NEWS: Sanders, Kaine, Ocasio-Cortez, Castro, Casar, Velázquez Introduce Resolution Commemorating Coup in Chile

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 – Following the 50th anniversary of the bloody U.S.-backed coup d’état against democratically-elected Chilean President Salvador Allende, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas), and Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) on Thursday introduced a Congressional resolution commemorating the coup, apologizing for the role the United States played, and calling for more transparency and further declassification of remaining U.S. records relating to events leading up to, during, and after the military coup.

The 1973 coup in Chile ushered in decades of military rule by General Augusto Pinochet, during which some 40,000 Chileans were killed, disappeared, tortured, or exiled. According to reports, President Richard Nixon ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream” and covertly block Allende’s inauguration through instigation of a military coup. Under the supervision of security adviser Henry Kissinger, the CIA continued its efforts to foster a “coup climate” and, in Kissinger’s own words to Nixon, “created the conditions as great as possible” for the military takeover.

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) co-sponsored the resolution.

“Let me be clear: we must stand up for democracy here in the United States and beyond,” said Sanders. “And that means we must also acknowledge that the United States has not always defended democracy abroad, and in fact, has sometimes done the opposite. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the horrific coup in Chile, we must make clear that we regret our involvement and commit to supporting Chilean democracy. To build the lasting partnerships we need in this hemisphere, we will need to establish a basis of trust and respect. Part of that process includes full accountability for the coup and its aftermath.”

“This year marks 50 years since the 1973 coup in Chile. The Pinochet regime was responsible for horrendous human rights abuses and political suppression, including the murder of American citizens in Chile and targeted assassinations of political opponents within the United States,” said Kaine. “It is important that we acknowledge the United States’ role in the coup, but also learn from the U.S. Congress’s crucial role in ultimately bringing the regime’s atrocities to light, in order to strengthen our foreign policy in the future and be a better voice for human rights at home and abroad.”

Ocasio-Cortez said: “The U.S. cannot credibly show up as trustworthy partner that can help advance democracy in the present if we don’t own up to our complicated past. While we appreciate President Biden listening to our call and declassifying two relevant documents, there are still many outstanding questions. The people of Chile and the victims of Pinochet’s violence deserve answers.”

“Last month, I visited Chile with one of the first Congressional delegations led by leaders who came of age with a clear-eyed understanding of how America’s Cold War policy affected our neighbors. The legacy of American involvement in the region loomed large over our trip, but there was also a real willingness to build a relationship with the United States that looks beyond the Cold War,” said Castro. “If the United States is serious about building trust in Latin America, we have to be honest about our past. We need to help Chile heal by providing as much transparency as possible about the 1973 coup – and our role in Pinochet’s rise.”

“Fifty years ago the U.S. government supported a violent coup that toppled democracy in Chile and brought years of mass murder and authoritarianism to the country,” said Casar. “We should apologize and be transparent about the role that the U.S. government and major economic interests played in supporting the coup and the following years of authoritarian rule. Together, we can build a new relationship based on mutual respect and a commitment to peace.”

“U.S. involvement in the bloody overthrow of democracy in Chile in 1973 helped usher in an era of horrific violence and authoritarianism. Last month, I traveled to Santiago, where the coup and resulting Pinochet dictatorship have left deep scars on Chilean society. For Chile to heal and the relationship between our two countries to prosper, we need complete transparency about the role of the U.S. in overthrowing President Allende,” said Velázquez. 

Earlier this month, Chilean President Gabriel Boric issued a fervent defense of democracy, stressing that the problems of democracy must be addressed through more democracy. The U.S. must always stand firmly on the side of those committed to democracy and the rule of law.

The resolution expresses profound regret for the U.S. contribution to destabilizing Chile’s political institutions and constitutional processes and recognizes the decades-long effort of Chile’s pro-democracy forces, applauding the Chilean people for rebuilding a strong and resilient democracy. It also vows that Congress will continue to engage with the Chilean people to participate in truth and reconciliation efforts, emphasizing that support for human rights is and should remain a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy not only in Chile, but across the globe.

To read the resolution, click here.