By Ed Uehling
Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
I’ve just finished watching a movie just released: The Trial of the Chicago 7. It should have been up for not only the best movie at the Academy Awards, but one of the best ever for its accurate and profound depiction of our government as it really is. I don’t just remember the events as if they occurred yesterday, but see the same lies, deceit, social climbing, manipulations and robberies of the people by public officials repeated daily by our governments today.
In the beginning days of my LDS mission to the country of Chile, my companion and I were riding in a bus at about 4 p.m. on a typically beautiful afternoon. We rode up Cerro Placeres (Pleasure Mountain), not far from downtown Valparaiso, a raw port city, but closer to the elegant resort city of Viña del Mar (Vineyard of the Sea), when a waiting passenger climbed aboard screaming “Mataron a Kennedy!” (“They killed Kennedy!”)
Our immediate reaction of disbelief was changed to shock within the next hour by which time the entire city entered a paralysis and genuine mourning that seemed to last an entire week. I had already been exposed to the two pictures attached to the wall of many or even most homes we entered: Pope Paul and President Kennedy, but was unprepared for the depth of despair, the attachment to their radios for days and the certainty with which every Chilean knew immediately who “they” were: Vice President Johnson and the CIA.
Our foolish, feeble and misguided attempts to convince Chileans that government in the US was far more civilized and advanced to the point that dissatisfied elements in the US government, unlike those of “Latin American Banana Republics” (that we, as missionaries from “AMERICA” knew so much about — lol), fell on deaf ears. However,
Chileans at that time were fully engaged in the key presidential campaign that would change Chile forever. There were three candidates: Julio Durán, defender and representative of the upper class that frequently prevailed in Chile, Latin America’s longest running (at 150 years old) democracy at that time; Eduardo Frei, the moderate reformer who would eventually win the election in 1964, 10 months later; and Salvador Allende, the “evil Communist” who would be killed or commit suicide during a September 11, 1973 coup d’etat organized by Henry Kissinger, following Allende’s election in 1970.
Even though I had already observed during my scant three months since arriving in Chile that the entire Chilean population was informed and conversant with the facts and arguments presented by 1) the seven different newspapers available throughout Chile; 2) the rallies of tens of thousands of locals for each candidate as he campaigned in each city (Valparaíso being the second largest of the country); 3) the candidate and party advertising attached to, scribbled or painted on, every building and fence; and 4) most importantly, the political conversations and arguments we overheard and/or were invited to participate in. In 1963-64 Chile, the average teenager and maybe grade-schooler knew far more about the issues to be decided by their parents in the election of 1964 than the US adult population during any election I have ever observed or participated in here in the US of A — with the possible election of 1948 in which Harry Truman was
elected by surprise and after which I cried for two nights because of the impending destruction of my homeland (like those of Europe and China that we had just observed during the World War that had ended in 1945!).
During my mission I organized about 20 Boy Scout troops to participate in several combination jamborees/tree plantings for which I solicited the assistance of Chilean railways (to provide us a car for our exclusive use to travel from north to south and back along Chile’s singular train route), the Chilean Army (to transport us in trucks from the train station to the planting site), the US Embassy, the local bakery (to grind the grain and bake bread) and other institutions I can’t remember today.
By the end of my mission in late 1965 I was firmly opposed to the Vietnam War, managing to scandalize my parents and fellow Mormons.
After finishing classwork for a degree in Public Administration, I returned to Chile on a scholarship from the Organization of American States (the United Nations for the Western Hemisphere) for the purpose of writing my thesis. There I sympathized with the efforts of President Frei to unite South America in order to reduce dependence on the U.S., which had been successful in preventing industrialization of that continent, thus forcing them to buy U.S. manufactured goods.
On a personal level, I got married in Santiago and, for our honeymoon, the two of us drove along the Pan American highway from Santiago to Boulder City in a Volkswagen “bus” that I had been able to order, purchase and import directly from Germany for a total cost of only $1,800. During that trip we learned about and were horrified by the assassination of President Kennedy’s brother, Robert. Mistakenly or not, I probably became more sympathetic to the Chileans’ unanimous
belief that Johnson and/or his FBI/CIA was involved.
Upon getting my wife through the border without papers (it never occurred to me), we went camping in Utah with my parents, where we witnessed the actual events of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, which are portrayed in the movie cited above and, once again, horrified my parents with my criticism of the Vietnam War and the actions of the Chicago police and the excesses of Mayor Daley’s regime. I must admit, however, that I knew relatively nothing at that
time in 1968 of the depth of corruption of the government of that city and of the US government as depicted in the movie that every American should see for its accuracy and brilliance: “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
My wife and I soon moved to Washington, D.C. where we participated in Anti-War demonstrations and marches and defended critics of the Nixon regime. I would later visit and see — research and write reports about — public administration reform efforts in four different countries of Central and South America for the remaining remnants of President Kennedy’s “Alliance For Progress.”
This experience has motivated me to evaluate, write and speak about equally unjust rigging of government in Las Vegas. It is especially disturbing to me how the Clark County government 1) picks winners and losers; 2) intentionally causes hardships to its objectors and truth-tellers; 3) lies to the legislature (and people of Nevada) in order to make it easier to steal (yes, literally steal) the property of small homeowners just because they committed the non-crime of sharing their homes with visitors; 4) works hand in hand with the richest and most ruthless corporations of the State to help them
become the recipients of 100 percent of tourist money spent in Las Vegas and objectifies as criminals those doing something that benefits the little guy as he escapes the Resorts’ money net. Is Clark County and Nevada State Government distinguishable from Cook County and Chicago police who declared peaceful protests in 1968 to be a crime?
Ironically, but understandable as one contemplates government structures and their real purposes, this Thursday, April 28, the Democrats in the Assembly are presenting a proposal to give the casinos the ability to dictate what all homeowners and other private property owners, within half a mile of any casino in the State, can do and not do in 2021 with their own land. Or are we supposed to be grateful that Metro is not exploding tear gas canisters at our feet as
the County and the Legislature explode the value of our properties and our constitutional rights by handing our titles over to the richest corporations in Nevada?
And then, Clark County has the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) which spends tens of millions of customers’ dollars to fill the airwaves with lies while evading public knowledge of its single-minded plans to enrich its leaders and employees. Is that continuing secrecy much different from the blatant hiding of U.S. and Chicago government
truths in its determination to destroy the lives of the Chicago 7 or the handcuffing, beating and muzzling of Bobby Seale, their eighth target?
At least the nefarious Judge Hoffman was coerced by the government’s legal team into declaring a mistrial in Seale’s case. Unfortunately, no one protects the public against the SNWA’s daily ongoing assaults on every individual in Clark County.
Not only must we be disabused of the idea that the U.S. and Chicago governments in 1968 were any more dismissive of peoples’ human and constitutional rights than our local government agencies today, but I maintain that, until this truth is reversed, the country, state and county will continue to decline even in the face of all the technological and other advances during the past half century.
We have a right to expect that these agencies and the people running them do so for the benefit of the people, not just for the benefit of themselves, their operatives and the people who contribute to their election and re-elections.
Whatever happens, I feel as if I’ve had a front row seat at the “Theater of Government Misconduct” for the last 53 years and am still waiting for the plot to change.
By Ed Uehling