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from the CIA as well as a like amount from AID to guide his organizations' resources in
support of the
Christian Democrats and Eduardo Frei, with whom Vekemans had close
relations.16 The Jesuit's programs served the classic function of channeling revolutionary
zeal along safe reformist paths. Church people working for the CIA in the Third World
have typically been involved in gathering information about the activities and attitudes of
individual peasants and workers, spotting the troublemakers, recruiting likely agents,
preaching the gospel of anti-communism, acting as funding conduits, and serving as a
religious "cover" for various Agency operations. An extreme anti-communist, Vekemans
was a front-line soldier in the struggle of the Christian Democrats and the Catholic Church
against the "liberation theology" then gaining momentum amongst the mote liberal clergy
in Latin America and which would lead to the historic dialogue between Christianity and

The operation worked. It worked beyond expectations. Frei received 56 percent of
the vote to Allende's 39 percent. The CIA regarded "the anti-communist scare campaign
as the most effective activity undertaken", noted the Senate committee.18 This was the
tactic directed toward Chilean women in particular. As things turned out, Allende won the
men's vote by 67,000 over Frei (in Chile men and women vote separately), but amongst
the women Frei came out ahead by 469,000 ... testimony, once again, to the remarkable
ease with which the minds of the masses of people can be manipulated, in any and all
What was there about Salvador Allende that warranted all this feverish activity?
What threat did he represent, this man against whom the great technical and economic
resources of the world's most powerful nation were brought to bear? Allende was a man
whose political program, as described by the Senate committee report, was to "redistribute
income (two percent of the population received 46 percent of the income] and reshape the
Chilean economy, beginning with the nationalization of major industries, especially the
copper companies; greatly expanded agrarian reform; and expanded relations with
socialist and communist countries."19
A man committed to such a program could be expected by American policy
makers to lead his country along a path independent of the priorities of US foreign policy
and the multinationals. (As his later term as president confirmed, he was independent of
any other country as well.)

The CIA is an ongoing organization. Its covert activities are ongoing, each day, in
each country. Between the 1964 and 1970 presidential elections many of the programs
designed to foster an anti-leftist mentality indifferent sections of the population
continued; much of the propaganda and electioneering mechanisms remained in place to
support candidates of the 1965 and 1969 congressional elections; in the latter election,
financial support was given to a splinter socialist party in order to attract votes away
from Allende's Socialist Party; this reportedly deprived the party of a minimum of seven
congressional seats.20
The Senate committee described some of the other individual covert projects
undertaken by the CIA during this period:
• Wresting control of Chilean university student organizations from the communists;
• Supporting a women's group active in Chilean political and intellectual life;
• Combatting the communist-dominated Central Unica de Trabajadores Cbilenos (CUTCh)
and supporting democratic [i.e., anti-communist] labor groups; and,

• Exploiting a civic action front group to combat communist influence within cultural and
intellectual circles.21

In 1968, at the same time the CIA was occupied in subverting unions
dominated by the Chilean Communist Party, a US Senate committee was
concluding that the Latin American labor movement had largely abandoned
its revolutionary outlook: "Even the Communist-dominated unions,
especially those which follow the Moscow line, now generally accept the
peaceful road as a viable alternative."22

"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist
because of the irresponsibility of its own people."23
Thus spoke Henry Kissinger, principal adviser to the President of the United States
on matters of national security. The date was 27 June 1970, a meeting of the National
Security Council's 40 Committee, and the people Kissinger suspected of imminent
irresponsibility were the Chileans whom he feared might finally elect Salvador Allende as
their president.
The United States did not stand by idly. At this meeting approval was given to
a $300,000 increase in the anti-Allende "spoiling" operation which was already
underway. The CIA trained its disinformation heavy artillery on the Chilean electorate,
firing shells marked: "An Allende victory means violence and Stalinist repression."24
Black propaganda was employed to undermine Allende's coalition and support by sowing
dissent between the Communist Party and the Socialist Party, the main members of the
coalition, and between the Communist Party and the CUTCh.25
Nonetheless, on 4 September Allende won a plurality of the votes. On 24 October,
the Chilean Congress would meet to choose between him and the runnerup, Jorge
Alessandri of the conservative National Party. By tradition, Allende was certain to become
The United States had seven weeks to prevent him from taking office. On
15 September, President Nixon met with Kissinger, CIA Director Richard Helms, and
Attorney General John Mitchell. Helms' handwritten notes of the meeting have become
famous: "One in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile! ... not concerned with risks
involved ...$10,000,000 available, more if necessary ... make the economy scream ..."26
Funds were authorized by the 40 Committee to bribe Chilean congressmen to vote
for Alessandri,27 but this was soon abandoned as infeasible, and under intense pressure
from Richard Nixon, American efforts were concentrated on inducing the Chilean
military to stage a coup and then cancel the congressional vote altogether.28 At the same
time, Nixon and Kissinger made it clear to the CIA that an assassination of Allende would
not be unwelcome. One White House options-paper discussed various ways this could be
carried out.29
A fresh propaganda campaign was initiated in Chile to impress upon the
military, amongst others, the catastrophe which would befall the nation with Allende as
president. In addition to the standard communist horror stories, it was made known that
there would be a cutoff of American and other foreign assistance; this was
accompanied by predictions/rumors of the nationalization of everything down to small
shops, and of economic collapse. The campaign actually affected the Chilean economy
adversely and a major financial panic ensued.30
In private, Chilean military officers were warned that American military aid
would come to a halt if Allende were seated.31

During this interim period, according to the CIA, over 700 articles, broadcasts,
editorials and similar items were generated in the Latin American and European media as a
direct result of Agency activity. This is apart from the "real" media stories inspired by the
planted ones. Moreover, journalists in the pay of the CIA arrived in Chile from at least ten
different countries to enhance their material with on-the-spot credibility.32
The following portion of a CIA cable of 25 September 1970 offers some
indication of the scope of such media operations:
Sao Paulo, Tegucigalpa, Buenos Aires, Lima, Montevideo, Bogota, Mexico City report
continued replay of Chile theme materials. Items also carried in New York Times and
Washington Post. Propaganda activities continue to generate good coverage of Chile
developments along our theme guidance.33

The CIA also gave "inside" briefings to American journalists about the situation
in Chile. One such briefing provided to Time enlightened the magazine as to Allende's
intention to support violence and destroy Chile's free press. This, observed the Senate
report, "resulted in a change in the basic thrust" of the Time story.34
When Allende criticized the leading conservative newspaper El Mercurio (heavily
funded by the CIA), the Agency "orchestrated cables of support and protest from foreign
newspapers, a protest statement from an international press association, and world press
coverage of the association's protest."35
A cable sent from CIA headquarters to Santiago on 19 October expressed concern
that the coup still had
no pretext or justification that it can offer to make it acceptable in Chile or Latin America. It
therefore would seem necessary to create one to bolster what will probably be [the military's]
claim to a coup to save Chile from communism.

One of headquarters' suggestions was the fabrication of:
Firm intelligence] that Cubans planned to reorganize all intelligence services along Soviet/Cuban
mold thus creating structure for police state ... With appropriate military contact can determine
how to "discover" intelligence] report which could even be planted during raids planned by
Carabineros [the police].

Meanwhile, the Agency was in active consultation with several Chilean military
officers who were receptive to the suggestion of a coup. (The difficulty in finding such
officers was described by the CIA as a problem in overcoming "the apolitical, constitutional-
oriented inertia of the Chilean military".)37 They were assured that the United States would
give them full support short of direct military involvement. The immediate obstacle faced by
the officers was the determined opposition of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Rene
Schneider, who insisted that the constitutional process be followed. He would have to be
In the early morn of 22 October the CIA passed "sterilized" machine guns and
ammunition to some of the conspirators. (Earlier they had passed tear gas.) That same
day, Schneider was mortally wounded in an attempted kidnap (or "kidnap") on his
way to work. The CIA station in Santiago cabled its headquarters that the general had
been shot with the same kind of weapons it had delivered to the military plotters,
although the Agency later claimed to the Senate that the actual assassins were not the
same ones it had passed the weapons to.38
The assassination did not avail the conspirators'' purpose. It only served to rally the
army around the flag of constitutionalism; and time was running out. Two days later,
Salvador Allende was confirmed by the Chilean Congress. On 3 November he took office as

The stage was set for a clash of two experiments. One was Allende's "socialist"
experiment aimed at lifting Chile from the mire of underdevelopment and dependency
and the poor from deprivation. The other, was, as CIA Director William Colby later put
it, a "prototype or laboratory experiment to test the techniques of heavy financial
investment in an effort to discredit and bring down a government."39
Although there were few individual features of this experiment which were
unique for the CIA, in sum total it was perhaps the most multifarious intervention ever
undertaken by the United States. In the process it brought a new word into the language:

"Not a nut or bolt [will] be allowed to reach Chile under Allende", warned then-
American Ambassador Edward Korry before the confirmation.40 The Chilean economy, so
extraordinarily dependent upon the United States, was the country's soft underbelly, easy
to pound. Over the next three years, new US government assistance programs for Chile
plummeted almost to the vanishing point; similarly with loans from the US Export-Import
Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, in which the United States held what
amounted to a veto; and the World Bank made no new loans at all to Chile during 1971-
73. US government financial assistance or guarantees to American private investment in
Chile were cut back sharply and American businesses were given the word to tighten
the economic noose.41
What this boycott translated into were things like the many buses and taxis out of
commission in Chile due to a lack of replacement parts; and similar difficulties in the
copper, steel, electricity and petroleum industries. American suppliers refused to sell
needed parts despite Chile's offer to pay cash in advance.42
Multinational ITT, which didn't need to be told what to do, stated in a 1970
memorandum: "A more realistic hope among those who want to block Allende is that a
swiftly-deteriorating economy will touch off a wave of violence leading to a military
In the midst of the neat disappearance of economic aid, and contrary to its
warning, the United States increased its military assistance to Chile during 1972 and 1973
as well as training Chilean military personnel in the United States and Panama.44 The
Allende government, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, was reluctant to
refuse this "assistance" for fear of antagonizing its military leaders.
Perhaps nothing produced more discontent in the population than the shortages,
the little daily annoyances when one couldn't get a favorite food, or flour or cooking oil,
or toilet paper, bed sheets or soap, or the one part needed to make the TV set or the car
run; or, worst of all, when a nicotine addict couldn't get a cigarette. Some of the scarcity
resulted from Chile being a society- in transition: various changeovers to state
ownership, experiments in workers' control, etc. But this was minor compared to the
effect of the aid squeeze and the practices of the omnipresent American corporations.
Equally telling were the extended strikes in Chile, which relied heavily on CIA financial
support for their prolongation.45
In October 1972, for example, an association of private truck owners instituted a
work-stoppage aimed at disrupting the flow of food and other important commodities,
including in their embargo even newspapers which supported the government (subtlety
was not the order of the day in this ultra-polarized country). On the heels of this came
store closures, countless petit-bourgeois doing their bit to turn the screws of public
inconvenience” and when they were open, many held back on certain goods, like
cigarettes, to sell them on the black market to those who could afford the higher prices.
Then most private bus companies stopped tunning; on top of this, various professional

and white-collar workers, largely unsympathetic to the government, walked out, with or
without CIA help.

Much of this campaign was aimed at wearing down the patience of the public,
convincing them that "socialism can't work In Chile". Yet there had been worse shortages
for most of the people before the Allende government”shortages of food, housing, health
care, and education, for example. At least half the population had suffered from
malnutrition. Allende, who was a medical doctor, explained his free milk program by
pointing out that "Today in Chile there are over 600,000 children mentally retarded
because they were not adequately nourished during the first eight months of their lives,
because they did not receive the necessary proteins."46
Financial aid was not the CIA's only input into the strike scene. More than 100
members of Chilean professional associations and employers' guilds were graduates of the
school run by the American Institute for Free Labor Development in Front Royal,
Virginia”"The Little Anti-Red Schoolhouse". AIFLD, the CIA's principal Latin
America labor organization, also assisted in the formation of a new professional
association in May 1971: the Confederation of Chilean Professionals. The labor
specialists of AIFLD had more than a decade's experience in the art of fomenting
economic turmoil (or keeping workers quiescent when the occasion called for it).47
CIA propaganda merchants had a field day with the disorder and the shortages,
exacerbating both by instigating panic buying. All the techniques, the whole of the media
saturation, the handy organizations created for each and every purpose, so efficiently
employed in 1964 and 1970, were facilitated by the virtually unlimited license granted
the press: headlines and stories which spread rumors about everything from
nationalizations to bad meat and undrinkable water ... "Economic Chaos! Chile on Brink
of Doom!" in the largest type one could ever expect to see in a newspaper ... raising the
specter of civil war, when not actually calling for it, literally ... alarmist stories which
anywhere else in the world would have been branded seditious ... the worst of
London's daily tabloids or the National Enquirer of the United States appear as staid as
a journal of dentistry by comparison.48
In response, on a few occasions, the government briefly closed down a newspaper
or magazine, on the left as well as on the right, for endangering security.49
The Agency's routine support of the political opposition was extended to include
the extreme rightist organization Patria y Libertad, which the CIA reportedly helped to
form, and whose members it trained in guerrilla warfare and bombing techniques at
schools in Bolivia and Los Fresnos, Texas. Patria y Libertad marched in rallies in full
riot gear, engaged repeatedly in acts of violence and provocation, and its publications
openly called for a military coup.50
The CIA was engaged in courting the military for the same end. Providing military
equipment meant the normal presence of US advisers and the opportunity for Americans to
work closely with the Chileans. Since 1969, the Agency had been establishing "intelligence
assets" in all three branches of the Chilean armed services, and included "command-level
officers, field- and company-grade officers, retired general staff officers and enlisted men."
Employing its usual blend of real and fabricated information, along with forged
documents, the CIA endeavored to keep the officers "on the alert". One approach was to
convince them that, with Allende's approval, the police investigations unit was acting in
concert with Cuban intelligence to gather information prejudicial to the army high
Newspapers in Santiago supported by the CIA, particularly El Mercurio, often
concentrated on influencing the military. They alleged communist plots to disband or



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