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CHILE'S 9/11 REMEMBERED IN SASKATOON


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Gone, but not forgotten 40 years later: Salvador Allende. Another 9/11 story, largely forgotten, but remembered in some places including Saskatoon. About 50 people gathered in the city’s Rotary Park Peace Plaza to remember the Chilean President, Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens. Allende was democratically elected by the Chilean people but overthrown and killed in an US-backed coup on September 11, 1973. 

 

The commemoraion activities in Saskatoon were co-ordinated this year by Ximena Pino. Said it is important to keep remembering Allende and his death. “We are writing history for future generations, that this [overthrow of an elected president] should never happen again.”

 

For the 17 years following Allende’s death, General Augusto Pinochet ruled as dictator in Chile. During his time thousands of Pinoched opponants “disappeared,” and died. Many more were arrested, interned, and tortured. To escape the Pinochet regime, some 7,000 Chilean refuges came to Canada. Ximena Pino was one of them. 

 

Pino explained that the women of those who disappeared would gather looking for any new about their men — including husbands, fathers, grandfathers, and sons. They began in dancing Chile’s national dance alone, a dance normally done by a man and a woman, as a way of symbolizing the absence of their partners and other men. Said, Pino, “the women worked alone, then they worked together, in order to achieve their goals.” 

 

Helen Smith-McIntyre of Amnesty International also spoke to the gathering. She said in 1976, an AI local was beginning to understand the nature of the problem in Chile, at about the same time that Chilean refugees began to come to Canada, and Saskaatoon. The two groups made natural allies. 

 

In reflecting on the coup, Smith McIntyre said 1973 was not on of Canada’s proudest moments. The country was one of the first to recognize the Pinochet dictatorship, and initially blocked refugees from entering the country. She observed that history is repeating itself, as people struggle today to open Canada to refugees from Syria. 

 

Michael Murphy of the Saskatoon Peace Coalition spoke briefly of the date as being a “grim anniversary,” and of Canadians continuing to stand in solidarity with those who suffer. 

 

Murphy recalled that right after th coup, many people, in church, union and peace organizations, held events and rallies to publicize the coup and the slaughter in Chile. Through those events it became possible for Chieans to escape to Canada.

 

Murphy also talked about empire, and imperial countries subjugation of other nations. He spoke of how the social democratic government of Allende became a threat to the United States, which the helped with his  removal. 

 

Murphy concluded that Syria id provoking the same fear in the United States today. 

 

 

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celtic-rob (Rob Brown)
Saskatoon, SK
Member since January 2011

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Rob is a retired career journalist, who has worked in both electronic and print news. He is also so a Minister of the United Church of Canada, and has post-graduate University training in ethics.

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