Naeem Mohaiemen

The Year 1973 created many problems

The Year 1973 created many problems for the imperialists

Suite of 12 | Archival Print on paper 7 in x 9 in | 2013

Of the many magazine stories from that period that brought Dhaka readers into global circuits of awareness, perhaps no other could have expressed more misplaced optimism than the one with this headline:

“The year 1973 created many problems for Imperialists.”

Then came 9/11. September 11th, 1973. The Presidential Palace in Chile is bombed by its own Air Force. A defiant Salvador Allende refuses to surrender. The last press photograph shows Allende, democratically elected President, wearing a helmet and carrying a sub-machine gun that Castro had given him as a gift.

His dead body is later found inside the palace. Marquez wrote of the brutal ritual of a group of officers firing on his body together after his death. Finally a non-commissioned officer smashed his face in with his rifle butt.

Perhaps in that moment, the Dhaka editor thought US Imperialism had reached an apex of arrogance before the fall. Surely Allende’s dead body, like Che before him, would haunt the global military industrial complex forever? This final indignity would wake the global working class and set in motion a final push for world revolution.

The reality turned out cruelly different. The next six years were a tremendous consolidation of Imperial power, as one after another Latin American, African, and Asian country saw democratic governments removed and replaced by a parade of military juntas.

They would make the trains run on time. So we were told.