The world mourned in solaridarity with USA on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks orchestrated by the Islamist group al-Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden. The dastardly attack is widely perceived as the incident that kicked off a global war against terrorism.
However, the US citizens, more specifically, the survivors, can now be assured that the perpetrators behind the terror attack have got their comeuppance. Though it does not erase the horror of what happened, it perhaps may provide them peace of mind.
The events of 9/11 in 2001 have, however, overshadowed the tale of the first 9/11, which took place in Chile almost 3 decades before the US incident.
In the year 1973, when the cold war was at its peak, a coup was staged against the democratically elected social government of Salvador Allende, which was widely percieved to have been backed by the US government in one of CIA's covert operations.
Though CIA denied all claims, subsequent declassified documents involving CIA Director Richard Helms and US President Richard Nixon were uncovered which pointed towards their involvement in the coup.
It was no secret that the US did not favour a socialist-leaning government, which they believed would lead Chile to follow the footsteps of the Soviet Union and Cuba and spent millions of dollars trying to keep Allende from power in the first place.
On the evening of September 11, 1973, Allende’s government in Chile was ousted by the military. The presidential palace, La Moneda, was extensively bombed. Allende died on the same day; although his death was ruled as suicide, it is widely refuted. Allende’s surviving family was forced to go into hiding in Mexico for many years.
After the military installed themselves in power, General Augusto Pinochet, the commander-in-chief of the Army was made the president of the Latin American country. What followed in his 17 years of dictatorship was torture, murder, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and gross human rights violations.
The 9/11 attacks in the USA killed close to 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 others. In stark comparison, Pinochet's dictatorship saw the torture of 40,000 Chileans, with an estimated 10,000-30,000 people being killed, including the head of the state.
In order to suppress all political dissidence, the suspected 'left-leaning' individuals in Chile were killed and 'mysteriously disappeared'. The sadistic Pinochet-style of torture was gruesome with survivors recounting how even pregnant women and children weren't spared.
The Pinochet regime is also suspected of housing Nazi war criminals including, SS Colonel Walter Rauff, creator of the gas chambers, and Josef Mengele, known as the "Angel of Death" for his lethal experiments on human subjects during the Holocaust; in the Colonia Dignidad, which was infamous for the torture of dissents during Pinochet's tyranny. This speaks lengths about the kind of sadism inflicted on the Chilean citizens.
This continued up until the plebiscite of 1988 and subsequent elections in 1989 after which democracy was restored the Latin American country. However, human rights violations in Chile have been overlooked and the doctors who oversaw the gruesome torture of individuals today lead comfortable lives. Moreover, the trauma caused changed the population and inflicted feelings of distrust, paranoia, and fear from the state, which have gone unaddressed.
The terror inflicted on Chile hasn't been highlighted, and neither have the perpetrators been punished. The almost 2 decades-long events are instead, on the verge fading from public memory. Essentially, the fact remains that the Chilean 9/11, inflicted through an alleged US Covert operation, was overshadowed by the subsequent US 9/11, making them long for retribution till date.