Chile coup commemorated, 40 years on

September 13, 2013

September 11 marked 40 years since a brutal military coup brought down the left-wing government of President Salvador Allende in Chile.

The "Other September 11" represented the state terrorist actions of the US government and the CIA in subverting and overthrowing a democratically elected progressive government — one of many such right-wing coups sponsored by the US in Latin America over the past century.

The 1973 coup in Chile ushered in a reign of terror in which tens of thousands of political opponents of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet were imprisoned, tortured, exiled, disappeared or murdered. Many refugees from the regime were forced to flee to Australia, where they formed a strong community of Chilean exiles.

Events were held in Sydney over September 8 to 14 to commemorate the coup and its aftermath, organised by a broad range of community, trade union, church and Latin American solidarity groups. They included forums, exhibitions, film showings and concerts highlighting the repression in Chile and the resistance to the Pinochet regime.

An art exhibition, documentary, forum and concert were held at the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville on September 8. It culminated in a concert, attended by more than 200 people, titled "Chile 40 Years On," featuring the choral work “Cantata to Victor Jara” (the famous Chilean singer, killed by the junta for his socialist activities), written by Hernan Flores and performed by the Coro Austral (Southern Choir), supported by a group of Latin American musicians.

On September 11 a commemoration was held at the Salvador Allende monument at Fairfield Park, followed by a rally at Martin Place in the city. The day finished with a showing of the Naomi Klein film The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

The film was introduced by Labor MLC Linda Voltz, Greens MLC John Kaye and Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union state secretary Rita Mallia. The speakers noted the ongoing need to defend democratic rights under attack, and the role of the Australian unions and community in carrying out solidarity with the people of Chile.

The week concluded with another concert in honour of Victor Jara. The concert was held at the Latin American House at the Addison Road Community Centre on September 14.

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