The American ambassador who helped cease the coup in Chile

Everybody is aware of how Nixon and Kissinger paved Pinochet’s path to energy. The story of Harry Barnes, who performed a decisive position within the removing of the Chilean dictator, is far much less identified.

Meeting Harry J.  Barnes with General Augusto Pinochet.
A plaque devoted to Harry G. Barnes within the newly renamed residence of america Ambassador to Chile. (Courtesy of Peter Kornbluh)

The latest fiftieth anniversary of the navy coup in Chile has introduced renewed worldwide consideration to most of the villains who contributed to the American intervention to overthrow the constitutional authorities in Chile, most notably Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, and CIA Director Richard Helms. The position they performed in undermining the presidency of the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende, after which serving to to consolidate the tough regime of Common Augusto Pinochet, stays one of the vital well-known circumstances of official criminality within the annals of US overseas coverage.

Because the anniversary of the September 11, 1973, coup handed final month, the Biden administration confronted a dilemma: tips on how to acknowledge this sordid historical past with out really making amends, not to mention drawing extra public and political consideration to U.S. involvement within the 9/11 occasions in Chile. Within the baby A diplomatic gesture to lift the secrecyThe administration lastly declassified two 50-year-old paperwork from a protracted listing of still-classified data requested by the Chilean authorities; US Ambassador Bernadette Meehan quietly attended not less than one celebration of its fiftieth anniversary; On the precise anniversary, a State Division spokesman issued a well-crafted assertion that famous “a possibility to mirror on this collapse of Chile’s democratic system and the struggling it has brought on” — whereas avoiding any reflection on the U.S. position in aiding and abetting. These occasions have been half a century in the past. “This celebration can also be a possibility for us to mirror on Chile’s brave return to democracy,” the assertion mentioned, shifting the main target away from the start of the dictatorship to its finish, after Pinochet misplaced, on October 5, 1988, the referendum meant to confer legitimacy. A continuation of his bloody regime.

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To strengthen this level and draw consideration to the extra optimistic historical past of america’ position within the dramatic occasions of October 1988, the US Embassy in Santiago this week held a particular ceremony to honor Harry Gee. Barnes Jr., who served as U.S. Ambassador. Over the past years of the dictatorship. “The residence of the Head of Mission will likely be named “The Barnes Home,” based on a US Embassy press advisor, “in recognition of Ambassador Barnes’ help and solidarity with the Chilean individuals who sought to defend human rights and restore democracy to their nation via peaceable and democratic means.”

This occasion was linked to the thirty fifth anniversary of the October 1988 referendum that marked the start of the tip of the Pinochet regime. However will probably be remembered as the one memorial ceremony organized by america authorities on the fiftieth anniversary of the navy coup itself, specializing in a time when america supported the forces of democracy relatively than the forces of dictatorship.

Within the lengthy saga of america’ position in Chile, Ambassador Barnes stands out as a uncommon heroic determine. A profession diplomat – whose earlier postings included India and Romania throughout the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu – he arrived in Chile in mid-November 1985 with directions To advertise “the orderly restoration of democracy as rapidly as attainable.” As radical discontent towards the Pinochet dictatorship grew, the Reagan administration got here to view the regime as an impediment or, worse, as a catalyst for the resurgence of the left in Chile. Certainly, Barnes was additionally instructed to work to “cut back the affect of the Chilean Communist Social gathering.”

Throughout his three-year stint as ambassador, Barnes strongly pushed Pinochet to return Chile to civilian rule and put an finish to the regime’s ongoing human rights violations. “One of the best ways to treatment the ills of democracy is extra democracy,” Barnes mentioned plainly as he introduced his credentials to Common Pinochet on November 18, 1985. “I quote Winston Churchill as saying that there’s nothing extra vital than human rights besides extra human rights Oral history About his profession on the Library of Congress. “Pinochet did not like that.”

The reality is that Pinochet despised Ambassador Barnes and prevented him from getting into La Moneda Palace once more. The primary main confrontation with the regime got here in July 1986, when Barnes attended the funeral of Rodrigo Rojas, a US-based teenager, who was set on hearth with gasoline and burned to demise by a navy patrol throughout a protest, and whose procession was attacked by Pinochet’s police drive with water. Cannons and tear gasoline. The regime then falsely accused Barnes of inciting the riot by attending the service. After the US Embassy started supporting voter registration drives and the “No” marketing campaign within the run-up to the October 1988 referendum on Pinochet’s continued energy, the overall denounced US interference and “Yankee Imperialism. Chile’s military-controlled media has taken to referring to Ambassador Barnes as “Soiled Harry.” US intelligence officers reported that Pinochet was contemplating declaring the ambassador persona non grata and “expelling Barnes from the nation.”

Barnes used the shut contacts he had established inside the navy and among the many pro-democracy opposition to the regime to show Pinochet’s character. Coverage efforts Duty of his military in case Scorched– Burned – which price Rodrigo Rojas his life and critically injured a younger girl named Carmen Quintana. However his most vital achievement as ambassador to america was blowing the whistle on the Machiavellian conspiracy hatched by the dictator to wage a “conflict” towards him.Self hitting“On the evening of the October 5 referendum if he loses.

Determined to legitimize his regime, Pinochet organized a referendum that he believed would make him dictator for all times. He would be the solely candidate to vote “Sí” or “No”. Because the opposition succeeded in organizing the “no marketing campaign” and it grew to become clear that Pinochet would lose, he devised a plan to droop the vote depend, use his intelligence brokers to assault pro-democracy forces on the street, cancel the referendum, and cancel the referendum. Declaration of martial legislation. Pinochet advised his subordinates, based on American intelligence sources: “I cannot go away, it doesn’t matter what occurs.”

in Umbilical cable Every week earlier than the referendum, Ambassador Barnes warned Washington that “Self hitting“It was attainable,” he advised Washington. “It can’t be dominated out, and we should be ready to reply to it, and rapidly, whereas there’s nonetheless an opportunity to undo it.” As quickly as Barnes obtained concrete intelligence about Pinochet’s plan, he sounded the alarm loud and clear. “It was attainable,” he wrote to Washington. His article states that American officers now had “a transparent sense of Pinochet’s willpower to make use of violence on any scale essential to retain energy.” Secret dispatch on October 1. He predicted “doubtlessly important lack of life.”

Over the following 4 days, US authorities personnel, led by Barnes, rallied to stress Chile’s high navy and diplomatic officers to oppose the deliberate coup by Pinochet. When the “No” crew gained on October 5 by a majority of 54.7% to 43%, an “indignant” Pinochet summoned members of the navy junta to his workplace and demanded that they signal a decree granting him emergency powers to cancel the referendum. All his generals refused. One of the crucial well-known and entrenched dictators of recent instances has been ousted from energy – and not using a shot being fired.

Thirty-five years later, when Ambassador Meehan unveiled the plaque naming the US Residency “The Barnes Home,” she famous that Barnes “turned this home right into a refuge for many who fought for the peaceable return of democracy” in Chile. Honoring his contribution to the tip of the Pinochet regime, she reminded dignitaries and relations gathered on the ceremony that this ceremony comes at a “international inflection level” when “democracy is below assault around the globe.” Though Shelley will perpetually stay an emblem of an period, 50 years in the past, when the US authorities led that assault, the Barnes Home now commemorates a time when america labored to thwart the coup, relatively than market it.

Peter Kornbluh

Peter Kornbluh, a long-time contributor to Nation On Cuba, co-author with William M. Leo Grande, of Again Channel to Cuba: The Hidden Historical past of the Negotiations between Washington and Havana. Kornbluh can also be the writer of a ebook The Pinochet File: Declassified File on Atrocities and Accountability.

(tags for translation) Democracy

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