Friday, April 12, 2013

Chile: Assassination as US foreign policy

Schneider, murdered by the CIA
by Richard Mellor

Most Americans would not have heard of Rene Schneider.  Schneider was a Chilean general, the commander of the Chilean military at the time of the election of the socialist president Salvador Allende which caused concern among the military and the CIA.  I came across his role in a book the title of which I cannot remember.  He impressed me because by all accounts, he was a conservative.  But he was a constitutionalist and despite pressure from right wing sections of the military, supporters of Pinochet and the CIA, he was opposed to military interference to change the result of a democratic election. Chile’s military had a history of non-intervention in these affairs and Schneider believed in preserving it.  In other words, he seemed to have some principles.

Unfortunately, he had some powerful enemies, not so much in Chile, but in Washington.  Kissinger, Nixon and the CIA wanted him out of the way.  Even a democratically elected socialist like Allende in what US imperialism considers its home turf was unacceptable. A US backed coup to replace the elected leader with one more subservient to Washington and Wall Street would be all the easier if Schneider was out of the way. 

The US claimed in the aftermath that they simply wanted him kidnapped but after some botched up attempts he was eventually assassinated as he defended himself from US stooges. $35,000 was given by the CIA to the kidnappers as "humanitarian" assistance.
According to the preceding source, When Alexander Haig, Kissinger's aide was asked "is kidnapping not a crime?" he replied "that depends."

Not long after Schneider and Allende’s assassination by the CIA’s stooges in Chile, Orlando Leteliera former member of the Allende government, was assassinated in Washington by agents of general Pinochet, Allende’s replacement and the man more acceptable to US capitalism’s interests in that country. Letelier was an economist who was also a strong supporter of the nationalization of Chile’s copper mines.  He was imprisoned in concentration camps in Chile and tortured before coming to the US where he became a prominent critic of the murderous Pinochet regime. One of the assassins was the former CIA agent, Michael Townley.  Pinochet’s boldness in assassinating a critic on a US street in the capital city strained US, Chilean relations and Townley was given 5 years.  He now lives free in the witness protection program.
Letelier: murdered by the CIA's man in Chile

These people died, and are were demonized by the US media for the same reason Venezuela’s Chavez is, they wanted control of their own resources and more of the wealth of their country to stay there rather than to end up in the hands of foreign multi-nationals. Countless others throughout the world, opposition to Hussein in Iraq, opponents of the Shah in Iran, fighters for democratic rights and self determination throughout the imperialized nations, have died at the hands of the CIA directly or at the hands of its proxy’s.  Present at the death of Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara was a CIA man.

But to return to Rene Schneider.  I did a quick search of the recently released Wikileaks information, some 1.7 million files and cables, many of them documenting events of the late 60’s and 70’s and including comments by Henry Kissinger. I found the following although there’s no doubt more. It is a cable sent to the state dept. on the death of Gerald Ford.  It refers to an article in a Chilean newspaper of the time pointing out that:

“….it was during the Ford administration that Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, a military regime opponent, was murdered in Washington and that the Church Committee report revealed that the CIA had conducted covert operations in Chile from 1963 to 1973, and even participated in the murder of Chilean General Rene Schneider.”

The cable explains that relations between the Chile and the US became strained during the Ford administration (remember Ford pardoned Nixon.  They stick together these folks) and that:

“The reason is that the Church Committee, formed to investigate CIA and FBI illegal activities in the Watergate case...revealed the CIA's participation in General Rene Schneider's assassination ...and in covert operations against Salvador Allende and his government, as instructed by President Nixon.... Henry Kissinger, who played a key role in this policy...met privately with Pinochet in Santiago in June 1976 to express Washington's support.” Wikeleaks released US diplomatic cable

People spend hours on the Internet, this writer included. Wikileaks has released a treasure trove of in formation about their phonydiplomacy.  Take some time to hunt around for issues that might interest you. If you’re a blogger share this stuff with your readers.  “The Real News” has asked for people to send in links to cables and Wikileaks info that they will address as resources allow. I intend to send this. Rene Schneider, although a military man and a conservative was a principled individual. He was not a socialist, just a person who believed the people had spoken through the electoral process and although it's most likely he disagreed with Allende's views, he believed it wasn't the responsibility of the military to interfere. Orlando Letelier, Allende, Patrice Lumumba, Che Guevara and the countless others that have died at the hands assassins in the pay of the CIA deserve our attention.  We can help give voice to some of the history suppressed by the capitalist merchants of death.

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