World History 1970

About the history of the world in 1970, elections in Austria, protests and death at Kent State University, natural disasters in Bangladesh.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1970

* An 1856 one-cent stamp of British Guiana, the only one known in existence, sold for $280,000.

* Osaka, Japan, hosted Expo '70.

Mar. 1 Elections were held in Austria, and Bruno Kreisky formed Austria's first socialist government since W.W. II.

May 4 Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on a group of Kent State University students as they protested the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. Four students fell dead on campus: Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer, and William K. Schroeder. Kent, O., a sleepy college town whose biggest claim to fame had been a local reputation as the birthplace of professional tree surgery, suddenly became a national symbol of the political polarization engendered by the Vietnam War.

May 5 A student strike honoring the four deaths at Kent State and protesting the Vietnam War spread to 448 campuses in the U.S.

May 14 Mississippi police killed two black students at a Jackson State College dormitory.

June 11 U.S. Vice-Pres. Spiro Agnew speaking before the annual conference of U.S. attorneys in Washington: "Criminal elements. . .are truly the enemies of our country. . . . They weaken its governmental structure by corrupting weak public officials and framing others. In one way or another, they affect local political processes. They weaken its economy by infiltrating legitimate businesses and labor unions, by cheating on taxes, and by other frauds. These then are the enemy: the organized criminal . . . the street criminal . . . the white-collar criminal, the tax cheat, the embezzler, the dishonest repairman, and the dishonest businessman. Like all who threaten the life and health of the nation, they must be fought with every weapon available and consistent with our Constitution."

Sept. Chile became the first nation to hand over freely the reins of government to a self-avowed Marxist. To be sure, it was no landslide which swept Salvador Allende Gossens, 62, into power in Santiago. The Socialist party leader had pulled together a shaky leftist coalition long enough to squeak by Independent candidate Jorge Allessandri and Christian Democrat Radomiro Tomic with barely 36% of the vote. All this seemed even more incredible, however, in the face of a bold scheme engineered by International Telephone and Telegraph to thwart Allende's election. In fact, ITT went so far as to offer to underwrite a CIA sabotage effort in Chile. When that failed, ITT tried in vain to bribe the Chilean Congress with $1 million to nullify Allende's election. ITT was not alone in its fear of the new Marxist president. U.S. investors held over $1 billion in Chilean assets, and Allende was already talking about expropriating foreign holdings. True, these firms could fall back on the $390 million worth of political risk insurance they collectively had taken out with the Agency for International Development, but future profits would be shut off if Allende moved rashly. As it turned out, Allende kept his campaign pledge and did expropriate foreign investments, most notably three U.S. copper mines and the 70% interest in the Chilean Telephone Company held by ITT. The act prompted U.S. President Nixon to launch an economic blockade of the country which severely choked its commerce and helped drive inflation to 300% a year. But all this lay in the future. When Salvador Allende donned the Banda de O'Higgins, the presidential sash, and prepared to deliver his inaugural address before the Chilean Congress in the Salon de Honor, he had high hopes for his country.

Oct. 10 The 800 islands of Fiji joined to become an independent nation.

Nov. Four men of different nationalities completed a 161-day transpacific voyage from Guayaquil, Ecuador, to Mooloolaba, Australia, in a 600-sq.-ft. raft made of balsa logs and rope. The trip, the longest on record by raft, was designed to prove that American Indians could have reached the Eastern Hemisphere centuries ago.

Nov. 12 An estimated 500,000 people died in cyclones and floods in East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh).

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