Nothing But Human Rights

As journalist William

Blum notes, there¹s one thing the United States hates more than a Marxist in

power, and that¹s 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 U.S.-sponsored coup.

"I don¹t see why we

need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the

irresponsibility of its own people." ‹Henry Kissinger, June 27,1970

Salvador Allende, a

physician by trade, first gained worldwide attention when he came within three

percent of winning Chile¹s 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 Allende¹s opponent, Eduardo Frei, than Lyndon

Johnson and Barry Goldwater combined to spend that same year in the American

presidential election.

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‹specifically mothers‹into believing that an Allende victory would

result in direct Russian control of their country and their lives. “No 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 direly warned.

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, Allende¹s 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

America¹s 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 wasn¹t going to collapse if Chile became independent. Why were we so

concerned about it? According to Kissinger, Chile was a Œvirus¹ that would

Œinfect¹ 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 Allende¹s

presidency, outright assassination was also considered a serious and welcome


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 CIA¹s 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 Allende¹s 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 and HK.

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 military coup.

“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. Allende¹s 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 Chile¹s

new defense minister for Washington to send an expert advisor on detention


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


“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 Pinochet¹s 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 here?

Here¹s 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, didn¹t believe that Chilean armies were going to descend on Rome,”

explains Chomsky. “It wasn¹t going to be that kind of an influence. He was

worried that successful economic development, where the economy produces

benefits for the general population‹not just profits for private

corporations‹would have a contagious effect. In those comments, Kissinger

revealed 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

Chile¹s 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





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