The Acts of the Democracies




Coup in Chile (Allende and Pinochet)

Augusto Pinochet takes power in a USA backed military coup against the democratically elected government of Chile. President Salvador Allende is killed when the palace in Santiago is bombed. The USA had attempted to sabotage Allende's election campaigns in 1964 (successfully) and 1970 (unsuccessfully).

This is the end of 150 years of democracy in the country. According to Pinochet: "Democracy is the breeding ground of communism".

During the coup, hundreds are herded into a football stadium where many are executed by the military. At least 5,000 people are killed, tens of thousands are tortured, over 9,000 are exiled and around 250,000 are interred in concentration camps. Specially trained dogs are used to sexually molest female prisoners. Women are stopped in the street and have their trousers slit by soldiers: "In Chile women wear dresses". Many books are burned.

The political singer, Victor Jara, is tortured and shot, his body dumped in the street. Even nationals of other countries are victims including citizens of the UK, Spain and even the USA (Charles Horman and Frank Terruggi). These events are shown in the USA made film, Missing.

The USA and most Western governments recognise, praise and trade with the new regime that rules with terror for the next 17 years. The coup is the culmination of three years of USA planning. In 1970, the USA Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had commented on the results of the elections in Chile that had brought Allende to power:

"I don't see why we have to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people."

During this period, the director of the CIA, Richard Helms, informed his staff that:

"President Nixon [has] decided that an Allende regime in Chile was not acceptable to the United States. The President asked the Agency to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him."

The CIA had planted news articles around the world about "Chile's peril". The articles were part of a covert propaganda campaign which, the CIA boasted, resulted in at least 726 stories, broadcasts and editorials against an Allende presidency. The USA began planning to remove Allende in secret. A CIA memo states:

"Dr. Kissinger discussed his desire that the word of our encouragement to the Chilean military in recent weeks be kept as secret as possible."

A cable from CIA headquarters to Henry Hecksher, the CIA station chief in Santiago, revealed:

"It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup ... prior to October 24, but efforts in this regard will continue vigorously beyond this date. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource.... It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the [USA government] and American hand be well hidden. Please review all your present and possibly new activities to include propaganda, black operations, surfacing of intelligence or disinformation, personal contacts, or anything else your imagination can conjure which will permit you to continue to press forward toward our [deleted] objective."

Economic pressure was put onto the new regime. At the World Bank, USA officials worked behind the scenes to ensure that Chile would be disqualified for a pending $ 21,000,000 livestock improvement credit as well as future loans.

The mix of economic sabotage, political propaganda and army prodding works. Allende finds himself confronted by growing disorder and soaring inflation. At every turn, his policies encounter well-funded adversaries. On 11 September 1973, amid the mounting chaos, Chile's military strike. In a classic coup d'etat, the army seizes control of strategic sites throughout the country and corners Allende in his presidential offices. He dies in a fire-fight, apparently shooting himself in the head to avoid capture.

A report written by the USA's Marine Lt. Col. Patrick Ryan in Valparaiso asserts that "Chile's coup de etat was close to perfect". A few years later, Kissinger would assure Pinochet that "In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here... We wish your government well".

Three weeks after the coup, the USA's President Nixon authorises $ 24,000,000 in commodity credits to buy wheat. A second $ 24,000,000 in commodity credits to Chile for feed corn is authorised. Two destroyers are transferred to the Chilean navy.

Armando Fernandez Larios (responsible for killing 72 political prisoners) later moves to the USA where his extradition to a democratic Chile is refused.

In 2005, a film biography of Allende would have senior CIA operatives saying he was "an exceptionally civilised man". His warning about multinational companies at the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 has been proved correct. He warned of "a coming conflict between multinationals and democratic governments. They operate without assuming their responsibilities. They share no instinct for the common interest. The political system of the world is weakening as a result."

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