south america

The Fall of Chile

Last year in France, Kennecott Copper brought legal suit against the government of Chile in relation to the nationalization of their El Teniente copper mine. In a summation before the French Court, Kennecott lawyers acknowledged that their actions were an exercise in “teaching Chile the political realities of life.” On 11 September 1973, the world watched as Chile learned its lessons well.

On that morning the Chilean Navy seized control of the important port city of Valparaiso and broadcast a demand “that the President of the republic must proceed immediately to hand over his high office to the Chilean armed forces and police.” President Salvador Allende Gossens quickly left for the presidential palace, La Moneda, to repel the second military attempt at coup d’état in four months. From the beginning this one looked more serious. He told his wife over the phone that “there’s an uprising of the navy and many riots in Santiago. I don’t know whether we can resist or not. These are very difficult moments. Let’s hope we come out all right.” As the crisis deepened, Allende increased his determination to see it through to the end. In his public statement, made by radio as two airforce jets screamed over La Moneda, Allende said: “I will not resign. I will not do it. I am ready to resist with whatever means, even at the cost of my life in that this serves as a lesson in the ignominious history of those who have strength, but not reason.”

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Wars and Rumors of War

 Photo by Przemek Tokar/Shutterstock.com.
Special forces troops patrol in the smoke. Photo by Przemek Tokar/Shutterstock.com.

While compiling the morning “Daily Digest,” I often recall  the advice of Karl Barth, who is said to have told young theologians “to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”

There are many mornings that Jesus’ advice comes to mind after reading the news. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come (Mark 13:7). While I am not an end times apocalyptic, there are days that Jesus’ prophecy seems all too real.

Poisoning Eden

PATAGONIA IS A land of myth. Like Siberia or the Australian outback, it’s one of those far-off places that, despite today’s round-the-clock global information flow, remain a mystery. Unfortunately, the myth of Patagonia as distant wild country has become a smokescreen for those who profit from extracting the region’s subsurface resources—silver, gold, uranium, lead, and oil. From their point of view, the less anyone knows about what’s happening, the better.

When I arrived in the South American region of Patagonia nearly a decade ago, the general public was almost entirely unaware of the mining bonanza about to burst onto the landscape, though government and corporate officials had already set the wheels in motion. After a few years setting down roots, I saw the mining activity rapidly picking up speed. As a result I spent a year filming a documentary about extractive industries and widespread conflict over land rights in the area. As is the case with so many resource-rich areas of the world, the communities hardest hit, and least rewarded, by mining are Indigenous Peoples.

The Mapuche people native to Patagonia lived semi-nomadically on both sides of the Andes, in what is now Chile and Argentina. In the 1880s, brutal military campaigns by the Chilean and Argentinian governments finished a two-century-old project that wiped out the majority of the population and left survivors scattered in the most isolated and inhospitable land around, which of course no white folks wanted. Until recently, when they discovered profitable mineral deposits under it.

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