Interview conducted by Kathleen Roos.
Interview with Angela Bond.
Background: Salvador Allende was the founder of Chile’s Socialist party in 1933. He contested a presidential election in 1952. Allende gained power in the 1970s. US owned mining companies were nationalized (‘stolen’) without compensation. Large agricultural estates were expropriated to be transformed into peasant communes. Wages were raised and prices frozen. Money was printed and inflation rose. Strikes proliferate. Local banking suffered. Hostile response from U.S. and economic aid was ended. The US CIA had links to senior officers within Chilean Army. In an attempt to curry loyalty from the military, Allende appointed generals to his cabinet. Augusto Pinochet was one of those generals. Allende appointed Pinochet as the commander in chief of the Army in August 1973. Pinochet led a violent coup 18 days later on Sept 11, 1973. Allende was murdered or committed suicide in the Presidential Palace.
Angela started with her recollections from when she was 7-9 years old.
“I was born on June 12, 1964 in Santiago, Chile while Salvador Allende was the leader of Chile. After Pinochet rose to power, our lives became much better. Some people call Pinochet a dictator; I call him my hero. He saved us.
“When I was 7 years old, we were starving. We would get up every morning early and my mom and dad would take us to different places to try to get food. We would stand for hours and wait in lines all day long to get even a piece of bread and maybe some oil. We would be in line at 8 am and not return home until 10 pm. My brother would wait in one line and my mom and me would go to another. My dad, if not working, would attempt another location. We had hope that one of us would be lucky enough to get some bread.
“During Allende’s time, all of the people who were not in Allende’s network were starving. There was constant violence. Criminals walked the streets with impunity and there was no protection for the people. Criminals would simply open car doors and pull people out of their cars and rob them. I see parallels between that and conditions now in the US, with rampant lawlessness in US cities. The break down of law and order without consequences for the aggressors is straight out of a horror novel.
“My dad worked near the presidential palace and often could not get home. Protestors would burn tires every night. The violence in the U.S. during the summer of 2020 especially in Seattle and Portland reminded me of these times. It was frightening to see violent protests in the US.
“The level of violence was extreme (in Santiago, Chile). We were told to stay home. I could not go to school. My Dad still had to go to work.
“Something I will always remember happened when I was out with my mom. We witnessed an Allende motorcade going by and a woman on a bus stuck her tongue out at the motorcade. The motorcade with Allende’s body guards surrounded the bus and we saw her dragged off of the bus. Allende’s guard exited one of the vehicles and grabbed the woman by the neck choking her. We were watching all this! I was 8 years old. It was horrifying! He choked her and said ‘I am going to kill you if you do not apologize immediately, I will kill you.’ We all could hear this. I will never forget. It was very scary.
“Violence occurred every day, especially at night. Women could not walk around without being molested or robbed. There were many rapes. Tires burned constantly and the air smelled and it burned your lungs. Shelves in stores were empty, there was no food. I remember standing in line every day trying to get some food. Maybe one of us would come home with some bread and some tea. That is all there was. I was scared to go anywhere. We all were.
“There was a card issued by Allende’s group. It was known as a JAT. I do not recall what the letters stand for but if you promised this group to go along with Allende’s party in power, you would be issued this card to get food and supplies. Agreement with the party in power determined whether you got food or not.”
This is a parallel Angela relates to what she is seeing in the U.S. today.
“You had to go along or be silenced. Allende’s supporters would go from house to house and if you agreed with their policies’, you could get a card issued. My mother slammed the door in their face. You have to realize this is the only way you could get something to eat. If you refused like my mother did, you were put on a list. I can tell you all about Blacklists! I see this happening in the U.S. and I can’t believe it.
“It was impossible to go anywhere. The poverty was so extensive.
“The day before the military coup of September 11, 1973 a neighbor who was an Air Force Officer warned us: ‘Do not go to work tomorrow. Keep your children home. That is all I can tell you.’
“However, my dad decided he could not stay home from work so he went anyway. His office was near the Palace.
“On September 11 we heard airplanes overhead and news of military violence on the radio. We did not go to school that day. It was surreal, like out of a movie, with the planes overhead and bombs dropping.
“It was surreal to see downtown Santiago being bombed. But we were so happy to see Pinochet take over. Pinochet was our salvation. The town of Santiago was closed for 3 days as there were dead people laying in the streets.
“My dad could not get home that night as he was driving, he had to walk around all the unrest to get home to his family. He walked for miles. We stayed home for several weeks. It was hard. You could hear machine guns every night. When Pinochet’s Army located Allende’s caches’ they found huge munitions caches and tons of food and supplies. The Allende people had everything anyone could have wanted and no shortage of food. In these caches and storage areas, numerous “blacklists” of people were discovered: A list of people targeted to be killed. Allende’s supporters had everything, while we were starving.”
I asked about any gun confiscation or do you recall religious practices being curtailed or attending church being banned in Chile?
“No, I do not recall that except no one went anywhere during the violence of Allende’s reign. My dad was retired from the Air Force. We had no weapons and I do not know about any confiscation of weapons just that we did not have any. My dad continued to work in communications at a government building near the palace. He died at 82 years old.
“I left Chile when I was 24 years old. I never intended to leave. I lived under Pinochet’s rule from 9-24 years of age. He opened investments and we had the best economy in South America with Pinochet. He implemented a great plan for retirement and medical coverage. Everything changed for us. I invested in these plans in Chile and did very well. The economy boomed.
“I was studying law and in Chile and you can practice law after three years doing civil suits. I was successful and doing very well with a good job and going to school. Chile is a beautiful country with beaches and mountains and deserts. I love Chile.
“Then I was introduced to an American via a relative. He loved Chile and came to visit often. We fell in love and married. We lived in Chile for a while but then he wanted to return to the U.S. He convinced me that I would have even more opportunities in the U.S and could continue my education in law. My parents did not want me to go but they felt I would be better off with him. Initially I didn’t want to go, but later I did decide to emigrate to the US. It was a very bad mistake as he became very abusive.
“We were managers of a building at this time and I was working for a physical therapist. This is when he broke my jaw and nose. He beat me. I told my husband to leave. I asked the building owner if I could stay while I recovered; he agreed.”
What did you tell your parents?
“I did not tell my parents until years later. I was too embarrassed to tell them.”
Did he beat you while you were in Chile?
“No, only after we were in the States.
“My viewpoint when I see what is going on in the U.S right now I relate back to what I have been through. People here are very spoiled and claim they are entitled. The black community plays the same card, that they are owed something. They did not go through what I have been through. I see it after 21 years.
“I had a few small jobs at first. I worked at the Dollar Tree Store, then Bank of America and El Pollo Loco. I trained to become a phlebotomist and worked in a Physical Therapy Department where I met my current husband. I am blessed with a wonderful child. I found this company on my own and now am in a supervisory position and doing well again. I have 12 wonderful people working for me. I observe their attitudes. Some of them, even with good jobs always complain. I tell them “you don’t appreciate what you have.”
“I studied law in Chile. After 3 years one can handle cases. I wasn’t planning on coming to the U.S. I had a great future in Chile. I was seen as a success. I could help my mom and dad. I met my cousins’ friend as I told you and we married.
“I went through a lot here too, with my husband beating me and all the abuse. More than that though, I enjoy the freedom America offers. When I saw the violence here this summer, I could not believe it. It took me back to those days in Chile under Allende with protest fires in the streets every night. I just couldn’t believe it was happening in the US. The destruction parallels what I experienced growing up In Santiago, Chile.
“I like Trump. I call him my favorite jerk. I think he did good things for this country. There is no integrity in the new government now. When you see people destroying property while wearing $200 Nike’s and telling us they are owed. I remember having a single pair of shoes and in the rainy season I remember my feet being wet all day. There was no change of shoes. I am very appreciative of what I have here in the U.S. I came as a resident and after 3 years I got a green card, then citizenship. I am proud to be here.
“I get angry with all these ungrateful American’s who are lucky enough to be born here. They are ungrateful and there is a lot of ignorance about US history. I cannot stand the complaining about entitlements and wanting reparations when they have achieved nothing. They are so fortunate and they don’t get it!
“Pinochet is considered a dictator by many but for me and my family he saved our lives. Even one of my nieces denied my experiences in Chile, saying that is not what she learned in school. Now there are many parties in Chile and open elections.”