THE WORLD. Chile’s dictatorship is as anti-popular today as it was during Pinochet 30 years ago, says Evelyn with a past in Chile. She now sees that Sweden is developing in a similar right-wing extremist direction despite the fact that we have a socialist government. Sweden’s international image does not get better considering Sweden’s arms deals with Chile.
Text, interview, and video editing: Torbjörn Sassersson | Läs denna artikel på svenska
NewVoice interviewed Evelyn one early summer afternoon in June. She says that Chilean President Sebastian Piñera and his elitist entourage backed by the CIA have a lot of blood on their hands. The regime today is strongly associated with daily oppression and violence against its population. The Chilean government is also using the corona crisis to further squeeze its own people.
Both of Evelyn’s parents were activists, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, to defend themselves against Pinochet, who seized power in Chile through a military coup in 1973 when President Allende was overthrown. Pinochet was the country’s self-proclaimed head of state in 1973 and 1990. His takeover was supported by the CIA. While Allende was on the side of the people, Pinochet belonged to a power elite consisting of a collection of financial families with their own interests, Evelyn says. The United States did a lot of business with these families to access Chile’s business markets and natural resources.
The risks of opposing Pinochet were life-threatening during those years.
“I could have lost my mother. My father was captured” … “He was imprisoned for nine years,” Evelyn says.
She describes that his father, out of empathy for his daughter, constantly lied to her to explain his absence while in prison and to alleviate Evelyn’s life as a child. Evelyn’s father first fled from Chile to Sweden and after that the family could be reunited in Sweden, which then became the home base for a new and safe life.
Pinochet was overthrown peacefully by a popular movement that voted out the Chilean government. The US Clinton administration decided in 1999 to begin publishing thousands of classified documents revealing US involvement in the overthrow of the socialist Allende. Pinochet was subsequently supported by the CIA and the United States during his long reign.
Read more: US Homeland Security Digital Library: The Hinchey Report – CIA Activities in Chile
Evelyn says the Chilean people have been fighting for 50 years to change the constitution that Pinochet created. The constitution was created to protect the financial power elite in the country. It was not until the beginning of 2021 that the people finally got rid of this constitution by vote. New constitutions that are more popularly favored are now being developed but under strong opposition from the current regime.
Today’s CIA – backed Piñera government is as dangerous as Pinochet’s government
Evelyn describes the incumbent Piñera government as neoliberal and far-right. Jungle law prevails where only the strongest survive. Chile is ruled by a dozen financial families who, with a great deal of ruthlessness, crush all popular protests. Evelyn says a particular protest in October 2019 left deep traces in the people’s souls.
The protest was started by students and it was the result of a long period of deteriorating living conditions. Prices had generally gone up. Rents were rising. Food prices had risen. Pensions were poor and even restrained. The share savings disappeared. Piñera owns a pension fund that did not pay out pensions. Many have 2-3 jobs to survive because people are often in debt. Interest rates are unreasonably high. Taken together, these poor economic conditions have led to many elderly people living on the streets and people being generally depressed. It had become as bad as during the Pinochet dictatorship.
The Piñera government is made up of the same kind of people as the Pinochet government. Here is the same type of torturers and oppressors who are never brought to justice. The violence against the Chilean people is brutal. Evelyn says that the riot police in Chile are ordered to aim with shotguns and rubber bullets at the protesters’ faces. Many have become blind, Evelyn says in despair. 3000 people have lost at least one eye. She shows photos and videos from protests with bleeding faces and often it is about very brave young people who fight against the riot police in the front lines (Primera Línea) among the older activists who have fought since the 1970s, Evelyn explains.
The state-controlled media in Chile are doing everything they can to cover up these abuses. The riot police hide their names. Instead, the world has learned what happened by protesters filming with their mobile phones and then posting the material on social media. It has also emerged that the authorities tortured people – including teenage children – during and after the protests.
During the interview, Evelyn shows frightening images from protests 2019-2020 against the Piñera government. Many young people were injured by the brutal violence of the riot police, young people who became blind by shots to the eyes. The police also use corrosive chemicals in the water cannons. Previously, sewage was used, says Evelyn.
Evelyn says the Chilean government is using an advanced surveillance system to spy on citizens. The CIA supports the government with technology.
Evelyn goes through the richest financial families who all have collaborations with the Piñera government. It is these families who share Chile’s wealth among themselves. The poor standard of living in Chile has led to many people being forced to move to the cities to look for work, but at the same time, people are also moving out of the cities to build communities in the countryside. The Swedish Chilean movement supports Chileans in their home country. The people help the people. The Piñera government generally does not seem to get involved if people are trying to fend for themselves, such as building suburban communities.
Sweden makes arms deals with the Chilean government
Evelyn has reacted to the fact that so few in Sweden know what is happening in today’s Chile. She says that the Swedish government has turned its back on the Chilean people and she believes this is because the Swedish government and large Swedish companies are doing business with the Piñera government.
SAAB sold the Jas 39 Gripen to Chile in 1995 and the arms company made another attempt in 2019 to sell more warfighter planes but without success.
A Swedish weapons factory has started operations in southern Chile in 2019, Evelyn says. She says that Chile also bought Swedish small arms that are used to attack the protesters.
Infodefensa.com writes in May 2021 that the Chilean army will build a new military shooting range in collaboration with SAAB. The order to SAAB meant that the Swedish arms company will deliver the latest technology in fixed and mobile target technology for military small arms training. Major Gerardo Hermosilla says that The Combat Firing Range Project allows Chile to maintain the highest capacity to meet the country’s challenges.
According to SAAB, this is the first of several installations planned throughout Chile and these will give the Chilean armed forces an improved training capacity. SAAB has been delivering military training solutions since 2008.
“With this order, the Chilean armed forces will continue to maintain a high training capacity for the ground forces and it will be possible to implement military training scenarios with the greatest possible realism,” said Tristan Lecrivain, SABB’s Sales Manager in Latin America.
Chile and Sweden are compared
Evelyn sees some parallels between Chile and Sweden. She believes that Sweden has changed for the worse since 2008. Among other things, the then Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt did business in Chile in 2008. Reinfeldt contributed to the privatization of schools and healthcare. We have seen the same development in both Chile and Sweden. We are enslaved by rising prices. As Evelyn explained earlier in the interview, there are generally increased capitalist developments going on. She also says that if the Swedish Government today becomes desperate, it can potentially have authoritarian tendencies. It can escalate.
“I think it is important that the Swedish people wake up and become aware of what is going on, that Sweden is not as before. I do not recognize the Sweden that I came to as a child, where I felt safe. I feel this anxiety which I felt as a child when I lived in Chile “.
Evelyn told alongside the interview about how the Swedish police suspected her of violent participation in one of the Swedish Freedom Movement’s protests in the spring. The police are said to have mixed her up with another woman and Evelyn wants to tell more about it in a later interview.
The corona crisis is being exploited
Today, the Piñera government is using the corona crisis to put further pressure on the people. Everyone must have a maks, says Evelyn, but the restrictions do not apply in the same way to the rich class. The stricter rules mainly apply to the working class. The power in Chile has used the corona crisis to further raise the already high prices in addition to widening the gap between rich and poor.
According to Statistics Sweden (SCB), in 2019 there were a total of 58,508 Chileans living in Sweden who were either born in Chile themselves or had at least one parent from Chile. In 2017, there were a total of approximately 28,000 people born in Chile. Many of them fled Chile to escape Pinochet’s regime.
Text, interview and video editing: Torbjörn Sassersson