Fidel on Pinocho

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Dec 20 10:44:23 MST 1999

>Lou seems to have done a lot of tap-dancing around what he thinks is the
>correct position for the left to take on the Pinochet issue.  I believe that
>a number of people on this list have demonstrated that it would be extremely
>ill-advised to give any credibility to the current process of extradition
>and possible trial in Spain.  Lou however seems in a number of recent posts
>to have hinted at alternative possibilities. Is there perchance a  "third
>way"?  I think we should be told.

I am not tap-dancing at all. Here is my position:

1. The imperialist bourgeoisie did not conspire to bring Pinochet to trial.
We are not dealing at all with something like the war crimes tribunal
against Serbs, or Noriega's arrest, etc. This is a legal action initiated
by a radical, grass roots committee and its allies. Peter Kornbluh has
impeccable credentials. Charles Horman apparently is also another prime
mover. Horman, by the way, was the central character in Costa-Gravas's
"Missing", who was played by Jack Lemmon. I don't think it can any clearer
that we are dealing with a legal intiative similar to the one launched by
the Linder family and supported by the Center for Constitutional Rights,
the foremost class-struggle legal group in the US. It is an initiative of
radicals, both in Chile and in the US.

2. The imperialist bourgeoisie has not been facilitating the trial of
Pinochet at all. It has done everything in its power to block it, or has
tried to give the appearance of backing it while undermining it in reality.
All of the skirmishes between Blair and the Tories is related to petty
party politics. Thatcher has accused Blair of running a "police state" as
if the kid gloves treatment of Pinochet has anything to do with how Noriega
or Ocalan were treated. It is a simple fact that if the Families of the
Disappeared-Deceased had not existed, Pinochet would never have been
arrested to begin with. Comrades talk as if "Chileans" were not involved in
tracking down and bringing Pinochet to justice. What is the Families of the
Disappeared-Deceased? Nepalese?

3. My impression is that there is an inverse relationship between the vigor
of the Marxist polemics about crossing class lines appearing here, and the
actual knowledge of what the Pinochet arrest has led to in concrete terms.
It has led to important revelations about the role of the US in the
overthrow of Allende, just as the American SWP's suit against the FBI in
the 1970s led to similar revelations about dirty tricks here. Those
revelations were not only critical in raising the level of understanding
about the capitalist state and its tools of repression, but in forcing the
FBI to back off.

The Guardian (London)
October 11, 1999

Files show Chilean blood on US hands;  Clinton accused of protecting
darkest of the CIA's secrets

Jonathan Franklin in Santiago

The US government has released more than 1,100 previously classified
documents from the CIA, defence and state department archives which detail
efforts to provoke violent protests and economic chaos in Chile as part of
US efforts to destabilise the regime of President Salvador Allende.

The heavily censored files, released on Friday, are just a fraction of
those compiled in 1968-73, when the US waged a secret campaign to undermine
Allende, a Marxist who wanted to nationalise foreign businesses, including
US copper interests.

Human rights activists and Chileans whose relatives died in the bloody
aftermath of the 1973 coup have protested that damning policy papers have
been withheld or so censored that they reveal nothing new.

Many of the US activities before and after the coup in which General
Augusto Pinochet took power were uncovered and widely publicised by the
1976 Church report of a senate investigation into US involvement in Chile.

The latest documents were released as part of a project begun by the
Clinton administration after Gen Pinochet was arrested in London a year ago.

President Clinton has ordered the national security council to review and
declassify secret US-Chile files to assist the Spanish judge Baltasar
Garzon, who applied for Gen Pinochet's extradition to Spain on torture

A report by the Chilean government says 3,197 people died or disappeared at
the hands of secret police during Gen Pinochet's 17-year rule.

The declassification allows the US to help Mr Garzon and makes it less
likely that an international court will be established to judge the issue.

It is the second of three scheduled releases of files. A final batch is
likely to be released early next year.

US involvement in Allende's downfall is widely known, but the extent of US
aid to the coup plotters is not.

Chile was seen by the then president, Richard Nixon, and his secretary of
state, Henry Kissinger, as a potential 'second Cuba'. They decided, in the
words of one cabinet member, to 'make the Chilean economy scream'.

Strikes by lorry drivers financed by the US paralysed distribution,
racheted up the sense of chaos and forced Chileans to queue for petrol,
food and medical treatment.

The released documents confirm that the US was providing weapons as well as
funds to the saboteurs.

Some of them have been heavily censored, including those about the murder
of Rene Schneider, the commander in chief of the Chilean army, which
nevertheless confirm earlier evidence that the US aided his killers.

A CIA document from 1970 details the role of US intelligence officers in
the killing of Schneider, who was regarded as a 'stumbling block' in coup
preparations. It reads: 'Station met clandestinely evening 17 Oct with two
Chilean Armed Forces officers . . . they asked that by evening, 18 Oct
Station arrange to furnish them with 8-10 tear gas grenades. Within 48
hours they need three .45 calibre machine guns (Grease Guns) with 500
rounds ammo each.'

Schneider's son, Rene Jr, 57, said: 'Obviously the truth ought to be out.
We absolutely know the US government role in financing all that happened
before the coup. Anything that brings us closer to the truth is healthy for
the country, we still have lots of dark secrets.'

US officials also revealed a secret intelligence-sharing operation which
used Nazi groups throughout South America and Europe to track down enemies
of the Chilean state.

The Latin-American German colony known as 'La Dignidad', allowed 'the
Chilean Dina (secret police) to draw on their national and international
contacts, and cooperates with Dina officials by turning over to them
information on subversives in the area'.

Friday's release of the documents led to renewed protests that the CIA had
refused to follow the spirit of the presidential order.

 'The US government is skewing this history,' said Peter Kornbluh, an
investigator for the non-profitmaking National Security Archives.

'They are not releasing the documents in an attempt to whitewash their own
role in fomenting acts of violence in Chile.'

It has also proved controversial because of the revelation that US
intelligence may have played a part in the death of two Americans,
including the journalist Charles Horman.

Horman's death and his family's subsequent search for the truth was brought
to international notice by the 1982 film Missing, which blamed US
intelligence agencies for drawing attention to the reporter.

A state department memo of August 1976 states: 'This case remains
bothersome. The connotations for the executive (branch of government) are
not good.

'In the Hill (Congress), academic community, the press and the Horman
family, the intimations are of negligence on our part, or worse, complicity
in Horman's death.'

It revealed that even under the most benign scenario, US intelligence
provided or confirmed information that helped motivate his murder by the
Chilean government.

Relatives of Chileans murdered by the armed forces are also lobbying for
the documents to be fully released.

Patricia Verdugo, a Chilean historian who has written extensively about the
military regime, said the full release of documents would let Chileans
recover their collective memory and understand history.

'My father was killed 23 years ago and he didn't die in a shootout as the
military insisted. He never used arms. He wasn't an armed terrorist but in
fact was a union organiser,' she said as she recounted how the tortured
corpse of her father, Sergio Verdugo, was found in July 1976, on the banks
of the Mapocho river in Santiago.

Given Chile's tradition throughout this century of powerful workers' unions
and a popular communist party, the US saw in the early 70s the danger that
a communist state could become established at the southern tip of South

Ms Verdugo said that the climate of fear in Chile created by US was partly
responsible for the carnage which followed the coup.

'When you are in line for food and the media says that Soviet-style
rationing is soon coming, and that Chile is about to be like Cuba, that is
the fear,' she said.

'You can't fool around with fear, because the result is violence. The CIA's
history in preparing the conflict makes the United States responsible for
all that followed.'

Louis Proyect

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