Monday, May 23, 2011
On September 11, 1973, at nine o’clock in the morning, two battalions of infantry surrounded the Chilean presidential palace in Santiago. From ten o’clock until two o’clock, troops bombarded the building, killing most of the staff, including the President of Chile, Salvador Allende.
Just a few yards from the palace can be found the most luxurious hotel in Santiago, the Careras Hotel, which is owned by the U.S. Sheraton chain.
The New York Times correspondent in the city reported that the maids, cleaners, and blue-collar workers in that hotel gathered in the basement in fear and anger over the fall of what they considered their government. Up on the top floor, meanwhile, the hotel manager invited his patrons to drink champagne with him, to celebrate the military coup and the fall of the Unidad Popular government.
Not far away, in the Medical College building, the Chilean Medical Association sent a telegram of support for the coup.
Meanwhile, in most health centers and hospitals, and in most working-class and rural communities, the health workers, the blue-collar workers, the low-income peasantry, the unemployed, and the poor, that sector of the Chilean population that Neruda had defined as the “disenfranchised majorities,” were resisting the military takeover but to no avail.