Allow Me To Explain

The U.S.-backed overthrow of Salvador Allende and the bloody consequences

Posted in Chile, Electoral politics, Imperialism, revolution, Socialism by amte on September 8, 2009

September 11, 2009, marks the 36th anniversary of the brutal overthrow of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile. Allende was overthrown in a military coup, led by General Augusto Pinochet, that had the full backing of the United States government.

Allende’s beginnings
Salvador Allende was born on July 26, 1908, in Valparaíso, Chile. His petty bourgeois (middle class), radical-liberal family had a history of involvement in social struggles. His grandfather was a founder of the reformist Radical Party and the first public school in Chile (at a time when the Catholic Church controlled education). His father and uncles also belonged to the Radical Party.

Besides the influences of his family, Allende was also influenced by an anarchist shoemaker named Juan Demarchi. He became even more conscious while attending medical school, during which time he lived in very poor conditions with a group of students who often read and discussed books by revolutionaries like Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.

Salvador Allende

Salvador Allende

During his time at college, he became an outspoken leader of the Chilean Student Federation, and participated in a number of protests against U.S.-backed dictator Carlos Ibáñez. This activity resulted in numerous arrests for the young Salvador.

After graduating from college in 1932, Allende had a difficult time finding work as a doctor because of his reputation as a radical. He finally found a job preforming autopsies on the corpses of the poor. Seeing so many dead as a result of curable diseases, simply because they could not afford treatment, further affected Allende.

Allende married Hortensia Bussi, who was herself related to Marmaduque Grove, a military general who lead a 1932 coup that resulted in the formation of the short lived “Socialist Republic of Chile” (June 4 – 16, 1932). Grove was also a founder of the Socialist Party of Chile, which was formed in 1933. Allende was one of its first members.

Entering government

In 1937, Allende was elected to the Chilean National Congress. Soon after taking office, he introduced a number of bills on public healthcare, welfare and the rights of women.

He served as Minister of Health in the “Popular Unity” government (made up of the Socialist Party, Communist Party, Radical Party, Social Democratic Party and the Popular Unitary Action Movement) in both 1939 and 1941.

While serving in this position, he released a book entitled “The Chilean Socio-Medical Reality.” This book explained how certain health issues (infant and maternal mortality, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, etc.) prevalent among the working class were caused by their poor living conditions, and argued for serious steps to be taken to rectify the problem. Instead of a strictly medical approach, he proposed social changes (redistribution of housing and land, income redistribution, improving workers’ wages and workplace safety, etc.) that could get to the root of the problem.

In 1942, Allende became the leader of the Socialist Party and was elected to the Chilean Senate. Not long after, he introduced legislation that would create a national health care service. After its approval, Chile became the first country in the Americas to make health care available to all of its citizens (something most of the countries in the Western Hemisphere still haven’t done).

He remained in the Senate (reelected several times), while running for president in 1952, 1958 and 1964. After his three unsuccessful bids for the presidency, he joked that his head stone would read “Here lies the next president of Chile.”

But Allende was gaining popularity. In each election, he gained more votes than he had in the last. The imperialist U.S. government was becoming worried. In 1959, a year after almost winning the presidential election in Chile, Allende traveled to Cuba, where Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and others had recently lead a revolution that ousted U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. While there, he befriended Fidel and Raul Castro, and received a copy of Che’s book “Guerrilla Warfare” which contained an inscription that read: “To Salvador Allende, who is trying to obtain the same result by other means, Affectionately, Che.”

Allende, a socialist, friend of the Cuban Revolution, and supporter of communist guerrilla movements across Latin
America as well as Che Guevara, who was murdered while leading a guerrilla war in Bolivia in 1967, looked like he may become the next president of Chile.

Allende speaks to supporters.

Allende speaks to supporters.

If that happened, the U.S. government feared, several of the capitalist exploiters it represented, such as the owners of the ITT, Anacoda and Kennecott corporations – who were heavily invested in the country – might have their factories nationalized. On top of this, the election of Allende would interfere with the U.S. government’s attempts to isolate Cuba, and turn back its revolution.

Furthermore, if the events lead to a socialist revolution in which the local capitalist rulers and imperialist lackeys were overthrown by the working class, it would open the doorway to similar events throughout Latin America.

Preemptive strike

The U.S. government, through its various agencies, went into full gear to prevent the election of Salvador Allende in the 1970 elections.

Through, and with the cooperation of ITT and other channels, the CIA illegally funded the election campaign of  right-wing capitalist Jorge Alessandri, the incumbent who Allende was running against. (This was nothing new. In 1964 they had done the same thing, funneling large sums of money to Allende’s then-opponent.)

The CIA launched a program called “FUBELT,” aimed at preventing Allende from becoming elected, or failing that, bring his time in office to a rapid conclusion.

In a document dated September 17, 1970 (now available in the U.S. National Security Archives) describing the results of a meeting between CIA chief Richard Helms and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, instructions for CIA operatives were laid out. “President Nixon had decided that an Allende regime in Chile was not acceptable to the United States.. The President asked the Agency to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him. The President authorized ten million dollars for this purpose, if needed.”

Despite all of this, the Chilean voters elected Allende in a three-way race (a liberal candidate from the Christian Democratic Party was also running). A section of the opposition to Allende argued for a run off election since Allende got less than 50 percent of the votes, even though there was no mention of the need for such in the constitution. In response, the National Congress took up the question.

In the meantime, the capitalist media went to work trying to whip up opposition to Allende’s soon-to-be presidency. The cover of TIME magazine’s October 19, 1970 issue (published only days before Allende’s election was to be made official) read “Marxist Threat In The Americas – Chile’s Salvador Allende.”

A threat to whom?

A threat to whom?

Still, not everyone was fooled. One reader, in a letter to the editor published in the next issue, wrote: “Sir: Intrigued by your marvelous cold war headline, MARXIST THREAT IN THE AMERICAS, I read on to see who is being threatened. Apparently it’s some U.S. copper firms, the telephone company, and assorted juntas. Somehow, I’m not alarmed. I am, however, irritated by your persistent assumption that any form of Marxism enjoying any form of success in any part of the world is, ipso facto, a threat. This kind of thinking gave us Viet Nam. And it ignores the obvious: non-Marxist politicians have generally failed to meet the needs of the masses. I suggest we let our humanity transcend our cold war reflexes and hope that the people of Latin America are finding some kind of solution to their problems. We haven’t been much help.”

The CIA’s work continued as well. Another secret CIA document dated October 16, 1970 read in part, “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. It would be much preferable to have this transpire prior to 24 October [the date Allende’s election would be ratified] but efforts in this regard will continue vigorously beyond this date.”

Chile’s workers and farmers were outraged by the delay and the idea that the man they had elected may not take office. Allende himself warned “Santiago (Chile’s  capital) will be painted red with blood if I am not ratified as President.”

Finally, and in spite of all the maneuvering on the part of the imperialists and their representatives and agents, the National Congress was forced by popular pressure to declare Salvador Allende President of Chile on October 24, 1970.

Imperialist aggression in full effect
Allende took office on November 3. Twelve days earlier, General René Schneider, Commander in Chief of Chile’s army, was killed while resisting a kidnaping attempt by another group of soldiers under the leadership of Roberto Viaux. The kidnaping attempt was a part of a plan promoted by the CIA to carry out a coup before Allende could take office.  Schneider had to be removed because he was fully opposed any violation of the constitution, such as a coup; but he wasn’t supposed to be killed. Schneider’s murder drew popular outrage, and forced the Viaux clique to abandon their plans.

With plans for a coup temporarily defeated, and the workers and farmers emboldened, Allende went to work. Diplomatic relations were immediately established with Cuba (in spite a U.S.-pushed Organization of American States convention forbidding countries in the Western Hemisphere from doing so) and the USSR, the People’s Republic of China was recognized (for the first time by any country in South America), and a number of social programs were established.

The first steps were taken on the “Chilean road to socialism.”

Foreign owned banks, copper and coal mines, and steel and iron mills were nationalized.

In the nationalized industries and public works projects which were launched, employment was made available for the poor and unemployed. As a result, the unemployment rate was cut in half.

The healthcare and education systems were put taken over by the government and opened to the public.

Free milk, which many could not afford previously, was provided to each child to prevent malnutrition.

Large estates were broken up and redistributed to those without land.

Prices on essential products were frozen, while at the same time workers were given raises.

Taxes were reformed so that the poorest of the poor wouldn’t have to shoulder the burden.

Workers march in support of Allende.

Workers march in support of Allende.

Hundreds of thousands of retirees had their pensions raised.

A state of the art networked of telex machines and computers was installed that allowed factories to communicate with each other in real time, thus facilitating planned production.

Workers and farmers were mobilized. Landless farmers began to occupy land, and industrial workers began to take over their workplaces. Industrial output increased by 14 percent.

In 1971, Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro was invited to Chile. He spent several weeks there, holding a number of public rallies, which drew huge crowds, and giving the socialist members of Chile’s government advice.

Allende and Castro greet supporters.

Allende and Castro greet supporters.

In response to the events in Chile, the U.S. imperialists began a campaign of economic warfare, just as they had (and continue to do) with Cuba. President Richard Nixon demanded that his foot soldiers “make the [Chilean] economy scream.” In line with this, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Edward M. Korry, proclaimed, “Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. … we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty.”

What about the “democracy” that the U.S. government has always claimed to uphold? Henry Kissinger made their position on that clear, saying “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

This should come of no surprise. The same thing happened in Viet Nam. When the U.S. government realized that communist leader Ho Chi Minh was sure to win upcoming elections in that country, they canceled them! In the same vein, they sponsored a coup against democratically elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez just a few years ago (though a mass mobilization prevented its success).

Besides cutting off trade, credit and aid to Chile, the U.S. government sponsored publications, television and radio broadcasts that slandered Allende and worked to destabilize the country. Among other things, they claimed Allende and the Popular Unity government were puppets of the USSR (just as they had done with Cuba), even though this was clearly not the case. Although Allende maintained friendly relations with the Soviet Union, he didn’t take orders from its leadership. This was made obvious during his time as a Senator, during which he openly denounced its invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Of course, like democracy, the U.S. government is only concerned with the truth when it serves the interests of the capitalist ruling class.

Problems arise
Things were far from perfect under Allende, though the imperialists had as much to do with that as anything.

The imperialists and local capitalists had begun withdrawing their investments from the country as soon as Allende was elected. This only increased as it became clear that the oppressed and exploited were on the move.

The moves by the U.S. government and its agents to “make the economy scream” began to take their toll. Aid from the U.S., which had amounted to $1 billion (US) during the six-year presidency of Alessandri alone, disappeared after Allende took office.

Trade was limited or refused by the U.S. and its puppets, causing exports to fall by 24 percent. At the same time, a
slight drop in agricultural output (which was expected for a short period while land was redistributed) made it  necessary to increase imports by 26 percent.

Shortages and inflation led to the creation of a black market, leading to even more problems.

On top of all this, the price of copper, Chile’s main export, which was set internationally, fell from $66 (U.S.) per ton in 1970 to $48 in 1972. This meant a major loss of funds for the country.

Often with direct U.S. assistance, and always with its backing, the capitalists and their agents in Chile launched a serious of “strikes” and lockouts. Through intimidation, blackmail and deception, they were able to get teachers and other workers to walk off the job, bringing the economy to a halt. Elements of the petty bourgeoisie, like private physicians (who were angry about the Socialist government’s programs of public health, which meant less money for them), truck owners, and store owners followed suit.

Through all this, Allende’s popularity continued to grow. In the March 1973 elections, the Popular Unity coalition gained more votes that it had when Allende came into office.

Still, the economic crisis facing the country, and the failure of the Popular Unity government to arm the country’s workers and farmers, led to conditions favorable to the imperialists and their allies.

On June 29, 1973, another coup attempt, known as el Tanquetazo (the tank putsch), was launched. Under the leadership of leading members of a right-wing fascist group called “Fatherland and Liberty,” a force made up of several tanks and dozens of soldiers made its way toward La Moneda (the presidential residence), with the aim of overthrowing Allende and installing a military dictatorship.

Early in the morning hours the coup plotters began firing on La Moneda and the Ministry of Defense. Several workers were killed during the attack.

Allende gave a radio broadcast in which he promised to defend the constitution to the end, while calling on workers to occupy the factories “and be ready in case it is necessary to fight alongside the soldiers of Chile.”

General Carlos Prats, along with others in the military, drew up a plan to counter the advance. Within an hour, they began to move in.

When his group reached the area around La Moneda, Prats made a bold decision. Instead of waging all out warfare, he, along with two others, simply marched up to the tanks outside and commanded those in them to come down and surrender. This process continued to work until one tank operator shouted “I will not surrender General,” while pointing the tank’s barrel at Prats and his group. While the two went back and forth, Major Osvaldo Zabala snuck up behind the tank operator and pointed a rifle at his head, forcing him to give up. More units began to arrive on the scene, including one under the command of Augusto Pinochet himself, future leader of yet another coup. The soldiers that had taken part in the plan to overthrow Allende ran away as fast as they could.

During these events, a large crowd had come to La Moneda to show their support for Allende. He delivered a speech to them, in which he explained what was going on, and asked them to remain calm and continuing to trust in the government.

The coup was smashed, but the threat of another still loomed.

At this time, Allende made a fatal error. He brought leading members of the armed forces into his Cabinet, hoping to win their support.

Allende and Pinochet.

Allende and Pinochet.

Soon after, a strange incident involving a traffic incident and protests by military officers pressured General Prats, who was then Interior minister and as Commander in Chief of the Army, to resign. In his place, he recommended Augusto Pinochet, then a General Chief of Staff of the Army.

On August 22, 1973, the Christian Democratic Party – which had earlier campaigned on a “socialist” platform, only to ally with right-wing forces after Allende’s election – didn’t wait long to make a move. In control of the Chamber of
Deputies (after forming a bloc with the right-wing National Party), they were able to push through a resolution (though they lacked the two thirds majority required by the constitution to convict a president of abuse of power) which  formally called for another military coup.

The resolution, entitled “Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy,” claimed that Allende had “the goal of establishing a totalitarian system.”

So, to “save democracy,” they called on the Military to overthrow a democratically elected president; and that’s exactly what happened.

The other 9/11
On the morning of September 11, 1973, sections of the Chilean Navy seized the port city of Valparaíso, marking the beginning of a third coup.

As soon as Allende found about the morning’s events, he rushed to La Moneda. With a handful of aides and members of the presidential guard by his side, he prepared for yet another showdown.

It wasn’t long before members of “the Carabineros,” Chile’s national police, were surrounding La Moneda. Allende got to work trying to reach some of the generals of the various branches of the armed forces; but he was unable to get in contact with any of them.

“No one is answering. I think that this time all of them are involved,” he remarked to his aides. He was right.

Soon after, President Allende broadcast a message to the people of Chile over the radio.

“Confirmed reports indicate that a sector of the Navy has rebelled and is occupying Valparaíso. Santiago is normal and [the soldiers are] in their barracks. I’m here defending the government that I represent by the will of the people. Be alert and vigilant… I wait for the soldiers of Chile to respond positively and defend the laws and the Constitution.  Workers must go to their workplace and wait for new instructions,” he said.

Allende also got in touch with Rolando Calderón, Secretary General of the CUT (Central Única de Trabajadores), one of the largest unions in the country. He asked Calderón to mobilize the workers in his union to shut down the radio stations broadcasting messages in support of the coup; but this was not done.

Instead, the coup leaders acted first, seizing and shutting down all radio stations supportive, or even neutral, towards Allende.

At 8:40 AM, a radio broadcast was made announcing the coup and its supposed intentions. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, Commander in Chief of the Army; José Toribio Merino, Commander in Chief of the Navy; Gustavo Leigh, commander in Chief of the Air Force, and César Mendoza Durán, Director General of Carabineros attached their names to the broadcast, signaling their aim to set themselves up as a new ruling junta.

Soon after the broadcast was made, the Carabineros began to withdraw from their positions around La Moneda, and an offer was made to Allende by the coup plotters. There was an airplane ready to take Allende and his family out of the country and to safety; but he’d have to resign as president. He flatly refused.

“I will not surrender, nor resign,” he said.

The last picture taken of Salvador Allende.

The last picture taken of Salvador Allende.

Allende then made a final radio broadcast, through the one pro-Allende station that had not yet been shut down. “This will surely be the last time I speak to you,” he said. “Magallanes Radio will be silenced, and the reassuring tone of my voice will not reach you. It doesn’t matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be with you. At the least, your memory of me will be that of a man who was loyal to the country… The people ought to defend themselves, but not sacrifice themselves. The people ought not let themselves be subdued or persecuted, but neither should they humble themselves… I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other people will be able to transcend this sad and bitter moment, when treason tries to force itself upon us…I’m sure that my sacrifice will not be in vain… Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!”

While the president’s message was broadcast, a number of tanks began to approach, then attack, La Moneda.

Allende threw on an army helmet and grabbed the AK-47 rifle given to him by Fidel Castro. By his side stood just over a hundred supporters, many who were workers. They had a few small weapons, and a handful of bazookas and 30 caliber machine guns; but they were no match for the military forces descending on the building.

The attack on La Moneda.

The attack on La Moneda.

The soldiers fired tank and machine guns at La Moneda, shattering windows and destroying whole walls. A team in a helicopter patrolled the surrounding area, taking out workers and farmers who had acted as snipers, firing from buildings in defense of the president.

After a short while, there was a cease fire as Allende asked his supporters to lay down their weapons and surrender. Most of those by his side, including his two daughters, left the building. As the end of the evacuation drew near,
fighter jets approached. They proceeded to bomb La Moneda, blowing doors off the hinges and smashing the few windows that were still intact. Helicopters then moved in on the building, firing tear gas canisters.

This was followed by a renewal of the ground attack. As tanks fired, a group of soldiers stormed the door of La Moneda and took the first floor. When Allende learned of the events, he ordered those remaining by his side on the second floor to put down their weapons and leave. Allende proceeded to Independence Hall, where he sat down, put his rifle between his legs, and fired two shots into his brain. This was the end of the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende. It was also the beginning of a vicious reign of terror that would last close to two decades.

Pinochet’s reign of terror
Once the coup plotters were in full control, Augusto Pinochet declared himself chairman of the junta. He moved quickly to consolidate his rule.

All parties that belonged to the Popular Unity government were banned, along with all leftist and labor organizations.

Augusto Pinochet (center) upon taking power as chairman of the newly formed military dictatorship.

Augusto Pinochet (center) upon taking power as chairman of the newly formed military dictatorship.

On September 12, 1973, one day after the overthrow of Allende, thousands of Chileans were rounded up and taken to the Chile Stadium in Santiago. For their support of Allende they were tortured and beaten.

Victor Jara, a beloved musician, had every bone in his hands broken by Pinochet’s thugs. As he lay on the ground, his captors mockingly suggested he play them a song. In response, he sung a song supportive of the overthrown Popular Unity government. He was immediately beaten, and then killed by machine gun fire.

A similar fate was shared by at least 3,000 other Chileans over the next seventeen years. More than 30,000 were tortured by Allende’s military and secret police (known as DINA). Several thousands more were forced into exile to escape the repression.

Some of those who were able to escape were tracked down and murdered by DINA, which cooperated with the military dictatorships in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina and the United States government through “Operation Condor,” a plan to wipe all opposition to imperialism in Latin American off the face of the earth.

Some 30,000 people were “disappeared” under the Operation, which went as far as assassinating Orlando Letelier, a former foreign minister under Salvador Allende, while he was on his way to his new job at the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington, DC, the capital of the United States.

Victim of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Victim of the Pinochet dictatorship.

In another particularly bloody incident in 1985, leftist professor José Manuel Parada, journalist Manuel Guerrero, and another Chilean named Santiago Nattino were beheaded by uniformed police at the behest of the military dictatorship.

Along side the repression instituted by Chile’s new military regime came unrestricted capitalism. Guided by University of Chicago trained economists, Pinochet instituted a number of “reforms” that spelled disaster for the millions of Chilean workers and farmers.

Pinochet sold nationalized industries, banks and even the pension system to the highest bidder, abolished minimum wage, abolished union rights and seriously reduced taxes on the rich.

The result? Unemployment, which had fallen to 4.4 percent under Allende, jumped to over 30 percent, marking the highest increase ever in Latin American history.

The price of exports fell, as did real wages for workers, while poverty, homelessness, starvation and infant mortality rose dramatically.

This is the “democracy” the CIA-backed coup of 1973 brought to Chile.

In place of the democratically elected Allende, who had allowed his political opposition to participate in government, stood a military dictator who bellowed “not a leaf moves in Chile if I don’t know about it!”

Augusto Pinochet remained in power until 1990, when he stepped down after popular resistance forced him to hold a plebiscite, which he lost, in 1988. The brutal dictator remained Commander-in-Chief of the Army for another ten years and became a “Senator-for-life,” under a clause created in the constitution which was rewritten under his rule, after that.

Pinochet the butcher died of congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema in December, 2006.

Allende’s legacy & lessons for today
The events of September 11, 1973, were tragic, but not inevitable.

In order for us to move forward today, we must draw the lessons of events like these. From these lessons we must develop new strategies and tactics, to better enable us to defeat the handful of capitalist exploiters that run the world once and for all.

From the beginning of Allende’s presidency and before, when the class struggle came out into the open, confrontations between the working class and the local capitalist ruling class and foreign imperialists steadily increased.

While the Popular Unity government’s reforms most definitely benefited the working class, small farmers and women, and gave them more room to maneuver, they weren’t enough.

The Popular Unity Government’s “Chilean path to socialism” was based on a supposed “gradual transformation” of capitalism into socialism; but as Karl Marx, the “father” of communism who first discovered the laws of evolution in human history, pointed out, this is simply not possible.

Speaking of the Paris Commune, the revolutionary uprising in France in 1871 in which workers took power for the first time in history, Marx wrote, “One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class
cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes,”

In other words, you can’t elect socialism, a classless society in which the needs of all are met.

In order establish socialism, the working class must rise up, smash the capitalist state apparatus and take control of the tools and technology used to satisfy the wants and needs of humanity.

While supporting the gains made by workers under the Paris Commune, Marx was also critical of its errors (some of
which have since been duplicated).

For instance, Marx criticized the Communards’ refusal to respond to attacks by the capitalist rulers of France with attacks of its own: “In their reluctance to continue the civil war opened by Thiers’ [leader of the rest of France] burglarious attempt on Montmartre, the Central Committee [elected leadership body of the Paris Commune] made themselves, this time, guilty of a decisive mistake in not at once marching upon Versailles [another major city in
France where Theirs and his forces had gathered after being driven from Paris by its workers], then completely helpless, and thus putting an end to the conspiracies of Thiers and his Rurals.”

Here, Marx was saying that when workers take power, they shouldn’t, and can’t, be afraid to fight back when attacked by the capitalists seeking to restore their control.

Indeed, as a result of the gains they had made under Allende, the Chilean workers were not afraid to respond to such attacks. When the capitalists called strikes, workers organized manufacturing and transportation without them. They also took over workplaces and even formed workplace and farm councils.

But while these bodies should have been strengthened and supported as the basis for a new, workers’ state, they were not.

In fact, the workers were often disarmed in the face of attacks by leaders who told them put their faith in the government, instead of relying on their own power.

Recent demonstration by Chilean workers.

Recent demonstration by Chilean workers.

So, while the efforts of the imperialists and local capitalists played a major part, we must admit that the main cause of the defeat of the movement in Chile was its leadership’s “reluctance to continue the civil war opened by” the bourgeoisie and imperialists. This was not solely the fault of Allende, but also other socialists, communists, union leaders, etc., who promoted the non-existent electoral path to socialism.

The best way for us to remember the defeat of the Chilean movement, the overthrow of Allende, and the deaths, tortures and “disappearances” of thousands of our class brothers and sisters which occurred as a result of the U.S.-
backed coup in Chile on September 11, 1973, is to continue to fight.

Today, we must join our Chilean brothers and sisters in the fight for world revolution, to bring an end to exploitation, wage-slavery, oppression, sexism, racism and all the other ills and miseries which result from the outdated capitalist system.


Children among 100,000 executed in south Korea

Posted in Imperialism, Korea, United States, War by amte on August 9, 2009

A horror long known by Koreans was confirmed earlier this year: large numbers of children were among the 100,000+ Koreans murdered by the U.S.-backed south Korean government in the 1950’s.

Korea, a country with a history that goes back thousands of years, was taken over by the Japanese in the early twentieth century. After years of brutal occupation, and a sustained struggle against the occupation, the Japanese were defeated in World War 2 and forced to relinquish their hold of Korea in 1945.

The USSR and the U.S., temporary allies in the war against the Axis, each agreed to station troops in one half of the peninsula until the Koreans could organize their own government.

All across the country workers and farmers, inspired by the resistance movement against the Japanese occupation, began to set up the frame work of a grass roots democracy.

At the same time, the U.S. government installed Syngman Rhee, a right-wing exile who had been living in the United States, as president of the south in a phony election, ignoring the national government being set up by the Koreans themselves.

Syngman Rhee embraces Douglas MacArthur, General of the U.S. Army, upon being made leader of south Korea.

Syngman Rhee embraces Douglas MacArthur, General of the U.S. Army, upon being made leader of south Korea.

A government was unilaterally proclaimed in the south prompting the forces in control of the north, made up largely of leaders of the Workers’ Party of Korea (who played a large part in the fight against the Japanese occupiers) proclaimed a government as well.

The government of the south, largely unpopular and propped up by the U.S. military, began a vicious campaign against all suspected “leftists” (at a time when a majority of the people in both the north and south looked held “leftist” ideas or at least looked at them favorably).

From that point until the end of the Korean War, in which the north tried to unify the country under its leadership, at least 100000 Korean men, women and children were executed in cold blood by the Rhee government and U.S. military.

Decades later, after a series of U.S.-backed dictatorships in the south, a liberal President, Roh Moo-hyun, created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December, 2005, to investigate crimes carried out before and during the war.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission later released findings supporting the testimony of Koreans who witnessed the mass killings. So far, more than 24 mass killings have been verified.

The Commission found that the murderous campaign was carried out in an attempt to prevent an imminent popular uprising against the Rhee dictatorship. To eliminate any potential enemies–both then and in the future–whole families of suspected leftists were murdered.

In Namyangju, government forces murdered more than 460 people, including at least 23 children under the age of 10.

One survivor, Kim Jong-Chol, 71, recalls that “when the people from the other side (north Korea) came here, they didn’t kill many people,” in contrast to his own government in the south which carried out “indiscriminate killings.”

The remains of hundreds of bodies have been found in ten mass graves. In one cobalt mine in the south, 107 bodies have been found. An estimated 3500 more still remain.

Recently declassified documents from the U.S. military show that U.S. officials witnessed or participated in many of the killings and sanctioned others.

The Associated Press has reported on military documents that show U.S. military officers took pictures of “assembly line-style executions” outside of Deajeon, where upwards of 7000 people were shot and dumped into mass graves.

Another file shows that a U.S. officer gave the go ahead for a south Korean military unit under his command to murder 3500 political prisoners.

Surviving relatives of those killed have demanded an apology from the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in south Korea refuses to even comment on the situation.

The United States maintains a force of tens of thousands of soldiers and loads of heavy weaponry in south Korea to this day. A “National Security Act” created in 1948, which makes it illegal to promote “anti-government ideas” (among other things) and carries a maximum sentence of death, also remains in effect.

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The 1965 Revolution in the Dominican Republic

Posted in Dominican Republic, Imperialism, revolution, War by amte on July 30, 2009

In 1965, the workers and farmers of the Dominican Republic poured into the streets, arms in hand, with the goal of  creating a truly democratic, independent country. Under the leadership of the heroic Francisco Caamaño, they successfully held off U.S.-backed right-wing forces, and even members of the U.S. military itself for some time,  although unfortunately, they were eventually defeated.

The Dominican Republic was colonized by the Spanish after Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492. Other than a few brief stints under French, Haitian and independent self-rule, the country effectively belonged to Spain until 1865. It was in that year that Dominican rebels finally won lasting independence after years of waging a “War of Restoration.” But this independence did not last long, as the country traded one colonial power for another.

The Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic

In 1905, the United States government took over the administration of the country’s customs authority after several European powers sent warships to the capital city of Santo Domingo to demand repayment of loans given to the earlier government of Ulises ‘Lilís’ Heureaux. The U.S. Bureau of Insular Affairs gained receivership of Dominican customs and the U.S. became the sole foreign creditor of the country. It was through this act that the United States laid the ground work for turning the Dominican Republic into a neocolony, under its complete economic control.

Over the next few years, as various sections of the local rulers battled for control of the Dominican Republic, U.S. capitalists poured money into the country’s sugar cane industry. In 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson demanded that a president be chosen, saying his country would impose one otherwise.

Heureaux-Juan Isidro Jimenes, a wealthy capitalist who made his money in the tobacco industry, was elected but faced demands that he appoint a director of public works and financial adviser from the United States and create a new military under the command of U.S. officers. The Dominican Congress refused these demands and began proceedings to impeach Jimenes. Desiderio Arias, the Minister of War, staged a coup in 1916, which the U.S. used as a pretext
to invade.

On May 15, 1916, U.S. Marines landed in the Dominican Republic. After a brief period of fighting, they controlled the entire country. The Dominican Congress elected a President, but he was replaced by a U.S. military dictatorship after he refused to meet the demands of the U.S. For the next several years censorship was intense, critics of the foreign dictatorship were arrested, and individual peasants were forced off their lands to make way for the expansion of huge sugar plantations.

Throughout the U.S. occupation, bands of peasants from the eastern part of the country called gavilleros waged a guerrilla war against the occupiers. The U.S. created a National Police force, which still exists to this day, to fight the guerrillas.



The U.S. occupiers finally withdrew in 1924, but only after insuring all laws passed under their dictatorship would stay intact and control of Dominican customs would remain in their hands.

In May of 1930, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the leader of the ‘Dominican National Guard’ created under the U.S. occupation and self-described ‘Number One Anticommunist’, took power in a sham election. For the next three decades, this admirer of Hitler and Mussolini would rule over the country with U.S. backing, oppressing the population while enriching himself.

In 1961, the U.S. government became concerned that Trujillo’s brutal rule would unite the workers and farmers of the Dominican Republic against him, prompting a revolution similar to the one that had occurred in nearby Cuba a few years earlier. On May 30, Trujillo was assassinated under the direction of the CIA.

The U.S. government then maneuvered Joaquín Balaguer, a protégé of Trujillo, into power. Popular pressure soon forced him into exile and brought new elections.

In those elections, which took place in 1962, Juan Bosch, a liberal poet and long time enemy of Trujillo was elected president.

Bosch carried out minor land distribution and nationalizations aimed at stemming the revolutionary aspirations of the Dominican Republic’s workers and farmers, but also banned communist parties. But despite his allegiance to maintain capitalism, his refusal to unquestioning go along with the plans of the U.S. government was enough reason for them to remove him. A neocolony, even a capitalist one, attempting to determine its own future was simply intolerable.

In September of 1963, right wing officers in the military forced Bosch from power with full U.S. backing.

The revolution begins
After Bosch’s ouster, the U.S. government helped set up a military dictatorship under the guise of a ‘civilian  triumvirate.’

This dictatorship was lead by General Elías Wessin y Wessin of the Centro de Entrenamiento de las Fuerzas Armadas (Armed Forces Training Center or “CEFA”) – a 2,000 strong force of military specialists, originally established under
Trujillo. Among its other repressive policies, the dictatorship proclaimed that “The Communist doctrine, Marxist-
Leninist, Castroite, or whatever it is called, is now outlawed.”

Francisco Caamaño, leader of the constitutionalistas.

Francisco Caamaño, leader of the constitutionalistas.

Workers continually carried out strikes in protest of the dictatorship until finallyon April 24, 1965, a group of soldiers, led by Colonel Francisco Caamaño, rose up and took control of the government. The soldiers and their supporters, known as constitutionalistas for their support of the constitution which had been scrapped upon Bosch’s overthrow, took to the streets. Before long, they had seized all major television and radio stations, as well as the National Palace.

In the earliest stages, the demands of the constitutionalistas were simple: the restoration of the constitution and the
return of the elected president. Instead of meeting the demands, the CEFA launched a counter attack, in which many workers and farmers were killed.

‘When the people ruled.’ Armed Dominican workers and farmers in the streets of the capital.

‘When the people ruled.’ Armed Dominican workers and farmers in the streets of the capital.

As the constitutionalistas took steps to defend themselves, through distributing arms to the general population and
organizing organs of defense, they began to transform society. Through their struggle, the workers and farmers began to discover that the only way to make the country truly independent and democratic would be to take control of things themselves and break from the grips of imperialism.

Unwilling to risk another revolution in ‘their backyard,’ the U.S. imperialist rulers decided to act.

Initially, the U.S. established a military presence in the Dominican Republic by setting up a landing strip it claimed it would use to evacuate U.S. citizens from the country. As the rightists of the CEFA suffered defeat after defeat (resulting in their eventual withdrawal to their base in San Isidro), the U.S. beefed up its presence, sending in 42,000 soldiers and blockading the country with 41 warships – again under the pretense of ‘protecting foreign citizens,’ even though none had been killed or even injured.

The U.S. was then pressured some of its puppet governments throughout Latin America send in troops to help with the counterrevolution. On top of the tens of thousands of U.S. forces, several thousand arrived from Brasil, Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador.

Stating the plain truth, Caamaño was quoted as saying “The war would be already over if the U.S. had not intervened.”

Armed populace in the street during revolution. Sign in background reads Yankees get out.

Armed populace in the street during revolution. Sign in background reads "Yankees get out."

The invaders were able to bring an end to the revolutionary government after a few months of fighting, mainly by cutting off the constitutionalistas in the capital through the creation of a fake, supposedly neutral “safety corridor.”

Despite the fact that the revolutionary forces had been forced from power, resistance to the occupation continued for the duration, until the U.S. forces decided to allow supposedly “democratic” elections in 1966, in order to alleviate some of the anger of the Dominican people.

The aftermath
Joaquín Balaguer was returned to power in the fraudulent elections of 1966. Shortly thereafter a new constitution was put in place that officially guaranteed some democratic rights, though it was more often than not disregarded.

Balaguer was “elected” again in 1970 and 1974, both times after his armed thugs forced the main opposition to withdraw from the elections.

Joaquín Balaguer, former dictator of the Dominican Republic.

Joaquín Balaguer.

Balaguer, whose brutality rivaled that of his teacher Trujillo, sold off the country piecemeal to the highest bidder. Under his rule, paramilitary death squads targeted the slum-dwelling workers and farmers that made up the base of the revolutionary movement. His henchmen destroyed popular movements and workers organizations while U.S.-based capitalists bought up land and local industries.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on September 9, 1971, “the [U.S.] embassy has done nothing publicly to dissociate itself from the terror. The U.S. continues to provide substantial aid, training, equipment, and arms, to the Dominican police and army.”

In 1975, Juan Bosch correctly stated “This country is not pro-American, it is United States property.”

Caamaño returns
After the revolutionary government was brought to an end, Francisco Caamaño came under attack. After a series of threats on his life, he was violently attacked by armed thugs at the Hotel Matum in Santiago. Soon after, he fled the country, landing first in England, and later, revolutionary Cuba.

In 1973, after years of staying off the radar, Caamaño returned to the Dominican Republic by boat with a band
of rebels who planned to start up a nationwide movement that would lead to the overthrow the hated Balaguer and the establishment of an independent, democratic republic.

The rebels quickly made their way to mountains. From there, they aimed to gradually link up with workers and farmers across the country and carry out a nationwide revolution. Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned. After a series of initial mishaps and weeks of brave fighting, Caamaño was martyred by Balaguer’s repressive forces on February 16, 1973.

Today, Caamaño is a hero to the toiling Dominican masses, who see in him the sacrifice and struggle desperately needed to completely the tasks originally set out upon in 1965.

The struggle continues
Today, the Dominican Republic is not much better than it was under the rule of Balaguer, and in many ways, it’s much worse.

Politically motivated murders by the repressive forces of the state and paramilitary thugs are the norm. Prisons are
absolute hellholes and suspects are held over fires and smothered by police to elicit confessions. The situation for Haitians, most of whom come to work for slave wages on sugar plantations, are even worse, with many being beaten, raped, jailed and even killed.

A group of shacks of the type typical in the Dominican Republic today. It will require the revolutionary reorganization of society to solve problems like these.

A group of shacks of the type typical in the Dominican Republic today. It will require the revolutionary reorganization of society to solve problems like these.

Women, who make up most of the workers in the ‘free trade zones’ are often forced to work long shifts for pennies and are frequently sexually abused by their bosses. If they become pregnant, most are fired. Overtime is often mandatory, and doors are chained shut so workers cannot leave.

Workers across the country are fired, and even physically attacked, for attempting to form or join unions. Workers with known affiliations to unions have been blacklisted and some businesses refuse to recognize unions outright.

Around 30 percent of the population of the Dominican Republic live under the official poverty line, eking out a meager existence on less than $2 (USD) a day. One in ten Dominicans dwells in extreme poverty, living on even less. One in five Dominicans of working age is unemployed. Nearly one out of three workers under the age of 24 is unemployed.

There is only one doctor per every 949 people. Many lack access to clean water. Power outages lasting several hours occur on a regular basis.

Forty-seven of every 1,000 children born in the Dominican Republic die before reaching their first birthday. Tens
of thousands of children work in sweatshops, on plantations and as prostitutes. Over 15 percent of the population cannot read or write.

The only future that millions of Dominicans see is through immigration to another country, usually the United States.

Revolution is the only solution
An alternative to participating in elections is needed to solve the immense problems of the Dominican Republic.

The first and most important task is to complete the tasks of the 1965 revolution and free the country from the domination of the U.S. imperialists by any means necessary.

As an immediate outgrowth of that, the oppressed and exploited masses must fight to take power and organize a
truly democratic political and economic system. In other words, the working class must rule, instead of the U.S. capitalists ruling through their local agents. It is only under such a system that the issues facing the toiling masses of the Dominican Republic can properly be addressed.

Revolution and counterrevolution in Afghanistan

Posted in Afghanistan, History, Imperialism, revolution, USSR, War by amte on July 25, 2009

In 1978 the Saur Revolution swept across the central Asian country of Afghanistan uprooting backwards social and property relations and liberating women from domestic slavery, abuse and extreme oppression.

Afghanistan is a country with a long and complicated history. Throughout the years, it came under the influence of  many different groups, from the Kushans to the Iranians to the Greeks to the Mongols.

Map of Afghanistan today.

Map of Afghanistan today.

The Durrani empire was established in 1747, with a man of Pashtun ethnicity named Ahmed Shah Durrani at its head. Besides a very short period in 1929 when a Khan named Bacha-i-Saqa briefly overthrew the government and named himself emir, every Afghan leader belonged to Ahmed Shah Durrani’s tribal confederation.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the people of Afghanistan fought against the British imperialists several times resulting in various parts of the country falling under British control.

The borders of modern Afghanistan resulted from a combination of of those battles and competition between the British and Russian Empires.

In 1921, after army leader Amanullah Khan led a successful uprising, Afghanistan formally won its independence from the British.

In 1933, Mohammed Zahir Shah became king after his father was assassinated. He instituted a few reforms, such as limited education for women, but also showed great indifference towards the country’s toilers, as could be expected.

While infrastructure crumbled and famine lead to thousands of starvation deaths, Zahir Shah used the country’s
resources to have castles built for himself in Kabul and Italy.

Zahir Shah ruled until 1973, when he was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by his cousin Mohammed Daoud Khan.

Instead of naming himself king, Daoud broke tradition and proclaimed Afghanistan a republic, with himself as president. He was originally backed by Parcham, a reformist faction of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan
(PDPA), because he promised to introduce a number of progressive, democratic reforms.

Instead, Daoud’s rule was marked by increasing repression, including the arrests and executions of numerous revolutionaries and the closure of the newspapers of both the Parcham and the more revolutionary Khalq factions of the PDPA.

Demonstration in support of the PDPA. Photo held by marchers is of Nur Muhammad Taraki, first president of Afghanistan after the Saur Revolution.

Demonstration in support of the PDPA. Photo held by marchers is of Nur Muhammad Taraki, first president of Afghanistan after the Saur Revolution.

The factions of the PDPA, which formed in 1965 and split from each other two years later, finally reunified in 1977, with the encouragement of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The Saur Revolution
In late 1977, students and workers in the capital city of Kabul rose up against the oppressive Daoud government, but were put down by the police. After the rebellion, Daoud had several members of the PDPA jailed.

In January, 1978, another uprising broke out as thousands of Afghans demanded the release of the jailed PDPA members. The police were unable to put down the rebellion and so the army was called in to smash it.

A few months later, in March, Mir Akbar Khyber (also known as “Kaibar”), a leading member of Parcham, was murdered by government forces. Tens of thousands of Afghans gathered soon after to listen to speeches delivered by leaders of the PDPA. Daoud was frightened by this display of popular support for the PDPA,and ordered its leaders imprisoned.

By the time the Daoud’s forces had got around to jailing one PDPA leader, and putting another under house arrest,
the Saur Revolution had already broken out.

PDPA members in the military, with the support of tens of thousands of others, began an uprising against the Daoud
government on April 28, 1978.

The uprising started at the Kabul International Airport and spread to the capital of Kabal within twenty-four hours. It
was there, on April 28, that revolutionary forces stormed the presidential palace and overthrew Mohammed Daoud

Upon taking power, the revolutionaries took to the radio to declare, “For the first time, power has come to the people.
The last remnants of the imperialist tyranny, despotism and the royal dynasty have been ended.”

Two days later, hundreds of thousands of Afghans marched through the streets waving red flags and celebrating
the victory of the Saur Revolution.

Revolutionary measures
The revolutionaries moved quickly to establish the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, with a Revolutionary Council at its head, and a provisional democratic program that guaranteed the legalization of trade unions, equal rights for women and the separation of church and state.

In the years leading up to the Saur Revolution Afghanistan was a reactionary nightmare for the large majority of its residents – especially women, who were fundamentally the property of their fathers or husbands to be bought and sold.

Prior to the Saur Revolution, there were only 35,000 workers employed in manufacturing in Afghanistan, while
there were some 250,000 mullahs who existed as parasites living off the poor masses.

There were no railroad tracks or highways to speak of and malnutrition and starvation was the norm.

Only 10 percent of men and 2 percent of women could read.

The average person lived just 40 years, and half of all children died before reaching the age of five.

In contrast, in the neighboring Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan nearly 100 percent of the population was
literate and life expectancy was 70.

The revolutionary Afghan government began carrying out revolutionary measures to combat the problems facing the toilers of Afghanistan almost immediately.

The first step was to construct schools and hospitals across the country, and to train doctors and teachers.

As Saira Noorani, a female Afghan doctor, recalled in the Observer in 2001, “Life was good … Every girl could go to high school and university. We could go wherever we wanted and wear what we liked.”

Kabul University after the Saur Revolution. For the first time in its history, a majority of the students at the school were women.

Kabul University after the Saur Revolution. For the first time in its history, a majority of the students at the school were women.

The revolutionary leadership also canceled the massive debts that the poor peasants owed to the loan sharks and

They also began a sweeping land reform policy, to take arable land out of the hands of the exploiting mullahs – who
controlled 42 percent of it, and necessary irrigation systems, and put them into the hands of the peasantry that actually did the farming.

In doing this they met huge resistance from the mullahs who saw their easy ride on the backs on the poor coming to an end.

The mullahs raised reactionary counterrevolutionary gangs that carried out vicious acts of terrorism and economic

Despite this, the revolutionary government was still able to redistribute land to 200,000 landless peasants (in a country of 20 million).

But it was the revolution’s establishment of equal rights for women – which included the establishment of compulsory schooling for young girls, and free literacy classes for adult women – that truly raised opposition from the mullahs,
khans and strong Islamic clergy.

The counterrevolution
The reactionary ‘mujahedin’ (or holy warriors – the name that the bands of the khans, mullahs and Islamic clergy
gave themselves) that lead the counterrevolution sought to preserve their positions in society. These position rested upon a backwards system in which women were the private property of men, where local laws only allowed married men access to land and water – with more wives meaning more of those resources, and where a price was literally put on each bride.

In these reactionaries the U.S. capitalist ruling elite saw an ally against the spread of revolution and the overthrow of capitalism internationally and Soviet Union itself, which bordered Afghanistan to the north.

It didn’t take the U.S. imperialists long to began aiding the mujahedin secretly through the CIA, sending them money, guns, bombs, advisors, special agents and the like.

On top of this, the reactionary capitalist governments in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, along with the fraudulent bureaucrats that controlled China, were also aiding the counterrevolutionaries.

As the armed counterrevolution grew, with literally tons of aid pouring in from the CIA, China, Pakistan, Egypt and
Saudi Arabia, Revolutionary Defense Groups were formed in Afghanistan, with the participation of large numbers of
women who sought to defend the rights they had gained.

At the same time, the revolutionary government requested military assistance from the USSR.

The bureaucratic leadership of the USSR first sent only military advisors before finally being pressured by the reality of imperialist-backed counterrevolution at the gates of the Central Asian Soviet Republics to send in some 100,000 troops.

USSR soldiers in Afghanistan.

USSR soldiers in Afghanistan.

While revolutionary Afghanistan’s army and popular militias, with the assistance of soldiers from the USSR, were more or less able to beat back the counterrevolutionaries for ten years, horrendous atrocities were still carried out.

Whenever the reactionaries of the mujahedin were able to get a hold of a soldier from the USSR or a teacher (who committed the “crime” of teaching a women to read), they would frequently cut up, skin or behead them, or some combination thereof. Other times they would drug them and imprison them, so that they could be brutally tortured later.

These savage reactionaries – which included amongst their ranks Osama bin Laden – were the people Democratic U.S.
President Jimmy Carter gave billions of dollars to, and the same scum Republican U.S. President Ronald Reagan hailed as “freedom fighters.”

USSR withdraw
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union.

Under the guise of “democratic reform” and “openness,” Gorbachev and his cohorts sought to settle with the imperialists – who were openly driving for the destruction of the USSR – and allow an increase in capitalist penetration.

On July 20, 1987, the USSR, then beginning to crumble under the weight of internal contradiction and the suicidal policies of its bureaucratic leadership, treacherously announced that it planned to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.

By 1989 the task was complete, leaving the revolutionary Afghan government to stand on its own against a counterrevolutionary band receiving major backing from several governments.

At the time, there were over a quarter of a million women working, and another 15,000 women serving in the army and militias in Afghanistan. Women made up half of the doctors and university teachers in the country, and more than 500,000 were enrolled in schools and literacy programs. For the first time in the history of Afghanistan, women could walk around in the cities without having to wear a veil.

All of these women were prime targets for the reactionary mujahedin which, emboldened by the withdraw of the Soviets, were now stepping up their attacks.

Afghan Womens militia. Women volunteered for militia duty to defend their newly won rights against counterrevolutionaries.

Afghan Women's militia. Women volunteered for militia duty to defend their newly won rights against counterrevolutionaries.

In response to this serious threat, the PDPA set out to arm and train all of its female members.

More civil war
Despite the withdraw of the USSR, the revolutionary forces of Afghanistan were able to hold their own against the mujahedin reactionaries for some time.

In fact, the Afghan Army, which had been trained by the USSR’s military and by participating in several battles,
actually began to perform better after the USSR’s withdraw.

The militias too did well against the counterrevolutionaries. They were able to successfully defend, for instance, the Afghan city of Jalalabad from the onslaught of mujahedin bands operating out of nearby CIA bases in Pakistan.

But the revolutionary forces, demoralized by the counterrevolutionary destruction of the USSR and under a de facto oil blockade from Russia’s new capitalist government, were increasingly fractured and divided. By 1992 they could no longer hold out.

The counterrevolution succeeds
By April, 1992, the mujahedin entered the capital city of Kabu, and President Mohammad Najibullah was

A “coalition” government was then set up, made up of elements of the mujahedin – which was beginning to split into different factions – some PDPA members, and some army officers.

Over the next four years control of the government would shift back and forth between different factions of the mujahedin, but one thing remained the same throughout: all the progressive measures introduced by the revolution
were steadily being overturned.

In 1996, one particularly reactionary Islamic fundamentalist militia, the Taliban, was able to take control of Kabul, which was devastated by years of war.

President Mohammad Najibullah and his brother hung from a lamp post by Taliban.

President Mohammad Najibullah and his brother hung from a lamp post by Taliban.

One of the first acts the Taliban carried out was the forceful removal of Mohammad Najibullahfrom the UN compound he had been staying in. They then proceeded to publically castrate him before hanging him and his brother from a lamp post in downtown Kabul where they were left for three days.

The aftermath
The rule of the Taliban, which enjoyed the support of the U.S. imperialists that funded it as a part of the mujahedin early on, was notoriously oppressive.

Upon taking power, these reactionary religious extremists threw acid in the faces of women whose faces were uncovered, closed down schools and created groups of young thugs that went around brutally beating any woman who so much as bared her wrist.

Women in Afghanistan today, enslaved and forced to wear full length burqas.

Women in Afghanistan today, enslaved and forced to wear full length burqas.

Under their rule, women were forcefully secluded in their homes (where all windows had to be painted black). Women were forced to wear a burqa which covered them from head to toe, and were forbidden to be educated after the age of 8 (and prior to that, they could only learn about the Muslim holy book, the Qu’ran).

In 2001, the U.S. imperialists used the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon as justification to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban, which had refused to bow to their demands.

Today, Afghanistan remains a horribly oppressive country, occupied by imperialist forces and headed by a U.S. puppet leader.

No imperialist intervention in Sudan!

Posted in Africa, Imperialism, Sudan, War by amte on July 8, 2009

This was written up in the run up to the “nationwide and global demonstrations on the weekend of April 28, 2007, directed by the national Save Darfur Coalition”. It raises points that continue to be relevant today.

Large numbers of people around the world, including many Black people in the U.S., are justifiably disturbed by the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, which has left hundreds of thousands dead and turned many more into refugees.

Their despair has caused many of these well meaning people to line up behind the forces calling for intervention in Darfur, but as we’ll point out, such an intervention can only lead to increased agony for the Sudanese people.

The nature of the conflict
Many of those calling for intervention in Sudan describe the situation there as a “genocide” of Black Africans by Arab Muslims. As horrendous as the situation is the Sudan is, what is occurring there is not genocide. Rather, it is a civil war between groups of Black Muslim nomads backed by the government, and groups of Black Muslim farmers in the South, with both sides carrying out numerous atrocities.

The ‘Save Darfur Coalition’
The list of organizations that originally came together to form the ‘Save Darfur Coalition’ – which has called this and other demonstrations – reads like a who’s who of reaction. Christian fundamentalist groups like National Association of Evangelicals and ‘Sudan Sunrise’ (who seek to convert the people of Sudan to their particular religious doctrine) joined together with the pro-Iraqi war, neo-conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Zionist Anti-Defamation League to form this coalition, while groups like the NAACP and Africa Action were originally excluded. In fact, many of the earlier rallies called by the ‘Save Darfur Coalition’ did not have a single Sudanese or Muslim speaker!

The reactionaries behind this coalition are now joined by a coalition of prominent liberals, Democratic and Republican politicians, labor organizations, and celebrities like George Clooney and Mia Farrow.

The one thing these organizations and individuals have in common is their call for intervention in Sudan; but this is something even George W. Bush and Tony Blair have gotten behind! Both of these war criminals called for a UN “peacekeeping operation” to back up an already existing African Union (AU) force of 7,000 at the UN General Assembly in late 2006.

So, what is the solution to the conflict in Sudan: the intervention of U.S. forces, a U.S.-led UN peacekeeping force, or a “multinational peacekeeping force” as the organizers of this march have called for? None of the above!

Troops in?
It is beyond absurd to appeal to the same government that left thousands of poor Black people to die in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to save poor Africans in Sudan. The politicians in the U.S. government represent the rich and their drive for infinitely increasing profits. They have absolutely no interest in the well being of the people of Darfur. This is the government of U.S. capitalism – which was built up on the backs of kidnapped African slaves – that we’re talking about!

It’s not just Bush
Some in the U.S. still harbor illusions that the Democrats will bring an end to the Iraq war and create a “peacekeeping force” to be sent to Sudan, but this ignores a fundamental reality: the Democrats serve the interests of the same rich elite as the Republicans, just in a different way.

Indeed, a key criticism of the Bush administration by the Democrats has been that its policies in the Middle East have limited the ability of the U.S. government to invade other countries like Iran!

The last time the U.S. carried out a “humanitarian mission” in Africa was under Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993. While ostensibly in Somalia to “help out,” U.S. forces massacred over a thousand Somalis who opposed their presence. Not long after, in 1998, Clinton ordered U.S. forces to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan for supposedly “harboring Al-Qaeda terrorists.” The only thing they blew up were several civilians and the only pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.

While it’s true that some 300,000 Sudanese people have lost their lives in this civil war, it’s also the case that over 600,000 are dead as a result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was backed by both the Democrats and Republicans. Calling for the U.S. imperialists to intervene to stop the civil war in Sudan is like calling on a group of rapists to stop a rape!

Popular pressure?
Even if the rich capitalist elite that rules the U.S. decides to send troops into Sudan, it will not be a result of popular pressure. It took years of constant and intense struggle by people in the U.S. and an unbeatable enemy to force the U.S. rulers to withdraw their forces from Viet Nam. A few small protests will never force them to send their troops in anywhere! No, if the U.S. rulers decide to send troops into Darfur, it will be because they perceive it to be in their interests, and they will do it in a way that they see fit!

And indeed, the U.S. government is already intervening to an extent in Sudan, and has been for some time. It is a documented fact that the U.S. government has funded “rebel” militias in Sudan since the late 70’s, with the aim of overthrowing the Sudanese government, which supports the Palestinian people’s struggle against the Israeli occupation, and has established strong economic ties with China. These “rebel” militias have carried out numerous war crimes, and have often refused to sign any peace treaties. They are no friends of the Sudanese people.

What about the UN and AU?
There are many who place their hopes in a “multinational peacekeeping force” to end the carnage in Darfur, but the reality is that such a force will only deepen the misery of the already suffering Sudanese people. The UN itself is dominated by the U.S. government and the imperialist governments of Britain, Germany and France – which are the very governments that have historically exploited Africa, through colonialism, neo-colonialism, slavery, etc., for their own gains. The current civil war in Sudan itself, like those that have preceded it, was born of divisions between the north and south of the country that British colonizers created in the first place!

The “fig leaf” of the UN is in reality a blood soaked whip. Several murderous campaigns – from Korea to Haiti – have been carried out under what revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara called “the discredited flag of the United Nations.”

Currently, an “international peacekeeping force” is carrying out the bloody occupation of Haiti, where a coup orchestrated by the U.S. government ousted democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. These “peacekeepers” have repeatedly attacked unarmed men, women and children, killing hundreds, and have prevented thousands from reaching the polls in local and national elections.

The last thing the people of Sudan need is a similarly vicious armed force in their country, whether it carries out its occupation under the flag of the UN or the AU, or both!

What can we do?
The key task of those in the United States today is the fight for an immediate end to the decimating occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prevention of any future attacks on Iran. The best thing those in the U.S. can do for their brothers and sisters in Darfur is to fight against “their own” rulers in Washington. Regime change begins at home!

More Sudanese people are currently dying from easily preventable causes, like disease and hunger, than from bullets. The same system that spawned the civil war in Sudan keeps the people it effects most poor and hungry!

Then there is the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has raged on for years, leaving almost four million dead. This conflict – the bloodiest since World War II – is almost never mentioned in the mainstream capitalist press.

The only lasting solution for the misery and poverty that hundreds of millions of Africans are forced to dwell in lies in revolution – to oust the rich parasites, from Khartoum to Washington, who live off of the exploitation of the toiling masses, and reorganize society to meet human need.

No to imperialist intervention! UN “peacekeepers” out of Haiti! U.S./UN/AU hands off Sudan!