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Jomo Sanga Thomas.(iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas.(iWN file photo)
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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas 

(Plain Talk, Sept. 20, 2019)

Last Sept. 11, two groups of people in our Americas commemorated the anniversary of horrible events.

One, the Kamikaze bombing of the World Trade Centre, and the Pentagon in the United States of America, is indelibly etched into our consciousness. The other, the assassination and overthrow of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist President of Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, receives no attention in the press. But both were crimes of monumental proportions. As a result of the attacks in the US, over 3,000 people were killed. In Chile, more than 30,000 were either killed or disappeared.   

On the morning of the military overthrow, which was sponsored and directed by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), following a prolonged period of sanctions and destabilization, President Allende, in his courageous and defiant last address to the Chilean people, said:

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“My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. May they be a moral punishment for those who have betrayed their oath: soldiers of Chile, who only yesterday pledged {their} fidelity and loyalty to the government.

Given these facts, the only thing left for me is to say to workers: I am not going to resign!

Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that the seed which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shrivelled forever. They have strength and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested neither by crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history.

Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the constitution and the law and did just that. At this definitive moment, I wish you to take advantage of the lesson: foreign capital, imperialism, together with the reaction, created the climate in which the armed forces broke their tradition, victims of the same social sector which will today be in their homes hoping, with foreign assistance, to retake power to continue defending their profits and their privileges.

I address, above all, the modest woman of our land, the campesino who believed in us, the worker who laboured more, the mother who knew our concern for children. I address professionals of Chile, patriotic professionals, those who days ago continued working against the sedition sponsored by professional associations, class-based associations that also defended the advantages which a capitalist society grants to a few.

I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours — in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to protect them. They were committed. History will judge them.

Surely Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to the workers.

The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.

Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again where free men will walk to build a better society.

Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!

These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.”

[Salvador Allende (1908–1973) was the president of Chile from 1970 to 1973.]

By contrast, we all know of the American response. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, “smart bombs” that continued to rain down on Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan, the kidnapping and torture of suspects from all over the world, the illegal detention centres that house prisoners who have neither been charged or tried.

As Chris Hedges, the former New York Times journalist, writing to mark the anniversary of the attacks in the US, said, “We could have gone another route. We could have built on the profound sympathy and empathy that swept through the world following the attacks. The revulsion over the crimes that took place, including in the Muslim world was nearly universal. The attacks, if we had turned them over to intelligence agencies and diplomats, might have opened possibilities not of war and death but ultimately reconciliation and communication, of redressing the wrongs that we commit in the Middle East and that are committed by Israel with our blessing. It was a moment we squandered. Our brutality and triumphalism, the by-products of nationalism and our infantile pride, revived the jihadist movement. We became the radical Islamist movement’s most effective recruiting tool. We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too. The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.”

We grieve differently, and we are forced to recollect the pieces of our lives and story them as memory. 

However, unless we train ourselves to remember not to forget, and to cultivate a historical memory, we will remain lost, confused and easily misled as world events unfold around us.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

5 replies on “September in 2 acts”

  1. You really are a sick boy, do you still have US citizenship? I am told you do, so what are you doing as speaker of the house?

  2. Jolly does the constitution say that if you have dual citizenship you cannot be the speak of the house? Further, does the constitution say if you have dual citizenship you are debarred from being a member of the VincentIan parliament? None of the question posed is an obstacle of such and is not an offense to the Constitution. I find that you always write with researching our your topics or response which makes you contribution worthless and devoid of logic and reasoning.

    1. JB the problem you have is one of being inherently a dunderhead.

      You are excluded if you pledge loyalty to a foreign government. If you become an American you are required to make a pledge, if you are made a US attorney you are required to pledge, if you join the US military you are required to pledge. You can be sure Jomo has pledged loyalty to the US on more than one occasion.

      Unlike you dunder-blunder I never write about something unless I know the facts.

      I do not have the facts that Jomo still holds US citizenship that is why I asked the question.

  3. As one who takes a very keen interest in democracy and traditional democratic principles Jomo, the part you plays in our Parliament is truly and profoundly questionable, since we may well ask; who on earth ever voted for you here? What say you?

    Moreover, one further does not understand at all, why you Jomo and Ralph Gonsalves for his part, appears to concentrate and spends so much time on other nations and their peoples. Should we Vincentians who pays his wages, not expect Ralph to spend all his employed time engaged in transforming and furthering the wellbeing of us Vincentians?

    For sure, in taking this given truth and recent quote from Donald Trump which says; “Wise leaders always put the good of their own people first.” should in not be so too for him in regards to the Vincentian people?

    What says you Jomo in regards to Vincentians?

    1. Dear James, the answer to that is the comrade proposed him as speaker in the hope he would be of value in such a position and keep him off his back. Outside he was becoming a nuisance, he could not get elected and the hope was to control his mouth. He needed to be hogtied within the party and that has most certainly been achieved.

      In one or more ways it would appear that Ralphs capture of the man has paid off, there have been a number of positive results for Ralph.

      But for the minor eruptions the man has been tamed.

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