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Lessons for the United States of America Today

53rd Anniversary of Assassination of John F. Kennedy


Part One: The Rise of Bourgeoisie (96m) &

Part Two: The Coup d'Etat (88m) dir by Patricio Guzman, 1975

Last night on Turner Classic Movies Alex Baldwin, the actor, introduced the two films about the struggle of the working poor in Chile and the leadership of Salvador Allende, a democratically elected president who was voted into office in 1970. The two-part, over three hour documentary, step by step documents the popular support for Allende and how it is eroded away by the military, a rise in fascism, and cooptation of the middle class with support from US multinationals and the American CIA.

I know the story, but had to be reminded about many of the details. So fitting for this moment in US history, as this country hurls into a new level of decline seating an authoritarian leader with zero track record who, while he might have won the antiquated electoral college, he failed to capture the popular vote. The thoroughness of Guzman's different segments is astounding. He creates a visual text of the story as it unfolds before our very eyes. Believe me we have no such comprehensive picture of what is taking place in the United States at this moment.

Still of footage shot by Argentine cameraman, Leonardo Henricksen, moments before he is killed.

As Part One ends, running toward and past the camera is a flood of people streaming by. They are caught on a major Santiago boulevard as a renegade military brigade bring tanks and trucks into the streets in a first attempt to take over the government. The cameraman, Leonardo Henricksen, an Argentine, keeps his camera focused on the dozen soldiers getting out of a truck a block away, who then harass several men caught on their side of the street. The officer in charge, then takes aim on the cameraman, who keeps filming. The military leader releases the trigger on his gun and is briefly clouded by its firing. The camera pan down, suddenly, to the street as its operator falls slain on the sidewalk.

A few minutes earlier in the film in one of numerous street demonstrations the sound- over states, and subtitles read......Many of the middle class...... (image changes).......consciously or unconsciously.......(image changes again to this, below)…...starts to join the ranks of fascism. It is a chilling statement.


Alex Baldwin in his introduction had explained how the primary cameraman of the film, Jorge Muller Silva, had stayed behind in Chile at the onset of the successful coup d'état in September 1973. He was one of the disappeared never to be seen again. He did not warn us about the fate of Henricksen. Guzman, with all his footage, escaped to Cuba.

The three part series released a few years later, is one of the most remarkable documentaries, ever.

THE BATTLE OF CHILE: Part-One, The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie

THE BATTLE OF CHILE: Part-Two, The Coup d'Etat

THE BATTLE OF CHILE: Part-Three, Popular Power

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