We lived in Mac Iver Street, along which, at great speed and with equal noise, tanks, tanks, trucks with army soldiers and carabineros of the ” creeping general ” Mendoza were running. Named after President Salvador Allende for joining in the assassination carried out by General Augusto Pinochet, when his superiors in the police force had refused to add the necessary police forces to the coup d’état.

By Freddy Pacheco León

British Hawcker Hunter fighter-bombers were flying at very low altitude, charged with weapons to attack, on the orders of General Gustavo Leigh, La Moneda Palace, President Allende’s residence in Tomás Moro, the transmission antennae of the Corporación and Portales radio stations, and other sites allegedly “dangerous” to “state security”.

Months went by, and eventually, the admiral of the naval force, Toribio Merino, who in a meteoric “academic career” of the highest level, was appointed to appoint the “military rectors” of the universities, chose General Ruiz Danyau as head of the subjugated University of Chile. A military man trained to kill, and also an imbecile, became the rector of the most important house of higher education in Chile, to prevent anti-democratic thoughts from being spread from there, they said. General that a year after the coup, he was decorated by the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, with whom he had many things in common, mainly in terms of intellectual abilities.

That Tuesday 11 September, a day full of brutality, by order of the spurious military junta presided over by Augusto Pinochet (remembered as a thief and “murderer of life”), the Armed Forces and the Carabineros mobilised in pursuit of their supreme objective: to assassinate the President of the Republic, Dr Salvador Allende. That was their trophy! A constitutional president who had been elected and assumed the presidential office three years earlier, and who had growing popular support, which, paradoxically, made him more dangerous for the civilian and military aristocracy, accustomed to the enjoyment of unjust privileges, which they were not prepared to lose with a Popular Unity government. Conspirators who began their actions even before Dr. Allende took office. Allende took office, on the way to which they assassinated in one of the streets of Santiago General René Schneider, who at the time, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, had declared himself ready to defend the popular will expressed at the polls and to ensure respect for the constitutional order, even before Allende’s election, against the representative of the ultra-right, the former president Jorge Alessandri, who was later appointed by the military coup plotters as a member of the so-called Council of State, as a reward for his complicity.

As the bombs fell from the war planes, paradoxically acquired to supposedly defend Chile’s borders, the shrill and criminal noise of the machine gun and cannon fire was multiplied by the echo of the pavement of the streets and buildings of downtown Santiago, occupied by the militiamen and some workers running home, under the bullets of soldiers playing target practice. Bestial savagery was unleashed.

The night before, on Monday 10 September, while life seemed to be going on normally, we were sharing a dinner in the Las Condes district with the participants of an international course that had ended that same day at the Biochemistry Department of the Faculty of Medicine, attached to the José Joaquín Aguirre Hospital in Santiago. What we did not know was that cowardly, under the shadows, all over Chile, the military coup plotters had begun to carry out a criminal coup d’état, forged by “experts” from Chile, the CIA, the White House and the Pentagon, because it was a terrible continental example that a socialist president had been elected in free elections. That had to be stopped at the root! It could not be allowed! And that is why concepts such as human rights and democracy became obstacles to the ends of the military caste that so enjoyed the royalties that their peers in the political aristocracy, mainly, used as payment for their indecent services.

Much has been written and will continue to be documented about what happened after. The “military coup”, repudiated by the world’s democrats, was cynically denied as such by Pinochet and his henchmen. “It was a military pronouncement carried out to defend democracy and the rights of the Chilean people”, they claimed, while prohibiting even the mention of the word “coup”, because a “hero” cannot be described as a coup leader….

They were equally indignant when he asked about the thousands of murdered people who were being added to the figures in some morgues from Arica to Magallanes, because for the murderer of life (so we heard), “those corpses that you see in the course of the Mapocho River, with their faces smashed by shots fired in their heads, are common criminals who are killing each other”, he sarcastically mocked at press conferences, where pseudo-journalists were used to ask the questions dictated to them minutes before by those in charge of the dictatorship’s propaganda.