Chile cheers Powell remarks on coup
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) -- The Chilean government applauded remarks by
of State Colin Powell this week that the United States was "not proud" of its role in the 1973 coup
that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power, Chilean newspapers reported on Saturday.
Powell's comments on Thursday on the U.S. Black Entertainment Television
seen by Chileans as the first time Washington has acknowledged that it intervened in events
related to the bloody putsch and death of socialist President Salvador Allende.
"U.S. mea culpa for 1973 coup" blared the headline of the government-owned
La Nacion daily
above a full-page picture of the presidential palace in flames, taken on the day of the Sept. 11,
The influential El Mercurio daily, which was pro-Pinochet during the dictatorship
"Powell says support for 1973 coup was a mistake."
A government spokesman told the Internet newspaper El Mostrador that Santiago
at the U.S. stance.
"We are pleased that (they) recognize that the intervention in 1973 is
not a part of U.S. history
that they are proud of and now consider that it was an error," spokesman Heraldo Munoz told
the Internet newspaper.
Government officials were not immediately available to comment to Reuters.
Powell's televised comments, in response to a question from a high-school
Washington, went largely unnoticed elsewhere as world opinion is more preoccupied with the
possibility of an imminent U.S.-led war against Iraq.
But in Chile, the news made the front pages of all major newspapers on Saturday.
In the interview, Powell was asked why Washington considers itself "the
moral superior" in the
Iraq conflict. The interviewer cited the Chilean coup as an example of the U.S. government
acting against the wishes of a local population.
"With respect to your earlier comments about Chile in the 1970s and what
happened with Mr.
Allende, it is not a part of American history that we're proud of," Powell answered.
Under Pinochet's iron-fisted rule, that lasted 17 years, leftist political
groups were persecuted
and about 3,000 people were killed or disappeared, according to an official report.
Chile has been a stable democracy since 1990.
"We now have a more accountable way of handling such matters and we have
Chile to help it put in place a responsible democracy," Powell added.
Chilean leftists have long believed the U.S. government and Central Intelligence
participated in the coup.
U.S. documents declassified in 1999 showed the CIA funded opposition activities
Allende but the U.S. government's role in the military takeover has never been quantified.
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