United States and the military coup d'état in Chile against Salvador Allende.


"the USA did not overthrow Allende, the CIA only helped with the propaganda".
Dave López, USA army official.

25 years later.

A quarter of century after the installation of the Chilean dictatorship that modified the Chilean democratic history emerge declassified files to detail the atrocities committed by Augusto Pinochet and the intervention of the USA government and transnational companies in Chile's events.

Why should must count the murdered, the tortured? We know that there were many and many also the apportioned tears in thousands of Chilean homes and by the same fatherland - in fact, the number was prepared from Santiago to Henry Kissinger, USA's Secretary of State in a memorandum, titled Chilean Executions, based on intelligence sources, that estimated in 1500 the "total of deads". In the subsequent weeks and months, the deaths and disappearances surpassed 3,200, according to the Rettig Commission.

Even though many secret files are hidden in USA, there's and advance little by little in the declassification of some of them under the Information Freedom Law and other procedures; other source of information have been the Spain courts, where is sought to process those who committed crimes against Spanish citizens during that period. President Clinton's government recently delivered to Spanish researchers some boxes with files, especially on the role played by the DINA, the Chilean secret policeman, in the murder of Orlando Letelier and his United States citizen secretary Ronni Moffitt in 1976 in Washington, DC. Such files describe the pathetic events that began with the election of Allende in September 1970, the 1973 coup d'état and the first dictatorship years.

Among the most outstanding revelations are:

—The CIA performed hidden operations in Chile in 1970s autumn with the purppose of stimulating the curent's president "machismo", Eduardo Frei (father), and to induce it thus to block the ratification of Salvador Allende electoral victory. According to the United States files, Frei accepted, but at the last moment he refused to carry on the plan.

- Between 1970 and 1973, Richard Nixon's government ordered USA officials to prevent loans from the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Exim Bank to Chile, with the objective of injuring the Chilean economy and the image of President Salvador Allende.

—After Allende's election, United States thought about the possibility of expelling Chile of the Organization of American States (OAS) (as they made with Cuba in the decade of the 60's). According to Department of State cables, the USA ambassador in Chile, Edward Korry, believed that the general secretary of the OAS, Rooster Beacon, was an "incompetent fatuous", since he thaught that Chile "was not Cuba and Allende was not Fidel".

—USA government knew about the accomplished crimes during the subsequent days to the coup d'état, but even so it authorized immediately new economic help for Chile and ordered hidden CIA operations "to improve the image of the military junta".

—The daily Human Rights violations in Chile, provoked that in 1975 several officials of the USA embassy and the Department of State's Political Planning office requested to cut the economic help and to fight Pinochet's government, nevertheless the opinnion of the ambassador and the Penthagon officials and the Department of Treasure won, they wished to strengthen their relationships with the dictatorship.

—General Pinochet requested to visit Presidente Gerald Ford, in August 1975, but White House officials feared that that meeting could "stimulate the critique (to the president) in the United States and in Latin America". To avoid problems, the National Security Council recommended the new ambassador, David Popper, to explain to the Chilean government "that the president agenda was already occupied".

—The Chilean Economic Coordination minister, Raúl Sáez, during a private discussion with ambassador Popper, blamed the "fascist junta advisors" on Chile's Human Rights violations.

A destabilization object called Frei.

In the titled fileChilean presidential election postmortem, prepared by the CIA for the National Security counselor, Henry Kissinger, in November 1970, it was established that "Salvador Allende election can not be blame of a lack of warning on time". In 1968, the CIA analysts predicted that Salvador Allende's Popular Unit coalition would win by first time. 25th March, 27th June and 7th August 1970, Kissinger presided meetings of the "Committee 40", a top-level intersecretarial group. 18th August, the Department of State delivered to the White House a policy and strategy Review of United States in case of a victory of Salvador Allende. "We do not identify vital United States interests in Chile", concluded that evaluation. "Upon examining the potential threat that Allende represents, it is important to bear in mind the problems anticipated for the United States in case of his election emerge independently of who will be converted into the next president of Chile".

The USA reports estadunidenses demonstrate a hysterical attitude before the results of the elections of 4th September 1970. A dozen cables were written by ambassador Korry -defined by the Department of State as "Korrygrams" by his peculiar language and his anti-diplomatic opinions— arrived to Washington. That day, Korry sent not less than 18 updates about the votes counting-up.

Some examples:
-On 5th September he informed that he could listen "the allendistas growing roar, who acclaimed their victory" in the streets.

-"We have suffered a painful defeat" Allende the day he received the presidential band wrote Korry, blaming the Popular Unity victory on the demochristians political "poverty" and on the right-wing high class "arrogant stupidity myopia" .

-"The leadership depends on, if I can say it in spanish, cabeza, corazón y cojones" ("head, heart and balls"), enden Korry in his cable. "In Chile they only count on chácharas" ("trinkets").

On 9th September, a secret cable titled A sole hope to Chile, Korry argued that "Chile's future would be decided by a sole man: Frei. I think he's playing his cards with extraordinary astuteness in these circumstances".

Korry underestimated Chilean people capacity ability to democratically choose because in a 22th Septiembre cable, titled Frei: Processing future , Korry described the prsident as "the cental figure", whose "movements "movimientos determine the rythm, the direction and the shape of a situation that has more fluctuations than the 99.99% of chileans know".

The CIA would put into practice more energical operations in order to pressurize Frei. "The CIA launched a propaganda campaign and linked political action, appointed to incite as to charm Frei" so he could join the "called Frei's re-electionist manoeuvre", according to the declassified Report about activities of CIA's working group in Chile.

The political action program had "a sole goal", acording to CIA director, Richard Helms, to the national Security Council: "Incite president Frei to prevent Allende's election by the Congress, 24th October, and, if that fails, to support a military coup that would prevent Allende taking up posession". The task, according to CIA, was "re-build Frei again as a political personality and grant him a role that demands resolution and 'machismo' in a grade that, so far, he has evaded".

CIA's pressures over Frei included the offer of a big money figure for his "re-election" campaign, bribe his demochristians like-minded in order to support Frey and were opposed to Allende, organize visits and calls of foreign respected leaders. In an effort to influence the chilean president through his wife, the CIA instigated the delivery of telegrams, diraddressed to her, from women's groups in other latinamerican countries, as also newspaper articles payed by the CIA and published all over the world about the danger Chile faced with Allende's election. the previous made part of a hidden propaganda campaign that, CIA showed, generated 726 notes and editorials against a possible Allende's Pressidency.

The FUBELT project.

These operations failed. Frei refused to use his influence over the Christian Democratic Party to block Allende's ratification in the congress and Allende would have win the election.

The great CIA efforts to promote a military coup -known as Track II— were revealed by the Select Commitee of the Senate, headed by Senator Frank Church, at the middle of the seventies. This is the first time, nevertheless, that become public CIA files about "the FUBELT Project", the key name for the hidden operations whose only goal was destabilize the Popular unity government and to encourage a military riot.

For instance, a secret memorandum, titled Fubelt Project Genesis, dated on 16th September 1970, registers the first CIA meeting to analize the operations in Chile. "Presidente Nixon had decided that an Allende government in Chile was not acceptable for the United States", said Helms to Planning Board officials —CIA's hidden operations section— and the Western Hemisphire Division. "The presidente asked the Agency to prevent Allende arriving the power or remove him".

In testimony before the Congress and in his memories, Kissinger assured that the CIA's coup planning was "turned off" in 15th October, before the murder of chilean military commandant René Schneider. But a top-secret memorandum about the 15th October meeting between Kissinger, Thomas Karamessines, CIA's operations underdirector, and General Alexander Haig, confirms that the national security assesor ordered: "The Agency must continue keeping pressure over each Allende's weak point: now,after 24th October, after 5th November and in the future, until new mobilization orders are given".

A secret cable sent the next day from the CIA headquarters to its station chief in Santiago, Henry Hecksher, affirmed: "It is a firm and continous position that Allende will be removed by a coup... before 24th October. But the efforts in this sense will continue on vigorously after this date. WE'll continue applying the maximum pressure on this goal, using evry propper resource".

Destroying Chilean democracy.

During Allende's government, the CIA carried on its effort to encourage a coup d'ètat atmosphere in Chile. For example, funds were covertly channeled toward the Chilean legislative elections previous campaigns, to reinforce the anti-allendistas politicians, according to a political action deceits compendium, yet strongly censured, that was prepared by the CIA director, William Colby, two days after September 1973 copu d'ètat.

Yet more important it's the fact that the CIA presented secretely a grant of 1.5 million dollars to El Mercurio newspaper, an operation that, according to the CIA files, "performed an important to prepare the scene of the militay coup d'ètat of September 11, 1973".

Hiddens agents had also near links with unhappy Chilean military officials. To maintain soldiers nervous, the CIA "sowed" untruthful propaganda, in which they insinuateed that the Chilean left-wing was planning to take up the control of the armed forces; according to the report of the Select Committee of the Senate, the CIA even prepared lists of Allende sympathizers so that they would be apprehended in case the soldiers took the power.

"Track II was never really suspended", testified Thomas Karamessines, the official commisioned of the CIA operations in Chile, before the Select Comitee of the Senate in 1975. "What we were requested to do was to carry on our efforts. Keep us alert and make everything we could in order to contribute to a contingent fulfillment of Track II objectives and purposes".

The CIA operations constitutued the hidden branch that United States officials called a "triad" of political attempts for Chile.

The public proposal —according to a National Security memorandum, titled Politics toward Chile— was defined as a "correct but cold" diplomatic posture. The opened hostility, warned secret strategy files, prepared for Kissinger the day of Allendes's takeover, "would help Allende to fulfil his goal of unifying the Chilean people against a "foreign demon".

The third branch of the United states policy has been called the "invisible boycott" of loans and credits to Chile. During years, historians have discussed if such boycott existed or if Allende's socialistic policies resulted on the loss of those credits. But files of the National Security Council show that Nixon's government quickly moved to cancel the multilateral and bilateral foreign help to Chile, before Allende might have fulfilled a month in the Presidency.

In the Inter-American Development Bank, the National Security Council simply informed the United States representative that he had no authorization to vote in favor of loans for Chile. According to a secret report, prepared for Kissinger several weeks after Allende's takeover, "the executive director for the United States before the IDB understands that he can stay without instructions until new notice on pending loans to Chile. As it requires an affirmative United States vote to authorize the loan ... this will prevent its approval".

In the World Bank, United States officials worked covertly to achieve Chile would be disqualified for an improvement cattle credit, of 21 million dollars, and future loans. Unable to simply veto the loans, the Department of State's Inter-American Affairs Office prepared a group of questions so that a delegation of the World Bank made them to the authorities in Santiago, in an effort to show that Allende economic policies did not comply with the criteria to receive credits. "The executive director will transmit these questions to the bank personal, in a routine and discreet way", noted another National Security Council report, "so that they receive adequate attention by the group visits Chile and by other assesors within the bank, but without noting the United States government hand in this process".

As well, the president of the Export-Import Bank accepted "to fully co-operate" with the State for Inter-American Affairs undersecretary, Charles Meyer, in the suspension of new credits and financial guarantees for Chile.

Nixon's government also proceed to isolate diplomatically Allende's government worldwide. Strategic files elaborated by an intersecretarial work group presented to Kissinger at the beginning of December, 1970, informed on "conferences of the government of the United States with Latin American governments chosen... to promote the adoption of our preoccupations on Chile". A 26 pages study made a serious consideration about the possibility of compelling Chile to leave or be expelled of the Organization of American States. The analysts concluded, however, that "such tactics can result counteractive, for the lack of support and friendliness from other OAS members", in an obvious reference to Mexico.

"Destiny day".

"Chile's coup d'ètat was almost perfect", asserts a report of the United States military group in Valparaíso. The report, written by lieutenant colonel of the Marine Infantry Patrick Ryan, qualified September 11, 1973, as Chile's "destiny day" and "our D Day".

The warm receipt Washington gave to the military junta was the antithesis of its rapprochement to the Popular Unity government. A National Security Mandate, signed by Kissinger in November 9, 1970, called the United States "to increase the pressures on Allendes's government to prevent its consolidation". Toward Pinochet, the United States policy was designed to alleviate the pressure on the generals, so that they could quickly consolidate their power.

According to a CIA compendium, prepared for Kissinger two days after the coup, the Committee 40 had authorized hidden operations to "denigrate Allende and his Popular Unity coalition".

Thus, the CIA helped the junta to write the White Book of government change in Chile, to justify the coup; paid the military spokesmen trips around the world to promote the image of the new government; used their own means to throw a positive light on the junta, and financed the new advisors of the military men to prepare a new economic plan.

Publicly, Nixon's White House supported the junta opening the key of the economic help to alleviate the foods shortage in Chile. Three weeks after the coup, Nixon's government authorized 24 million dollars in credits to buy wheat (the same that he had been denied to the government of the Popular Unity) and was planning to transfer two destroyers to the Chilean navy.

The secret report also asserted that Pinochet had rejected "any date to return cicvlians to the power".

Failed in Human Rights.

"Internationally, the repressive image of the junta continues flogging it", says a report for Kissinger, dated November 16, 1973. Informations about massive detentions —the United States intelligence estimated the number in 13,500—, summary executions, torture and disappearances, appeared in the international press almost immediately after the coup.

Declassified cables of the United States embassy in Chile show that Nixon's government was worried mainly about the execution of the United states citizens Charles Horman and Frank Terruggi, in the National Stadium. Their deaths constituted a "difficult situation to public relationships", as said a cable dated October 21, 1973. The Kubisch report to Kissinger realized about "hard" criticals in the informative media and investigations of the United States Congress on those cases. In February, 1974, the same undersecretary Kubisch spoke about those executions with Chilean chancellor Manuel Huerta, according to a declassified memorandum, "in the context of the need of being careful relatively small topics of our relationship do not make more difficult our cooperation".

The files show, nevertheless, that the continuous violations to the human rights were converted in the dominant topic of the United States - Chile relationships.

For 1975, in the Congress as well as in the same United States executive branch, human rights advocates were criticizing with hardness the continuous support that gave Gerald Ford's government to the dictatorship.

For example, a confidential memorandum of the National Security Council, dated July 1º, 1975, revealed the existence of a riot in the United States embassy. According to a memorandum prepared for the national safety advisor Brent Scowcroft, "several officials of the embassy in Santiago have written a protest text", the one which was "strongly supported by the office of Political Planning Planeación of ALTAR (the area of Department of state's Inter-American Affairs) and is requested to cut all the economic and military help to Chile until human rights situation may have improved".

A declassified cable, informs about a copnversation between Chilean Economic Coordination Minister, Raúl Sáez, and Ambassador Popper, in April 6th, 1975, reveals how those "protests" were displayed. Popper said that "the most difficult problem we had in our embassy had to do with tortures. The root of the problem, it seemed to me, was DINA's absolute power to make what it wanted in the detention and suspects managing".

Sáez answered that "I had objected before Pinochet the DINA acts, without much success up until now".

Reports of the United States intelligence seem to strengthen the affirmations of the now incarcerated chief of the DINA, Manuel Contreras, in the sense of the fact that General Pinochet had an extraordinary control over the secret policeman operations. A report of the Intelligence Agency of the Defense, dated April 15, 1975, titled The DINA expands its operations and facilities, refered clearly about his relationships: "Since the promulgation of the Decree of Law 521, that officially established the DINA as the national intelligence arm of the government, Colonel Contreras has informed exclusively president Pinochet and receives orders only from he".

Files taken from the server http://www.seas.gwu.edu/archive belong to the National Security Archive.


Most recent revision: March 17, 2002.