|Nothing But Human Rights
by Mickey Z.
As journalist William Blum notes, therešs one thing the United
States hates more than a Marxist in power, and thatšs a
democratically elected Marxist in power. A prime example was
Salvador Allende of Chile. September 4 marks 31 years since his
election. September 11 marks 28 years since his death in a
"I donšt see why we need to stand by and watch a country go
communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people."
Salvador Allende, a physician by trade, first gained worldwide
attention when he came within three percent of winning Chilešs 1958
presidential election. Six years later, the United States decided
to no longer leave such elections to chance. It was time to
introduce the Chilean people to democracy, American-style.
The U.S. government, mostly through the covert efforts of the
Central Intelligence Agency, spent more money per capita to support
Allendešs opponent, Eduardo Frei, than Lyndon Johnson and Barry
Goldwater combined to spend that same year in the American
With an estimated $20 million of U.S. taxpayer money to work with,
the CIA embarked on a program of anti-communist propaganda and
disinformation designed to scare Chilean citizens
religious activity would be possible," they were told. Their
children, hammer and sickle stamped on their foreheads, would be
shipped to the USSR to be used as slaves, the radio and newspapers
The scare tactics worked. While Allende won the male vote by a
small margin, 469,000 more Chilean women chose Frei. Cleverly
manipulated to fear the "blood and pain" of "godless, atheist
communism," the mothers of Chile voted against the man who promised
to "redistribute income and reshape the . . . economy" through the
nationalization of some major industries, like copper mining, and
the expansion of agrarian reform. A far cry from Leninism,
Allendešs policy of "eurocommunism," i.e. communists linking with
social democratic parties into a united front, was for the most
part, as unacceptable to the Kremlin as it was to the White House.
When the 1970 Chilean presidential election rolled around, Allende
was still a major player. However, he had a new and powerful enemy:
Dr. Henry Kissinger.
Despite another wave of U.S.-funded propaganda, Salvador Allende
was elected president of South Americašs longest functioning
democracy on Sept. 4, 1970 with Henry Kissinger (HK) and his
cohorts had to act. The 40 Committee was formed with HK as chair.
The goal was not only to save Chile from its irresponsible populace
but to yet again stave off the red tide.
"Chile is a fairly big place, with a lot of natural resources,"
says Noam Chomsky, "but the United States wasnšt going to collapse
if Chile became independent. Why were we so concerned about it?
According to Kissinger, Chile was a Ovirusš that would Oinfectš the
region with effects all the way to Italy."
At a Sept. 15 meeting called to halt the spread of infection,
Kissinger and President Nixon told CIA Director Richard Helms it
would be necessary to "make the [Chilean] economy scream." While
allocating at least $10 million to assist in sabotaging Allendešs
presidency, outright assassination was also considered a serious
and welcome option.
The respect held by the Chilean military for the democratic process
led Kissinger to pick as his first assassination target not Allende
himself, but General René Schneider, head of the Chilean Armed
Forces. Schneider, it seems, had long believed that politics and
the military should remain discrete. Despite warnings from Helms
that a coup might not be possible in such a stable democracy, HK
urged the plan to proceed.
"Kissinger had direct personal knowledge of the CIAšs plan to
kidnap and murder Schneider," declares journalist Christopher
Hitchens. "The is one of the relatively few times when Mr.
Kissinger involved himself in the assassination of a single named
individual rather than the slaughter of anonymous thousands."
When the killing of Schneider only served to solidify Allendešs
support, a CIA-sponsored media blitz similar to that of 1964
commenced. Citizens were faced with daily "reports" of Marxist
atrocities and Soviet bases supposedly being built in Chile. U.S.
threats to sever economic and military aid were also used to help
cultivate a "coup climate" among those in the military. These two
approaches represented the hard and soft lines outlined by Nixon
How soft was soft? Edward Korry, U.S. ambassador to Chile at the
time, articulated the soft sell by declaring that the U.S. task was
" to do all within our power to condemn Chile and the Chileans to
utmost deprivation and poverty." Korry warned, "not a nut or bolt
[will] be allowed to reach Chile under Allende."
On the hard side, Dr. Henry began securing support for a possible
"In 1970," writes historian Howard Zinn, "an ITT director, John
McCone, who had also been head of the CIA, told Kissinger and Helms
that ITT was willing to give $1 million to help the U.S. government
in its plans to overthrow the Allende government."
"The stage was set for a clash of two experiments," says Blum.
Allendešs socialism was pitted against what was later called a
"prototype or laboratory experiment to test the techniques of heavy
financial investment in an effort to discredit and bring down a
government." This clash would reach its climax on Sept. 11, 1973.
The socialist experiment ended in violence on that day and Allende
himself was said to have committed suicide . . . with a machine
gun. Of course, the U.S. claimed no complicity in or even knowledge
of the coup at the time. However, when the State Department
declassified 5000 documents in 1999, a different story was told.
For example, a CIA document from the day before the coup stated
bluntly, "The coup attempt will begin September 11." Ten days
later, the Agency announced, "severe repression is planned." With
thousands of opponents of the new regime gathered in soccer
stadiums, a Sept. 28 State Department document detailed a request
from Chilešs new defense minister for Washington to send an expert
advisor on detention centers.
Allende was dead. In his place, the people of Chile now faced
brutal repression and human rights violations, book burnings, dogs
trained to sexually molest females, a powerful secret police, and
more than 3000 executions. Tens of thousands more were tortured
and/or disappeared. Shortly after the coup, U.S. economic and
military aid once again began to flow into Chile.
The man in charge of all this was General Augusto Pinochet, a man
Dr. Kissinger could really get behind. "In the United States, as
you know, we are sympathetic to what you are trying to do," HK told
the Chilean dictator in 1975. "We wish your government well.
"My evaluation" he continued to Pinochet, "is that you are the
victim of all the left-wing groups around the world and that your
greatest sin was that you overthrew a government that was going
communist." Later that same year, when facing a roomful of Chilean
diplomats concerned about the effect Pinochetšs human rights
violations might have on world opinion, Henry was in top form:
Well, I read the briefing paper for this meeting and it was nothing
but human rights. The State Department is made up of people who
have a vocation for the ministry. Because there were not enough
churches for them, they went into the Department of State.
Was HK really that concerned with the minor nationalization of
industry proposed by Salvador Allende or were other forces at work
Herešs how the CIA saw it three days after Allende won the
election: "The U.S. has no vital national interests within Chile.
The world military balance of power would not be significantly
altered by an Allende government. [But] an Allende victory would
represent a definite psychological advantage for the Marxist idea."
"Even Kissinger, mad as he is, didnšt believe that Chilean armies
were going to descend on Rome," explains Chomsky. "It wasnšt going
to be that kind of an influence. He was worried that successful
economic development, where the economy produces benefits for the
basic story of U.S. foreign policy for decades." Accordingly, in
1974, when the new U.S. ambassador to Chile, David Popper,
complained about Chilešs human rights violations, Dr. Kissinger
promptly sent these orders:
"Tell Popper to cut out the political science lectures."
Mickey Z. (Michael Zezima) is the author of Saving Private Power:
The Hidden History of "The Good War" (Soft Skull Press) and a
contributor to You Are Being Lied To (Disinformation Books). He
lives in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.