“That September 11, that lethal Tuesday morning, I awoke with dread to the sound of planes flying above my house. When, an hour later, I saw smoke billowing from the center of the city, I knew that life had changed for me, for my country, forever.” Those are the words of our guest, Chilean-American author Ariel Dorfman, writing not about the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 10 years ago this week, but another September 11. On September 11, 1973 a U.S.-backed coup in Chile led by General Augusto Pinochet ousted Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. Allende died in the palace on that day. Ariel Dorfman served as a cultural adviser to Salvador Allende from 1970 to 1973.

After the coup, he went into exile, and today he is recognized as one of Latin America’s greatest writers. “Chile reacted to the terror that was inflicted upon us with nonviolent resistance. In other words, for instance, we did not go and bomb Washington because Washington had ordered and helped to create the coup in Chile. On the contrary, we created a peaceful revolution against Pinochet,” Dorfman notes. “If you contrast that to the United States, to what Bush did as a result of this very small band of terrorists, the results have been absolutely terrible. If this was a test—and I think great catastrophes are always tests of national values and national will—alas, the United States has failed that test terribly.”

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