First Person’s First 9/11?

I lived through an unarmed socialist revolution that lasted for one thousand days.

As a teenager I witnessed the electoral triumph of President Allende and I was still a teenager when I witnessed his killing and the destruction of his popular program and everything around him. Airplanes destroying buildings in downtown Santiago, schools with no arms, a beer battle, and cats shooting at police while the bloody hand of a mad US foreign policy was all over it.

It was my first 9/11.??In a few hours after the coup d’etat started on Tuesday September 11, 1973, 11am, major political centers and media broadcast outlets were destroyed or taken over with precision by the military. Congress was ordered to close, unions and labor organizations were beheaded and leaders and people’s representatives were killed, disappeared or jailed. No doubt about it, precision and efficacy, this coup was planned ahead of time. The dirty hands of US cover operatives were way inside Chile since who knows when.??And a young American knew it. A few hours after the coup and by pure chance in an hotel in Viña del Mar Charles Horman, mingling with US Navy officers in town, got information about the extent of the involvement of the US in the coup. Again, by pure chance, a US navy captain and US embassy/CIA’s snitch Ray E. Davis, gave Horman a ride from Viña to Santiago. The topics of the conversation in the car is unknown but a few days later Horman was picked up by the secret police taken to the National Stadium and later executed.

??Documents released under Clinton revealed the extent of the US involvement in Chile’s politics and the CIA’s role in the Horman assassination, nevertheless up until now Henry Kissinger – then Secretary of State and supporter of the repugnant Operación Condor – has refused to cooperate with various Judge’s investigations. In 2011, Chilean judge Jorge Zepeda indicted Davis, along with Pedro Espinoza, a known killer, torturer and member of the Chilean army intelligence DINA, in the murders of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi; another US citizen also executed in the stadium. With the US’s denial of Judge Zepeda’s extradition order, Espinoza still wakes up every morning as a free man under the bright sun of Florida.??

A Decision Needs a Betrayal??

Two things were crucial in the overthrow of Allende. The decision of the Nixon government (under the influence of the biased counsel of Doctor Kissinger) to get rid of Doctor Allende at any cost and Pinochet’s treachery against the promise to the President Allende and the Chilean government to respect the constitution. Pinochet betrayed Allende when he was convinced he had the support of the US. On the other hand, the mortal duo of Kissinger/Nixon approved support of the military coup only when the four branches of Chile’s military were fully behind it.

Even today in Chile, Pinochet’s betrayal is still hidden from history books and even from the military itself, because the Prussian-like military pride themselves as being men of trust who always honor their word. When a man, a soldier, breaks his word, he breaks his honor and he is not worth the uniform he wears. But it seems this is pure bologna if the traitor is the Commander in Chief himself.??

No Arms No School

??I was getting ready to go to school as I did every morning when I heard the tanks and jeeps right outside my door rumbling up the street toward the city’s main train station. Very young, clean cut soldiers with ironed uniforms and grenades hanging from their chests. I immediately knew that something was terribly wrong. I rushed to school where I put together all the pieces of news I was getting on my way there.??The military push was developing really fast. On the radio Allende didn’t call out for the resistance. Many of my classmates said he was avoiding a bloodbath. At the school, the older kids were instructing us to wait in groups of three. The student union’s internal radio station was dissembled after a few hours of transmission. In my school arms were never distributed. Some kids went to the Universidad del Norte where they said the weapon distribution was happening.??But nothing happened there either. The military came in with brutal force – the university was a premeditated target of the military because it was believed to be a stronghold of the Popular Unity, the political coalition that supported Allende. They took a great number of prisoners; students, janitors and professors, – many of them still disappeared – and with megaphones threaten to kill them if the those who were behind the barricades didn’t give up. With no school, no meetings and a harsh curfew, September 11, started to feel somber, very somber.?

?A Beer Battle

Later in the evening we were told to disband, to leave the school, to freeze until someone contacted us. I left the Liceo de Hombres #1 with a sour taste of loneliness; I felt abandoned. During the first night under the Pinochet regime I went up to the roof of my house to find where the tap-tap noises where coming from. I had a big surprise; I could see a real big battle. It was a military coup no doubt.??It was two kilometers in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, in the building of Compañia de Cervecerias Unidas, the beer factory of the city, on the streets Zenteno and Pinto in Antofagasta. The workers took over the factory and were defending it. The battle took place for several days but only during the dark of the night. Helicopters shooting down big bullets and every now and then a “trazadora”, an incandescent bullet that traced the sky with a red color, like a shooting star and was used for a better aim.??I never saw a trazadoras going up but I could hear many calibers coming out of that big building next to the ocean. I never did find out how that battle really ended. There was a heavy news blockade. The army used its air power because they couldn’t or they didn’t want to get close to the factory by land. Most workers took advantage of the dark night of the Atacama coastal desert to escape from the factory. Fast forward 41 years; the beer factory is now a boiling shopping mall.??

The Lonely Shooter

During the curfew hours, covered military trucks run up my street Carlos Condell. Some trucks were part of a cleaning team. They would remove bodies and wash the bloody streets. In the morning everything was clean like nothing had happened the night before. Two blocks away from my house and separated by the railroad tracks and two streets, was the Grupo de Instrucción de Carabineros; a police station and school or academy on Matta street.??Every night from one block up my street on Pedro de Valdivia Avenue, a lonely shooter came out from nowhere and shoot his small caliber arm toward the police academy. Entrenched on the roof, I imagined he was a light and smart cat, claiming the roofs with such style. I always thought that he was not shooting but rather making an statement of a sort. It was a truly David against Goliath. It could even have been a she. I wanted to join him but I was afraid. He was crazy.

I never knew if the lonely cat was able to hit his target but his presence was notable by the many bullet holes in the walls all around the area I saw next morning. The shooting went on for several nights. At the end the police came down and put lights like Christmas all over the houses on the corner. The same corner where I spent great moments of my youth listen to gringo music, drinking fermented hops and smoking all sort of things. The corner now looked like a sad carnival and the lonely shooter was gone, if not dead — but what the heck! — cats have nine lives, don’t they?

Fernando Andres Torres is a short-story writer, poet and journalist. He is associate editor and U.S. correspondent for the web magazine and member of the ExposeFacts Advisory Board. Under the dictatorship of General Pinochet, Torres joined the Chilean resistance. In 1975 he was arrested by the regime’s secret police. While imprisoned, he recited poetry and handwrote messages with quotes about optimism and hope to pass among fellow prisoners. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Fernando.