9/11 is a day that will live in infamy, but not because of the attacks on the US that killed over 3,000 people. It is less well known is that September 11th is the anniversary of the overthrow of the elected government of Salvador Allende by general Augusto Pinochet’s CIA-backed forces in Chile. The coup in Chile led to a bloody US-sponsored dictatorship that lasted from 1973 until, roughly, 1990. Like the Pinochet period, the post-Pinochet period is characterized by comprador politics. However, comprador rule in Chile today is not as heavy handed, crass and overt as it was under Pinochet. Certainly more people died at the hands of Pinochet, as a result of US policy in Chile, than died in the attacks against the US in 2001. Certainly more died at the hands of the brutal military and police dictatorship, died at the hands of death squads, and died by the structural violence of capitalism-imperialism than died in the New York attacks. Yet Americans get teary eyed over the latter, not the former. America’s reaction to 9/11, once again reflects that Americans, generally speaking, do not value the lives of people in the Third World. The coup in Chile was just one more crime in a century of crimes perpetuated against the peoples of Latin America and the Third World by the US. The death toll of US imperialism runs into the billions. By comparison, the few thousand who died in the 2001 attacks are a drop in the ocean.
Even though the government of Salvador Allende leaned toward the Soviet Union, having pro-Soviet regimes in Latin America was preferable to the traditional domination by Western imperialism, especially US imperialism. In addition, some of the Soviet-leaning forces in Latin America had a popular and progressive character. Since Europe destroyed itself in World War 2, Europe could no longer hold onto its colonies in the Third World. The US largely took over the management of Europe’s colonies. Thus the old European colonialism was replaced by US neocolonialism. The US reached such imperial heights that nearly the entire US population, including the US working class, became exploiters of the Third World. For almost all of the post-World War 2 period, overall Soviet strength never really matched US strength.