Obama: No apologies for Pinochet coup

March 22, 2011

Pînochet and his generals in 1973. Photo Chas Gerretsen, Nederlands Fotomuseum

Visiting Chile, President Obama stopped short of offering an apology for the US role in the overthrow of President Salvador Allende in 1973, leading to the bloody military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet–an episode about which then Secretary of State Colin Powell said in 2003 “it is not a part of American history that we’re proud of.” The NY Times reports:

… at a news conference, Obama was asked by a Chilean journalist whether he also would “ask for forgiveness” on behalf of the United States for its part in the 1973 coup that brought Chile’s former dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, to power and for the “open wounds” that remain. Mr. Obama said that his administration would consider any requests for information as Chile seeks a truthful record of that period, but that neither country should be “trapped by our history.”

Since that time, he added, “We’ve seen extraordinary progress here in Chile, and that has not been impeded by the United States but, in fact, has been fully supported by the United States.”

“So I can’t speak to all of the policies of the past,” he said. “I can speak certainly to the policies of the present and the future.”

More here.


4 Responses to “ Obama: No apologies for Pinochet coup ”

  1. Joseph fernandez on March 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    In 2002 I attended my son’s wedding in Talca ,Chile. On returning home we spent a few days in Santiago. Returning from the “Dominicos”, while in a taxi we passed the British Embassy. Our driver who was giving us explanations of what we saw pointed to the embassy and said:” Here we were thousands gathered to demand the return of our ‘Pinochet’ from England just a few days ago” We were perplexed due to media in the US. The driver said over 50% of the country was grateful to Pinochet for delivering his country from communism “which has ruined so many countries.

    Just wanted to put things in perspective.No one likes dictators but there are worst things.

  2. Edith Leni on March 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I agree we need to put things in perspective. We have to look at the real facts. For example, the one that the United States spent 13 million dollars between 1963-1973 to stop a democratic process in Chile; or that between 1971-1972, alone, $1.5 million of US tax payers $ were channeled down to Chile to set up the most horrific campaign to destabilize a democratic government. These are all public facts (Covert Action in Chile 1963-1973, Staff Report, United States Senate) that brought about a 17-year long brutal dictatorship. The United States Government owes an apology for its involvement in Chile, and its concomitant acts that ended 140 yrs of Chile’s democratic path. I think we definitely need to put things in perspective, and look beyond the opinion of a taxi driver.

  3. Brian Reynolds on April 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    It seems to me that anyone, even a country, cannot go successfuly into the future without coming to grips with past. The past of the USA’s foreign policy has almost always been to support dictatorships and hinder democracy…from Spain and Nicaragua in the 1930’s to Chile in the 1970’s and many other countries in between. Hypocrisy and falsehoods are hindrances to Americans’ future, be they from North, Central, or South America. Let’s tell the truth,work together not at odds, protecting the weak against the strong…the former need protection, the latter certainly don’t.

  4. Elaine Spiro on April 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    It’s too bad that a American President – or leader of any country – can’t feel he/she can take some responsibility for the country’s past “mistakes” , at least to acknowledge they happened.