“United in Blood” Against Empire:
Neruda, Jara, & Chilean Culture’s Social-Solidarity Impact
As always, one might present the nub of today’s script simply. One chronicler has stated the matter under consideration like this: “The division of labor among nations is that some of them specialise in winning and others in losing. Our part of the world, known today as Latin America, was precocious: it has specialised in losing ever since those remote times when Renaissance Europeans ventured across the ocean and buried their teeth in the throat of Indian civilisation.”
The winners are frequently easily recognisable, among them the likes of Henry Kissinger and Citibank; Richard Helms and the Central Intelligence Agency; the Guggenheim interests, the Rockefeller interests, and the panoply of well-heeled conquerors who dot the modern prospect. The losers often seem less obviously noteworthy or famous—Salvador Allende, Victor Jara, and Rene Schneider simply don’t have the same name recognition.
Those whose lives the winners snuffed out, sometimes in a hail of bullets and other times through hunger and more protracted forms of attrition, had many different hopes and dreams. Though one might easily have chosen differently, this essay focuses on those ‘losers’ who believed in social justice and social democracy, particularly in Chile during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The ‘winners,’ on the other hand, possessed a much more uniform consciousness and set of goals. They sought profit over all else; most importantly, they organized to crush like foul vermin the merest hints of any workable expression of sharing, of mutuality, of popular empowerment. They organised themselves in trust-funded operations that served a single purpose: the promotion and persistence of monopoly empire. Understanding these points about the commonly-held attitudes among history’s victors is at least half the problem of understanding why these travails have played out as they have.
As always with the Spindoctor’s profferrals, this article is lengthy. One may alleviate the burden of this cascade of words by noting that the analysis here occurs in many sections. One a day, or one a week, might seem more manageable than any idea of gulping down the whole in one slurp.
With very few exceptions, the dramas and conflicts, the heroics and horror, that took place in and around Santiago Chile during the thirty years from 1960-1990 did not happen to the readers of this document. Thus, in order to dig into the heart and soul of these struggles for human decency and the battles of the above ‘winners’ against them, one needs a willingness to identify with both sides of the ‘class war’ that unfolded in these environs plus-or-minus forty years ago.
Identification with those who prevailed is much easier, since they own or control, along with most everything else on our fair planet, the means of production of information and knowledge. They hold the keys to the secrets that they still hide away. Identification with those who lost, often dying for their actions and beliefs and songs, presents a thornier problem. We have to try harder to see and feel what they underwent.
Such empathy, however, clearly does depend on imagination. Verses like these (http://voiceshakes.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/the-story-of-victor-jara/) necessitate a fierce delving of plausible meaning, for example, while we fight to maintain our composure and avoid nervous distraction that borders on fear.
“How hard it is to sing when I must sing of horror. Horror which I am living, horror which I am dying. To see myself among so much and so many moments of infinity in which silence and screams are the end of my song. What I see, I have never seen What I have felt and what I feel Will give birth to the moment.”
One might picture a large stadium (http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/09/11/the-tragic-tale-of-victor-jaras-last-song/) in one’s mind’s eye, at the cusp of a Southern Hemisphere Spring, ten days from the Vernal Equinox. The pitch has a huge table in the very center, its top splotched with mottled blood and pieces of flesh, patches of hair and tissue. At all the exits and facing the stands are uniformed men, most carrying assault rifles, all their faces grim and sleep-deprived except when the occasional joke or comment elicits derision and cackles; a few gather in groups around .30 and .50 caliber machine guns. They point these instruments of management and death casually at the stands.
These weapons have already killed a few score of the many thousands—some say only 5,000 or so, others that more than 10,000 were present, under arrest and awaiting their fate—who face their captors like cattle that are conscious of hamburger. One of the men among the captives, in what would be a sparse crowd for either a soccer finale or a ‘friendly’ with visiting gringos, seeks to give comfort to those present. Though fear constrains his voice, he sometimes leads songs.
At one point during the third day of this ‘spontaneous’ upwelling of fascism that took place in Santiago de Chile in the period after September 11, 1973, this man, whose name is Victor, approaches one of the commandantes with a request from an ailing comrade. The officer, at first impassive, grins with sadistic glee when he recognizes the speaker, mimicking a simpering guitarist, eyes arched inquisitively.
Victor’s face blanches. He must sense what is pending. At a signal from their leader, soldiers seize him by the elbows and lead him to the central stage.
Seated at the grimy table spattered with slime and fluid, he finds himself surrounded. Two men restrain him from rising. A third man extends his right arm, a fourth his left, into the bloody mess on the sturdy wooden surface where he sits, trembling. Another teniente smacks him in the head each time that he balls his fists. Ultimately, he splays his fingers, and the pistol-whipping stops.
Already battered and bruised from ‘interrogation,’ he breathes unevenly. He begins to weep. Standing nearby, a man with a machete—or is it a hand-axe of some sort?—whistles a tuneless, psychotic dirge.
At times, the verities of real-politick are so hideous and noisome that even mentioning them—let alone studying them thoroughly—brings on attacks of nausea and vertigo. One simply wants to flee, find a safe haven or asylum that doesn’t require noting and pondering the murder in the name of justice, depredation in the name of ‘development,’ and violent repression in the name of ‘freedom’ that have characterized imperial adventures in the modern sphere, with the United States—its vaunted ‘bastion-of-liberty’ notwithstanding—the leading villain.
On the other hand, an inability to deal with the real—to this day, “reality orientation” is a critical part of how ‘professionals’ evaluate one’s mental health—not only impedes effectiveness, but it might also result in more and more of exactly the types of events that we would rather deny existed. Nowhere in the immediately-prior-to-contemporary ambit—not in Palestine, not in Ukraine, not in the South China Sea, not in South Asia, not in Africa, not in any other geographic location—have such lethal dynamics() come into play with more ferocity than until recently they did in Latin America. Not for nothing has Eduardo Galeano() described the entire region as a body of “opened veins.”
Whatever social description of this vast Hispanic Diaspora has become apropos in the present moment, the U.S. has continued to persist in seeking to apply Monroe’s righteous doctrine(). This shows up in Venezuela(), in Argentina(), and of course in Cuba(), as well as elsewhere().
This Yankee morass of ‘magical’ pleasure and nightmarish torment has endured for a century-and-a-half or more. Over this entire period, arguably no event or series of occurrences has more clearly illustrated this locus of luxuriant horror than did the crushing() of Salvador Allende’s idealistic Chilean experiment in electoral socialism. In any case, that outpouring of homicidal conspiracy is the context for the topic of the day.
The particular focus in these pages is the culture of love and optimism() in which President Allende’s miracle came to fruition, how that popular expression of music and artistic passion has continued despite the imperial slaying of its primary proponents—men such as Victor Jara. Jara’s magnificent life and heroic death, then, are the center around which this narrative turns as it develops the thesis that this magnificence and heroism continue and are more crucial than ever to human survival.
Before we take an inevitably too brief—and also, for many readers, too lengthy—foray into this realm of art and power in faraway Chile, however, both in the remainder of this section and in the preface that follows, readers may view the violent heart of the brutal patterns that have characterized both this region’s relations with the United States and Latin American society’s internal dynamics generally for the centuries during which colonialism has evolved into the complexities of modern empire.
The overall idea about North America’s Latin American nexus is straightforward. For the better part of two centuries—since at least the War with Mexico—top administrators of the United States, at a minimum the President and the military establishment, have been likely culpable for mass homicide and conspiracy in Spanish speaking countries of the hemisphere. Such indictments may not be incontrovertible and might now and again fail to yield a conviction, but the accusations would be universally reasonable.
Especially in regard to Chile’s destruction on September 11th, 1973, the prosecutorial stance becomes even clearer and more pointed. With virtually no doubt, Richard Nixon() is a murderer, a conspirator and accessory before and after the fact. With a similar degree of certitude, the Central Intelligence Agency’s Richard Helms() is also a probable murderer. So too, in the same elliptical way, is National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger() just about certainly guilty of conspiracy and aiding and abetting homicide.
Given facts both direct and circumstantial, both the result of documentation and eyewitness accounts, even lacking the still vast troves of inculpatory evidence that the U.S. refuses to release, no rational jury would likely find these men blameless or fail to reach a unanimous verdict. In the arena that this essay examines, therefore, with a degree of probability that approaches exactitude, Richard Nixon, Richard Helms, and Henry Kissinger are as responsible for the savage torture and killing of Victor Jara as if they had personally wielded the blade that chopped off his fingers, as if they had individually pulled the triggers that riddled his body with forty-four bullets.
The same would be also almost definitely true of a small army of ‘Yankee’ operatives, from various agencies of empire, who have all—like these ‘leaders of the free world’—escaped judgment. Quite plausibly, in any case, each of the primary actors would also be complicit in crimes against humanity().
These pronouncements are quite specific. They are also, except by those whose fatuous commitment to propaganda and falsehood permits supercilious debate, close enough to indisputable to do as Chile (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jun/12/chile.pinochet) and other jurisdictions have done, seeking the extradition of Henry Kissinger to question him about his role in these sorts of horrific crimes. Or, a scholar might examine Richard Helm’s conviction for lying to Congress about this countrywide torture and slaughter in the Andean nation (http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB362/chapters8through_10.pdf). Anyhow, along with these more or less exact condemnations, we could also offer a more general statement in regard to Santiago and its environs.
To state this overview succinctly, we might employ a more or less definitive clause here: That the United States Proceeded in Chile as Elsewhere With MALICE Aforethought. This combination of subject and verb and modifiers itself contains an acronym: MALICE—Murder, Antipathy, Lies, Individualism, Conspiracy, Emiseration—that perfectly and more or less completely summarizes the period from 1960 till now in Chile and the so-called ’Southern Cone. In fact, this is one of the many environments where John F. Kennedy disingenuously() called for continuing a “good neighbor policy” that had arguably not existed() when Franklin Roosevelt advanced it during the 1930’s and had close to zero correspondence() to actuality during JFK’s Presidency or the administrations that followed.
An arguably crucial point in this regard is as follows. As Victor Jara, hands dripping gore and painful beyond sore, croaked out a last song—he had stood, stumps of fingers that spurted blood, and the leader of the butchers had commanded “sing for us now, poet”—in a voice choked with pain and fear, as he stared down the barrels of the automatic weapons that would end his life, he understood these things about empire and power and knew their central place in any future resistance to such events’ transpiring again.
Prefatory Matters—Monroe’s’ Doctrine’ to ‘War’s Racket’ Writ Large in Cuba
The all-too-standard view is that history is disposable, at best. “I don’t care about history. I don’t like history. History sucks.” No matter how toxic or tragic, such perspectives probably resonate with a majority of citizens.
When adults hold such views, this resembles a mature child who despises its parents. In a fashion that an earlier investigation here on Contributoria employed, such an attitude is like a panicked traveler who is seeking directions to ‘Portland’ without knowing where he is. Or, these beliefs mimic the difficulties of one who desperately wants to ‘find the way to Portland’ but doesn’t know where she came from to get wherever in hell she is.
Here we all are, in a world in which one empire-of-the-Americas has inordinate influence over the fates of every living human, and yet we really don’t come close to comprehending how this has all come about. Maybe at least a brief foray into the developments that took us from past to present could serve our interests.
In this regard, vast armies of dedicated scholars might spend many lifetimes deconstructing the conquest of the Americas by Europe. In doing so, the observer would want to account for the significant differences that distinguish Hispanic America from Anglo America.
Unfortunately, accomplishing such a task effectively and briefly is likely impossible, yet a few salient aspects of such interpretative work would at least suggest the parameters that an annalist might establish to examine these obvious differences.
· A key element would likely be the relative importance of extractive versus() agricultural and then industrial economies, which in turn affected everything in the spheres of production and trade.
· The greater capacity for resistance, or at least persistence, of Chile’s Mapuche (http://24carat.co.uk/frame.php?url=chilehistory.html) and the entire region’s indigenous population(), is also likely important; one Spanish potentate whom Chilean Indian rebels captured early in the colonial fray, after they slaughtered all the soldiers who had accompanied him in his attempt to assert the continued enslavement of native laborers, may have died as a result of the Mapuche’s pouring molten gold, which he so craved, down his throat.
· What one might call this ‘culture of conquistadors()’ also probably played a role in establishing a landholding class that practically speaking predominated in much of Chile, and much of Latin America, until the past century or so; of course, the working classes that underlay such a system would differ at least slightly from the ‘regular people’ who formed the masses of folks further North in North America.
· One might continue: geography, proximity() to Europe and the ease of immigration, the different social developments() that characterized England and Spain, and much more would tend to lay the basis for what ended up being quite distinct social and political communities in the Western Hemisphere.
In any event, these sorts of factors would indeed have established foundations for the way that actual relationships evolved as modern times approached and came to pass.
In this vein, from the point of view of the Spanish-speaking Americas, this initiation of the realm of the present, more or less, must emerge from the severing of colonial dominance() from Madrid. Over the course of twenty years or so after 1800, every piece of Spanish America broke away from direct European dominance(), with a few exceptions like Cuba and British Guyana.
Even cursory glances at the writings of such ‘rebels’ as Simon Bolivar illustrate that this process was not obviously similar to what happened in British colonial North America. In one letter or tract after another(), El Liberator wrote of the lack of networks of power, of crushing debts that the means of production would not alleviate, of leaders so venal and greedy that they would likely turn on each other and defeat themselves given time and space to accomplish their natural inclinations. The end result of all these difficulties was an Iberian and ‘Holy Alliance’ counterattack() on the erstwhile independent States in the early 1920’s, focused especially on Peru.
“Everything (in Lima) is in disorder; there is no government, no army. President La Mar has always been a godo(a selfish idiot), and most of the army heads have always been godos, and the naval commander at Callao as well. The chief of staff, the commanding officers of engineers, and the commanding officer of artillery are also godos. In these circumstances…(a) large(r) number of troops (than the 3,000 that Bolivar dispatched) is not being sent for the present because it is impossible. I have no ships, no provisions, and no troops here. We have already spent a hundred thousand pesos, and we are just beginning the enterprise. In order to send the next 3,000, God knows what we shall have to do, for we are burdened with debts, and we do not have the slightest credit.”
Bolivar’s vision was of a United States of South America, and his will that it should come to be was powerful. “(I)t shall be done, cost what it may.” Yet the leaders under his command conspired against each other as readily as—or even more readily than—they united to fight Spanish attempts to reassert its rule. They negotiated separate arrangements with England, the United States, and other rising industrial economies.
Chile’s place in these ventures—plus-or-minus 1823—was complex and not at all uniform. On the one hand, years earlier, Bolivar had considered Chile particularly apt() to adopt ‘republicanism,’ especially under the aegis of Bernardo O’Higgins. For many years, Santiago had diligently supported federation and seemed a reliable bastion against Spain’s attempts to overthrow the young republics and to defeat their union.
One of Bolivar’s chief subordinates, J. Gabriel Perez, corresponded with Chile’s plenipotentiary to Peru in May, 1823. He laid out() the strategic and geopolitical context that was developing, in which the “United States of North America” might join with Spain and Portugal themselves in recognition of the new rulers.
The complications in this situation centered on demands from Continental European powers—Prussia, Russia, and Austria, the so-called Holy Alliance()—that Spain reinstate the Bourbon King and return his colonial imprimatur at the same stroke. “England has authorized her minister in Madrid to conclude an offensive and defensive alliance with Spain… .to induce (it) to recognize the sovereignty of the South American states…(a necessity) if we are to interest ourselves in this tremendous struggle or if she is to provide herself with an immense new market for her industry and manufactures.”
England’s work behind the scenes with anti-Bourbon Spaniards and anti-royalist Portuguese would serve to advance the English imperial domination that had been a primary result() of Napoleon’s defeat eight years before. Yet the Spanish in the colonies often enough remained completely committed to another Bourbon ascendancy and to the renewal of colonial plunder.
Bolivar obviously hoped that Chile would provision and maintain a troop contingent() in Peru of 2,000 men or more “not only (to) counterbalance Spanish power united there, but…also (to) give Peru greater strength than her enemies and provide more reasons to be recognized and more justification for English intervention on her behalf.” The basis for presuming Chile’s agreement to such requests concerned the Andean nation’s desire for more territory—soon enough to come to fruition()—and its ongoing courting of both English() and United States() commercial links() in its seafaring enterprises.
Just two years subsequently, despite Bolivar’s insistence that only a union of the newly independent states could salvage their ongoing viability, Bolivar added a postscript in a lengthy missive() to Francisco Santander, the Vice President of Colombia. “Chile is in a state of frightful anarchy. Freire has gone to Concepcion, and Pinto to Coquimbo. The province of Santiago is governed by its intendant. Reports have it that the Chilean Congress will send a deputation to recall O’Higgins,” which would favor the faction that backed a confederation and Bolivar against those whose interests were narrower and more in tune with strengthening North American and British connections.
Though inherently truncated and superficial, these depictions ought at a minimum to create a template for viewing how Latin America developed. Its attempts at union having come to nothing()—with United States approval for the multiplicities of jurisdiction clear-cut()—its dependence on U.S. and, especially, English capital and markets() having increased, these divided nation-states unavoidably fell into the orbit of one imperial ambition or another.
This became especially problematic when, unlike Chile, the just-formed political entities themselves eschewed republican commitment-to-commerce-over-blood and sought to impose monarchies of one sort or another. In Brazil(), such moves might prove tolerable to those in Washington whose growing strength ‘manifested an imperial destiny’ that would seemingly encompass the hemisphere and might eventually bridle the entire globe.
But when this longing for royalty took place across a border that gringos increasingly crossed with an intention to own (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/history/faculty/henryyu/Hist597/aron_adelman.pdf) whatever they might purchase ‘free-and-clear,’ in other words in Mexico, then such developments might appear almost insufferable(). Moreover, Mexican sociopolitical choices invited European involvement() in their monarchical fancies, which U.S. officials unequivocally rejected.
Thus, on the American side, the debates() about how to respond to this spate of rebellions and the promulgation of James Monroe’s famous ‘Doctrine’ would mark the coming of a more or less contemporary attitudinal and political nexus toward our ‘neighbors’ to the South. In Washington, no matter the fierce debates between John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay(), regardless of quibbling over how to couch trade with territorial expansion(), almost universal agreement existed both that significant, or even critical, “American interests” were at stake() in how the hemisphere developed to the South of the U.S. borders at the time and that the capacity to extend force, as in the development and extension of especially naval operations() and commerce (http://www.law.uci.edu/lawreview/Vol1No3Articles/frymer.pdf), would constitute a necessary component of this overarching ‘interest.’
The secession of Texas from Latin America, its annexation by the United States, and war with Mexico manifested destiny in ways that continue to resonate in almost every arena of contemporary American life. That Mexico’s caste and class divisions() were vastly more critical in causing the inevitable war with the United States to be an unmitigated disaster than were the military prowess or tactical proficiency of U.S. armed forces is important to note, of course. So too is the point of crucial import that the to-the-death fight over slavery that rent the U.S. in many ways began with the entry of Texas as slave territory() into the union; in any case, most of New England and substantial parts of the Eastern U.S. stoutly opposed the war against Mexico.
The end result of the conflict, nevertheless, was the establishment of an ‘Uncle Sam’s’ strategic force that was capable of becoming behemoth, whose territorial extent, growing industrial prowess, and combination of capitalism and social free-for-all for men of European ancestry inaugurated the rise of Pax Brittanica() in the Western Hemisphere even as it ultimately threatened to replace England’s rule with its own vigorous combination of bigoted self-confidence() and practical productive savvy(). In this way, the Monroe Doctrine formed() a wedge for British industrial products and capital, on the one hand, and for the ready extraction of necessary resources, on the other hand. Even the ‘scandal’ of England’s offer to purchase Texas() could not derail the ‘special relationship’ between U.S. expansionism and English commercial and naval supremacy.
The wild tale of William Walker(http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/jackson-lincoln/essays/filibuster-king-strange-career-william-walker-most-dangerous-i) complements the tale of Texas, where U.S. agents() and opportunistic interlopers() combined to bring an on-paper-only Mexican rule crashing down. Walker in 1854 exemplified filibustering() that newcomers North of the Rio Grande had field-tested in the early 1830’s, an important outlet for those in the United States who hoped to institutionalise slavery as a key part of Western Hemispheric capitalism.
He first led comrades in an invasion of Baja California. When anticipated popularity did not materialise—in other words, no additional mercenaries showed up to fight off the paltry Mexican forces that opposed him—he ‘surrendered’ to U.S. authorities just across the relatively new U.S. California border.
He made his mark as an adventurer in Central America(). He and a few dozen armed and trained soldiers-of-fortune allied with local gunslingers to depose and then dispatch the President of Nicaragua in a firing squad. He abrogated the prohibition on slavery() and instituted a ‘constitution’ that mimicked the likes of Tennessee and South Carolina.
Viewing Walker’s filibustering as either an aberration or as individualist heroism represents the preferred surface explanation(http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/empire-building/interactives/filibusters-nicaragua) for these events. What actually transpired is much more modern, spookily so.
The issues at hand combined logistics—transportation between Eastern and Western North America primarily—and marketing—determining which products would find a way to consumers and final purchases. Specifically, the owners of the primary delivery operation across Nicaragua deployed() Walker to shift the Central American State’s licensing permissions for transiting the Isthmus when Cornelius Vanderbilt’s stock manipulations() in New York were eliminating Walker’s employers’ ownership of the company.
Vanderbilt reacted with typical efficiency to this challenge. He oversaw the organization() of British and different Central American and dissident Nicaraguan counterattacks against Walker’s ‘Presidency.’ They permitted the dapper Tennessean to exit and warned him not to return. When he did(), they captured him and shot him to pieces in Honduras.
A half-century later, after a sectional bloodletting imposed a tepid emancipation of African-Americans and revolutionized the productive forces of the U.S. at one and the same time, a continental capitalist gargantuan erupted that had only been nascent during Walker’s day, late in the 1800’s tied together by rails and telegraph lines. In fulfilling() this ‘sea-to-shining-sea’ destination, further expansion had to occur outside Yankee borders.
More and more, like England after Waterloo, the United States needed an “Open Door” for its industrial and agricultural products(). Miraculously, in less than a century, the tiny thirteen original states had spanned North America, and the Stars & Stripes prepared to take on the task of governing the world.
Frederick Jackson Turner’s note, equal parts fantasy and description, resonates still. He spoke (http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/gilded/empire/text1/turner.pdf ) of the way that Americans saw themselves, to an extent, and totally of how ‘Uncle Sam’s’ rulers wanted (http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1078&context=constructing ) to present themselves.
“Another wave rolls on. The men of capital and enterprise come. The settler is ready to sell out and take advantage of the rise in property, push farther into the interior and become, himself, a man of capital and enterprise in turn. The small village rises to a spacious town or city; substantial edifices of brick, extensive fields, orchards, gardens, colleges, and churches are seen. Broad-cloths, silks, leghorns, crapes, and all the refinements, luxuries, elegancies, frivolities, and fashions are in vogue. Restaurants, luxuries, elegancies, frivolities, and fashions are in vogue. Thus wave after wave is rolling westward; the real Eldorado is still farther on.”
However, the inevitable offshoot of such a dynamic was the ‘restless’ search for, even necessary acquisition of, markets and resources outside the ‘small-village’ ambit. After all, this sort of development ended with the ‘closing of the frontier.’ In this context, voila! All manner of divided and ‘underdeveloped’ polities lay close at hand, ready for propositioning() or even more aggressive incursions().
Thus, war with Spain became an inevitable crusade (http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/development-west/resources/imperialism-and-spanish-american-war), righteously defended in the name of liberty but operationalised in terms of industrial plantation agriculture() and the decimation of legitimate liberation movements in Cuba and the Philippines().
And the seeds that promised revolutionary growth in Cuba thereby percolated in fertile soil. None other than Che Guevara spoke of how this ‘duty’ in relation to Havana and its surrounds had played out as a historical pattern.
“(W)e all know the nature of that duty. (T)hat same duty took to account a sovereign nation, which is Mexico, for its expression of indignation at the violent and bestial economic aggression unleashed against Cuba. This duty of the United States is the same duty that compelled it to assassinate the patriot Sandino and put into power in Nicaragua the justly hated Somoza. The duty of the United States was to give arms and planes, first to Batista and then to those who continue his work. …Thus do the rulers of the most powerful nation in this hemisphere understand their duties. These are our ‘good neighbors,’ those who would defend us, who place a military base on our soil and pay us two thousand pesos a year for it; the sower of atomic bases on all the world’s continents, the barons of oil, tin, copper, and sugar—the heirs of monopoly.”
Through all of this maturation of empire(), from the first presence of U.S. Navy forces off Chile in the 1820’s(), as part of the regime of various trade necessities—in California and Asia both—to the massive investments far to the North of Santiago that took place as World War was guaranteeing at least temporary demand for Chilean Nitrate and copper(), Washington’s relations with the slender Republic that stretched from Peru to Antarctica were relatively benign. Nothing disturbed a surface bustle that dealt with commerce and resources and a tendency to ‘leave well enough alone.’ At the same time, knowledge of such developments is less than sparse.
“Few however have pursued contemporaneous U.S. capital flow into overseas frontiers such as those in Chile, Venezuela, and elsewhere. ’The Americans who invested in Chile were interested in any good proposition,’ notes Wilkins, ‘whether it lay in the arid lands bordering the Andes, in the Russian Caucasus, in Northern Mexico, or in the hills of Montana.’ By 1914, the Guggenheim mining group had spent $169 million in getting the Chilean mines off to a roaring start. …By 1929, U.S. investments in Chilean copper and Venezuelan petroleum had surpassed American efforts in both of those industries in Mexico.”
That such an agenda in fact typified the U.S. imprint in the region generally is obvious on the surface. Its placidity and businesslike amicability were only skin deep, however. “Banana Republics” is not merely a catchy phrase. Dozens of military invasions() took place() in the half century() from the end of the U.S. war with Spain and the rise of Chile’s “New Song” and Salvador Allende’s dream of elected socialist power.
Eduardo Galeano speaks eloquently to such contentions: “After invading Panama, (George Herbert Walker Bush in 1991)…declared, ‘The world is a dangerous place.’ This pearl of wisdom has remained over the years as the most irrefutable justification for the highest war budget on the planet, mysteriously called the ‘defense budget.’ The name constitutes an enigma. The United States hasn’t been invaded by anybody since the English burned Washington in 1812. Except for Pancho Villa’s fleeting excursion during the Mexican Revolution, no enemy has crossed its borders. The United States, in contrast, has always had the unpleasant habit of invading others.”
Thus, a ‘Good Neighbor’ façade() held little in the way of promise for social progress or popular power. In 1919, while he was advocating a League of Nations to assume the ‘duties’ that nations risked war in assuming, Woodrow Wilson stated the foundations of such ‘friendly’ viciousness succinctly(https://apus-b.wikispaces.com/imperialism+quotes). “Is there any man, is there any woman, let me say any child here that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?”
One of the most fascinating witnesses to this ongoing processing of commercial hegemony regardless, and military imposition as necessary, twice won the Congressional Medal of Honor(OUR BUTLER LINK). He served for the better part of a decade as Commanding General of the United States Marine Corps. Then he resigned to write War Is a Racket() and seek a different way of approaching the production and control of life’s goods and services.
In fact, Smedley Butler acted very much like a socialist, or even a communist. His fiery populist statements(http://co.quaker.org/Writings/SmedleyButler.htm), mostly applicable to Latin America, drew on thirty-odd years of military service. “I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. … I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916.”
In keeping with Butler’s observations, Roosevelt’s and the American elites’ conception of Latin America was as a repository of resources() for the conduct of Yankee assumption() of the imperial crown that Britain had worn for so long. This was the nature of the U.S.-Chilean conjunction seventy-five years ago, as World War Two launched an ‘American Century(),’ much more modest than Germany’s hoped-for ‘thousand year reich.’
In this manifestation of economic servitude, and all the social stew that accompanied such patterns, that exemplified Chile’s development as of the last half century or so, truly astounding cultural and literary expressions() were mushrooming West of the Andes. Not that this was utterly atypical of Latin creativity, on the contrary, the region has burgeoned() with film and poetry and music and drama and more for a long century or more. But these gardens of story in Chile were especially fertile in producing their blossoms.
One such set of materials form the subject matter of Sebastian Allende’s work, La Influencia Anarquista en la Literatura Chilena(“The Anarchist Influence in Chilean Literature)(https://www.academia.edu/8097226/LainfluenciaanarquistaenlaliteraturachilenaSebasti%C3%A1nAllende). A central argument in his efforts revolves around the idea that anarchism and socialism, and even communism, have often conflated in Chilean culture. The ultimate goals of human liberation and worker solidarity transcend ideological niceties.
Another publication, more standard and encyclopedic in its orientation, but redolent of the extent and power of Chilean stories, is a sixty year old volume (http://books.google.com/books/about/HistoriadelaliteraturaChilena.html?id=j9hUAAAAMAAJ) from Francisco Dussuel. Historia de la Literatura Chilena covers four centuries of tales that have emanated from Santiago and environs, though it does not emphasize indigenous mythology or all sectors of society equally.
A vastly larger compendium of explorations of Chile’s output might appear here. But that would divert us from reaching our goal of exploring the work of Victor Jara and the New Song Movement, both of which were en route to social transformation when the CIA and Augusto Pinochet and company cut off Jara’s hands and shot him dead, in many ways effectively decapitating the movement.
We are going to arrive at Jara’s critically important contribution to human life via an examination of his friend and comrade in struggle to achieve a better Chile, the Nobel Laureate and poet, Pablo Neruda. Amazingly though, Neruda’s was not the first instance of the Swedish committee’s notice of Chile.
Gabriela Mistral was an austere school teacher from a humble family (http://muse.jhu.edu/books/9780292798830?auth=0) in the dry foothills of Northern Chile’s mining regions, who also, miraculously given her far-from-upper-class roots, served as an occasional diplomat. “She pushed her way out of poverty and obscurity through publishing poetry and a range of teaching materials for use in schools.”
She wrote simple and ethereally beautiful verse (http://books.google.com/books/about/GabrielaMistraltheChileanschool_mist.html?id=OYM9AQAAIAAJ). Often not overtly political(http://www.gabrielamistralfoundation.org/doc/book01.pdf), she nonetheless advocated for listening to Bolivar’s advice() and decried the depredations of empire and fascism in her region and the Spanish Civil War. Before he died, Garcia Lorca wrote a dedication to her that alluded to her love of land and Leo Tolstoy’s brand of peasant social anarchism: “When you lie still - ay, Gabriela, Gabriela - the Andes will cradle you - as if in a mint - and will make you a clay sarcophagus - that you may always have land.”
She corresponded with wealthy literati elsewhere in the Southern Cone, who sought her out and considered the issues of the day in tandem with her, especially as she acted as one of Chile’s diplomatic corps(http://muse.jhu.edu/books/9780292798830?auth=0). She fulminated on the rights of women and children (https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/hispanicamericanhistorical_review/v081/81.3hutchison.html) and found herself caught in the grip of uprisings of anarchists and communists and the reactionary counterattacks of the rulers of the established order.
Both her fundamentally progressive mindset and her achieving the highest award in literature—the only woman from Hispanic America and the first Latin American to do so—directs the onlooker to consider the man whose poetry remains more memorable, but not necessarily any more important, in understanding Chile and its cultural gifts to all the world. Certainly, Pablo Neruda would have responded with both joy and grief to her ferocious insistence(http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/d7wn3q) that justice required radical transformation.
“The whole world has gone astray. Selfishness, lust for power, and ignorance being the reasons why. The greater number of us are a burden on the few, the ones who rule with a startling brazenness and inhumanity. Fear, weapons, violence and concentration camps are turning man into a veritable puppet, stripping him ruthlessly of his greatest possession: his freedom to think and act and his creative mind.”
By Way of Introduction—Pablo Neruda’s Revolutionary Spirit
In this context of Chilean magnificence, the poetry and politics and lusty loving nature of Pablo Neruda form a seamless whole. Moreover, his origins, as much so as any Nobel Prize winner ever, illustrate the way that humble roots can percolate a body of work that, so to speak, caffeinates truly radical work, insurrectionary verses that touch on every realm of life.
Core Matters*—Poignant Paradox & Pointed Protests*
Chile’s outsize cultural impact has already had a turn on this essay’s stage. This literary and artistic heft represents
Victor Jara’s Iconic Presence
Once in a while, a man’s life, or a woman’s existence, so crystallizes an age that its narrative can become a key component of consciousness.
‘New Songs,’ New Politics—Salvador Allende’s Cultural Roots
The huge role that the so-called ‘New-Song movement’ played in the popular embrace of Salvador Allende’s faith in democratic socialism
A Crushing Coup—Murder’s Signature Centrality to U.S. Imperial Sway
As noted above, rational debate about the broad parameters of what actually happened in Chile over the decade 1965-75 is impossible. Murder and mayhem, spycraft and sabotage, lies and deceit, fraud and depredation against a democratically socialist Chile established the ‘order-of-battle’ in such a fashion that the United States never deviated from this criminal construction of plunder and plutocracy.
How and why, though
Resisting State-Sponsored Terror—Inside Chile & Out
Direccion de Intelligentsia Nacional, or DINA, evolved as a result of such institutional expressions of U.S. hegemony as the Central Intelligence Agency, of course. Moreover, however,
From Cautious Democratic Resurgence to Attempted Truth & Reconciliation
Many generations might need to pass
A retired Naval officer from Chile
Concluding Concepts—Imperialism & Humanity Can No Longer Coexist
Near the end of a long journey, this narrative would ask readers to consider six points in conclusion. Prior to stating those items, the narrator asks folks to ponder a chilling bit of nihilism of one of history’s hypercapitalists.
In essence, if we are to avoid eviscerating ourselves, we must avoid fulfilling the prophecy (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jackgould392076.html) of robber baron Jay Gould. “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
With the possible exception of Costa Rica, the United States has joined with ruling elites in every Hispanic or Portuguese speaking country in the hemisphere so as to cause Gould’s ghoulish prediction to transpire. Che Guevara’s articulation of this notion is among the clearest available.
A FIRST DEDUCTION
Of course, Che was not Chilean. But this evident admission directs the thinker to a first inference that flows from this essay: the attacks on Salvador Allende and Victor Jara assaulted Cuba’s revolution, and by extension the possibility to obtain social democracy in the ‘real world.’
In similar fashion as the poet and singer, Che was the loathed serpent in capital’s faux edenic garden, where at least the rich lived like emperors and empresses, and more or less everything was on sale for money to purchase. He was Fidel’s comrade and persisted in advancing the idea of a hemispheric armed uproar against gringo wealth and hegemony.
Moreover, real links joined Havana and Santiago. One of Che’s chief financial advisers() in restructuring Cuban agriculture and industry was the Chilean, Carlos Romeo. A member of the inner circle of Chile’s national bank under both Frei and Allende, Romeo demonstrated both technical excellence and socialist fervor() in his practice of economics.
Pablo Neruda also promoted the Cuban revolution as a model(); more importantly, he foresaw that the consciousness of Cuban success would free his countrymen and working people around the world from any slavish devotion to ‘free markets,’ which were never free, to commoditized models which ultimately impoverished workers to exactly the extent that they enriched the owners of everything, to
And Victor Jara himself formed friendships() in Cuba. He and Silvio Rodriguez sang together. Cuba received him as a distinguished guest. He also traveled more than once to the Soviet Union().
And this interconnection forms the heart of what we can conclude about empire as seven billion cousins approach the third decade of the second millennium of the present pass.
A SECOND DEDUCTION
Closely related to the initial culminating thought, we ought to acknowledge that anti-communism guarantees anti-solidarity.
A THIRD DEDUCTION
Out of such ideation emerges an acceptance of the necessity of internationalism, and in the context of this storyline the absolute primacy of multilingual capacity, the ability to sing in many tongues, so to speak.
A FOURTH DEDUCTION
I promoting this deconstruction of Babel, as it were, we would also accede to the utter toxicity of secrecy.
A FIFTH DEDUCTION
Having attained a vantage which allows our contextualization of reality based on in any event the potential for as complete a knowledge as is possible, we should praise the power of enculturation and artistic expression and foster persistence in expressing such efforts at storytelling and articulation and depiction.
A SIXTH DEDUCTION
Finally, in this fashion of generally examining what seems reasonable to conclude, we might pronounce as critical the belief that atonement and accountability, so long as the actors in a struggle still live, can never arrive too late in a process.
In addition to these specific effects of a broader and deeper understanding of Victor Jara and Chile, this essay definitely follows a rubric in which three components lie at the core of this sort of work. Every article that has a Spindoctor cast will contain each of these elements.
First is a deep reporting of what history has to tell us.
The second is an attempt always to show the political economic—legal, military, technological, and other related inputs—realm in which any social eventuality unfolds.
Third comes a weaving together of the social relations that underlie occurrences—matters of class and caste and color and gender and plenty in addition besides.
Coming to these conclusions and activating the general approach that this investigation suggests will not likely yield instant popularity or overnight success, obviously. This kind of work goes against the grain in more ways than one would want to list. Nevertheless, adhering to such systematic rules, and in doing so being able to assert some fairly fundamental pointers to complete this work, does lead to the potential to learn how and why things have evolved as they have.
Such conclusions can be risky in all sorts of ways. But inasmuch as inquiring minds do want to know, what exactly would be the alternative?
In a similar vein, everthing in Victor Jara’s statements and actions showed that he understood very well() what he was risking. But the alternative so sickened him that he kept confronting the potential that he would end up ‘in the belly of the beast,’ so to say.
In 1969, he wrote(http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/V%C3%ADctor_Jara), “US imperialism understands very well the magic of communication through music and persists in filling our young people with all sorts of commercial tripe. With professional expertise they have taken certain measures: first, the commercialization of the so-called ‘protest music’; second, the creation of ‘idols’ of protest music who obey the same rules and suffer from the same constraints as the other idols of the consumer music industry – they last a little while and then disappear. Meanwhile they are useful in neutralizing the innate spirit of rebellion of young people. The term ‘protest song’ is no longer valid because it is ambiguous and has been misused. I prefer the term ‘revolutionary song.’”
No magic formula prohibits a resurgence of the homicidal fury in pursuit of power and lucre that characterized the crimes against humanity that took place as Salvador Allende tried to run a democratic government. This potential persistence of monstrous depredation remains true despite the lethal effects this would clearly be likely to have on hemispheric comity or even on human survival. In essence, we can collectively stumble toward mass collective suicide, or we can countenance democratic insistence that people share with each other.
The present situation in Cuba remains the most obvious example of this point. The wealthiest and most powerful empire in history has seen fit for fifty-four years to threaten and bully an island nation that, when it revolted against and displaced venal and vicious U.S. puppets, was one of the poorest places on Earth, with the lowest life expectancy in the hemisphere().
The plots to assassinate Fidel Castro are beyond dispute. Government documents admit as much() in various forums(). Had he dealt with these attacks in the same liberal manner as typified Salvador Allende’s dealings, he very probably() would have ended up as the man whom he admired in Chile did: shot in the back, executed for defending democratic transformation.
Meanwhile, Cuba has advanced to be one of the more resilient economies in the region(), and its citizens live nearly as long as—and arguably much more fully than—do U.S. residents(). Yet, the ‘blockade’ against Communism remains in effect.
Fidel Castro, imprisoned in 1953 for seeking to overthrow the plutocratic puppet and killer, Fulgencio Batista, delivered a renowned presentation to the court when he faced twenty-six years behind bars—the title was “History Will Absolve Me.” Therein, he laid out an argument that was analogous to the economic program of Salvador Allende. “The nation’s future… cannot continue to depend on the selfish interests of a dozen big businessmen nor on the cold calculations of profits that ten or twelve magnates draw up in their air-conditioned offices. The country cannot continue begging on its knees for miracles from a few golden calves (which) cannot perform miracles of any kind. The problems of the Republic can be solved only if we (reject) ‘(s)tatesmen’ like Carlos Saladrigas, whose statesmanship consists of preserving the status quo and mouthing phrases like ‘absolute freedom of enterprise,’ ‘guarantees to investment capital,’ and ’law of supply and demand,’… . Those ministers can chat away in a Fifth Avenue mansion until not even the dust of the bones of those whose problems require immediate solution remains. …A revolutionary government backed by the people and with the respect of the nation, after cleansing the different institutions of all venal and corrupt officials, would proceed immediately to the country’s industrialization, mobilizing all inactive capital, currently estimated at about 1.5 billion pesos, through the National Bank and the Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank, and submitting this mammoth task to experts and men of absolute competence totally removed from all political machines for study, direction, planning, and realization.”
This process of expropriation and transformation actually happened in Cuba. A nation of fewer than twenty million people, mobilized and overwhelmingly supportive of defending a revolutionary process, withstood the massed power and fanatical hatred of the world’s premier imperial machine. The lesson() that capital learned was stark: under no conditions would they tolerate “another Cuba.”
In fact, much of the violence against human development in the hemisphere—whether under the guise of ‘neighborliness’ or ‘allying for progress’—stems directly from the loathing and fear that capitalist elites still feel() toward Cuban socialism. If recent events in Venezuela(), Argentina(), Honduras(), and Mexico()—to name just a few obvious cases—provide any indication, truly barbarous upheaval persists as a preferred means for advancing U.S. corporate and imperial agendas.
Moreover, as the reader will have noticed already, a significant—arguably central—aspect of the U.S. decision to foment mayhem and death in Chile, flowed directly() from Allende’s and his collaborators’ seeking deeper ties with Cuba. Victor Jara revered() both Che and Fidel. Cuban poetry and performance followed() jara’s template, often enough, of “revolutionary music.” One purpose—and some would argue the primary objective—of the brutal example that Pinochet’s thugs made of Salvador and Victor and thousands of others was to destroy without mercy() any hope of emulation of what Cuba had won.
Nevertheless, both in Chile and throughout the region, cultural dynamism reflects the human capacity for resistance and solidarity. Cuba just recently held a conference to increase the reach of local television networks and production, attended by over sixty nations(). Rock, rap, and other ‘folk’ music acts from Mexico() to Chile() and Argentina() have railed against imperial preponderance and powerfully asserted human rights and elimination of neo-colonial patterns of dominance. Film festivals() that advance social democratic messaging are occurring more than occasionally in the various localities of Latin America(). Literary awards() proudly assert the ‘magic’ of Latino fiction and poetry, even as such Chilean authors() as Isabel Allende, the niece of the butchered President, articulate a vision much more in tune with social justice than with the dictates of profiteering that ITT and PepsiCo and their financial and corporate cohorts promulgate now as much as they did in 1973.
An interlocutor(http://www.e-reading.link/bookreader.php/149187/OpenVeinsofLatinAmerica.pdf) like Ms. Allende, however, for all her hope in regard to a socially decent human prospect, does not shrink from describing the hideous horror that imperial imprimatur has yielded. “The Cuban Revolution was enough; no other socialist project would be tolerated, even if it was the result of a democratic election. On September 11, 1973, a military coup ended a century of democratic tradition in Chile and started the long reign of General Augusto Pinochet. Similar coups followed in other countries, and soon half the continent’s population was living in terror. This was a strategy designed in Washington and imposed upon the Latin American people by the economic and political forces of the right. In every instance the military acted as mercenaries (for) the privileged groups in power. Repression was organized on a large scale; torture, concentration camps, censorship, imprisonment without trial, and summary executions became common practices. Thousands of people ‘disappeared,’ masses of exiles and refugees left their countries running for their lives.”
Her uncle(http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Salvador_Allende), from beyond the grave, also encourages thoughtful participants in social affairs to learn, to speak up, and to act on their own behalf. He consciously presented his plans for Chilean socialism, which the Chilean people chose, and which the United States confronted with monstrous murder.
“Now the question is, “Who is going to use whom?” …(T)he answer (obviously) is the proletariat. If it wasn’t so I wouldn’t be here. I am working for Socialism and through Socialism. As for the bourgeois state, at the present moment, we are seeking to overcome it, to overthrow it.… Our objective is total, scientific, Marxist socialism. We already had success in creating a democratic, national government that is revolutionary and popular. That is how socialism begins, not with decrees.”
Bruce Springsteen, for the fortieth anniversary of the original, Chilean, 9/11 catastrophe—in which the attacking ‘terrorists’ are easy to identify and find, though they often remain at large, abroad, in the United States and elsewhere—went to Santiago to honor his fallen friend, Victor Jara. Before a rapt audience that interrupted his Spanish commemoration with frequent applause, he sang Jara’s anthem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiJ-uGrQP0Q), “Manifesto.”
Springsteen, struggling to maintain his composure and to remember the Spanish which he had memorized, spoke simply(http://greggchadwick.blogspot.com/2013/09/homage-to-victor-jara.html). “’In 1988 we played for Amnesty International in Mendoza, Argentina, but Chile was in our hearts. We met many families of desaparecidos, who had pictures of their loved ones. It was a moment that stays with me forever. A political musician, Victor Jara, remains a great inspiration. It’s a gift to be here that I receive with humility.’”
Jara’s words, however, provide the most fitting exit from our assessment of this magnificent human being, who held up the hands from which his killers had just severed his fingers and raised his voice in song. Of course, he knew what that would yield, but he did not falter.
On September 7th, 1973, an interviewer asked him what ‘love’ meant. His response is iconic: “Love of my home, my wife and my children./ Love for the earth that helps me live./ Love for education and of work./ Love of others who work for the common good./ Love of justice as the instrument that provides equilibrium for human dignity./ Love of peace in order to enjoy one’s life./ Love of freedom, but not the freedom acquired at the expense of others’ freedom, but rather the freedom of all./ Love of freedom to live and exist, for the existence of my children, in my home, in my town, my city, among neighboring people./ Love for freedom in the environment in which we are required to forge our destiny./ Love of freedom without yokes: nor ours nor foreign.”