Yes, it is Gun Culture. And you learn stuff!

I was 12 years old when the coup de etat happened in Chile and Allende died. One version is that he shot himself, the other one is that  he got killed by the air force bombing/shot by soldiers/murdered by the CIA, take your pick. What we got drilled over and over by our lefty media and the corresponding historians was that Chile made a democratic transition to a socialist government and the US Government and the CIA did not like it and supported the evil Right Wing Business and Mine owners so they concocted this whole devious plan to bring Allende down. Over and over we were told that the only foreign intervention was the US represented by military from The School of the Americas and agents of the CIA. Allende never had any support from any other government. 

Last night, I caught on TMC a movie called La Batalla de Chile which from a Revolutionary Left tells the story of what happened prior and all the way to the coup.


Being a gun guy, I checked the guns that appeared on the film. The Chilean armed forces pretty much had what was the standard for Latin America back then: FN-FAL in its different configurations as the main long gun, M-1 and M-2 carbines, a smattering of the newfangled M-16 and the pistols were Hi Powers and the 1911s. And I almost forgot the Mausers, but these were relegated in favor of the FAL.

TO GO WITH AFP STORIES CHILE-COUP-ANNIVERSARY FILES - Picture taken 11 September 1973 of the attack against the Palacio de la Moneda in Santiago during the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet against constitutional president Salvador Allende. AFP PHOTO/ARCHIVO PRENSA LATINA


When it came the last part of the documentary, the attack on the President’s palace, one of the iconic pictures of the coup was shown and I realized that I had not seen it in decades. And now I was seeing it with different eyes, sort of speak:


Three AK 47. Not properly seen was Allende’s who is carrying in the shoulder and it was a gift from Fidel Castro, so where the other two (visible) came from? Now, this is 1973 and the AK was not yet the popular and widespread gun we all know today. IIRC , the first time they are seen in action is during the Hungary invasion in 1958, then in Czechoslovakia uprising of 1968 and by 1973 was in Vietnam.

But in Latin America outside Cuba? And in Chile? That is a long-ass end of a supply chain for any standard revolution, specially since the guerrilla tactics of the time were to use the weapons of your enemy so you could have a local source available. Argentina was next door manufacturing FALs so it was a much shorter supply chain than Mother Russia or even Cuba…unless they were getting shipments via diplomatic pouch which was not uncommon during that time. So there goes the alleged purity of the Chilean Revolution with Allende.

And history does repeat itself and sometimes your enemies learn from past mistakes. When Chavez was elected president, one of his first big military buys was AK-74s and later models from the Russians even though Venezuela was licensed by Fabrique Nationale and had been producing great quality FALs for decades. As soon as he could, an AK factory was built in Venezuela, but don’t ask me about the quality or production numbers since the Venezuelan government will not release them and I really don’t care.

And as for the documentary, don’t waste your time. It is a long communist propaganda piece which its only value was to catch some film you may be interested on and actually care about the Allende presidency. I am not planning on watch that crap again.

4 Replies to “Yes, it is Gun Culture. And you learn stuff!”

  1. The AK-47 was used in Vietnam way before 1973. The local Viet Cong were more apt to use the SKS but the North Vietnamese regulars used the AK-47. I never had a chance to shoot while I was there in the war. Years later in 2009 I went back for a visit. On a tour we went to an Army base. you could shoot some guns if you wanted to. Shooting was free but you had to buy the ammo at an inflated price. You had a choice between the M-16, M-60, M1 Carbine and the AK-47. Having fired both the M-16 and M-60 in Nam all those years ago I picked the AK-47. I had never fired a real full auto one. It was a fun visit. If you go you will find the museums are full of communist propaganda.


    1. Not sure, somebody who knows better should correct me if I am wrong, but I’d say about the time of the Tet Offensive is when the AK (in the hands of the NVA as you said) becomes commonplace in Vietnam.
      Still, in Latin America? About as common as a quechua-speaking unicorn farting cocaine.


  2. Visited Chile in 1985. The Presidential Palace had been rebuilt but bullet scars from anti aircraft fire was still visible on the high rise buildings surrounding the square.

    The story I heard was that the Chilean Air Force flew down the boulevards to bomb the presidential palace and didn’t miss.

    The other story I heard was that Allende bravely resisted the coup until he was in danger of being captured. He committed suicide using the machine gun given to him by Fidel; shot himself in the back 30 plus times, pausing twice to reload.



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