Entire libraries have been written about freedom. Courses are taught in universities to understand this concept. There are many differences. Excellent. It is the freedom to debate freedom. It is the story of a permanent struggle to let individuals make their decisions responsibly. Small and big events mark the destiny of freedom. Sometimes spaces are won, sometimes they are lost. Today I am going to put three examples that coincidentally are commemorated on September 11 of each year.
I start with a small one, but I love it. I am referring to the Avándaro Rock and Wheels Festival that took place on September 11, 1971. The protagonists were, once again, young middle-class Mexicans fed up with the control of the authoritarian PRI regime. They were not allowed to dress how they wanted, to grow their hair long, to meet up to listen to rock or to watch movies that were not censored.
They had already manifested in 1968 and 1971 with dire consequences. As Luis González de Alba said, they wanted a party, a carnival, a riot. In a word: freedom. On September 11, they went to Avándaro to do “the Mexican Woodstock.” A rock concert as a libertarian demonstration. Hundreds of thousands of strangers united by music. Yes, some smoked pot. Yes, a few got naked. But in general the festival passed without major disorders.
However, the political regime, which took years to understand the demand for freedom, reacted as always: closing down. He banned rock concerts for many years. On the radio they censored songs considered “inconvenient” for the youth. And they started the propaganda machine of the media to distort the festival. There is the sinister cover of the popular newspaper Alarma! announcing: “Hell in Avándaro. Disgusting Hippie Orgy! Encounter, Marijuana, Sexual Degenere, Filth, Hair, Blood, Death! ”.
Avándaro’s balance for freedom: scared, the Mexican political regime closed spaces following the 1968 script; But what that generation of young people dared to do was decisive for the country to eventually liberalize and democratize.
A September 11th also commemorates the 1973 coup in Chile. The government of Salvador Allende had come to power through the ballot box. He immediately began to implement a radical leftist project. They were socialists who thought that there could be no freedom in a society with so much inequality and poverty.
As a consequence, the Chilean economy collapsed and, in the context of the Cold War, some parties, businessmen and the Armed Forces allied to remove Allende from power with the support of the United States. The military coup resulted in 17 years of the infamous Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. A long night for Chile that, although it improved economically, suffered a historical setback in one of the oldest liberal democracies on the continent.
Balance of the coup in Chile: absolutely negative for political freedoms in that country and in other South American nations that unfortunately followed suit.
Finally, on September 11, we also commemorate the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. It’s horrendous to admit it, but Osama bin Laden and his movement got away with it. They generated unbearable fear in the West. And, as is often the case after such an event, societies agreed to restrict freedoms as a condition to guarantee their safety.
In the United States, the nefarious Patriot Act was enacted, ten forms of torture were legalized under the euphemism of “improved interrogation techniques,” hundreds of people were imprisoned at the Guantanamo Military Base without respecting due process, and a endless so-called military operations that killed thousands of innocent civilians.
Balance of the attacks: great setback for liberal rights and values, especially in Western countries, particularly the United States, from which we are far from recovering. Yeah, the damn terrorists got away with it.
Three events on September 11 that had consequences for freedom. Events as minor as a rock concert or as significant as a coup or the greatest act of terrorism in history. Events that remind us that the fight for freedom, an inherent right of the human condition, never ends.