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The Chilean Tragedy

To the Editors:

We have begun to circulate the following statement on Chile. Our hope is to get the broadest possible support, not simply from those who sympathized with the Allende government, but from all Americans who are shocked and outraged by the destruction of democracy in Chile. Those who want to sign the statement, help circulate it, or aid in any way should write to Congressman Donald Fraser, Room 704, 1424 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036.

The fall of a democracy is always a deeply distressing event. This is particularly the case when it affects a nation with a noble tradition of freedom such as the nation of Chile. At the present time the exact extent, if any, of active US complicity is unknown; but this nation’s policy of economic strangulation and its unprecedented diplomatic rudeness must be viewed as major contributors to the staggering economic difficulties of the government of President Salvador Allende, difficulties which in turn helped bring about his deposition by a violent military coup and his tragic death.

While the long process of repairing the grievous damage that has been done to the constitutional fabric of Chile has yet to be begun, we urge that the US maintain only minimal diplomatic relations with the military junta and provide only humanitarian assistance to the people of Chile until the following conditions are fulfilled: the Chilean Congress must be reopened; and political parties must be allowed to function; military law must be ended and the legal system restored; and there must be a forthright return to full constitutional rights.

We are particlarly troubled by reports coming from Chile that the civil rights of the upward of 10,000 political exiles in Chile have been jeopardized, and that the military junta has resorted to the cynical practice of sending some of them back to their countries of origin, at a threat to their lives. We are also alarmed by information that books are being burned, that newspapers have been suppressed, and that former members of the Allende government and many of its supporters are being brutally persecuted for their past political allegiances. We urge that the people of the world join in pressing upon the military junta of Chile the realization that they must abide by the norms of civilized practices and human decency.

Laurence Birns

New School for Social Research

Congressman Donald Fraser

House Foreign Relations Committee

Michael Harrington

Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee

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