I spent the evening of September 11th. at La Peña in Berkeley California. September 11th. 1973 was the date of the US backed coup which general Pinochet’s troops killed Chile’s elected president Salvador Allende in the national parliament building. Many of the early members of La Peña were Chilean emigre’s fleeing Pinochet and arriving into the belly of the Beast. It was a refreshing evening.
Along with excellent Chilean music there were political speeches of great interest. Michael Parenti gave a speech on activism in the United States which advocating radical action on the streets. Parenti also gave specifics on coverage of the Chilean coup in the New York Times both then and now.
He debunked claims of looming economic disaster being touted as cause for the coup d’etat in 1973. In fact Chile had the second highest growth rate in South America at the time even as President Nixon’s sanctions tightened the noose designed to make the Chilean economy ‘scream’ .
The other political speaker of the night was a mural artist and poet Francisco Letelier. based in another bastion of the left wing left Venice Beach, Francisco has a lot to be angry about but he sublimates this energy in political and artistic expression. Francisco is the son of Orlando Letelier appointed Chilean ambassador to the United States by Allende in ’71. After the coup US-based assassins exploded a bomb under his car in Washington D.C’s embassy district. The state sponsored terrorists were on CIA payroll but it was Pinochet who really wanted to silence his exiled voice of dissent. Turns out that the FBI interviewed the family about Orlando’s death in the house next door. It seems the FBI were keeping an eye on Letelier at the time. Instead of trying to find Orlando’s killer the FBI focused on their own inquiries which seemed to accuse Orlando and his passengers of wanting to plant a bomb themselves; a convenient ruse.