Chile 1973: Brazil's support to the coup
schaffer at optonline.net
Sat Sep 8 08:58:03 MDT 2001
As you know, on September, 11, 1973, the President of Chile Salvador
Allende Gossens, who was supported by a left-wing coalition, was overthrown
by the military coup headed by general Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. It was
one of the bloodiest interventions of United States in Latin America, in
close alliance with the _gorillas_, as the ever conspiring right-wing
military are properly named in South America (or were, I hope so). Of
course, everything in the name of the "free, Western and Christian world",
as they were used to say in those Cold War days.
The present mayor of Rio de Janeiro, César Epitácio Maia, who by then was
an exile in Chile, wrote yesterday (September, 6th) an article in the
leading conservative newspaper "Jornal do Brasil" about a liitle known
fact: the active support of the Brazilian _gorillas_ to their Chilean
colleagues. In 1964 Brazil had been one of the first countries to fall
under the new wave of US interventions in close alliance with the local
military, when President João Goulart, who also was supported by a
left-wing coalition, was deposed. An US war fleet was then waiting near
Brazilian waters to intervene if the coup failed (then called the
"Brother Sam Operation"), what also happened once more in Chile in 1973.
Before translating some parts of César Maia's article, I am going to give
to you some further pieces of information on the subject.
In 1973 the dictator of Brazil was general Emílio Garrastazu Medici, who
had been the former head of SNI, the main intelligence agency. So he kept
close contact with the CIA and its counterparts in Latin America. His
government played willingfully the proxy anticommunist interventionist role
in South America: he sent the Air Force to help the Bolivian _gorillas_
to depose the progressive government of general Juan José Torres in 1971;
he helped the military coup in Uruguay in 1973 (a Brazilian invasion of
this liitle country was stopped at the last hour); and Medici put Brazil
at the edge of a war with Argentina due to the Itaipu hydroelectric dam, in
the river de la Plata basin. Medici also signed a secret (and
unconstitutionally void) South Atlantic joint defense treaty with
Argentina, fascist Portugal (then deeply involved in the colonial wars),
South Africa of the apartheid times and Uruguay, His period is also
remembered to have been the bloodiest repressive stage of the military
regime of 1964/1985.
The generals of Brazil succeded _democratically_ one another instead of
toppling each other, as it happened in Argentina. So, the support of the
Brazilian dictatorship to the Chilean one continued after Medici's period.
In 1978, for example, during the less harsh rule of general Ernesto
Geisel, a hypocrital solution was found by the international financial
institutions to circumvent the isolation of the Pinochet's dictatorship by
the Jimmy Carter administration: Brazilian state-owned enterprises
borrowed funds which were really earmarked to Chile and passed them over to
this country. By the way, Geisel expelled from Brazil the US military
mission in retaliation to the pressures of the Carter administration on
human rights issues and on the nuclear agreement with Germany, which was
later found to be a disastrous and quite expensive one, as Brazilian
scientists had beforehand admonished.
Brazilian exiles in Chile say that in the very first hours of the 1973 coup
they were already being questioned by Brazilian miltary over there. These
military also appear in the renowned picture "Missing" by Costa-Gravas,
which is based upon a real fact: the killing of a US left-wing student by
the Chilean military, having the US embassy omitted to save him from death.
In those scenes of the arrival of prisioners at the National Stadium in
Santiago, where so many people were tortured and killed, some men speaking
Portuguese, not Spanish, catch some of the newcomers.
Let's go back to the artcle written by the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, César
Maia. As a lot of others, he is not a leftist anymore. He now belongs to
one of the most conservative Brazilian parties: the Liberal Front, in
which there are many veteran politicians who supported the military
dictatorship, great landowners and bankers. Nevertheless, his article is
a passionated one. Maia keeps ties to Chile stronger than those of a
former resident: his wife is a Chilean national.
César Maia's letter is denominated "Open letter to Itamaraty" (Carta
aberta ao Itamaraty), Itamaraty is the fancy denomination of the
Brazilian Foreign Office. To give a better view, it must be informed that
Itamaraty is regarded to be a highy professional diplomatic institution
since the times of the Monarchy, 150 years ago. Foreign relation students
from the world over attend its prestigious Rio Branco Institute.
César Maia complains against the behavior of the Brazilian ambassador to
Chile. He repeatedly emphasizes the need not to forget the spurious and
interventionist role of that ambassador and asks for a formal inquiry:
Itamaraty "should cry to every wind that never more --never more
indeed-- that such a fact will never more happen again."
"28 years ago, the Brazilian embassy in Chile dishonored the
tradition of Itamaraty. ...... Brazilian diplomats all over the
world still today feel ashamed of such facts, even those which
didn't belong yet to its ranks in those grim times. After Salvador
Allende's electoral victory the higher income Chilean families
panicked. Many people say that our embassy to Santiago was used to
keep jewels, paintings, fur coats and other riches which belong to
the platinum people of the local high society. It was as if our
embassy .... was transformed in a mere vault of a bank.
And there was more things. At the height of the conspiracy to
overthrew the elected President of Chile, our embassy is said to
have been the place where the conspirators met, an act of
intervention in the internal affairs of another country. .....
Those who were there --or those who know by having learnt from
these-- assert that things went too much further. They remember,
both ashamed and indignant, that taking the chance of our most civic
date --September, 7, Independence Day-- it was hold in the premises
of the Brazilian embassy the meeting that defined and detailed the
...... Some ocular witnesses of that story say --with a cynical and
gilded pleasure-- that some days after the coup our ambassador went
to the sophisticated and aristocratic Club de La Unión de Santiago.
At entering the premises ..... he cried: « We have winned ! » .....
This grotesque and well known story has generated, many years after
it, another cry of indignation between the Presidents of Brazil and
Chile [*] in the minute that followed Lagos's victory. By telephone
they put into the right direction ..... the same « We have winned !
[*] he refers to the present Presidents of both Brazil and Chile:
Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Ricardo Lagos.
Maia ends his article claiming once again for a full investigation of the
As you see, Maia misleadingly quotes Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Ricardo
Lagos as if both of them were leftists up today. Cardoso once was a
leading sociologist --one of the authors of the Dependency Theory-- who
belonged to a Das Kapital Permanent Reading Circle at the São Paulo State
University before flying as an exile to Chile and, after the 1973 coup, to
France. Nowadays he is a neoliberal. Ricardo Lagos, who belongs to
Allende's party (PS, Socialist), also follows neoliberal policies.
Despite of what Maia says, the newspapers of today disclose that during his
present European tour, Lagos affirms that he is against the prison and
judgement of Pinochet!
The presence of many higher officers of the Chilean Armed Forces in the
Brazilian embassy on the reception of Independence Day (September, 7,
1973, four days before the coup), was more than usual in these
circumstances. It might have been disguised for two common historical
ties. Firstly, an English mercenary, Lord Thomas Alexander Cochrane
(1775/1860), was the chief admiral of both the Brazilian and Chilean War
Navies during the independence wars. Secondly, there is the royal
courrier and Army officer Paulo Bregaro. He played a key role in the
Independence Day at reaching in time the Regent Prince of Brazil dom Pedro,
who was in route between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, carrying the
decisive and urgent letters of his spouse dona Leopoldina of Austria. She
championed the independence of Brazil, however being her husband in the
succession lines of both the Portuguese and Spanish thrones. Bregaro
later moved to Chile, where he founded a traditional family with ties to
the local military.
The early cooperation between the Brazilian and Chilean _gorillas_
unquestionably paved the way to the infamous Condor Operation. Condor was
the murder ring which was devised by DINA, the intelligence agency of
Chile. It eventually involved the military dictatorships of Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and probably Peru too.
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