret—the accounts of the Chilean secret police, DINA, in their—in their bank in Washington. But eventually, U.S. Senate—this was the most amazing thing. U.S.—the Senate investigation kind of looking at whether banks had tight enough regulations on money laundering by terrorists after 9/11 stumbled across the fact that Riggs Bank was hiding all of these funds from Pinochet and then recovered the—almost the entire file that—

AMY GOODMAN: How did they discover it?

PETER KORNBLUH: They were investigating banks and whether they were—their regulations were so loose that terrorists, in the post-9/11 world, could launder money for terrorist activities. They were looking for—at the financial side of terrorism in the post-9/11 world. And so they were looking for accounts that were suspicious, and they started an investigation. And immediately, they were told that in Riggs Bank, there were a series of people that knew that there was this very suspicious account that belonged to Augusto Pinochet. And they asked for the file on it, and eventually they got the entire file, which was so incredible, because it included all the correspondence between Joseph Allbritton, the chairman of the board of the bank, and Pinochet himself, and the memorandum on the visits by bank officials to Pinochet and other Chilean officials in Santiago, including going to horse clubs and equestrian shows and exchanging gifts and cufflinks and—

AMY GOODMAN: And who was Joseph Allbritton? I mean—

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Joseph Allbritton was one of the big banking corporate moguls of Washington, D.C. He owned the sports team. I forget whether it was the basketball team or the R-dsk-ns. At one point he owned a bunch of newspapers and radio stations. He owned Riggs Bank. But fundamentally, he participated in a conspiracy to hide Augusto Pinochet’s money. And he—they evaded the assets—Juan Garcés managed to get Pinochet’s assets frozen, but Riggs Bank violated that court order to freeze his assets by secretly starting to funnel back to him all of his money in $50,000 cashier’s checks. They had a courrier that would bring literally bundles of these checks to Pinochet’s house in Santiago. And the story returns to Juan Garcés, because more than $8 million of this $20-plus million stash of money was given back to Pinochet illegally by Riggs, and Juan Garcés stepped in and said, “That money belongs to the Chilean people and to the victims of Pinochet.” And he recovered it.

AMY GOODMAN: Allbritton’s son now runs Politico.

PETER KORNBLUH: Allbritton owned—started Politico, created Politico. And then, when he passed away, his son—

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Allbritton.

PETER KORNBLUH: —took over. So there’s still a presence of the family, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you got, Juan Garcés, millions of dollars of Chile’s money frozen, and then how was it distributed back to the people of Chile?

JUAN GARCÉS: Thanks to an investigation in the U.S. Senate, as Peter was explaining—

PETER KORNBLUH: Which was led by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, a terrific senator.

JUAN GARCÉS: Yeah, their committee on investigations. And they accepted to cooperate with a court of justice that was prosecuting Pinochet. And thanks to this cooperation between the U.S. Senate and the Spanish court, we reached to indict the owners of Riggs Bank. That is something that is without precedent, from their own pocket—


JUAN GARCÉS: —paid the totality of the money that went through the bank channels hiding the Pinochet money. And we distributed that to the victims of Pinochet that were considered such with the institution of the court. It is the only money that related directly to Pinochet has never been distributed to the victims.

AMY GOODMAN: But that money, the millions of dollars, how did you identify the victims, the survivors, and have it distributed?

JUAN GARCÉS: That was—the victims were recognized as such in the court, because thousands of them have been the object of an inquiry inside Chile by an official commission, committee Riggs, that established the list of thousands of people that were murdered, also forcibly disappeared. And we in Spain, with the cooperation of Chileans inside Chile, created a new commission for victims of torture, victims that survived the torture. And we found, through this commission, identified more than 20,000 persons. And then they have their right to receive a part of the indemnities.

AMY GOODMAN: Taking this forward, how you got Pinochet, how you got him arrested in England? We just went all to a big event last night where you, Juan Garcés, you, Peter Kornbluh, Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge, and others were honored in this 40th anniversary of this other 9/11, September 11, 1973, when Pinochet rose to power in Chile. You left the palace, taking the word of what happened there, September 11, 1973, as President Allende asked you to do, and you went forth. You were actually born in Spain. You ultimately went to Spain. You are a lawyer. How did you get Pinochet arrested in England?

JUAN GARCÉS: It’s a matter of conviction. This man was a criminal, of course, and deserves to make—to be made accountable for those crimes. So, someone essayed to kill him. There was an attempt against his life. My way of thinking is different. It’s to work to collect, to gather evidences about his crimes, to look for a court of justice, and wait for the moment in which the political conditions could make him accountable. And that happened after the end of the Cold War. And we applied international treaties—European Convention on Extradition and the international Convention Against Torture—and we found a court in Europe and applied the principles of universal jurisdiction. And we got Pinochet.

And the difference between a killing, a murder, and a legal proceeding, you can see here the consequences. Had he been killed in the attempted assassination in 1960—1986, things in Chile will be very different of what came after legal proceedings, where the crimes were openly explained in front of an independent court. And the Chilean society since then, as Pinochet was arrested in 1999, and since then until now, the big majority of Chileans agree that the transition to democracy in Chile begins the day in which Pinochet was put in front of a court of justice.

AMY GOODMAN: Peter Kornbluh, if you can talk about this remarkable event from a U.S. perspective, what actually took place? So, '73, Pinochet rises to power. He rules for 17 years. In 1989, he goes to the doctor in London. He's also, what, meeting with the former prime minister, Thatcher, and he is certainly treated as a dignitary. Where were you when he was arrested?

PETER KORNBLUH: No, in 1998, October 16th, it was a day that everybody in the Chile community remembers. General Pinochet—because of the work of Juan Garcés and Baltasar Garzón and some key people in London, take advantage of the fact that Pinochet is having a kind of minor surgery at a place called the Clinic in London, and they file a request for his arrest under the European counterterrorism convention, because Pinochet committed major acts of international terrorism. He spearheaded Operation Condor, which was a rendition, kidnapping and assassination program around the world, murdered Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington, D.C.

AMY GOODMAN: The former Chilean ambassador to the United States.

PETER KORNBLUH: The former Chilean ambassador, a friend of Juan Garcés’s.



AMY GOODMAN: —on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.

PETER KORNBLUH: That’s exactly right. So, these new laws that have come into place facilitated a request for his interrogation and arrest. And this was a transformational moment. It was a transformational moment for Chileans. It was a transformational moment for people in the United States. It was a transformational moment for the human rights movement, which became inspired. And what we call the Pinochet precedent or the Pinochet effect now has led to prosecutions of people like Alberto Fujimori in Peru and Ríos Montt in Guatemala and cases in Spain against the murderers of the Jesuits in El Salvador, just a cascade of efforts—

AMY GOODMAN: Hissène Habré now in Senegal, the former dictator of Chad.

PETER KORNBLUH: A cascade of efforts to hold the Pinochets of the world accountable for their atrocities. So, it couldn’t have been a more important, fundamental event in our recent history. And, you know, I just want to take the opportunity to be on your show and say that Juan Garcés is a hero, and what happened in Spain was a heroic, heroic effort. And the fact that there’s this straight line from 40 years ago, to being at La Moneda to then being in Spain and being able to hold Pinochet accountable and create a very different set of circumstances for the dictators of the futures is just a tremendous achievement.

AARON MATÉ: Peter, what has been the U.S. government response to this concept of universal jurisdiction?

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, there’s a bunch of issues. In the aftermath of Pinochet’s arrest, we in Washington took advantage of pressing the Clinton administration to declassify the deep—the deep, dark holdings of the U.S. government on Chile, on the Pinochet era, and eventually the CIA operations in Chile itself. And the Clinton administration actually deserves a lot of credit. People inside that administration despised Pinochet. Some of them had been Allende supporters in their youth. And the president was convinced to order a special declassification of 24,000 documents, including, in the end, 2,000 operational CIA documents, which we never would have seen otherwise, that recorded the U.S. role in Chile, Nixon and Kissinger’s role in undermining democracy and supporting dictatorship. So this was the initial response of the United States.

Overall, the United States doesn’t like the concept of universal jurisdiction, because they don’t want other countries to prosecute U.S. officials for atrocities committed around the world. And, of course, we now have a whole team from the Bush administration who could easily be prosecuted just as Pinochet was prosecuted.

AMY GOODMAN: So how are they affected when they go abroad, including President Bush, former President Bush?

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, I mean, certainly there have been efforts made in Europe to question George Bush, to question Donald Rumsfeld. There have been—we were with people last night, Juan and I, from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner and others, who have tried to bring cases against former Bush administration officials for torture, for rendition, for death, in the name of fighting terrorism.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you see could happen to Henry Kissinger?

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Henry Kissinger is 91 years old. And let me just take the opportunity to say that as Chileans are pushing their—their society to atone for what happened 40 years ago, the issue is whether Kissinger will step up and acknowledge and apologize for the crimes that he supported and helped to perpetrate in Chile. He’s the last surviving member of that team.

There’s—Kissinger and, to some degree, Bush have been what we call Pinocheted. This is a new verb in the lexicon of the human rights movement since Juan Garcés’s accomplishment in getting Pinochet arrested. They have faced the issue of, when they travel abroad, will they be subpoenaed and questioned for crimes that they supported or participated in or instigated? And so, you have a different situation for people like Henry Kissinger. He doesn’t freely travel abroad. He now—particularly after Pinochet was arrested in 1998, he would send emissaries to make sure there wasn’t going to be a problem. He went to France at one point, in 1999, I think, or 2000, and was served with a subpoena and promptly left. He was going to go to Brazil to receive a huge prize, and a judge in Brazil said, “I’m going to question him on Operation Condor,” and Kissinger cancelled his trip. So—and Bush himself, George Bush, has also faced, to some degree, this issue. I think the question is—you know, as Juan Garcés will say, Pinochet seemed untouchable for years and years and years, and then, suddenly, he wasn’t, because of the hard work.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan Garcés, what do you think should happen with Henry Kissinger? By the way, I should also just say, for folks who are called Juan in this country, it is spelled Juan Garcés, but the Catalonian form of Juan is Juan. So, Juan Garcés, what should happen with Henry Kissinger?

JUAN GARCÉS: Well, some of the victims of those crimes that we are talking about filed in the district court of Washington, D.C., a claim against Kissinger. Unfortunately, the date was not positive. That was the day before 9/11/2001. So—

PETER KORNBLUH: Thirteen years ago today.

JUAN GARCÉS: Yes, exactly. And so, this claim didn’t—was not successful, because the district court said that the U.S. court of justice cannot review the decisions taken by the State Department high officers, even if those decisions are related to crimes against humanity and genocidal acts. This decision was confirmed by the appeal court. The Supreme Court of justice didn’t accept to review those decisions. I hope—I think that this is very unfortunate. The leaders of the United States have extraordinary powers. If they are accomplices or commit crimes against humanity, they should—abroad, using the power of the United States to commit big crimes abroad, they should be made accountable. They couldn’t—they cannot be tried abroad, because no country, no court in the world dares to open a serious criminal case against a higher—a high officer of the United States. And if the U.S. courts say that because of the separation of power they can no more investigate those crimes, the outcome is absolute impunity. And I think that is unacceptable, and that is a danger for we all.

And, in fact, you are talking about this Pinochet case—let me tell you that I am just following the path that was opened by the U.S. government in 1945. When the World War II was ending, there was a discussion among the leaders of the United Nations: What to do with those big criminals that used the power of the Third Reich and for committing massive crimes? And then there was a discussion. For the prime minister of Britain, Churchill, the answer was very clear: You put them against the wall, ta-ta-ta-ta, finish, you kill them. That is all. Stalin agreed with that. But not Roosevelt nor the administration, the American administration. They said, “No, no. These people should face a tribunal, where their crimes should be exposed.” And then there was the Nuremberg trial. That is the beginning of the current international criminal law. So the roots of the international law presently are in the United States’ strategical thinking for the world after World War II.

AMY GOODMAN: As you talk about international law, can I digress for one minute, before we talk about the current election in Chile, and ask you about your thoughts on Syria? Because what’s often raised right now is that it’s a violation of a hundred-year-old law about the use of chemical weapons. And President Obama drew this red line. He says the international community drew it in the ban against the use of chemical weapons. What are your thoughts on what should happen in Syria? Do you think the U.S. should respond to this, though it’s not completely—the facts are not in on exactly who did this in Syria, but should strike Syria militarily?

JUAN GARCÉS: Well, in my view, the United States, Syria and the world is facing now the consequences of a bad strategical options two years ago in Libya. According to the international legal norms, the United Nations Charter, the legitimacy for using force against a sovereign government in an independent country is in the Security Council of the United Nations. It’s the only organ that can take those decisions. And the United States asked the permission from the United Nations Security Council to protect the civilians in the eastern side of Libya against bombing by the Gaddafi government. And the Security Council agree on that—great. And then an exclusion zone was created for protecting the civilians.

What was a mistake, in my point of view, that they turned this authorization from the Security Council in a regime change, accepting to use this authorization from the Security Council to bomb other areas of Chile—of Libya and permitting the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. Then the Russians and the Chinese, they were looking: What has been done with the authorization?

AMY GOODMAN: That they agreed to.

JUAN GARCÉS: Use of force—that they—Libya. They [inaudible] it. “That is the last time. We will not accept that once again that we give the authorization for that, and that is a pretext for something that we didn’t authorize.” And that is the tragedy for the Syrian people since two years ago, when the Security Council is blocked. Now, what I realize that is a proposal for solving the situation in Syria, you have here the position that has been taken by the U.S. executive, and a great [inaudible] in other countries about the use of force outside authorization of the Security Council, legitimate force. And I realize that some governments—for example, the German government—is saying that the people that is responsible for these chemical attacks should be made responsible in the International Criminal Court of justice. The—

AMY GOODMAN: Which the U.S. has not signed onto.

JUAN GARCÉS: But the Security Council can order that these people in Syria that has committed these crimes be sent to the International Criminal Court. This is a legal solution. And certainly, the diplomatic possibilities are not exhausted. And I consider that after the experiences, the fiascos in Iraq invasion, and the answer to the attack to New York, invading another country—well, look at what happened here in New York 10 years ago. There was a terrorist attack. To answer to this terrorist attack, there were several ways. The option was to invade a country, make the violence. What is 10 years later the number of terrorists, of jihadists, that are today in the world there? I think that this attack has multiplied the number of people that are ready to commit new crimes. So, I think that the use of force should be done, but through legitimate means. And the use of force outside the legitimacy of international law, the side effects are—in this case, it’s evident—more negative than positive. That is my balance.

AARON MATÉ: Peter Kornbluh, turning back to ’73, can you talk about the role of the CIA in supplying lists of dissidents to the Chilean military?

PETER KORNBLUH: There’s some evidence, although it doesn’t really show up in the documents that we have. It was discovered by the Senate committee led by Senator Frank Church, the so-called Church Committee, that investigated U.S. intervention in Chile in the mid-1970s, that the CIA funded a particular institute that was preparing for a coup, that did compile lists of both civilians and people inside the Allende government that would need to be taken care of, if you will, in the event of a coup. The CIA eventually came in, sent a team to help create the Chilean secret police, DINA. I was just in Chile, and there are very few DINA documents available. DINA disappeared their archives, just like they disappeared so many victims.

AMY GOODMAN: The head of DINA was arrested and imprisoned?

PETER KORNBLUH: Manuel Contreras was first prosecuted for the assassination of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean ambassador to Washington, and his colleague Ronni Karpen Moffitt. And then he was prosecuted again and again and again, and he now is in a prison, has been in a prison, and has an overall sentence of more than 200 years to serve.

But I was saying that the CIA actually sent a team to help advise DINA on infrastructure, on human resources, on kind of the—how you do intelligence operations. And one of the things I found when I was in Chile two weeks ago is that there was actually a manual that the DINA had on how to conduct intelligence that appears to be completely translated from an old U.S. manual from the 1950s. And obviously somebody gave the DINA that manual to use. So there’s a history here of the CIA being involved with Chilean impression, up to the point when Pinochet sends his assassins to Washington, D.C., to commit an act of international terrorism. We’re approaching 9/11 tomorrow. The Letelier assassination car bombing in downtown Washington, D.C., was the first act of state-sponsored international terrorism in the capital city of Washington.

AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly—we just have a minute to go—the current election that’s going on right now in Chile is remarkable. You have two women, one the former president, Michelle Bachelet, right? Two daughters of generals. One may have been responsible for the torture and death of the other, Michelle Bachelet’s father killed. And they were childhood best friends, now running against each other.

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, it’s a historic election, because you have two women contending for the presidency. It’s the first in Latin America. It may be the first in the world, where two women are the leading contenders for—to be president. And because of their backgrounds, of course, and because of the confluence of the 40th anniversary arriving tomorrow in the middle of this election, the history of the coup is kind of front and center in the debate over the issues and the issue of atoning, apologizing for, taking responsibility for those who supported Pinochet. It has suddenly become politically expedient to apologize from the right-wingers, and people even pushing Evelyn Matthei to apologize for her father, to apologize for her family, for their participation in the repression. And this is a sea change politically in Chile, where the country has been divided. But now, really, there’s just very little space for anybody to have supported the coup anymore and feel like they can ever advance politically in Chile. The population has changed. The commemorations around the 40th anniversary, which is tomorrow, have been overwhelming in the press, in the media, cultural events. A beautiful concert called Víctor sin Víctor, on Víctor Jara’s music, just took place last week. It was wonderful and inspirational to see. And it’s a large part due to the effort of Chileans and the effort of the world community to make sure that the coup and its atrocities were repudiated.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us, Peter Kornbluh and Juan Garcés. Juan Garcés, by the way, is also winner of the Right Livelihood Award and was at a gathering in Bonn a few years ago, when we also interviewed him, a gathering of about 75 Right Livelihood Award winners who won that award. It was awarded in the Swedish Parliament. Juan Garcés, again, the closest adviser to President Allende. President Allende died in the palace September 11, 1973, 40 years ago. Juan Garcés left the palace, and from that point to today has been not only telling the world about what happened, but holding the forces that deposed Salvador Allende accountable. Thank you so much, both, for being with us.


Related Story

StorySep 10, 201340 Years After Chilean Coup, Allende Aide Juan Garcés on How He Brought Pinochet to Justice
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