THE FUNERAL OF ORLANDO LETELIER

               
   

SALVADOR ALLENDE
AND
AUGUSTO PINOCHET

   
Socialist Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile in 1970.
         
 
Allende was killed in 1973 when General Augusto Pinochet staged a coup with the help of the CIA.
     
In his quest for "pure capitalism" Pinochet instituted a reign of terror in Chile, cracking down hard on leftist, unions, human rights groups and other political opponents.
With the help of the CIA Pinochet set up his own terrorist/intelligence agency called DINA.
 
 DINA terrorized the population using arrests, torture and "disappearances."
 
       
But DINA's activities were not limited by Chile's borders.

   

ORLANDO LETELIER

   
Orlando Letelier had been a high-ranking official in the Allende government.
       
       
In 1976 he was living in exile in the U.S., working to educate people about the atrocities being committed by the Pinochet regime.
   
               
 

As he drove to work one day in Washington DC his car exploded.

 
   

He and a coworker were killed by a DINA car bomb.

   

   

FUNERAL

   
Thousands of people showed up at the Letelier memorial service in Washington.
They had public address speakers set up outside the church for people who could not get in.

   
Hundreds of people gathered in front of the church, standing in silence while the eulogies were spoken.
   

Halfway through, a light rain began to fall.

   
     

No one left.

     
When the first casket appeared, slowly carried down the church steps, a clenched fist went up in the air; then another.
           
Then there were hundreds of raised fists, a salute of defiance to those in high places who acknowledged no limits to their power.
           
               
It was a defining moment in my young life.
         
               
I saw that those who rule could manipulate and intimidate, butcher and bomb, but as long as there were brave committed people like these to defy them, their command could never be absolute.
I knew with moral certainty that standing up and speaking the truth was always the right thing to do, because it strikes at the heart of Power.

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