Saturday, August 29, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy, A Good Friend to Chile

From the Daily Beast(Teddy's Idealism):

A 1973 military coup overthrew the popularly elected left-wing government of Salvador Allende, whom the United States worked against. Admiral Augusto Pinochet’s new regime shot hundreds of Allende’s supporters in the National Stadium, although the United States Embassy whitewashed the new regime. By 1973, Kennedy had assembled enough support in the Senate to enact a ban on all arms sales to Chile, and in 1981 secured a ban on all aid to that nation until it provided basic human rights. In 1986, he visited Chile, and despite government-run demonstrations against him, met with and encouraged opposition politicians and mothers who came with pictures of children who had been “disappeared” by the military.

In 2008, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, herself tortured and exiled by the Pinochet regime, presented Kennedy with the Order of the Merit of Chile, saying “you were there for us when human rights were being massively and systematically violated, when crime and death was around our country. You are one of the great, good, and true friends of Chile.”

September 23, 2008


BOSTONSenator Edward M. Kennedy today received the highest award bestowed to a civilian by the government of Chile, the Order to the Merit of Chile Award, for his decades-long commitment to the struggle of human rights and democracy in the country. Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, traveled to the Senator’s home in Hyannis Port this afternoon to present the award. President Bachelet is in the United States for an annual visit with heads of state at the United Nations.

Kennedy has been a leading voice in the struggle for human rights and democracy in Chile for three decades. Following the 1973 coup against democratically elected president Salvador Allende, he worked tirelessly on behalf of the tortured and disappeared. In 1974, Kennedy led the fight in Congress to cut off military aid for the Pinochet regime. This was the first time Congress directed an end to military aid to another nation without waivers, conditions and delays.

In 1986, Senator Kennedy traveled to Chile to observe human rights conditions. The Pinochet government refused to meet with him and actively tried to obstruct his meetings with human rights and religious leaders. Four years later, Senator Kennedy returned to witness the swearing-in of Chile's democratically-elected President and has continued working closely with Chile, and President Bachelet, as they have become a thriving democratic ally of the United States.

From the Huffington Post:

John McCain, who has harshly criticized the idea of sitting down with dictators without pre-conditions, appears to have done just that. In 1985, McCain traveled to Chile for a friendly meeting with Chile's military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world's most notorious violators of human rights credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians and jailing tens of thousands of others.

The private meeting between McCain and dictator Pinochet has gone previously un-reported anywhere.

According to a declassified U.S. Embassy cable secured by The Huffington Post, McCain described the meeting with Pinochet "as friendly and at times warm, but noted that Pinochet does seem obsessed with the threat of communism." McCain, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, made no public or private statements critical of the dictatorship, nor did he meet with members of the democratic opposition in Chile, as far as could be determined from a thorough check of U.S. and Chilean newspaper records and interviews with top opposition leaders.....

At the time of McCain's meeting with Pinochet, Chile's democratic opposition was desperately seeking support from democratic leaders around the world in an attempt to pressure Pinochet to allow a return to democracy and force a peaceful end to the dictatorship, already in its 12th year. Other U.S. congressional leaders who visited Chile made public statements against the dictatorship and in support of a return to democracy, at times becoming the target of violent pro-Pinochet demonstrations.

Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy. Demonstrators pelted his entourage with eggs and blocked the road from the airport, so that the Senator had to be transported by helicopter to the city, where he met with Catholic church and human rights leaders and large groups of opposition activists.

Mark Schneider, a foreign policy aide and former State Department human rights official who organized Kennedy's trip, said he had no idea McCain had been there only days before. "It would be very surprising and disappointing if Senator McCain went to Chile to meet with a dictator and did not forcefully demand a return to democracy and then to publicly call for a return to democracy," Schneider said.

Surprising? I'm not surprised at much anymore.

The links between Chile and the USA are endless-I can really only write about a few each time. I believe Chile under Pinochet was an immense planned experiment of privatization under Friedman 'free market" economics and the tactics practiced to get the Chilean people to behave-a combination of starving the people under Allende(military kept the food on the docks and out of the stores) and feeding them under the Pinochet dictatorship. A Chilean friend told me that on the day of the coup, four hours later, food was in all the stores. "FOUR HOURS!" she said. It all worked very nicely. Behave and you get to eat. If you still won't behave, you'll disappear. Thanks to Friedman's "miracle", corporations have control of utilities, education, and even rivers. And there was no economic miracle.

“You, Senator Kennedy, were such a friend to Chile in our hour of need,” said Bachelet as she delivered the award. "You were there for us when human rights were being massively and systematically violated … You understood what was happening from the very beginning ... and you acted accordingly."

No comments: