2.4 NOW WHAT?
The assassination of the Army's commander in chief proved traumatic
for the great majority of the senior officers in the armed forces.
The middle- and upper-level officers who were not aware of the real
plot analyzed the incident with a peasant simplicity: the general was
assassinated because of the politicians' ineptness.
The image of Roberto Viaux, the general in retirement, who until
October had stood for "the Army's rebirth", was for many officers
popped like a soap bubble. But, once again, the reason given was:
Viaux had been corrupted by his contact with politicians.
Within the officers' corps of the Army, Air Force, and Navy, the
beginning of Allende's presidency coincided with an upsurge of
violent anticivilian sentiment. This manifested itself at some
improvised gatherings at the Santiago Officer's Club (curiously
enough, situated next to the Brazilian Embassy) in the question:
"And what happens if we take these clowns' bread and butter away,
and keep it all ourselves?" As the days went on, the question
acquired the reflection and outline of a counterquestion: "Are we
prepared to take charge of the whole works?"
Suddenly, to an outside observer, the Pentagon's apparently
innocuous 1964 undertaking to introduce courses in economics,
politics, industrial development, agrarian reform, and so on in
training the Chilean armed forces was amply justified. A colonial
country's armed forces had been prepared to cope with a possible
crisis in colonization brought about by the failure of the civilian
organizations dependent on the oligopolies, or by excessive
pressure from the labourers, peasants, and office workers to
disrupt the system.This very set of circumstances was gestating in
At that time, primarily in the Army, the "eggheads" began to emerge
as important figures. They were a group of generals, colonels,
lieutenant colonels, and majors at the Academy of War who had been
paying close attention to "national reality" and its "problems" since
1970. These officers were advised by the Pentagon through the U.S.
military mission in Santiago, which directed their study of higher
economics, macrosociology, microsociology, and related subjects.
The "eggheads" had a brilliant spokesman in Major Claudio Lopez Silva, who
had a degree in sociology; in 1970 he published
a paper entitled "Las Fuerzas Armadas en el Tercer
Mundo" (The Armed Forces in the Third World), in
MEMORIAL DEL EJERCITO DE CHILE (Chilean Army Briefs) No. 356, on
the recommendation of the journal's director, General Pablo
Schaffhauser, who was to become chief of the Army General Staff the
following year. Lopez Silva's Thesis is summarized in these ideas:
1.- In the Third World the military has a strong tendency to
participate in politics.
2.- The Third World's armed forces are the only social organization
that is cohesive, capable, and efficient enough to cope with
the socio-economic problems of underdeveloped countries (this
is, of course, the same thesis put forth by Nelson Rockefeller
in his 1969 Report on the Americas)
3.- "Communism" is a real enemy, but on "innumerable occasions" the
small groups of "oligarchs" that dominate a society have used
the "specter of Communism" to pressure the military to
intervene in politics, overthrow governments, and thus enable
the oligarchs to recover their position as exploiters.
4.- The chief cause of political unrest in Latin America is
poverty. Poverty is produced by an unjust distribution of
wealth. If wealth comes to be equitably distributed, "there
will be no subversion in Latin America".
5.- The United States has an obligation to prevent subversion in
Latin America by aiding us with development programs.
6.- The correct way to confront the threat of Communism is by
achieving agrarian, banking, and industrial reforms that are
just to both "the labourer and the industrialist".
7.- Only the armed forces have shown themselves capable of effecting
change in Third World societies without creating "social chaos".
8.- In Latin America, the armed forces are the only cohesive
organization that can keep these countries within "the Western
bloc of nations".
9.- The problem of economic development in each country has ceased
to be one belonging solely to the politicians or certain
civilian groups. It is basically a problem of "national
sovereignty", which fundamentally relates to the country's
armed forces. A weak country has a weak military apparatus. An
economically strong country has strong armed forces. Thus, when
politicians prove incompetent to develop a country's economy,
the military is obligated to intervene to prevent the national
sovereignty from being endangered.
10.- "The Constitution and the laws" are not "unalterable social
entities" but rather legislative guidelines that can change,
adapt, or "destroy themselves", according to what is convenient
for a nation's security and its internal and external
Based on these "ten commandments," the "eggheads" came out at the end
of 1970 with the thesis that the economic, political, and social
structure of Chile was in a profound state of crisis, from which it
could save itself as "a Western nation" only if the armed forces as a
"political and armed" organization were to take charge of leading the
entire society. General Herman Brady Roche and Colonels Washington
Carrasco and Mario Sepulveda Squella, all leading figures in the SIM
(Army intelligence) with training in U.S. military intelligence
schools, were a species of "intellectual leaders" coming out of the
"egghead" movement who presented a novel explanation of the Allende
phenomenon to the rest of the generals and senior officers. This was
discussed minutely throughout 1971 in the three branches of the
Chilean armed forces.
This interpretation was: "Allende is not a threat to the kind of
society which we, the armed forces, desire. On the contrary, Allende
provides a certain security at this critical moment." And they argued
thus: the new President of the Republic knows that he will remain in
office only if he respects the Constitution. On the other hand, his,
political enemies, in the National party and the "Freista" wing of the
Christian Democrats, would do everything possible to destroy the
Constitution, since it had shown itself incapable of preventing the
victory of a leftist coalition like Allende's. Now, then, what do we,
the armed forces, need most right now? We need only one thing: TIME.
Time to prepare, to train our officers for the moment we take over the
whole society's machinery. This time is being given to us by President
Allende, who will be careful not to step outside the bounds of the
Constitution or to alienate us. He is going to let us take part in
whatever aspect of government administration we want, and he will try
to disarm the masses' attempt to organize, overtake the forces of
order, and resort to "popular insurrection." He will thereby help to
ripen conditions for the opportune moment, when the armed forces will
enter the scene and establish "a new social order, without politicians,
without class hatred," and "keep both the bosses and the workers on
The "eggheads" further told their incredulous colleagues that "we must
get closer to Allende, fraternize with his politicians, attend his
meetings." And they added: we have to show him that we are
"Allendistas," and, desperate as he is owing to his lack of
maneuverability in his plans for nationalization and expropriation,
he will draw these military "Allendistas" into the administrative
machinery. The military will be their real base of support against
the assault of the LATIFUNDISTAS and "recalcitrant" oligarchs as well
as against the assault of the masses who will keep trying to push them
into a situation resembling that of the Bolsheviks in 1917. All this
will leave us in a perfect position to intervene successfully when it
becomes necessary. However, the essential thing is to GAIN TIME, and
only Allende can give us this.
The "eggheads" won over most of the senior officers, thereby averting
the threat of a military insurrection, when they clearly stated that
"our fundamental enemy is Communism," "our basic task is to prevent
Communism from taking over Chile on the crest of a popular
insurrection." With Allende in the presidency, "Communism is still
very far off." Yet the danger existed that afterward, much later, in
the development of events, not even Allende would be able to avert
the Communist threat. "At that time, we will have to intervene, not
During 1971-1973, Generals Herman Brady Roche, Orlando Urbina Herrera,
Guillermo Pickering, Pedro Palacios Cameron, Rolando Gonzalez Martins,
and Cesar Raul Benavides and Colonels (afterward generals) Washington
Carrasco, Mario Sepulveda Squella, and Sergio Arellano Stark were
considered to be "loyal men" by Salvador Allende and his closest
collaborators -in the case of Herman Brady, even "Marxist".
(When Chancellor Clodomiro Almeyda, of the Socialist party, travelled
to Havana on an official visit in July 1971, his small entourage
included Colonel Washington Carrasco, who gained the sympathies of the
chancellor and his political advisers as a "progressivist" who showed
"promise" as a revolutionary. On September 11, 1973, Carrasco, by then
a general, was chief of the Third Division stationed in the industrial
city Concepcion. In that area on the day of the coup, in a mere three
hours, from 5 to 8 A.M., 250 industrial and agricultural union
directors were liquidated.)
Through Senator Alberto Jerez of MAPU (Movimiento de Accion Popular
Unitaria, Movement for United Popular Action) and later of the
Christian Left (Izquierda Cristiana), a member of the Senate Defense
Committee, and a sort of "coordinator" between Allende and the
generals, the "egghead" officers managed to persuade Allende of the
validity of the "economic frontiers" theory, which may be summarized
as follows: The armed forces are the guarantors not merely of a
country's physical boundaries but also of its "economic frontiers,"
that is, economic development, and for that very reason they must
"uphold the executive power" with all of their "technical,
organizational, and disciplinary capability" by acting in positions
of the highest responsibility in the structure of the economy.
Already by November 4, 1971, in the National Stadium speech marking
the first anniversary of his administration, President Allende was
paying homage to the "loyalty and discipline of the armed forces and
military police." At that time he unveiled their theory: "I underline
the way they [the armed forces] have joined the process of defending
our economic frontiers and their presence in steel, iron, copper, and
the Nuclear Energy Commission. This establishes Chile as a nation to
be envied by many countries of the world."
By this time, senior officers on active duty had been placed by
Allende in 265 important jobs in the national economic structure,
including the Production Development Corporation (CORFO -Corporacion
de Fomento de la Produccion) and the Office of National Planning
(Oficina de Planificacion Nacional), the prime movers of economic
development in Chile. Officers on active duty in the Air Force, Navy
and Army were members of the directorates of the nationalized copper
mines at Chuquicamata, El Salvador, and El Teniente.
But the "eggheads" did not restrict themselves to advancing their
strategy of "preparing themselves to govern at the opportune moment."
They also added an "intelligence" component to their preparations: in
key organizations of the country's economic administration, they
secretly infiltrated dozens of Army, Air Force, and Navy intelligence
officers posing as "civilians". The November 2, 1973, issue of the
reactionary magazine QUE PASA included an interview with the new vice-
president of CORFO, Brigadier General Sergio Nuno Bawden (in 1971
appointed by Allende to manage the one-time Dupont explosives factory,
a subsidiary of CORFO). General Nuno Bawden confided: "The whole of
this complex field opportunely attracted the attention of SIM, and the
Production Development Corporation received major attention. This
resulted in some curious situations: the ex-secretary general of the
corporation, when he gave himself up at the Defense Ministry after
September 11, discovered that an office worker he had fired two years
earlier was an Army official. Many office workers were surprised to
see, after the Armed Forces Declaration, their ex-colleagues putting
on uniforms." 23
This military infiltration into the civilian sector took place not
only in the economic structure of the state but also in the political
realm. Officers were placed in each of the political parties
comprising the Unidad Popular, in the Revolutionary Left Movement
(Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria), in the leftist journalists'
organizations, among the reporters for the leftist newspaper and radio
stations, and among the labourers', peasants', and office workers'
Just as the "egghead" analysts had predicted in late 1970, the Unidad
Popular government kept recruiting senior officers into the
administration apparatus in what appeared to be a desperate race to
keep the armed forces "neutralized".
By May 1973, when the military conspiracy was public knowledge,
President Allende was still repeating the old maxims of 1971. On
May 21, 1973, in his annual message to the Parliament, he read the
"In a modern society as we conceive it, the armed forces ought to be
completely integrated. I want to express the country's satisfaction
at the armed forces' performance of their patriotic tasks, both theirs
and that of the military and investigatory police.
"In addition to playing their customary role, the armed forced joined
representatives of the popular parties and the workers' Central Unica
to form the Cabinet that ended the subversive work stoppage in October.
"It has been the constant preoccupation of this administration to press
forward and fulfil the three branches of the armed forces' plans for
development, the better to guarantee the strict accomplishment of the
specific tasks of national defense. To this end, during 1972, laws
were passed to raise the Army's and Air Force's authorized manpower
ceiling, and the Congress is currently considering a similar proposal
for the Navy. To this should be added the economic support for the
improvement and expansion of their infrastructures, as well as the
renovation of military and logistic materiel.
"This policy will be pursued to back up the development of the
economy, because national security and economic development demand
a harmonious union whose imbalance can only have negative consequences
for the nation. For this reason the government HAS PLACED SPECIAL
EMPHASIS on the armed forces' participation in socioeconomic programs
...The government will continue to promote this participation, which
allows Chile to rely on human resources of HIGH MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL
At the very moment Allende was making this statement, the Navy
Infantry's high command in Valparaiso was training two civilian
groups (Fatherland and Liberty, and the ex-Cadet Commandos) to
perform acts of terrorism "to support" a "general stoppage of
industrial activities" which was scheduled to be unchained "within
the next sixty days." Also, in the Army's Academy of War in Santiago,
Generals Sergio Arellano Stark, Javier Palacios Ruhman, Cesar Raul
Benavides, Ernesto Baeza Michelsen, and Herman Brady Roche were
discussing "a tentative general plan" to invade Santiago, break down
the industrial cordons, paralyse the mobility of the Unidad Popular's
union organizations, and attack and overcome the Government Palace.
And in the Navy's General Staff, the chief of the First Naval
District (Valparaiso), Vice-Admiral Jose Toribio Merino, was setting
up his famous "three-thirds plan" to "execute some 3,000 responsible
activists, imprison another 3,000 and exile 3,000 managers of all
political persuasions" to "pacify the country" and reestablish order
by forming a government of "the armed forces".
] QUE PASA, Nov. 2, 1973, p. 7.