|World indicators on the environment||World Energy Statistics - Time Series||Economic inequality|
|The murder of Allende
And the end of the Chilean way to socialism
Harper and Row, New York, 1975,1976-Fitzhenry&Whiteside Ltd., Toronto, Canada, 1975
|5. The General Is Not an Honorable Man
"You will always have my unconditional loyalty, Mr. President."
Nineteen seventy-two had been a brilliantly successful year in the Chilean armed forces' relationship with the Executive Branch. The appropriation for military expenditures had reached a record high of $360 million, 4.6 percent of the country's Gross National Product. Percentage-wise, this put Chile ahead of other Latin-American countries (except Cuba) in military expenditures. Even in total figures, Chile's $360 million was substantial, only behind Brazil's $1,105 million and Argentina's $889 million, in the list of defense budgets from Mexico on south. 1
In addition, training at U.S. Army camps in the Panama Canal Zone had been intensified, and there was a much larger enrollment of senior and junior officers from Chile.
That was not all. A large portion of the massive defense budget had been allocated to improve Army and military police light weapons arsenals, which put the Chilean armed forces on a much better footing to "fight internal subversion" (according to Canal Zone training sessions). President Allende had even activated a project for an extensive zone on the Argentine border, in Malleco, Cautin, and Valdivia provinces, under the exclusive control of the armed forces. In addition to starting pilot projects in timbering and farming, the Army and Air Force used this land as a training ground for "combined operations of antiguerrilla warfare."
|And since 1970 President Allende had kept to an agreement with the generals not to
modify in any way the military academy's curriculum, training, and culture programs, which
had been developed for the most part by the United States Army in Washington. 2
And even more: during 1971, on the initiative of the Allende government, senior officers' salaries took a substantial jump. For example, brigadier generals went from twelve to sixteen times the minimum wage, a raise 33 percent above that received by the rest of the workers in the country. In 1972 brigadier generals' salaries went up to twenty-one times the minimum wage, an increase 31 percent above that received by the rest of salaried Chileans. Thus, during the first two years of Salvador Allende's government, the generals' salaries rose at an overall rate 75 percent above the increases received by other Chilean workers. This put the generals in a bracket with the 50,000 Chileans of the highest income in a total work force of almost 3 million.
But 1972's boons had not been limited to materiel, "antisubversive" training, and personal economic increments. The generals' "responsibilities toward society" had increased. In mid-1972, following a joint inspiration of the "reformist" and "hard-line" generals, Juan de Dios Carmona was asked to pave the way through his party, the Christian Democrats, for the passing of a gun control law which would put civilian possession of arms under military supervision. Allende thought it was a sound idea, and the Unidad Popular parliamentarians joined the Christian Democrats and National party in passing National Law No.17.998.
In essence, the text of the law allowed military authorities to order a troop search of any domicile for arms, at any time or place, under any circumstances.
In signing this law, Salvador Allende said: "This is an instrument in the hands of the people for fighting the fascist saboteurs, because the Chilean armed forces are a guarantee of constitutionality and integrity." Later events were to reveal that quite something else had been accomplished. On the instigation of Division General Manuel Torres de la Cruz, in March 1973 the generals decided to use the gun control law for six main purposes:
|1. To evaluate the actual fighting capability of the workers and peasants by
undertaking widespread and humiliating searches against them.
2. To estimate the quantity of arms in the possession of leftist political and people's organizations.
3. To train the troops of the three branches of the military in operations against the civilian population.
4. To train in coordinating joint operations of the Air Force, Navy, and Army.
5. To measure the Unidad Popular's capacity for political response.
6. To train the troops psychologically so that they will "begin to see the workers, peasants, and students as their enemies.
The generals began to apply the gun control law with a vengeance. Arms searches in factories, union locals, peasant settlements, leftist party headquarters, and even the private houses of popular leaders gradually began to increase in frequency and in discourtesy. During April, May, and June there were about three arms searches a week. In July the rate rose to one a day, and in August there were more than forty-five.
The character of these searches is revealed by the July 1973 statistics. Out of a total of twenty-four, ten were against factories, three against government offices, four against Unidad Popular party offices, three against people's education centers-and only two against armed fascist groups. 4
The generals' searches seemed curiously ineffectual in halting the illegal use of arms. In July 1973, 128 attacks using arms and explosives were made on Unidad Popular leaders and party offices as well as on bridges, electric power scaffolding, and Unidad Popular newspaper offices. The fascist organizations, including Fatherland and Liberty, had publicly taken credit for more than 70 of those attacks. But, with the exception of those two searches, the various fascist local headquarters and their leaders' houses were never inspected. Out of the 128 attacks, 122 were attributed by the Army, Air Force, and Navy authorities assigned to investigate them to "persons unknown."
|A not unusual case was the attack on the house of Rear Admiral Ismael Huerta,
Allende's Minister of Public Works, on November 12, 1972. A bomb was thrown into the
admiral's house at 1238 Uno Poniente Street in Vina del Mar. The bomb, wrapped in a copy
of the ultrareactionary daily La Tribuna, did not explode. After its discovery, it
was detonated, proving to have contained a large amount of dynamite. Three months later
the civilian police found the "saboteur" -a member of Fatherland and Liberty.
When the detectives took him to Huerta's house to reconstruct the crime, the admiral shook
the saboteur's hand, patted him on the back, and invited him to have a cup of coffee. And
in front of the detectives, he told him not to worry about the matter, that he himself
would speak to the man's lawyer and have everything taken care of.
A report on this extraordinary occurrence got back to President Allende. The bombing was clearly a self-inflicted attack to create the appearance of "social chaos" by an attempt on the life of a rear admiral in the Cabinet. But, inexplicably, Allende ordered that the incident not be publicized. (After the coup, Admiral Huerta became the military junta's Minister of Foreign Relations.) 5
But the misuse of the gun control law became even more outrageous. In early August 1973, Manuel Torres de la Cruz decided to test the six points of his theory, to prepare the terrain for the final coup. The general mobilized approximately 2,000 infantry from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and military police at the Punta Arenas garrison, his headquarters as commander of the Army's Fifth Division. He had them surround and search the Punta Arenas "industrial district." General Torres deployed tanks, recoilless cannon mounted on Jeeps, armored siege cars, helicopters, and strafings from fighter jets. The operation's novelty was that it was conducted under a 'joint command" supervised by General Torres. The Air Force's infantry and equipment were commanded by General Jose' Berdichewski; the Navy's, by Rear Admiral Horacio Justiniano; and the military police's, by General Hernan Fuentealba.
|The operation of encircling the area, subduing the workers, and proceeding with the
search began in the freezing cold dawn and continued for more than eight hours. The main
target was the Lanera Austral textile factory, where at the time there were not more than
twelve workers, seven of them women. The soldiers charged in, smashing doors and breaking
windows with their rifle butts and shoving the workers into the courtyard. For six hours,
the prisoners were forced to lie face down on the frozen ground, hands on their necks,
while the soldiers searched every corner of the factory. They jabbed the women workers
with the points of their machine guns, shouting: "Where are the guns, you shitty
whores?" One worker, whom the attack had caught off guard in the toilet, was dragged
out with his pants down around his knees and almost smashed to death against the floor by
their rifle butts, while the soldiers shouted, "This is so that you'll learn to obey,
Commie faggot!" Another worker, Alberto Gonzalez Bustamante, caught as he turned off
the hot water in a shower stall, was shot in the back and killed. The SIM chief in Punta
Arenas installed himself at the scene of these incidents to interrogate the arrested
workers, and he offered them this alternative: "If you sign a statement testifying
that we found tons of concealed arms, we won't accuse you of resisting the armed forces.
If not, we'll charge you with that and you'll rot in prison." They also threatened
the women with rape. But none of the threats was carried out, and none of the workers
signed the declaration. This gigantic military operation had harvested all of one
.22-caliber Star revolver of Argentine manufacture, belonging to the night watchman.
The operation, especially because of the murder of Alberto Gonzalez Bustamante, caused a great public outcry from leftist organizations. Mario Palestro, a Socialist Deputy representing the San Miguel community in the Pedro Aguirre Cerda District of Santiago, delivered an irate speech in the Chamber of Deputies, charging that "General Manuel Torres de la Cruz is a disgrace to our country's armed forces ... he is a madman, an assassin."
|The Socialist party leaders demanded that Allende fire General Torres. Allende spoke
to the then acting commander in chief of the Army, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, to
"urge" him to dismiss Torres. General Pinochet replied that it was his
understanding, as well as that of the corps of Army generals, that "the commander of
the Fifth Division has the complete confidence of the Army General Staff," and for
that reason, nothing could be done. Pinochet in a gesture typical of the double role he
played after July 1973, suggested:
"We must wait a while, until the waters calm themselves, to clean out those officers with political ideas, Mr. President." Prats, then Minister of Defense, no longer wielded any influence with the Army and was not even consulted by Allende. Allende decided to go along with Pinochet's advice. And instead of Torres's being fired, the Army General Staff brought legal action against Socialist Deputy Mario Palestro for "serious injuries and insults to the Army of Chile."
On August 29, El Mercurio, the newspaper belonging to the Edwards clan headed by Agustin Edwards Eastman, vice-president of Pepsi Cola in New York (currently in charge of sales to the Soviet Union), published a feature article on page 2 entitled "General Torres de la Cruz and the Activities of the Fifth Division." The text included these passages:
Manuel Torres de la Cruz is a robust man and, although not tall, is imposing; his manner is always friendly, in a forceful way. Our first meeting with the Fifth Army Division's commander, whose headquarters are in Punta Arenas, took place on board the airplane that flew him back to his base. In Santiago he had refused to make a statement to the press, joking that he was outside his own jurisdiction. We descended directly behind him; before stepping onto the landing staircase, he turned and said with calm satisfaction: "Now you are going to see something that will interest you." On the runway at President Ibanez Airport was a gathering of Navy, Air Force, and Army officers, including Rear Admiral Horacio Justiniano and the Air Force second-in-command, Eduardo Clavijo; the Air Force commander, Jose Berdichewski, would greet him hours later, on his return from abroad.
El Meiruno understood General Torres's message: the three branches of the Chilean armed forces were solidly united behind the Fifth Division commander, and because by that time many oligarchic groups knew that "the coup is going to happen any minute now," it was assumed that Torres would head the future junta. So they decided to start giving him a good public image.
|General Torres had correctly evaluated the degree of dissension in the Unidad
Popular's parties as well as the indecisive and suicidal position of Salvador Allende and
the Chilean Communist party, when he put forth his "six-point" thesis about the
large-scale arms searches. He had said: "The Marxists will not dare stop us-they are
afraid of us." Events had proved him right. He had said: "They will not dare
turn the people against us, because the President and his Communist supporters are afraid
of them too." And again, unfortunately, events proved him right.
The armed forces' gun control searches continued throughout the length of Chile and were conducted with unbounded brutality. The soldiers destroyed machinery, the modest furniture in workers' homes, their clothing, books, tools, the Central Unica's regional archives. 6 They brutally beat men. women, and even children. One Air Force battalion searched the Municipal Cemetery in southern Santiago at night, deploying a massive war apparatus including helicopters with artillery. The enemy they found were two caretakers, whom they beat up and forced to kneel with their hands on their necks for nine hours in a pouring rain. They destroyed more than fifty coffins, dumping the bodies in piles onto the ground.
The most incredible thing, from the point of view of "publicly justifying" this five-month-long "search and destroy" campaign, is that they never found any arms other than the guns carried by the night watchmen at the sites searched. The "arms caches" they could show as a result of these extensive mobilizations were long wooden laths, construction workers' helmets, rods made of coligue (a Chilean species of bamboo, much thinner than other varieties), and personal work tools which they described as "blunt contusive instruments." Laths and bamboo poles had been used by workers to carry flags in parades and to defend themselves against the civilian fascist groups harassing the public demonstrations. A typical incident was the search of the Central Unica's Osorno headquarters, which was also the home of a worker. In his inner courtyard he was raising porotos, a kind of white bean whose vines have to be grown on poles to get enough sun. The soldiers confiscated his garden poles (twenty-four of them, each about a yard and a half long) as "weapons."
|While the soldiers were "softening and reconnoitering" the Chilean people on
the pretext of "disarming those who want to do violence to our country," the
generals were protecting the fascist groups, among them Fatherland and Liberty, as they
smuggled in arms from Argentina and Bolivia.
In the north, the commander of the Armored Division (Sixth Division), Brigadier General Carlos Forestier Haensgen, was protecting the band of arms smugglers led by Roberto Thieme, Fatherland and Liberty's second-in-command, and by ex-Army Captain Arturo Marshall (who had been implicated in the Schneider case by ex-General Viaux in 1970). They were operating from Salta, Argentina, and Oruro, Bolivia. Like Torres de la Cruz, Forestier was a rabid Catholic; his friends referred to him as "the Nazi." He had been one of the latifundistas expropriated by the Allende government, and was denounced in Puro Chile, El Rebelde, Ultima Hora, and Chile Hoy during June and July 1973.
In the south-central part of the country, Brigadier General Washington Carrasco Fernandez, commander of the Third Division (headquarters in Concepcion), was protecting not only the members of Fatherland and Liberty, whose arsenal was stored in the homes of his general staff, but also the National party's Rolando Matus Commandos, and Federico Willoughby MacDonald's ex-Cadet Commandos. General Carrasco, a "reformist" with agents in the SIM, was famous for his connections with the Pentagon 7 (in December 1973 the junta made him chief of the military mission in the Chilean Embassy in Washington, putting the right man in the right place). Carrasco also had a friendship with National party Senator Francisco Bulnes Sanfuentes, an industrialist who sat on the board of two subsidiaries of W. R. Grace Company. 8
The Cavalry Division's commander, Brigadier General Hector Bravo Munoz, protected the latifundistas' training camps in Valdivia Province. These had been set up to deal with the growing liberation movement among the peasants, who were demanding more land and uncompensated expropriation of the latifundios, including all farm machinery and installations. Bravo Munoz had connections with the Pentagon through General Mario Sepulveda Squella. Bravo Munoz was another fanatical Catholic, but he belonged to the "constitutionalist" group, whose apparent leader was Carlos Prats Gonzalez. (In July 1974 Bravo Munoz was made Minister of the newly created Department of Transportation.)
THE LAST MESSAGE
When President Allende read his annual message to the newly elected Congress on May 21, 1973, the situation was explosive any way one looked at it. The cost of living had risen by 195.5 percent in the previous twelve months. By May 16, the reserves of combustible liquid (gasoline and paraffin) had been exhausted, and problems with the supply of liquid gas were so serious that the Mexican government, in response to a desperate plea from Allende, hurriedly dispatched a tanker to Chile to cope with the fuel requirements of the Chilean winter.
The systematic misuse of private capital in Chilean and American hands and the credit squeeze the United States had been subjecting Chile to during the Allende administration had done major damage to the economy. The following information may serve as background:
"The lines of credit from North American banks began to shrink immediately. From $219 million in lines of credit granted in August 1970, the figure dropped rapidly to $32 million by mid-1971. The same thing happened with the international banking organizations and U.S. financial agencies. Minister Orlando Millas, in his report on the state of the Public Treasury, indicated that between 1964 and 1970, Chile had arranged for credits totaling $1,031,806,OOO with the International Development Bank, the BIRF (Banco Internacional de Reconstruccion y Fomento, an agency of the U.S. government), the Agency for International Development, and Eximbank, an average of about $150 million per year. In 1971 this amount dropped to $40 million and was reduced to zero during the course of 1972" (Hugo Fazio, "El Bloqueo Financiero," Revista de la Universidad Tecnica del Estado, January-February 1973).
|"Charles W. Bray, a State Department spokesman, said in New York today that 'As
far as the drop in foreign loans and investments in Chile goes, it doesn't seem necessary
to look for any exotic explanation.' Bray declared that Allende's unilateral moratorium on
the payment of Chile's foreign debt adopted in November 1971 had 'eriously damaged Chile's
credit'" (UPI cable, December 6, 1972).
"When these visits are carried out [this memorandum, written by ITT's president on October 20, 1970, refers to Dr. Henry Kissinger, Messrs. Meyer and Irwin of the State Department, Secretary of State William Rogers, and President Nixon] we should demand that U.S. representatives of international banks take a strong stand against any loan to countries expropriating American companies or discriminating against foreign private capital.
"As part of the overall action, we should ask our friends in Congress to warn the Administration that continued mistreatment of U.S. private capital will bring about a cutoff of the U.S. taxpayers' funds to international banks" (NACLA Latin America & Empire Report, Vol. VI, No.4, April 1972, page 16; part of the ITT documents published by American columnist Jack Anderson).
"Kennecott Copper [owner of Braden Copper, which mined El Teniente until its expropriation in 1971]... is trying to throw up what amounts to an international legal blockade of Chile's copper shipments. . . . The court battle could hardly have come at a worse time for Chile, which gets about 70% of its foreign currency from copper sales. The country is already boiling with political and social unrest, and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Obviously, Kennecott's offensive is likely to hurt future copper sales to customers unwilling to risk legal hassles and possibly costly delays in deliveries.
|"Kennecott officials are determined to keep the heat on Chile. The Manhattan
office of General Counsel Pierce McCreary, who is directing the campaign, has the air of a
war room. His desk is strewn with shipping reports, and on one wall hangs a large map for
plotting ships' courses. From here, McCreary keeps a close watch on vessels entering or
leaving the Chilean port of San Antonio, the only place from which El Teniente copper is
shipped. At present he is monitoring the move-ments of at least six ships headed for
Europe, loaded with El Teniente metal; when they arrive he wants his agents to be there to
greet them with court orders" (Time magazine, November 6, 1972).
Of course, Time could not add in its article that every time a freighter loaded with copper weighed anchor in San Antonio, Kennecott in New York received reports from the U.S. Navy, which received its information from the First Naval District of Chile (Valparaiso), under the command of Vice-Admiral Jose' Toribio Merino. This fact was first publicly disclosed by a Santiago daily, El Rebelde, on October 14, 1972.
"After the decision made by the majority of international credit organizations to halt all activity in favor of Chile, the copper embargo, conducted with the tacit approval of the U.S. government and Chile's Christian Democrats, joined with the financial blockade, makes a vast unified operation which is literally strangling the experiment begun after October 1970 by President Allende" (Lausanne, Switzerland, daily newspaper Tribune, October 17, 1972).
However, during the U.S.'s financial blockade of Chile's world trade, the Chilean armed forces continued to receive credit from the U.S. They used this to buy a completely equipped Hercules C-130 airplane ($5 million) capable of carrying 90 paratroopers, various small warships, and light equipment for "fighting internal subversion.
|The financial blockade was aggravated by the inflexibility of the international
financial system, which, even though Chile received credits from the Soviet Union and
other Eastern European countries, did not save her from the destructive effects of the
cessation of American aid. This was compounded by the incompetence of some middle-level
officials in the Unidad Popular's economic apparatus, including a few instances of graft
as well as diversion of funds to finance election campaigns and to pay some party
officials' salaries. But these factors were almost irrelevant compared to the systematic,
merciless sabotage by the Chilean private oligopolists and U.S. companies.
The situation can be summarized as follows:
1. In 1972, for the first time in the history of the Chilean copper industry, the Chuquicamata mine showed no profits; instead it sustained a loss of around $5 million. Lack of replacement parts and late repairs because of the U.S. blockade were the main causes.
The Chilean Copper Corporation reported that in 1972 Chuquicamata production dropped 15,000 tons from the previous year. During the same period, the La Exotica mine showed a production drop of 4,000 tons, and the El Salvador mine, a drop of 2,000 tons.
2. In 1972 the vast textile industry SUMAR, nationalized in 1971, sustained a loss of 132 million escudos (some $11 million).
3. On June 30, 1972, the balance on hand in the DINA (National Distributor) showed a loss of 20 million escudos (around $1,666,000) and indebtedness to the government's internal revenue and social security offices in the amount of 172 million escudos ($14,333,000).
4. The Chilean Electric Company (bought by the Frei regime from American Foreign Power in 1970 for $186 million, when its installations were worth only $18 million) reported a loss of 250 million escudos ($20,833,000) for fiscal 1972.
5. In May 1973, Pedro Hidalgo, Minister of Agriculture, told reporters that as a result of the foreign blockade, half the loading cranes in a district of Valparaiso harbor were immobilized. Also, owing to the lack of replacement parts, 250 locomotives out of 500 belonging to the state railroads were paralyzed.
|The economic pressure of the Chilean and foreign oligopolies had a very specific goal:
to create havoc in the nation's productive apparatus and force the workers to withdraw
their support from the Unidad Popular government, thus leaving it at the mercy of the coup
conspirators. The Unidad Popular leaders had become embroiled in a battle for economic
power that would be arbitrated according to the laws of a capitalist society; this was
obviously to the advantage of the oligopolies and multinational companies. 10
The Unidad Popular's endeavor to achieve socialist goals by capitalist means rendered it vulnerable to its enemies' ploys, as did four other factors: the financial blockade, the drop in the price of copper on the world market, the rise in food prices on the world market, and the internal pressure to import more food. In 1971 and 1972, these four factors resulted in a loss of $1,105 million. Because of the financial blockade, $200 million had to be sent abroad to ensure capital movement; the drop in the price of copper from 64 cents a pound in 1970 to 49 cents in 1971 and 1972 deprived the national budget of at least $460 million; the 51 percent hike in the world price of wheat, 88 percent in butter, 40 percent in frozen meat, and 86 percent in sugar (all New York Commodities Exchange prices) necessitated an increased spending of $275 million during this two-year period. The increase in the volume of wheat imported (300,000 tons in 1970, more than 500,000 tons in 1971) and powdered milk (3,800 tons in 1970, 38,400 tons in 1971) cost an additional $50 million in 1971 and $120 million in 1972.
If these figures are added to the $493 million due in 1973 for amortizations and interest payments on the foreign debt (doubled during the Frei administration and increased nearly $1 billion by the nationalization of the copper, iron, and saltpeter mines and the expropriation of some U.S industries), we have a picture of serious weakness in the foreign sector caused by precisely the opposite of what Allende's detractors were charging. That is to say, the Unidad Popular was not following a socialist economic and political plan, but rather a reformist, developmental one.
|The seriousness of this problem can be gauged by the fact that total income in annual
profits did not exceed $1,200 million, which meant that the government was compelled to
spend $1,046 million annually. This left the meager sum of about $150 million for
machinery, replacements, fuel, and industrial raw materials. The result was an almost
total paralysis of the national productive apparatus, pushing the country's economy into a
gigantic inflationary spiral.
When one adds to this the economic pressure and influence brought to bear by multinational corporations such as ITT, Anaconda, and Kennecott, and banks such as Chase Manhattan and First National City, the picture is complete. Here are two enlightening facts:
1. In 1972 alone, Chilean oligopolists transferred more than $100 million from reinvestment to speculation. There was a 54 percent drop in reinvestment of capital in the private productive area, which comprised more than 60 percent of the total national productive apparatus.
2. In 1972 alone, the political majority in the Chilean Parliament, at the beck and call of U.S. and Chilean big business interests, made twenty appropriations for projects costing a total of 60 billion escudos (some $4.9 billion), against a budget of only 12 billion escudos (about $1 billion). In other words, Congress forced the government to issue banknotes without productive guarantees for nearly $4 billion-al-most one-half of the Gross National Product! In addition, they blocked tax increases on big business, thereby passing the burden of the faltering economy to the laborers, peasants, office workers, and small and medium-sized businessmen. These people were the principal victims of the inflation created by the large-scale issues of unbacked currency.
|However, the conspirators behind these "objective" conditions for Allende's
overthrow had not foreseen one response. As the economic chaos was aggravated, the extent
of the reactionary sabotage became clearer. The people's organizations, on the fringe of
the Unidad Popular's actual party leadership, had transformed what had been christened
"popular power to increase productivity" (in Allende's speeches and in Communist
party directives published in l970-l973) into a project for "popular power to create
the revolution." By May 1973, it was as clear to the Unidad Popular leaders as it was
to the conspirators and their allies that this movement in the heart of the Chilean
working class was "independent"; it had reached its own very clear conclusions,
after the experiences of 1971-1972, on how to deal with the economic, political, and
social crisis in which Chile's middle-class democracy had mired itself.
Large sectors of the Socialist party, including its secretary-general, Carlos Altamirano, the MAPU (Movimiento de Accion Popular Unitaria), and the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria) had decided that what was in a state of crisis was the thesis of the Chilean Communist party and Salvador Allende himself, and that the crisis was encapsulated in the phrase "the Chilean way to socialism," based in turn on the fantasy of a supposed "peaceful transition to socialism." The behavior of the government was an impediment to the Chilean people's progress toward social revolution because of its protective attitude toward the Chilean and North American oligopolies. The entire reformist structure that Allende had precariously built was in danger of being destroyed, along with bourgeois democracy. Fascism was the alternative. The Chilean masses found themselves at a cross-road: either they themselves prepared to take on the struggle or else they could be brutalized by an armed counterrevolution instigated by the fascist powers. This caused sectors of the Unidad Popular to revert to a theory put forth years earlier by parties of the revolutionary left, among them the PCR (Partido Communista Revolucionario), but never formulated into a strategy suited to conditions in Chile. This theory was published in declarations by the Socialist party and the MIR in February, June, July, and August 1973.
|As one way to avoid having the masses confront the armed counterrevolution
defenseless, these two political groups tried throughout 1973-until September-to get
thousands of laborers, peasants, office workers, and students to mobilize and push the
government to move forward in expropriations; to demand control of the industries and
businesses in the Social Area, by forcing the government to fire incompetent and corrupt
officials, bureaucrats, and reformist union leaders, and to replace them with genuine
representatives of the laborers, peasants, and office workers; to demand prosecution of
the people undermining the national economy; and, last, to recognize and act on the
necessity for a universal mobilization of the masses to be constantly on the alert against
the armed forces' fascist conspiracy and to struggle to neutralize it.
This attempt at popular mobilization was hampered, persecuted, and even denounced by the political leaders closest to Allende and by the Chilean Communist party directorate. When the military finally began its takeover on September 11, 1973, the people were still inadequately prepared to defend their government. And yet it was precisely this cry of "political emergency" from large sectors of the Chilean population that had informed the Pentagon's October Report that "the popular insurrection is about to explode" in Chile. To prevent this, it was imperative that the Chilean generals overthrow Allende "as soon as possible" and "at the most suitable moment" to stop a "hazardous" confrontation with this nascent "popular power," now beyond manipulation by Allende and his political supporters. 11
In his message to the new Parliament on May 21, 1973, President Allende, who realized better than anyone else that "the new popular power" was slipping out of his grasp, nonetheless tried to use this "phantom overrunning Chile" to frighten the oligarchy into giving him time to "channel" the people's restiveness and prevent it from turning into a violent revolution.
Allende said: "The dynamism of a revolutionary process releases repressed energies, wounds dominant interests, generates new social phenomena that can be guided and that the government has been at pains to control . . However, to bring this to a satisfactory conclusion, we need to have a flexible institutional system."
|Allende proposed vast state reforms to control the "new social phenomenon"
(that is, the revolution) and thereby prevent it from destroying the whole system of
bourgeois domination. But the legislators had estimated that "the subversion of the
rabble" was going to be achieved neither by reforms nor by Allende nor by Frei.
Allende's anguished pleas went unheard:
More than the problematic economic juncture through which we are passing, the government attributes greater transcendence to the real and serious threat that weighs upon our democracy. As a people and as a nation, few dangers seem greater, because the rupture of the civil peace would mean the failure of our collective political capacity to solve the community's problems by means other than physical violence, which some are obsessively seeking. This confrontation would occasion tragic consequences, a profound human drama, as well as catastrophic economic effects....
Today my first congressional message acquires greater reality: "If violence, internal or external, in any of its forms, physical, economical, social, or political, goes as far as threatening our normal development and the workers' victories, the greatest risk will be run by institutional continuity, the state of the law, political freedoms, and pluralism. Our people's struggle for social emancipation or free determination would necessarily adopt forms of expression very different from what We, with legitimate pride and historical realism, call the Chilean way to socialism."
It cannot be a secret to anybody that the key problem we are experiencing is the generalized crisis of the traditional order of things, while a new structure of social relations is laboriously being born.
It is not the peasants, starving for bread and justice, grabbing a piece of land to cultivate (a procedure which we do not encourage), who are threatening the peace. . . . It is rather those who take nothing, because they have everything, who are the true promoters of violence, because they are obsessively creating the conditions for a civil war. .
Allende went on to ask them to let him aid this social birth in such a way that the whole system would not crumble.
|The bourgeoisie's hierarchy, authority, and order have lost their
supremacy in the workers' eyes, while they are trying to create, within the states
institutional regime and legal norms, an order and a discipline based on their own
experience. Directive committees for the Social Area, communal peasant councils, health
councils, mining councils, supply and price control juntas, industrial cordons, communal
commandos, and so forth are other manifestations of this reality which have emerged since
1970. Struggling against the structure of the old ruling class, these institutions of the
nascent social order are looking, testing, criticizing and creating their own laws of work
President Allende concluded that "the state's apparatus would have been paralyzed" by internal and foreign sabotage aimed at his government had it not been for "the workers' alliance with the armed forces and the forces of order." (This statement on May 21, 1973, shows Allende clutching at the idea that he could persuade the military high command to help him in his experiment, when in fact it was well known that the generals were plotting to overthrow him at any moment. All the leftist newspapers were carrying daily reports on the conspiracy's movements.)
Concluding his message, Allende called on the reactionary majority in Parliament to help him create a "new institutionality," while he would make an effort "to control" the laborers, peasants, and office workers who were eager for a revolution. And to emphasize his meaning he concluded his message to Parliament with a call for the workers to work and only to work-at precisely the moment when his enemies were already crouching to spring:
The People's Government appeals to the conscience and class feeling of all the workers. Your social achievements, your political freedom, your organizations, your power to challenge the strength of national and imperialist capitalism, your ability to build a new society, are great tools. These can be destroyed by the national and international forces of reaction. These people are trying to destroy the workers' victories. In the face of such a real and present threat, the workers will not allow themselves to be exploited. Your economic improvements cannot he used by the bourgeoisie against the government and the revolutionary process. Social discipline and conscious effort must mark the path of our labor. Chile demands greater production, greater productivity. . .
|The comments made on this message by a National party Deputy (and secret member of
Fatherland and Liberty, as pointed out by Puro Chile in February 1973), Hermogenes
Perez de Arce, were eloquent:
"This message can only serve to convince us how necessary it is for our country to rid itself of this generation of demagogues. . . . Mr. Allende ought to shut up. . . and make room in Chile.. . for those who know how to rule."
President Allende had good reason to be desperate. The reactionary offensive was reaching extremes of violence. May 21 marked the beginning of the second month of a serious mine workers' strike at El Teniente, one of the nationalized copper mines. The strike had started on April 20 and was being managed by Frei's group in the Christian Democrats, abetted by the National party and Fatherland and Liberty.
As the reactionaries had predicted, the economic crisis had caused the proliferation of workers' strikes for higher wages, which in turn served to aggravate the economic crisis, since the Allende government was prevented by its political foes in the Parliament from placing the burden on the oligarchy by raising taxes on corporate profits and personal income. The directors of the Society for Industrial Development took direct charge of influencing the workers' strikes, mostly through the Christian Democratic union organizations. 12
The copper mine workers' strike at El Teniente was a typical case. It began with a demand for a 41 percent increase in salaries. Through Guillermo Medina, the leader of the striking workers, the Christian Democrats took over and transformed the workers' legitimate demands for higher salaries into a weapon to undermine the Unidad Popular government. Medina was put in contact with Manuel Fuentes Wedling, a journalist who belonged to the directorate of Fatherland and Liberty. Fuentes undertook to write Medina's speeches both at the mine and in Santiago. (This was discovered after the abortive coup of June 29, which disarmed the leaders of Fatherland and Liberty and led to a search of Fuentes's home, where rough drafts of speeches Medina had given in April and May were found. These were published in Ultima Hora, Puro Chile, and El Siglo.)
|The strike lasted more than two months. By May it had become the hub of a general
strike movement being guided by the Christian Democrats to embarrass the government. On
May 23, some 25,000 students belonging to Christian Democratic-controlled student
centers at the University of Chile went on strike in support of the El Teniente mine
workers. The same day, the Secondary Students' Federation of Santiago, also controlled by
the Christian Democrats, joined the student strike. The nature of the situation became
clearer when fascist and Christian Democratic shock groups in the city of Rancagua, near
El Teniente, transformed a public demonstration "in support of the strike" into
an attack using firearms, stones, and other blunt instruments against the municipal
building and the Communist and Socialist party locals. The commander of the city's
garrison, Lieutenant Colonel Cristian Ackerknecht, deployed his soldiers against those
being attacked. He also had the Socialist party's local searched "for arms." The
situation was absurd. While the troops were "dealing with" the Socialist party
local, a few meters away, in the street, Fatherland and Liberty men were hiding their
revolvers under their jackets or turning their clubs into "pennant standards."
Ackerknecht's anti-Socialist action provoked an infuriated reaction from the Socialist party's national directorate (to which Allende belonged), demanding that the lieutenant colonel be fired. Instead, the Army's acting commander in chief, General Augusto Pinochet, sent more troops to the city, commanded by an officer of higher rank, Colonel Orlando Iba'nez, and made a public statement: "I emphasize that the measures adopted by the officers in charge of the Emergency Zone on May 23 have my unconditional support, backing, and recognition."
Yet once more, in the face of political insolence from the acting commander in chief of the Chilean Army, the party directorates of the Unidad Popular remained silent.
|But in spite of the enormous effort Eduardo Frei put forth to make the El Teniente
strike the "detonator" for Allende's resignation or overthrow, this did not
happen. There were two reasons. The generals felt that they were "not ready yet"
(they had held meetings on May 24 and 25); and the popular organizations not dominated by
the Christian Democrats had come back with a mobilization that started the El Teniente
mine functioning again.
The case of Manuel Fuentes Wedling, the Fatherland and Liberty journalist, reveals another aspect of the conspiracy: the involvement of dignitaries of the Catholic Church. One of these was the secretary of the Santiago archbishopric and director of Catholic University's TV Channel 13, Father Raul Hasbun, whose weekly sermon broadcasts stirred up the bourgeoisie against the working classes. In a series of articles that ran daily from June 22 to June 28, 1973, Puro Chile exposed the following episode, which took place in March 1973.
By order of Father Raul Hasbun, Channel 5, an unlicensed subsidiary of Channel 13, was set up in Concepcion. The government reacted by installing a legal electronic signal device to interfere with the pirate station. 13 Father Hasbun then contacted Manuel Fuentes Wedling for "help" in "solving" the problem of Channel 5's "interferences." Hasbun asked Fuentes to find "a group of daring people" to destroy the government's electronic installations in Concepcion. Fuentes met with Michael Vernon Townley Welch, alias Juan Manolo, Fatherland and Liberty's armaments trainer from the CIA, and the Chileans Rafael Undurraga Cruzat and Gustavo Etchepare. They formed a commando team at the orders of Father Hasbun, to break into the house at 382 Freire Street in Concepcion, where the government's electronic equipment had been installed.
On March 18, 1973, the "commandos" broke into the house and stole the equipment, in the process murdering the caretaker, a house painter named Jorge Toma's Enriquez Gonzalez.
The investigation and subsequent judgment hanging over Father Raul Hasbun as "intellectual author" of the murder and armed robbery were interrupted by the coup on September 11, 1973.14
|Another case involved the arms smuggling engaged in by National party Senator Pedro
Ibanez Ojeda, a member of the oligopolies in Valparaiso. This group's main business was
the import of agricultural machinery and the ownership of the instant coffee industry (Si
The firm of Ibanez Ojeda Brothers (the Senator and his brother) was mainly involved in importing from Brazil. In 1972 and 1973, Senator Ibanez Ojeda placed his Brazilian connections at the disposal of Fatherland and Liberty, so that they could import arms from Brazil. This setup functioned smoothly for more than a year, under the protection of naval officers in Valparaiso harbor and corrupt customs officials who overlooked the huge crates coming in labeled as farm machinery or raw material for the manufacture of instant coffee.
Ibanez Ojeda's operation was only a part of a vast network in Brazil which channeled funds to sabotage the Chilean economy and supply the fascist terrorist groups. In collusion with the metallurgical and banking oligopolies in Brazil, private industrialists (for one, the printing magnate Gilberto Huber) used couriers to get money into Chile. Among these were Aristoteles Brumond, reportedly in contact with the CIA team in Brazil, and an engineer, Glaycon de Paiva, prime mover of the Institute of Social Investigations and Studies (IPES), founded with Washington advisers in 1961 to "avoid" a popular uprising in the Janio Quadros and Joao Goulart administrations. 15 These Brazilian groups were financial and ideological backers of the teams of "experts' from the Christian Democrat and National parties to coordinate the political sabotage of Allende's government. Orlando Saenz was in constant touch with these Brazilians, as he was with similar groups in Argentina, Venezuela, and the U.S. 16
By June 1973, the leaders of Fatherland and Liberty were so impressed by their own terrorism, by the extent of their infiltration among the latifundistas in the south, as well as by the ample protection they were receiving from the military police and the armed forces, that they decided to set up an adventure on their own. The head of the conspirators in Fatherland and Liberty, Pablo Rodriguez Grez, planned a military insurrection in Santiago that (he hoped) would touch off the whole country like a powder keg. This would swiftly result in Allende's downfall and his replacement by a civilian and military junta consisting of the president of the Senate (Eduardo Frei), the President of the Supreme Court (Enrique Urrutia Manzano), and the commanders in chief of the armed forces.
|Rodriguez Grez consulted with ex-General Roberto Viaux Marambio, who had been in the
Santiago Penitentiary since November 1970 for his part in the Schneider affair. He
outlined his organization's achievements. Fatherland and Liberty's terrorist activities
were impressive: in January 1973, five attacks on Unidad Popular personnel or offices; 29
in February; 28 in March; 57 in April; 105 in May-as opposed to a total of 66 between July
and December of 1972. Only 100 of these attacks had been investigated, with 83 persons
arrested -all released by the courts of justice! The Supreme Court, by special request
from the director of Army personnel, General Oscar Bonilla ("a Frei man," said
Rodriguez Grez), had sent an insolent official letter to President Allende on May 26
reminding him "for the nth time of the illegal attitude of the Executive Branch in
its illegitimate interference in judicial matters" and warning that "this is no
longer a case of civil rights but one of a peremptory or imminent collapse in the
country's judicial system." Rodriguez Grez also reported to Viaux that Prats's
prestige inside the Army was at rock bottom. Not only was the high command involved in the
conspiracy but Frei, Jarpa, and other right-wing politicians had joined too. The CIA was
of the opinion that conditions were ripe to provoke a civilian-military coup. He went on
to say that the latifundistas through Benjamin Matte, president of the National
Agriculture Society, also concurred that the time had come to overthrow Allende. And,
lastly, he said, Fatherland and Liberty could count on "the loyalty" of at least
one Santiago regiment, the 2nd Armored, since its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Roberto
Souper Onfray, was an active member of Fatherland and Liberty and also the brother of a
regional director of that fascist organization.17
Viaux, who was openly being protected by the Supreme Court, which had reduced his sentence for planning Schneider's assassination from twenty to two years, concurred with Rodriguez Grez's estimate of the situation and suggested a plan. According to what Rodriguez Grez later told Benjamin Matte, which Matte indiscreetly repeated to a group of friends at his house a few days before the June 29 uprising, the plan was: first, to somehow create a scandal involving General Carlos Prats, to "make him commit moral suicide," forcing the armed forces to say "enough is enough" with their commander in chief, second, to attack La Moneda with the Armored Regiment's tanks, thus presenting the Santiago officers with a fait accompit.
|This plan was really an improved version of Viaux's attempted coup of October 1970.
Fatherland and Liberty bent itself to its task, concentrating entirely on preparing the
two "detonators": ruining Prats's reputation and turning the tank brigades of
Santiago against La Moneda.
On Tuesday morning, June 26, Fatherland and Liberty set up a "street incident" with the complicity of a Santiago regiment. The decoy was a somewhat masculine-looking woman named Virginia Cox. At an hour when most of the Santiago hillside suburb's cars were on their way into the city, Prats's car would be harassed and threatened several times with collision by two other cars, while from a third, Virginia Cox would annoy the general to the point of exasperation. It was hoped that Prats would think Cox was a man (which in fact happened) and would attack her, causing a huge traffic tie-up. The men driving the other two cars would kindle the onlookers' indignation, so that the general would be beaten and, if things went especially well, even killed. (This entire incident was prepared by the CIA, through the journalist Manuel Fuentes Wedling, a member of Fatherland and Liberty.) 18
Things went more or less as planned. At noon on June 26, after General Prats's car left the Santiago hillside suburb, for twenty blocks it was crossed in front of, bumped, and sometimes even pushed by two other cars. Virginia Cox was in a small car making vulgar faces and hand gestures at Prats and shouting "Old faggot" at him. Enraged, Prats intercepted her car and drew his service revolver, aiming it at her head. It was only then that the general realized that his tormentor was not a man. By that time, more than a hundred angry people had surrounded the scene. One of the Fatherland and Liberty provokers shouted, "Faggot general, you're just like Allende-you only dare with women!" By great good luck, a taxi driver in the crowd seized the general by the arm, shoved him into his cab, and drove off to the Ministry of Defense. The taxi driver later told reporters: "I realized that the crowd wanted to lynch the general... if I didn't get him out of there, they would have killed him. There were fellows there shoving him. Everybody was shouting all kinds of things at him and egging the others on too. . . . To get my cab out of there, I had to floor the accelerator and plow through some people who were trying to block our path."
|General Prats's car was left behind; the air was let out of the tires, and the roof
and windshield were lettered in yellow paint with the words "Chicken generals-Prats
faggot." From the very beginning of the incident, reporters had been covering it for
the Mineria radio station, which belonged to the industrial oligarchy, and for El
Mercurio. The reactionaries' newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels began to
broadcast the story incessantly from the afternoon of the twenty-sixth on, taking the
angle "General Prats attacks a woman who stuck her tongue out at him," calling
him "a coward" in their reports, "a person who should not be the head of
our glorious armed forces."
The next day, El Mercurio's page two carried a very long article signed by Carlos Vicuna Fuentes, a reactionary intellectual. Entitled "A Call to Sensible People," the article said, in a nutshell, "the country cannot put up with the present situation any longer," "our armed forces are the moral reserve that will save our country," we "need to have a military government take the nation's reins" and, "after a prudent interval, give control back to a select group of people of proven wisdom and intelligence."
The same day, June 27, a regiment captain in the officers' mess at the 2nd Armored Regiment tried to persuade his fellow officers that we ought to go to headquarters with the tanks and tell that faggot Prats to get out, and make Allende resign." But the conspiring generals, occupied with their own coup plans, were not sympathetic to Fatherland and Liberty's efforts. The captain was arrested by the unit's own SIM men and taken to the Defense Ministry. The next day, the unit commander, Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Souper Onfray, sent a message to the directorate of Fatherland and Liberty that he had been relieved of his command and would have to turn over his post to Colonel Roberto Ramirez on the twenty-ninth.
|Rodriguez Grez and Benjamin Matte replied that he should incite his unit to rebel. So,
on June 29, at 9 A.M., after shooting those officers who opposed them (eight men
died), the 2nd Armored Regiment manned six Sherman tanks; surrounded La Moneda, attacked
the Defense Ministry, and freed the captain taken into custody on the twenty-seventh. But
the rebels had committed one slight error: Allende was not inside La Moneda, but at his
home on Tomas Moro Street, in the hillside suburb on the other side of the city.
From 9 to 11 A.M., Souper's tanks fired more than fifty rounds, while Fatherland and Liberty and Lieutenant Colonel Souper waited for the rest of the Army to revolt. They waited in vain. No other regiment in Santiago joined them. No radio station was taken over by soldiers. Not even Eduardo Frei, president of the Senate, or Urrutia Manzano, President of the Supreme Court, said a word. What had happened?
It appeared that Fatherland and Liberty's entire plan was based on "the hope" that the rest of the military units would revolt; it did not take into account the fact (of which Fatherland and Liberty was unaware) that a "real coup d'etat" was being prepared in the corps of generals, and it was not yet ready.
The problem was that the most important conspirators, the generals and admirals, did not yet have assurances that Augusto Pinochet, the second-ranking general in the Army, was completely in favor of the overthrow operation. Even after their general strategy had been mapped out, according to calculations by Generals Sergio Arellano Stark, Herman Brady Roche, Gustavo Leigh, and Vice-Admiral Jose' Toribio Merino, they had not yet even started conversations with General Cesar Mendoza Duran of the military police (although Mendoza was supposed to have been "contacted" in March, the generals had postponed the conversations until they had a complete "military' picture to present to him; by June this still had not materialized). The planned procedure was meant to be coordinated with an intense "political campaign beginning in July, to be completed in September," the purpose of which was to put Allende "outside the law" in the eyes of Parliament, the judiciary, and the controller, and to "win over public opinion."
|When, on Allende's orders, General Prats went to the Santiago Military School (the
Defense Ministry was under siege by Souper's tanks) at 9:45 A.M. on June 29 to
"put down the mutiny," the generals had already gathered to discuss the
situation and were in agreement about doing so. General Prats, without knowing it, was
leading one group of conspirators to put down another group. With the conspiring generals'
help, he got the various regiments in Santiago to mobilize to quash the uprising.
Prats himself went to head up the Junior Officers' School because it was under the command of the ultrafascist Colonel Julio Canessa Roberts. General Augusto Pinochet led the Bum Regiment, whose commander was a "constitutionalist." General Oscar Bonilla was sent to the rebel regiment, the 2nd Armored. Bonilla, a "hard-line" conspirator, was one of the few people capable of convincing the rebels to put down their arms "to wait for the right moment."
Later, on the way to La Moneda, General Prats was joined by General Guillermo Pickering, a "reformist," head of the Military Institutes. Meanwhile, the chief of the Santiago garrison, "reformist" General Mario Sepulveda Squella, ordered the Infantry School (commanded by a "constitutionalist" colonel), the Telecommunications School (commanded by a "hard-line" colonel), and the Paratrooper and Special Forces School (commanded by a "reformist" lieutenant colonel) to advance on the rebels attacking La Moneda from the northeast and south.
General Prats had requested that President Allende order the military police to keep away from the operation of "blockading" the rebels. Allende agreed and limited the military police to guarding his house on Tomas Moro Street.
|In a desperate effort, the Fatherland and Liberty fascists dynamited the Radio
Portales transmission plant, which belonged to the Socialist party. But their situation
was hopeless. At 11:30 A.M. the rebels surrendered on the streets next to La
Moneda, while three tanks commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Souper escaped toward 2nd
Armored Regiment headquarters, only to surrender to General Oscar Bonilla.
Pablo Rodriguez Grez, Benjamin Matte, and other directors of Fatherland and Liberty took asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
At 8 P.M. that day, Friday the twenty-ninth, in front of the Palacio de La Moneda, President Allende called the people together to give them "a report on the events." The assembled workers, some 20,000 of them, shouted such slogans as "Arms for the people," "Power to the people," "Dismiss Congress," "Drive the Yankees out of Chile, now."
Allende's speech ended on this note: "Tomorrow morning the factories will send up their smoke again to salute our free nation; we must go back to work to make up for the time lost on Thursday; tomorrow everyone will work harder, will produce more, will sacrifice himself more, for Chile and for the people. . . . Comrade workers: we must organize. We must create, and create the People's Power. But it cannot be antagonistic to or independent of the government, which is the fundamental force and platform for the workers to advance in the revolutionary process."
That night groups of workers marched home chanting euphorically: "Soldado, amigo, el pueblo esta contigo!" (Soldier, friend, the people are with you!)
The morning after the twenty-ninth, nearly all the generals in the Santiago garrison came to a meeting led by Herman Brady, Mario Sepulveda, Guillermo Pickering, Sergio Arellano Stark, Javier Palacios, and Oscar Bonilla. A military intelligence report was read, which said that "between 9 and 11 A.M." in the industrial cordons at Los Cerrillos and Vicuna Mackenna, a contingent of about 10,000 workers had gathered to march into downtown Santiago to fight the "mutinous" armored regiment. A general directive was issued to keep a "constant alert," to "increase the rhythm of arms searches in factories and the headquarters of the Unidad Popular parties and the Central Unica, to rid the rebel civilian population of warlike elements." As for the mutiny, the generals attributed it to "the harmful influence of civilian persons on our officers," and announced that "this situation gives a bad image to the Army's cohesion." It was agreed to instruct all unit commanders to "suspend all contact with Fatherland and Liberty" and to keep the General Staff informed of "events in their respective areas of jurisdiction." Furthermore, the generals discussed the need to begin a rapid and systematic "education" of the junior officers and the rank and file, with informal talks and small meetings chaired by senior officers. They were to stress that the nation was in danger, that "the Marxists" were preparing to invade the country "with Peruvian aid," and that the hour was approaching to "lay down their lives for Chile."
(In various Santiago regiments, from July on, different companies would be awakened in the predawn hours, taken to the projection room, and shown movies of the jungle war in Vietnam. The session ended with a short talk on the "worldwide Communist threat to our wives, children, and parents." The troops' nerves were kept constantly on edge by this sort of treatment.)
|The generals' meeting on the morning of Saturday, June 30, was only the first step in
a procedure decided upon by the officers in the most intimate circle of the conspiracy.
That afternoon, Generals Oscar Bonilla and Sergio Arellano Stark were delegated by Herman
Brady Roche, Mario Sepulveda Squella, Javier Palacios, Orlando Urbina Herrera, and
Guillermo Pickering to speak to General Augusto Pinochet (who, like General Prats, had not
been invited to the Saturday morning meeting), to brief him on their plans and ask him, as
"the leader of the Army," to join the conspiracy.
The meetings with Pinochet lasted from Saturday afternoon to the morning of July 2. According to information that filtered out later, it appears that in those three days the most important ideological details of the coup were laid down, including the need to get rid of all political parties in Chilean society, and to "put into practice the patriotic task of cleaning up the Chileans' minds, permeated with the Marxist ideology." 19
Pinochet's decision to join the conspiracy and accept the offer to become "the leader of the operation" was reported to Air Force General Gustavo Leigh Guzman and to Vice-Admiral Jose Toribio Merino, presumably in the first week of July. The U.S. military mission, with its offices in the Defense Ministry, was also informed that the conspirators' circle had now been closed at the highest level.
The generals' conversations with Augusto Pinochet had led to an agreement to pressure Frei, Jarpa, and the Supreme Court justices to escalate a campaign to discredit Allende "constitutionally" and create a "public opinion" in the majority of Chileans that the military had to overthrow Allende to return to legality.
The military scheme to get the politicians moving worked incredibly well. Frei's and Jarpa's desires to provoke a military coup (after which one of them would naturally emerge as Chile's new President) provided a highly fertile field for the generals to sow the idea of "saving" Chile.
In the first week of July, apparently at the instigation of General Pinochet, who had been very disturbed by the unexpected results of the March election, it was decided to ask "the civilian contacts" to demand an investigation to "prove" that the March elections were "a gigantic fraud." With this the generals hoped to cast much darker shadows on the "legitimacy" of Allende's government. This task fell to the dean of faculty at the Catholic University Law School, Jaime del Valle, a Fatherland and Liberty sympathizer. 20
|This scientific study was prepared in less than two weeks. It reported, based on 29
cases of faulty voter registration out of a total of more than 3 million, that the
government had committed fraud in March 1973, "falsifying" at least 400,000
votes. But most important was the way the "document" ended:
We can affirm, then, that our democracy is today bankrupt. Our elected administration has allowed a gigantic fraud and does not guarantee that in future elections this will not be repeated. . . . It is clear that at a crossroad such as the one we face, the Chilean people have a wide-reaching task before them and they cannot avoid it any longer. This is the task of rebuilding democracy by creating a new institutionality that will effectively guarantee it.
This was the idea that the generals had wanted to appear in the "report." This was the idea drummed into the heads of thousands of Chileans by the daily appearance of such "documents" in the newspapers, in magazines, on the radio and TV, driving in that a "new institutionality" had to be created-a task that could be accomplished only by the military, of course.
On July 8 the president of the Senate, Eduardo Frei, released a declaration that had been made known the night before to Generals Oscar Bonilla and Sergio Arellano Stark. The document said, in part:
"It is a fact that Chile is passing through one of the most serious crises in its political, economic, social, and moral history." There followed some slanted details on the political situation. "To this may be added an organized process of hate and violence which is dividing the country." Needless to say, they did not mention the right-wing press campaign that daily described President Allende as a "drunkard" and a "faggot," accused General Prats of "selling out for a few more dollars," and asked Chileans to join the cry that "the best Marxist is a dead Marxist." They also did not mention the economic sabotage perpetrated by the U.S. financial organizations, Frei himself, and the Chilean oligarchy, or the waves of fascist dynamitings, shootings, and beatings (the fascist groups had accelerated their activities to 115 in June; in July they would achieve 128 and in August 300 acts of sabotage).
|And in a truly brilliant example of cynicism, the declaration affirmed: "The
democratic groups which we represent are not armed. They are confident that Chile's
internal security is in the hands of the armed forces and the military police, as
stipulated by the Founding Charter, a tradition that has never been broken. This situation
is made all the more incomprehensible if one considers that the government insists on its
being able to count on the loyalty of those institutions, and that the country is at peace
and that the government is in control of the situation."
And they added, "It seems to us fundamental" that the government "should promulgate in its totality the constitutional amendment that has been passed by Congress" (this was a reference to the Hamilton-Fuentealba legislation to freeze the Area of Social Property, reduce its range, and ensure the destruction of the Unidad Popular's economic program).
By July 1973 the situation was deteriorating hourly. According to incomplete data, between January and May 1973 speculative capital in the hands of the national oligarchy had reached the enormous sum of $250 million, with which they managed completely to shatter the already delicate balance between the supply and the demand of consumer goods. The drop in capital reinvestment, according to a preliminary study by the Society for Industrial Development, was going to reach more than 50 percent in the first six months of 1973.
At that point, the economic sabotage was aggravated by an intensive campaign to denounce the incompetence displayed by a number of state officials of leftist parties in their administration of the Area of Social Property, the nationalized businesses. These officials, labeled "interveners,"* (·Government-appointed factory managers in those factories expropriated into the Area of Social Property.) made an art of corruption and administrative incompetence, provoking disasters in sectors of the economy. The oligopolies and U.S. multinationals took advantage of this situation to present an economic fable about how Marxism had caused the decay of the Chilean productive system. Hence, "socialism" did not work for Chile and would have to be replaced by a corporate fascist state.
|Figures showing the cost-of-living rise were the following:
December 1970 to December 1971 22.1 percent
December 1971 to December 1972 163.4 percent
January 1972 to January 1973 180.1 percent
May 1972 to May 1973 238.5 percent
This meant that during the first five months of 1973, inflation had jumped by an average of 14.6 percent per month. After that, it got worse. The figures for July 1973, compared with the same month in the previous year, gave the incredible index of 323.6 percent annual inflation, the highest in the world. This meant the monthly average had risen to 42.55 percent. According to this, the December 1973 forecast was for an annual inflation of 50 percent.
Against this background, the various right-wing conspiratorial circles continued with their work, but with disagreements among themselves.
The Christian Democrats' viewpoint, expressed by Frei, differed from that of the National party, headed by Senator Onofre Jarpa. Frei was debating the problem of using the armed forces as a "dissuader" against Allende, and maneuvering during a military dictatorship to get the generals to hand over the power to civilian leaders (himself) as soon as possible. Jarpa's position was sterner. He estimated publicly that "the only possible way to keep peace for a long time in our society is a military dictatorship." Hence, his efforts were dedicated to pushing the generals and admirals toward a military coup.
This was creating much friction and dissent in the opposition, especially because Frei's group had been carrying on secret conversations with Allende to "come to an understanding" about freezing the reforms and diverting the revolutionary potential of workers throughout the country, so that the military would not feel tempted to mount a coup to stay in the government "forever," as had happened in Brazil in 1964.
|This, naturally, was also reflected in the heart of the high command, especially the
Army, the fundamental pillar of any military insurrection, and it was becoming part of the
"fluidity" of the conspirators' plans. In mid-July, there was general agreement
in the heart of the high command on the desirability of terminating the Unidad Popular
"experiment." How to do it was still nebulous. General Prats, the commander in
chief, had coined the idea of an Allend-armed forces government, including a
"political peace treaty" with the Christian Democrats and restricted
participation of the Chilean Communist party and a group of Socialists. Prats argued that
"only thus will we prevent the extremist workers from rebelling." This idea had
the support of Generals Joaquin Lagos Osorio, Herman Brady Roche, Washington Carrasco
Fernandez, Hector Bravo Munoz, Mario Sepulveda Squella, Guillermo Pickering, and Orlando
Urbina Herrera, but with variations. While Lagos Osorio and Urbina Herrera did not object
to the Prats plan, the other five generals thought the Allend-armed forces government
ought to be "transitional" and of "short duration," to prepare
conditions for a "purely military government including the military police."
Generals Oscar Bonilla, Sergio Arellano Stark, and Javier Palacios formed another group,
joined by Augusto Pinochet, which posited that the Allend-armed forces phase was not
Alone and struggling to be "the leader of the uprising" was General Manuel Torres de la Cruz, the only one saying "we have to operate now, at once."
It was against this background that President Allende's naval aide, Commodore Arturo Araya Peters, was assassinated on July 26, 1973 (see Chapter 1).
The assassination led Socialist counterintelligence services to a plot in the National party, in collusion with the CIA through the ex-Cadet Commandos, to assassinate President Allende. The CIA had es-imated, after its fiasco with Fatherland and Liberty's attempt to cause a military insurrection on June 29, that only the assassination of a "big fish" would provoke enough chaos to force the military to take charge. On Friday, July 27, Socialist counterintelligence services discovered movements in the National party relating to a "big operation" for September 4, with the goal of assassinating Allende. The plan was discovered through a legislator closely linked to Fatherland and Liberty who drank too much at a gathering in a private home on the night of July 27 and said that "Araya's murder [which had occurred the night before] may shot all our plans to hell." The legislator seemed very concerned that the nationwide commotion provoked by the naval aide's assassination (he didn't know it had been planned by naval intelligence) and the investigations to discover the culprits might take the lid off the National party's plans for Allende's death.
On August 1, Allende informed General Carlos Prats about this plot, and the commander in chief informed his corps of generals. The generals agreed that the assassination of Allende was a "hazard" and took measures to have the plot dismantled by the SIM. Once again the events taking place in Chile showed that there was a definite lack of coordination between the coup preparations of the Pentagon and the generals, and the CIA's efforts to overthrow Allende. All the Unidad Popular parties were informed of this incident, as well.
Less than twenty days later, however, the generals changed their minds (see Chapter 1). They would assassinate Allende, and simulate his suicide, after they had taken control of the entire country in a full-scale military occupation.
|From the viewpoint of the civilian conspirators, the murder of Allende's naval aide
hastened things. They felt that the time had come to unleash a "new October work
stoppage." On July 27 truck owners throughout Chile went on strike, alleging that
"the demands that had led to the October 1972 strike had not yet been met."
Three days later, Leon Vilarin, president of the Chilean Truck Owners Association, made a
public statement in Osorno that "this strike will end when Allende's government
ends." That day Frei met with a group of friends in Santiago and informed them that
he had made up his mind: "I believe only the armed forces can save Chile" (and
set him up in the presidency, he hoped). He was accused of this by the daily Ultima
Hora on July 30,1973.
On Tuesday, July 31, General Prats met with 250 officers of the Santiago garrison at their request to discuss "the political situation, the serious economic crisis, and the threats from workers' sectors against the armed forces." The 250 officers asked Prats to tell Allende that "the officers of the Army believe that if an agreement is not reached with the Christian Democrats, and if the armed forces are not given complete charge of running the Area of Social Property, and if the industrial cordons are not outlawed, then the military will have to take action."
Allende countered by pulling out documents revealing the complicity of high-ranking naval officers in the assassination of his naval aide. In what he considered a master stroke, he forced the high command of the three branches of the Armed Forces to accept the appointment of four officers to his new Cabinet, which began life on August 9 as "the last chance."
The day before, on August 8, the Chilean College of Lawyers, led by Alejandro Silva Bascunan, a financier, released a declaration (in the newspaper El Mercurio, on TV Channel 13, and over the network of broadcasting stations belonging to Allende's opponents) which urged public opinion to turn its attention "to the accomplishment of the dictates of conscience by mobilizing the broadest sectors of the citizenry against the destruction of the civil rights and the institutional order which have been the pride of Chileans." They were calling for the support of everything that meant the weakening of the constitutional government. This declaration deftly coincided with the generals' position.
On Tuesday evening, August 7, twenty-four hours before the College of Lawyers' declaration was released, the conspirators in the naval high command had decided to start moving on an idea conceived by Vice-Admiral Jose Toribio Merino. This was to present the coup they were preparing as a "response" to a phony "Red coup." Naval intelligence had found out about a meeting to which roughly two hundred junior officers and sailors in Talcahuano had invited the Socialist party secretary Carlos Altamirano. The purpose of the meeting was to let him know that since June, the commanders of the Navy's warships had been haranguing their crews at sea, telling them that "we have to get that Marxist President Salvador Allende out of La Moneda," and "we Navy men have the patriotic duty to overthrow the present government." Altamirano, along with Miguel Henriquez, secretary general of the MIR, and Oscar Garreton, from MAPU, explained the Chilean political situation to the junior officers and sailors, emphasizing the threat represented by fascist officers, who were serving the North American multinational companies, and the national oligarchs. They emphasized the necessity of letting all the sailors know that "they should not obey fascist officers" should they give orders for an uprising against the government. (Details of this meeting were published in August 1973 issues of Chile Hoy.)
Toribio Merino and his intelligence advisers decided that this constituted sufficient evidence of a "Red coup" in the Navy. On August 7 they officially announced that "subversion" had been uncovered on the ships Almirante Latorre and Blanco Encalada, and the ringleaders were Altamirano, Henriquez, and Garreton. They announced the arrest of about fifty sailors and junior officers, headed by a petty officer named Cardenas.
In the days following, reporters from left-wing newspapers managed to find out how, at the Talcahuano and Valparaiso naval bases, these sailors had been forced to sign absurd confessions after being brutally tortured. In the Valparaiso Naval Hospital they found a sailor whose testicles had been smashed. Wives and relatives of the arrested sailors gave out to the newspapers the names of naval intelligence captains in charge of the tortures. 21 There were three basic types of tortures:
|1. An open oil drum filled with urine and excrement was employed to submerge the head
of the man being interrogated, to the point of asphyxiation, every time he refused to
answer or to confess to any crime he was accused of
2. The prisoners were hung naked, head downward, from a gymnastics bar and struck repeatedly on the scrotum and at the root of the testicles.
3. The prisoners were forced to drag themselves naked through a "pool" full of hammer-broken rocks over which was hung, at about a height of one foot, a strong steel net to keep them from standing up. They were made to crawl between the net and the rocks several times during the interrogations.
This situation caused a huge stir and made large sectors of the population all the more eager to organize to "prevent a military insurrection." Newspapers such as Puro Chile and Noticias de Ultima Hora devoted special attention to investigating the affair. They were able to expose shameful deeds that took place during the June 29 military mutiny, when the soldiers who occupied the federal buildings next to the Palacio de La Moneda ransacked the government office workers' pockets and drawers. In the Treasury building on the west side of La Moneda, the soldiers stole money, watches, and gold rings from the employees-as well as two cheeses and four sandwiches brought by workers for lunch.
The pressure on the civil politicians began to increase. The military group composed of Gustavo Leigh, Cesar Mendoza, and Josd Toribio Merino had already agreed on August 20, after Cesar Ruiz Danyau's aborted coup (see Chapter 1), that Allende's removal was essential. On August 21 they received this news: Eduardo Frei had arranged that in no more than forty-eight hours the Chamber of Deputies would issue a statement declaring Allende's government "unconstitutional," along the lines dictated by Generals Bonilla and Arellano Stark. The gist of the statement was that the Chamber of Deputies was "serving the President of the Republic and his ministers of state, the armed forces, and the corps of military police with notice that the legal and constitutional order of the Republic has been seriously abrogated," and addressing themselves to those commanders in chief who were ministers, they urged "that, by the same token, by virtue of your duties, your oath of loyalty to the Constitution and the laws, and the nature of the institutions of which you are high-ranking members, and whose name has been used in drawing you into the Cabinet, we call upon you to put an immediate halt to all of those situations mentioned herein which infringe upon our Constitution and laws. . .
|On August 21 the Christian Democrats and National party organized a
"women's" demonstration in front of General Prats's house, to ask him to step
down and let the other generals "forge the military power." The demonstration
had been arranged to "soften General Prats up" for the visit of General Oscar
Bonilla, who would ask Prats, "in the name of our corps of generals, to resign . . .
because you are a disgrace to our institution, in your excessive loyalty to Allende's
government." Bonilla also warned Prats not to oppose the other generals because
"we have taken all necessary steps to cleanse the honor of our armed forces, once and
for all." Prats repeated Bonilla's words to President Allende the same day.
Joan Garces, a Spanish political scientist who was Allende's personal adviser, was an eyewitness of these events and related them as follows in a document read to the U.N. General Assembly on October 9, 1973:
On Tuesday, the right wing organized a women's march on the Defense Minister's house. They coarsely insulted General Prats and demanded that he resign from the Army. The Intelligence Service took pictures of the wives of six generals and various senior officers. That day, General Prats, who was sick in bed, was visited by General Bonilla-a Frei man whose wife had been among the demonstrators-who asked him to resign as commander in chief of the Army. A few minutes after General Bonilla's departure President Allende arrived at General Prats's home. The general warned Allende that he had the impression that the Army was planning some kind of treason, and discussed with the President ways that it might be thwarted.
Returning to his private residence, the President was visited by the Minister of the Interior and the second-in-command of the military police, General Urrutia. He had invited several Army generals to dine, most prominently Augusto Pinochet. [Among the guests were Generals Brady, Sepulveda, Pickering, Urbina, and Torres de la Cruz, all in on the conspiracy.] The subject of the conversations was possible measures to take against the impending coup d'etat. After midnight, the President called together the directors of the coalition of parties in the Unidad Popular and the Central Unica to tell them that, given the seriousness of the military situation, he had decided to fire the generals implicated in the coup plot. Rather than exercise his constitutional power to fire these untrustworthy generals, he decided that the Army's high command would study details of a plan to defend the government in collaboration with regular forces and union workers. [The generals named by Allende were Oscar Bonilla, Sergio Arellano Stark, Ernesto Baeza Michelsen, Carlos Forestier, Javier Palacios Ruhman, and Cesar Raul Benavides.] Around 2 A.M. the President was informed of the arrival of the senior officer sent to meet with the government and the Central Unica to finalize the defense plans to put down the coup the next day. I saw this general with my own eyes. His name is Augusto Pinochet.
|This account by Joan Garces shows us how the political ingenuousness of the Unidad
Popular leadership, including President Allende, allowed "the leader of the military
insurrection," as he was designated by the high command, to learn of the entire
deployment of the workers' forces in Santiago as a "responsible" member of the
defense against the coup.
The next day, on August 22, General Prats called together his corps of generals and asked them to endorse a declaration of "damages" against his person and rank made by the women's march the day before. Of the twenty-two generals present, eighteen refused. To avoid having Prats, and thereby Allende, suspect them, and since they were already sure that the majority of the generals had turned against the Defense Minister, Generals Pinochet, Brady, Sepulveda, and Pickering voted in favor of Prats's petition. (Joan Garces's U.N. document and an article in the Santiago daily La Tribuna, August 24, 1973,reported on this episode.)
General Prats immediately drove to La Moneda and tendered his resignation to Allende. According to Garces's U.N. document:
Given the situation, General Pinochet told President Allende that it was expedient to accept Prats's resignation as a measure to defuse the charges against him by the Air Force and the Navy. In exchange for General Prats's retirement, Augusto Pinochet promised to become commander in chief of the Army and that very week fire six generals implicated in the coup d'etat. Heading this list was General Bonilla, Pinochet's Minister of the Defense until his death in a helicopter crash March 3, 1975.
On August 23, 1973, General Carlos Prats Gonzalez ceased to be commander in chief of the Army and Minister of Defense. From retirement, he wrote a public letter of resignation to Allende, warning him that he had resigned because he could no longer restrain the coup's forces. He thereby warned all of Chile that the military corps was on the move. But his letter had almost no repercussions. On September 15, 1973, Prats was sent into exile in Argentina by the military junta, where he lived with his wife until they were both murdered when their car was bombed on September 30,1974. 22
|On the afternoon of August 23, at a meeting of the conspiring generals, Sepulveda and
Pickering were given instructions for the mobilization of their troops on "D
Day" (still not set, but tentatively planned for the beginning of September). At that
time the two generals discovered that, according to plans, the coup was to begin by
eliminating some 6,000 middle-level union, political, and community leaders in the first
few hours, as well as by destroying workers' settlements and other humble communities with
tanks and aircraft. They were told that "with some 50,000 casualties in the first
three to five days of fighting, we will have cleared the terrain." Although they
protested against this strategy of murder and destruction, they somehow also were informed
about the plan to assassinate President Allende. They were instructed to tell no one,
because "not even Pinochet knows." Pickering and Sepulveda tendered their
resignations immediately. On August 24 they left the Army's ranks. 23
Brigadier General Herman Brady Roche was named commander of the Santiago garrison and the
Second Division, and General Sergio Arellano Stark took over Pickering's job.
Meanwhile, Pinochet somehow managed not to arouse President Allende's suspicions and at the same time not to fire the generals involved in the conspiracy. Joan Garce's narrates:
In the last days of August, General Pinochet asked the President to postpone the retirement of the subversive generals until the Army's Qualifications Council met in the second half of September. His reason: this would be an internal, "institutional" decision, which he would impose as commander in chief. This would save the President from the criticism of having political motives in firing generals. I personally had occasion often in the last week of August and the first of September to listen to President Allende repeatedly express his thoughts about the military subversives' movement which we could all feel was on the verge of exploding. I took part in his last work session before his murder, on September 10. On that occasion, the President repeated that at the Councils of Qualifications Ordinary that were to take place in the coming weeks, according to the commanders in chief, he would definitely exercise his legal powers to send the leaders of the coup d'etat into retirement. President Allende had personally discussed this with the commander in chief of the Navy, Admiral Montero, and with the commander in chief of the Army, General Pinochet.
On August 31, the shape of the coming insurrection became even clearer when the naval high command, led by Josd Toribio Merino, forced Admiral Raul Montero Cornejo to tender his resignation as naval commander in chief
This happened on the morning of August 31, after Montero had taken part in the Annual Council of the National Navy in Valparaiso to qualify the institution's executive officers. At noon the high command met for lunch. When Montero arrived, the admirals said that he had better leave, because they were going to discuss the national political situation and they felt they could not trust him. Montero announced that he would immediately present his letter of resignation to Allende. According to Joan Garces,
That afternoon, on his return to Santiago, he related these events to President Allende and handed him his resignation. Dr. Allende refused to accept it and entreated him to remain in his post, for the good of the country, for a few more weeks while he dismantled the coup in the Navy.
On Septernber 11, Admiral Montero was arrested by the rebels and replaced by the rebel Admiral Merino, a member of the present military junta.
On the same day, August 31, the civilian organizations involved in the conspiracy took a step forward. The College of Lawyers, "by request of various members," had prepared a "legal" report on whether it was possible to "ask the National Congress to declare the constitutional unfitness of the President of the Republic." The report said it could be done, adding this assessment: "This illegal and unconstitutional activity on the part of the President may be motivated by one of two possible causes. Either the President willfully and consciously, and for undeclared reasons, has systematically violated the fundamental bases of our institutional system; or the Right Honorable Salvador Allende cannot bring himself to make his conduct conform to these norms imposed upon him by the duties inherent in his office."
THE LAST DAYS
El Mercurio was already reflecting the national situation on August 31. On page one it carried an item datelined Valparaiso, which reported: "Signed by the naval judge, Vice-Admiral Jose Toribio Merino, commander of the First Naval District, a petition of legal infraction was presented against Carlos Altamirano, a Socialist Senator, and Oscar Garreton, a MAPU Deputy.... The petition of legal infraction is based on the support given by the two legislators to sailors who attempted to take control of two Navy ships to start a civil war." 24
In twenty of the twenty-five provinces of Chile, the truck owners and professional societies manipulated by the Christian Democrats were on strike.
Also on page one, illustrated with a photo of the general in uniform, El Mercurio reported: "Next Tuesday General (Ret.) Roberto Viaux Marambio will travel to Paraguay after he is released at midnight Monday. There Viaux will finish out the exile to which he was sentenced by the military tribunal in connection with actions of the Tacna Regiment that ended in the death of General Rene Schneider, commander in chief of the Army. General (Ret.) Viaux will be exiled for five years."
In the same issue, El Mercurio ran a "study" on page two entitled "Constitutional Impediments to the Presidential Performance," prepared by a professor of constitutional law at the Catholic University. Alongside it in the "Comments" column was an item entitled "The Nation and the Military Conscience," which concluded with: "Consequently, and particularly for the military, to obey and collaborate with the government is to betray our nation."
On the inside pages appeared a declaration by the president of the oligopolistic Construction Industry Guild (Camara de la Construccion de Chile), in which it was stated: "Chile's problem would be solved by a patriotic step which it would benefit Mr. Allende to take and which has been pointed out to him by all manner of institutions and trade associations in Chile: and that is to resign."
The Sunday, September 2, edition of the leftist newspaper Pure Chile provoked a national commotion with a long interview with the defendant Jose' Luis Riquelme Bascunan, arrested by the Navy and military police intelligence. and charged with the assassination of Araya Peters, Allende's naval aide. He had been held in solitary confinement, and this interview with the newspaper's director, Miroslav Popic, was the first contact he had had with the press since his arrest. His statements showed that Riquelme had been falsely accused, and that naval and military police captains were implicated in a cover-up of the true murderers.
|Part of Riquelme's story, that of his torture in the Defense Ministry basement, was:
"They set up two chairs, one here and the other there, on one your feet and on the other your hands. Suddenly they tie up your feet with some wires, on your ankles, then you're secured like that in the air. You have to realize that in the middle there wasn't anything; you put your hands on the chair and suddenly you straightened right up where they applied the current to you. They would stick the cables on your waist, right here, and wham! One time they sat me down and tucked some cables here under my armpits and kept me like that, they must have tied me up, and all of a sudden I felt a big jolt right here between the collarbones, as if I was going to choke, and since that time I haven't felt good. . . . What can I tell you? . . . I jumped. They made me jump. Suddenly you were over there and then you were over here, on the other side ..."
Puro Chile's accusation was dangerously close to revealing that Allende's naval aide had been assassinated by his own comrades-in-arms in complicity with the CIA and the ex-Cadet Commandos.
September 3 was spent waiting to see "what would happen on the fourth," when the third anniversary of Allende's 1970 victory was to be celebrated. Both for the Unidad Popular and for the opposition parties, it was a moment for "measuring one's strengths." For the generals, it was going to be a day of rehearsals.
September 4 was, beginning at noon, a holiday. By 8 P.M. more than 700,000 laborers and peasants, office workers and students, children and women from all the provinces of Chile had paraded past the presidential box on Constitution Square. It was a huge demonstration of support for the government from the principal victims of the economic catastrophe. But their chants included not only "Viva Allende" and "Viva la Unidad Popular" but "Armas para el pueblo!" (Arms for the people), "Hasta cuando retrocedes Allende?" (How long are you going backward, Allende?), and "Solo el pueblo armado derrotara al momio armado!" (Only the armed people can defeat the armed reactionary). The celebrating in the streets of Santiago lasted until well past midnight.
All day long, Chilean Air Force planes flew over the city, concentrating on the industrial districts in the south and the downtown streets, where they photographed the groups of workers out for the anniversary parade. They also flew over La Moneda; at night they made "practice flights at El Bosque Air Base simulating bombardments with rockets on 200-liter gasoline barrels" with Hawker Hunter jets (reported in Ultima Hora, September 6, 1973).
|An urgent meeting was called among Air Force personnel to analyze the aerial
photographs taken that day. The conclusion was that some six or seven hundred thousand
people in Santiago and the outer provinces were prepared to support the constitutional
government. Gustavo Leigh reportedly commented, "If this keeps up, those leftist
bastards are going to win the '76 elections," and then "we really will have the
Communists on our backs."
The civilian conspiracy also was alarmed. For the fifth they had organized a huge parade of women in front of Catholic University in Santiago to demand "Allende's resignation" and "a military government." But there were pitched battles in the streets between the sympathizers and opponents of the march organized by the Christian Democrats and the National party.
The news from the provinces was appalling. There were ten and fifteen dynamite attacks every day, on factories, leftist political headquarters, homes of peasants' and workers' leaders. Ground transportation had almost reached a complete standstill. Students, merchants, and professionals had partially gone on strike, organized by the right-wing parties.
On September 5, General Pinochet told Allende that "this is not last October," the Armed Forces "can't guarantee anything," because the Navy, the Air Force, "and some of our generals want you to leave -or comply with what Congress asks of you." Allende could not decree emergency zones under military control, as he had in 1972. That night, the President called in three Unidad Popular journalists and told them about this situation.
On the seventh, Allende agreed to capitulate. That morning, he called Pinochet and seven generals from the Santiago garrison into his office and told them he had decided to announce "Monday or Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday would be safer," his decision to call a plebiscite to clear up "the conflict of power between the Executive and the Parliament" and "promulgate the whole of the Christian Democrats' constitutional amendment on the Area of Social Property." The generals received this news "with a gesture of astonishment" (this was the phrase Allende used to describe it to Joan Garces on the night of September 10). Allende told them that "we are going to bring peace to our country," since those were the causes of the present civil conflict. "Nobody," he told them, "will be able to say now that the President of the Republic does not respect the other powers in the state." He explained that, according to his calculations, he was planning to make the announcement on Tuesday or Wednesday, because "this weekend I have to convince the Unidad Popular-and that's going to be hard."
|Allende's decision had taken the generals by surprise. They regrouped a block away
from La Moneda, in the Defense Minister's office, and came to a simple conclusion: they
had to overthrow Allende before he announced his decision to end the quarrel with
the Christian Democrats headed by Frei. They discussed the time they would need to be able
to start off the "blitzkrieg" they had been preparing for months. It is said
that "seventy-two hours" was the technical answer given by General Sergio
Arellano Stark. Augusto Pinochet set the date: Tuesday, the eleventh, beginning at
midnight Monday. 25
September 7 was a turbulent day. Around 3 P.M. news reached Santiago that the Chilean Fleet, anchored in Valparaiso Bay ready to sail to join the U.S. Pacific Fleet for the annual Operation Unitas maneuvers, had mutinied and refused to weigh anchor until "Admiral Montero resigns and Admiral Merino is appointed our commander in chief."
General Pinochet announced to the new Defense Minister, Orlando Letelier, that he would personally go to Valparaiso to talk to the "rebels." He flew there by helicopter, accompanied by four other generals, to meet with Merino. Presumably he informed him of the situation created by Allende's decision to remove the basis of public support for the military coup, and of the agreement that morning to deliver the coup on September 11.
When Pinochet returned to Santiago and reported to the Defense Ministry that "all is quiet, the fleet will sail on the tenth as scheduled," what really was happening was that the lists of nearly 20,000 middle-level leaders of people's organizations, scheduled to be assassinated from the morning of the coup on, were already being distributed to 3,000) was traveling the same route, and the officials in charge of preparing announcements for the day of the coup were already composing rough drafts to present Augusto Pinochet,Gustavo Leigh, and Jose' Toribio Merino.
|The lists were very detailed: name, address, age, profession, marital status, and
closest personal friends (usually two to five names). It has been alleged that the U.S.
military mission in Santiago and the CIA in Washington had some involvement in their
As an irony of fate, on the night of September 7, the corps of military police generals gave a banquet to which Salvador Allende was invited. General Cesar Mendoza Duran was also present and behaved very obsequiously toward the President (Mendoza had not yet been notified that the coup would take place the following Tuesday). It was probably Mendoza's obsequiousness that made Allende refer to him, in his last speech, broadcast only by Radio Magallanes at 9:40 A.M. on September 11, as the "groveling general."
The morning of Saturday the eighth, Allende summoned to his office the commanders in chief of the Armed Forces, General Gustavo Leigh Guzman, Admiral Raul Montero Cornejo, and General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. In consideration of the difficult times the country was going through, and since he was going to announce his political concession the next week, Allende asked them to temper their application of the gun control law, so as not to "exasperate" the workers. The commanders in chief said they had always tried to avoid "excesses" in those procedures, and they would now give special instructions to that effect. The meeting was short and friendly, according to what Allende told Augusto Olivares, his press adviser.
September 8 was a boring day for the reporters, particularly for the El Mercurio reporters who had been holed up since September 2 in an apartment on the thirteenth floor of the Hotel Carrera with photographic equipment outfitted with powerful telescopic lenses. That day, El Mercurio's management, aware that "something juicy is going to happen at La Moneda one of these days," had rented a suite for an indefinite period and installed a team of reporters on a twenty-four-hour watch. El Mercurio was not clear whether the "something juicy" would be Allende's assassination or one of the generals', but the reporters were instructed to keep an eye on the door of La Moneda every second of the day through the telephoto lenses. On the eleventh they were to take some spectacular pictures of the aerial bombardment of the palace.
On Sunday, September 9, from 11 P.M. on, after a social dinner at his home, General Pinochet met with General Leigh, Rear Admiral Sergio Huidobro, the director of the Naval Infantry School (which was training the civilian fascist groups), and Vice-Admiral Patricio Carvajal.
The meeting lasted until 2 A.M. Its apparent purpose was to refine and check the operation. According to later reports, it was learned that during the afternoon of the ninth, Generals Pinochet and Leigh had finally talked to General Mendoza of the military police to get him to assemble his forces for the eleventh. Also, Admirals Huidobro and Carvajal had told Admiral Merino to prepare to arrest Admiral Montero at midnight on the tenth. According to a statement made to the Chilean press by General Leigh in November 1973, they also "signed a document which we keep in strict secrecy." Most likely the document listed the conspirators' names, so that none of them would ever betray the Tuesday coup.
But what is most important is that at 4 A.M. on the tenth, that is, two hours after the conspirators' meeting at Pinochet's house had ended, a Chilean Army colonel in civilian clothes arrived at the house of Nathaniel Davis, the U.S. ambassador, where there were also two members of the U.S. military mission in Santiago.
After this meeting there occurred a strange event: the radio counterintelligence services intercepted a coded message originating from the American radio transmitters in the Defense Ministry. It instructed the Operation Unitas task force, composed of three U.S. Navy destroyers and a submarine, to detach itself. Two of the destroyers were to remain more than 200 miles outside Valparaiso on the high seas. One destroyer and the submarine were to stay more than 200 miles outside Talcahuano. Operation Unitas was postponed indefinitely, the transmission said.
|This should explain what appeared so mysterious to some U.S. politicians. According to
the Inter Press Service (an Italian news agency) news wire: "The destroyers Tunner,
Tatonall, and Vesole and the submarine Clagamore were headed toward
Chilean territorial waters the night before the coup. They were halted right at the limit
and split into two groups, by a timely warning from the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, ten
hours before the bloody coup d'etat exploded."
It can also explain the following cable from the Spanish news agency EFE, which came out of Washington on September 13:
President Nixon knew beforehand of the preparations for the coup d'etat in Chile, but the American government decided not to warn President Allende, the Washington Post revealed today. In a front-page article the Post confirmed that the United States knew about the coup for at least twelve hours before it took place. According to the Post, a Chilean Army officer informed another officer in the American Army in Chile of the plot against the President. The information was then passed on to the highest levels in Washington, where the decision was made not to intervene.
The newspaper reported that these details were revealed yesterday by Jack Kubisch, Adjunct Secretary of State and coordinator for the Alliance for Progress, to a group of U.S. Senators forming the Subcommittee for Foreign Relations for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Monday the tenth, in La Moneda, a kind of calm reigned. The only political leader who alluded to what was going on was Rafael Tarud, the director of the smallest party in the Unidad Popular, the Accion Popular Independiente. He met with President Allende and afterward said: "I told him [Allende] that the API will support him in solving the transportation strike immediately, by law; in promulgating the constitutional reforms in the Hamilton-Fuentealba project, and in other acts that would result in social peace."
At 6 P.M., on the tenth floor of the Defense Ministry, Minister Orlando Letelier called in the directors of newspapers and magazines in Santiago to tell them that "the situation has a political solution that will soon be made known by the President himself," who asked of the directors of the news media that "in the news items about the gun control law searches, please do not try to associate the armed forces with that contingent policy." Letelier's feeling was one of optimism, of confidence that the speech Allende would give on Tuesday was going to solve the problem, and that "everything was calm." Nevertheless, more than one reporter took note of an ominous sign: not one of the three commanders in chief attended the Defense Minister's press conference, a highly irregular occurrence.
The fact was that at that very hour, on the floors below the one where Letelier was speaking to the press, the conspiring generals were preparing the last details of a full-scale military occupation of the country, to begin in six hours.
1. The Allende government's treatment of the armed forces in terms of their share of the budget was truly remarkable. Figures for 1971 and 1972 taken from "The State of the Public Treasury," by Treasury Ministers Américo Zorrilla and Orlando Millas, revealed the following: In 1971 the armed forces budget in escudos was 8.9 percent of the total government budget in escudos and 13.1 percent of the dollar budget. In 1972 it rose to 10.2 percent in escudos and 14.6 percent of the dollar budget. (The Chilean budget contains two separate entries, one in escudos and the other in dollars, for different expenditures. In both, spending for the military was increased during the Allende administration.) In 1971 the defense budget was only 17 percent larger than the Department of Health's; by 1972 it was 35 percent larger. In 1971 the defense budget was equivalent to 49.5 percent of the Department of Education's budget; by 1972 it was 61.3 percent of Educations's.
|On November 16, 1971, an additional budget of 390,972,000 escudos (some $32 million)
was accepted from the Treasury Ministry for a five-year Unidad Popular project to provide
housing for the armed forces (some 7,000 houses for officers and junior officers were
projected). The January 15, 1972, edition of La Nación. a daily, reported a speech
by General Oscar Bonilla, the Army director ofpersonnel, when 56 new houses were presented
to the officers: ..We are only beginning. Our determination to go forward is plain and
unbending. ...The institution has planned this initiative and will fight for it, knowing
that it is defend- ing something vital to each one of its members."
In salaries, the period 1970-1972 also represented a great jump ahead. According to figures from the 1972 Senate Commission on the Treasury and the National Planning Office, the following comparisons could be made:
In 1964 the Army commander in chief earned six times the national average for a worker's salary; in 1972, eighteen times the national average. At the lowest end of the senior officers' wage scale, a colonel in 1964 earned almost four times more than the average worker; in 1972, thirteen times more.
2. For more details on these plans created in the Pentagon, see Causa ML. No.8, May 1969, in which is printed the complete text of the Manual FM 31-15 as it is used by the cadets of the Bernardo O'Higgins Military School in its postgraduate courses at Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone. This publication caused ..violent polemics" in Chile (Alain La- brousse, L 'Expérience Chilienne. Paris, 1972, p. 152; Spanish edition, El experimento chileno, Grijalbo, 1973, pp. 152-153): ..But even before General Schneider's new regulation went into effect [this refers to post- graduate attendance at Fort Gulick by the Bernardo O'Higgins Military School cadets], between 1950 and 1965, there were already 2,064 Chi- lean military men who had been trained in the U.S. and 549 who were trained outside the U.S., that is. in the antiguerrilla schools ofthe Latin American countries." See also Chapter 1, note 2, on what the Mutual Aid Pact means to the U.S., and Causa ML, No.2. Sept.-Oct. 1968. More documentation on the same subject will be found in Alain Joxe, Las fuerzas armadas en el sistema político de Chile, Editorial Universi- taria. Santiago, Chile, 1972; and Robinson Rojas in Causa ML. No.21, July-Aug. 1971, pp. 20-25.
3. A denunciation of these "six points" was published in the official news- paper of the Santiago industrial cordons, Tarea Urgente. in June 1973. It had a circulation of 45,000, primarily workers, and was staffed by MIR people and a group of Socialist party members. The newspaper
| had been able to acquire this information
through "patriotic military police officers." The paper felt that the "six
points" revealed Manuel Torres de la Cruz as a conspirator. Nevertheless, the events
of June 29, 1973 (military mutiny), obscured this spectacular denunciation with the storm
of news on the uprising, and it was not revived until August- September 1973, in the
dailies Puro Chile and Las Noticias de Última Hora. In these same
publications, the military source of the gun control law was denounced; it had come about
through Juan de Dios Carmona's connection with General Oscar Bonilla. Emphasis was placed
on the antipopular character ofthis legislation. See Aurora de Chile, Aug. 1973
(a Socialist party newspaper with a circulation of 35,000).
4. These gun search statistics come from the dailies Última Hora and Clarín and the magazine Punto Final at the end of August and early September 1973. The fascist organizations' attacks and acts of sabotage were reported by the agency Prensa Latina, in news wires published in the Lima, Peru, daily El Expreso, Sept. 13-30, 1973.
5. In March 1973, this event was denounced indirectly (without naming Rear Admiral Ismael Huerta Celis) by Eugenio Lira Massi, ajournalist whose "La columna impertinente" appeared three times a week in Puro Chile, and by Fernando Rivas Sánchez, in the same daily. Both colum- nists presented the anecdote as proof that there were "senior officers in the Army and Navy" involved in the conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional government, and that these senior officers were protecting saboteurs and dynamiters belonging to the right-wing terrorist groups.
6. The Central Única de Trabajadores was a national organization of laborers' and office workers' unions founded in 1953; it became the most powerful tool of Chilean union organization. In 1973 the laborers' and office workers' unions were joined by the peasants'. The Central Única had a centralized national organization in Santiago and regional organi- zations at the provinciallevel. Its directors were elected by direct bal1ot. In 1973 it comprised almost one-third of the country's work force, that is, a1most halfthe laborers, office workers, and farm workers. Tradition- ally it was directed by representatives of the Communist and Socialist parties, and in the last years (1970-1973) the Christian Democrats had a greater participation than before. It was active on two planes: in organizing the workers' struggle for higher sa1aries and in serving as a support to the leftist parties in their political campaigns.
7. Generals Herman Brady Roche, Mario Sepúlveda Squella, and Wash- ington Carrasco, in addition to Colonels Augusto Lutz (after the mili- tary coup promoted to brigadier general and named secretary general
|to the military junta, rising from the position of chief of the SIM, which he held until December 1973) and Sergio Julio Polloni Pérez (in Decem- ber 1973 promoted to chief of the SIM, from the position of commander of Army Telecommunications) formed the central team of the SIM during the three years of the Unidad Popular govemment. From its office in the Defense Ministry (9th floor, office No.85), the SIM group was in charge of coordinating work with U.S. Army intelligence advis- ers (according to a January 1973 issue of Tarea Urgente), headed until June 1971 by Colonel Thomas H. Jones, chief of the U.S. military mission in Chile. (When Colonel Jones left Chile on July 21, 1971, he was decorated with the Chilean Star of Military Merit, pinned on him by General Carlos Prats González in the farewell ceremony.) AII of these men, along with Colonel Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda, comman- der ofthe Tejas Verdes Regiment (stationed at the Santiago port ofSan Antonio), and the commander of the Paratrooper and Special Forces School, Lieutenant Colonel Dante Marchesse, are graduates of the United States Armed Forces School, specializing in intelligence, at the Southem Command of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Panama Canal Zone. SIM chiefs who made frequent trips to the Southem Command were Generals Brady and Carrasco and Colonels Lutz and Polloni, using the air bridge that existed between the U.S. Command and the various intelligence corps of Latin America (Chile's air bridge is set up like this: Los Cerrillos Air Base, Santiago; Cerro Moreno Air Base, Antofagasta; Albrook Airfield, Canal Zone). To give the reader an idea ofwhat this direct line between the Pentagon's Southem Command and the Chilean generals means, I quote a brief account by Fran<;:ois Schlosser, which appeared in Le Nouvel Observateur. No.467, Oct. 28, 1973: "The Panamanians call it the Wall ofShame. It is the wire-and- bars barrier that separates the world of Latin America from the .Canal Zone,' under U.S. jurisdiction. Behind the chicken wire, the American way oflife reigns. Enormous buildings house the services of an organism that today makes Latin America quail: the Southem Command. Its latest triumph: Chile. ...The Southem Command is at the same time an information center, a many-disciplined 'military university,' and a base of operations. In the antiguerrilla school, thousands of Latin American senior and junior officers are trained for war against subversives. These officers receive complete technical training in the different military schools scattered throughout the Canal Zone: Communications School. General Staff School, Aviation School, etc. Underground constructions, places excavated in the rocks, house the nerve center of a|
|communications system that covers the entire continent. ...Here, the
U.S. authorities maintain direct contact, by telephone or teletype, with their
correspondents installed in all the South American capitals, where their role is more
important than that of the .officiar American ambas- sador. An air network reinforces the
communications network. To travel to Rio, Santiago, etc., the Southern Command civilian
agents and its military .students' make use of its own aircraft, its own airports. ...The
center's creation goes back to the early sixties. It represents a strategic option put
into effect by Washington. After the Alliance for Progress's failure against .Castrista'
subversion, the U.S. decided to play its military ace. ...In the Panama Canal Zone
mi1itary schools, a myth was born: that of the .solidarity' of the Latin American
soldiers. This psychological ploy produced excellent results. Its theme was: .We have the
same concerns, we are patriots, we want reforms, and we have a common enemy, Communism.'
For the Catholic officers from the South American armies, generally members of the middle
class, these simplis- tic formulas were enough to cement an elementary political
conscience. Thirty-five thousand ofthem received training from the Southern Command. These
officers made up the staffs that took power in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, etc. "
The New York Times, Oct. 23, 1973, carried an article signed by Drew Middleton that published other detai1s about the purpose of the Southern Command as an element of control for the U.S. Army over the majority of Latin American generals. ..Scattered across South America and the Caribbean are more than 170 graduates of the United States Army School of the Americas who are heads of governments, commanding generals, chiefs of staff, and directors of intelligence.
We keep in touch with our graduates and they keep in touch with us,' said Col. William W. Nairn, the commandant. The school offers 38 separate courses, all of them conducted in Spanish. Last year about 1,750 officers, cadets, and enlisted men from 17 countries attended courses." "The school's four instructional departments deal with com- mand, combat operations, technical operations and support operations".
Generals Brady, Carrasco, and Sepúlveda are typical ofthese gradu- ates. The oldest of them, Brady, had the following career: in 1943, he was chief of the military district that included Chuquicamata (a copper mine controlled by Anaconda); in 1946 he was graduated from the Southern Command; from 1947 to 1953 he was the mi1itary delegate to the Production Development Corporation; in 1959 he traveled to Fort
| Benning, Georgia, for a military course; after
that, he was made com- mander of the 6th Armored Division in the north of Chile; he became
chief of statf of the 2nd Division, then commander of the 2nd Division. Afterward, in
1974, he was appointed head of the J oint Chiefs of Statf of National Defense, and in
March 1975, Defense Minister, replacing General Oscar Bonilla, who died on March 3 in a
helicopter crash 300 kilometers south of Santiago. General Carrasco, having the same U.S.
military diplomas, was appointed chief of the Chilean military mission in Washington in
January 1974, and later, in December of the same year, commander ofthe Army's Fifth
Division, replacing General Lutz, who died suddenly on November 28, 1974.
8. Carrasco was replaced in the Third Division by Agustín Toro Dávila, who was hastily promoted to brigadier general in October 1973, when he was still military attaché in the Chilean Embassy in Mexico City. Toro, whose career is obscure, was a close personal friend of Augusto Pinochet.
In July 1974, Agustín Toro Dávila was appointed thejunta's Minister of Mines and was replaced in the Third Division by Brigadier General Nilo Floody Buxton. While Carrasco was chief of the military mission in Washington, the U.S. sold $68 million worth of arms to the junta. On October 25, 1974, General Pinochet's aide Colonel Enrique Morel Donoso was promoted to brigadier general and sent to Washington to replace Carrasco.
When Carrasco was commander in chief of the Third Division in Concepción, Senator Bulnes Sanfuentes, who represented Concepción Province, made frequent trips there, making no attempt to conceal his long visits to Carrasco at his headquarters (the implications of these visits were denounced in Punto Final, El Rebelde, and Puro Chile from August to September 1973).
9. "The Chilean military has had a long and close re1ationship with the United States, and the Pentagon regards the 90,(XX) Chilean soldiers, sailors, airmen and carabineros (the national police force) as among the best armed forces on the continent. Between 1950 and 1970, Chile received more military aid ($175.8 million) than any other Latin Ameri- can country except Brazil. This amounted to about lO percent of Chile's total defense budget in the same period. The largest amounts of aid were supplied prior to the elections of 1964 and 1970 to placate discontent in the military that might otherwise have been exploited by the strong Leftist parties. This high level has been maintained throughout the last three years which, including projected grants for 1974, total $45.5 mil-
|lion. This is double the corresponding tota1 for the previous four
years. At a time when economic aid has shrunk to less than $4 million, this signifies a
liberalization of military aid to Chile.
"The U.S. Air Force has a particularly close relationship with their Chilean counterparts, built up by the U.S. Air Force Mission in San- tiago over the last 20 years. More than 70 percent of the Chilean Air Force planes and helicopters are manufactured by the United States. At the present time, the Chilean military is awaiting a shipment of 20 ex-U.S. Navy A-4B Skyhawk fighter jets, previously used in Vietnam, which are sitting on an airstrip at the Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. The State Department saw no problem in selling these jets to a Marxist govemment. In fact, last Spring the United States offered to give credit to Chile and four other Latin American countries to purchase F-5E Freedom Fighter jets. The offer is particularly significant in that Presi- dent Nixon had to sign a special statement waiving the restrictions placed on selling sophisticated weaponry to underdeveloped countries. This can only be done if the President determines that such financing is important to .U.S. national security,' which he obviously did in this case.
"This proposed sale (Chile has not yet bought the jets) was greeted with disbeliefby Congressman Wayne Hays (D-Ohio) in recent hearings on foreign assistance, who wondered what Chile would do with these aircraft. The events of recent weeks seem to have answered that ques- tion.
"During the Senate hearings on foreign assistance, Senator Inouye (D-Hawaii) also questioned the logic of granting military credits to a country which had expropriated U.S. interests. (The possibility of a cutback in these military credits due to the UP's .intransigence' on the issue of compensation, must have worried the Chilean military.) Admi- ral Raymond Peet justified this policy toward Chile before the Senate committee. He explained that the United States prefers that under- developed countries .buy American' rather than have them look else- where for military equipment (Chile was considering the purchase of jets from the Soviet Union and France). Furthermore, according to Peet, .one of the big advantages that accrues to the United States from such a foreign sales program is the considerable influence we derive from providing the support for these aircraft.' Providing the F-5E jets or the Skyhawks, wouldpreserve a certain pro-American orientation in the Chilean military at a time of strain between the govemments of the two countries.
| "The Chilean Navy has also continued to receive
military credits and to carry outjoint maneuvers with the U.S. Navy. In fact, on the day
of the coup, U.S. ships were en route to Valparaíso to conduct routine maneuvers, but
tumed back after a brief meeting with a Chilean vessel.
"Providing hardware is only one tactic the United States uses to influence the Chilean military .In the past 20 years, over 4000 Chilean officers have been trained in the United States and U.S. schools in the Panama Canal Zone. General Pinochet, the head of the military junta, served as military attaché to the Chilean embassy in Washington D.C. and went to the U.S. Southem Command in the Canal Zone several times. Pinochet is known to be a hard-liner and in 1971 he wamed, .1 hope the army wi11 not have to come out, because if it does, it wi11 be to kill.' In addition, according to Newsweek magazine ofSept. 24, 1973, the other members ofthe Chi1eanjunta, Gustavo Leigh ofthe Air Force, Admiral Toribio Merino of the Navy and General César Mendoza Frank ofthe Carabineros, have all spent some time in the United States. And in 1971, a high-level military mission from the United States visited with Chilean military leaders. [See above, Chapter 2, note 14.]
"The Carabineros have also received U.S. aid through the Office of Public Safety of the Agency for Intemational Development. The pro- gram funneled nearly $2.5 million to the Chilean police forces since 1961, but was ended in 1971 by the UP govemment. In 1970, according to a Washington Post article of October 1, 1970, the OPS advisor sta- tioned in Chile, Joseph Vasile, was expelled for his involvement in a right-wing terrorist plot to discredit President Allende. Vasile was then transferred to Vietnam where he worked with the pacification program. The Carabineros are playing an important role in the junta and will most likely come increasingly under the influence ofthe military. As in other countries throughout the world, the Chilean police have emerged as a strong paramilitary force engaging in counterinsurgency activities for the new regime." Extract from "Chile: The Story Behind the Coup," NACLA 's Latin America and Empire Report, Vol. VII, No.8, October 1973, pp. 8-9.
For more on this see Senate Hearings before the Committee on Appropriations concerning Foreign Assistance and Related Programs Appropriations, FY 1974, and Hearings before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Mutual Development and Cooperation Act of 1973.
More information on U.S. military aid to Chile and its influence on the Chilean military will be found in Alain Labrousse, El experimento chileno, Grijalbo, 1973, pp. 150-154.
|10. The battle for economic power between the Unidad Popular on the one
hand and the Chilean oligopolies and American multinationals on the other was a battle
between the state's capitalistic economic power, managed by
the Unidad Popular, and private capitalistic economic power, managed by the national and
foreign oligopolies. In this struggle, ¡ the Unidad Popular was hampered from
operating freely by the entire capitalistic legal structure of the state system that it
governed, and it therefore was doomed to lose the game against the national and foreign
11. As indicated above, Chapter 4, note 2, the existence and reconstruction ofthe Pentagon's ..October Report" was deduced by some leftist groups through the speeches, harangues, and semipublic meetings of middle- level officers with their troops. But, of course, there was also additional, and very exact, information from some officers sympathetic to the aims of Chilean democracy, whose names I cannot cite because they are still in Chile. This Pentagon report had represented a radical change from the earlier attitude of ..wait and see," maintained until October 1972, and it reflected the thinking ofan important sector ofU.S. multinational consortia whose influence carries much weight in Washington. This sector, led by the Rockefellers, was opposed to the hard-Iine attitude advocating immediate destruction ofthe Allende government, urged by groups like ITT , Anaconda, and Kennecott. This duality of opinion explains what was happening during 1970, 1971, and 1972 in Chile, when the armed forces, manipulated by the Pentagon, kept on the fringes of the developing political situation. For a detailed study of the duality of opinion among the groups of U .S. consortia and their attitude to Chile and the Allende govemment, see Dale Johnson's The Chilean Road to Socialism. New York; Doubleday Anchor, 1973, section 2 of Part I, ..U.S. Policy in the Making: Chile, to Accommodate or Crush," and Section 3 of Part I, ..The Coincidence of Internal and External Counterrevolutionary Forces." See also Robinson Rojas, El Imperialismo Yanqui en Chile. Ediciones ML, Santiago, 1971, pp. 102- 110, Addenda I and II. An illustration of the causes of "wait and see" may be given by these paragraphs extracted from the NACLA account of the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States' sessions: at the December 14, 1970, meeting, Jerome I. Levinson of the IDB (InterAmerican Development Bank) says: "Experimentation with different political systems in Latin America is inevitable. The process of change in Latin American societies will provoke variations in the status quo of U.S. property in the hemisphere. But U.S. interests are not incompatible
| with the social development of Latin
America. We can reach compro- mises with change, as has happened in Mexico." Covey T.
Oliver, of the State Department, said: "Chile should be given all the opportunities
to achieve success with its new government. Just as Cuba cannot be consid- ered a failure
because of the effects of American policy after Castro rose to power, Chile must be given
a chance." And Walter Sedwitz, of the OAS, said at the same session: "If the
government fails, there will be a radicalization in Chile and a security problem for the
Naturally, this attitude changed when a popular revolutionary move- ment began to develop that was not controllable by the leftist political parties and, by the same token, was outside the reach of being controlled by the classic bourgeois democratic game that was so solid in Chile.
12. Allende's "incapacity" to get out of the crisis was due to the alliance among the Christian Democrats, the National party, and the Radical Democrats. This alliance blocked in Parliament any legislation to tax the oligarchy, which would reduce the budget deficit and control the runaway speculation in which the great industrial and commercial magnates were indulging, or to make certain economic activities a crime, which would stop the scandalous way in which the industrialists, merchants, and latifundistas were sabotaging the national economy. In the Parliament elected in 1969 (before Allende took office) the party distribution was as follows: Unidad Popular parties: 80 Deputies and Senators; Christian Democrats: 75 Deputies and Senators; National party and Radical Democrats: 45 Deputies and Senators.
Thus, the opposition majority was 120 to 80, which permitted foiling government legislative initiatives and allowed "constitutional challenges" to the Cabinet Ministers: in Allende's 33 months of government, he had to change the composition of his Cabinet 22 times on account of these maneuvers. This was a long way away from October 24, 1970, when the Parliament had voted: 153 Senators and Deputies for Allende as President; 35 for Alessandri, and 7 abstentions.
This kind of deadlock between the Parliament and the President continued even after March 1973, when the government's Senators and Deputies increased to 84 and the oppositions' dropped to 111. It was because of this that on July 18, 1973, the Socialist party's secretary general, Carlos Altamirano, said: .."The political forces of Chile find themselves temporarily at an impasse. In the face of this impasse, our strategy is oriented to breaking it up and using this break to promote a strong process of mobilization of the masses ...and to radicalize the revolutionary process." This strategy was firmly rejected by Salvador
| Allende and the majority of the Chilean
Communist party's Central Committee, who were always playing on the thesis of
"don't radicalize" and "consolidate what we have won." This brought
Allende and the Chilean Communist party to the idea of holding conversations with the
Christian Democrats, which the Socialist party and the MAPU refused to do. The MAPU
magazine, De Frente, No. l2, June 29, 1973, de- nounced "the bourgeoisie, led
by Frei and Jarpa," for attacking "by double entry, meaning to overthrow the
government or oblige it to compromise. ...They are putting seditious generals into the
cockpit. ...They are warming the climate for the moment of the fascist insurrection.
...What the Christian Democrats hope is that the Unidad Popular will commit hara-kiri by
freezing the process of change and repressing those who are demanding to move ahead, and
thus cut themselves off from their most genuine social base. ...In case the government
holds firm, the Christian Democrats are counting on their allies, who they know are
preparing another way out" [the fascist insurrection]. For its part, Chile Hoy, another
Socialist magazine, explained in the same month that the dialogue with the Christian
Democrats was only a pretext on the part of the conspiring generals to "exploit the
unacceptable demands that had been made to strengthen their final assault against the
revolutionary process." And that was indeed the case: when Allende announced his
political concession for September 11, give or take a day, the generals settled on that
date for the coup, precisely to prevent Allende from conceding.
13. The laws in force at that time in Chile with respect to television were so ambiguous that the government could not order the pirate station to close because it would violate articles in the Political Constitution re- garding freedom of the press. But at the same time, since the pirate station did not have a legal permit to operate, the government could obstruct its broadcast while the situation was being discussed in the courts.
14. In May 1973 the civilian police, at that time commanded by the militant Socialist Alfredo Joignant, managed to arrest Rafael Undurraga Cruzat, one of the members of the commando team, and through his confessions the CIA 's connections with this incident became known. Puro Chile and Última Hora published the facts at that time, but the law courts sabotaged the civilian police investigation by refusing to provide search warrants for the homes of the people implicated and forcing the civil authorities to suspend the investigation for the time being.
15. For a detailed study of the IPES, see my book Estados Unidos en Brasil, Ediciónes Prensa Latinoamericana, Santiago, 1965.
|16. A denunciation about this was made by Fernando Rivas Sanchez in Puro
Chile during January and February 1973, and by Marlise Simons in the Washington Post
during January 1974, page B-3.
17. This summary of Rodríguez Grez's interview with Viaux in the Santiago Penitentiary was published in July 1973 in a mimeographed report by the MIR.
18. On August 25, 1973, after a spectacular hunt, the Santiago civilian police arrested the second national chief of Fatherland and Liberty, the industrialist Roberto Thieme, who, in order to be able to operate more succcessfully in the underground smuggling arms from Mendoza, Ar- gentina, for his group, had passed himself off as "dead in an airplane crash" in January 1973. Roberto Thieme's confession provided the Socialist party (the civilian police chief was a Socialist) with proof that Manuel Fuentes Wedling was the "contact" between the CIA and the fascist organization, that Fuentes and the CIA had prepared the incident against Prats, and also that the CIA had approved the June 29 coup plan. Roberto Thieme's confessions uncovered such a huge net of "contacts" between the CIA and Chilean politicians that the police had to continue the investigation in strict secrecy. The investigation was terminated, of course, on September 11, 1973.
19. For the surgical approach to cleaning up the Chileans' minds, see p. 193 and p. 258, note 6. On March 11, 1974, the military junta published a "Declaration of PrincipIes of the Government of Chile," in which they stated that "it is of the utmost importance to change the mind of the Chileans," and that for this they "will exercise with energy the principIe of authority, dealing drastically with every breach of discipline or act of anarchy" (AP news wire, dated Santiago, Chile, March 11, 1974, carried in La Estrella de Panamá, March 13, 1974). On June 18, 1974, La Estrella de Panamá published on the first page of its second edition an AP news wire from Santiago under the headline "Education to Be Reorganized with Anti-Marxist Focus" which began: "About 600,000 professors and schoolteachers yesterday began a two-day national con- ference to study an education reorganization with an anti-Marxist focus." It added that the military junta's document had one stipulation for this reorganization: that "the educational system will not permit the participation of professors who promote the teaching of national or foreign doctrines such as Marxism." Professors had to personally indi- cate to the military authorities whether they were in agreement with this document. In Chile a "state of war" exists, it said, "martial law" is in effect, and "civil rights are suspended."
20. The generals' request was doubly cynical because on March 6, 1973, the
| acting commander in chief of the Army,
Division General Augusto Pinochet, head of all the armed forces in the country, which
"guaranteed a democratic, clean election without incidents and with absolute
impartiality," made a statement using that exact phrase. The same thing was done by
the director of the Electoral Register, Andrés Rillon, a Christian Democrat, thirty days
later, after the College of Examiners (composed in the main of Christian Democrats and
National party members) checked the votes one by one. Rillon said that it had been
"one of the cleanest elections in the history of Chile." His words ap- peared in
all the national newspapers at the time.
21. The torturers were the chief of Navy intelligence, Captain Gajardo; Navy Infantry Captain Koller; Navy intelligence Captain Acuña; Lieu- tenants Jaeger, Letelier, Luna, Alarcón, Tapia, and Maldonado; and a Navy Infantry second lieutenant, Boetsch. The tortures took place in Fort Borgoño at Talcahuano and at the Valparaíso Naval Academy (denounced in Última Hora. Puro Chile, Clarín. Punto Final, and Chile Hoy, Aug.-Sept. 1973).
22. One paragraph of Prats's letter said: "In realizing, during these last days, that those who wished to denigrate me had managed to disrupt the judgment of a segment of Army officers, I deemed it a duty of a soldier of solid principIes not to allow myself to become a factor of fragmentation in institutional discipline and in the State of Right [civil rights], nor serve as a pretext for those who are seeking the downfall of the constitutional government" (from Chile Hoy. No.64).
23. After this incident and the coup of September 11, there has been no word about Generals Pickering and Sepúlveda. Nevertheless, since they were very closely connected to the conspiracy and had the confidence of the rest of the coup's generals, it is likely that they are now leading anonymous civilian lives.
24. The second paragraph of the news item revealed the extent of the duplicity of Merino's maneuver in accusing Carlos Altamirano, Garretón, and Enríquez of ..subversion" in the Navy, to give the ..Red coup" pretext. It happens that now Merino was not requesting censure of these legislators on the basis of "subversion" (obviously, because he could not present any proof to the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies ), but rather on the basis of "the backing both legislators gave to the sailors," which apparently was his interpretation of their having publicly and repeatedly defended the sailors who had been falsely accused of subversion. The truth was that at this point in the military conspiracy, its leaders did not even take care to maintain the intellectual decorum
| of making their statements, accusations,
and sentences coherent.
25. The coincidences between the movements of the rebel Chilean generals and the U.S. diplomatic and military missions in Santiago are worth noting. On the moming of September 7, the generals agreed to overthrow Allende on the 11 th, four days 1ater: "U .S. Ambassador to Chile Nathaniel Davis traveled to the United States on Friday, Sept. 7, 1973 (four days before the coup ), met with Kissinger on the 8th, and retumed to Chile on the 9th" (NACLA's Latin America and Empire Report, Vol. VII, No.8, Oct. 1973, p. 10). Davis was the director of the Peace Corps in Chile in 1962, and in 1968 was sent to Guatemala, where he directed a "pacification program" resembling the ones carried out in Vietnam. ..In 1971 this program had left 20,000 people dead" (ibid.). Jack Anderson, in the Washington Post, Dec. l0, 1972, quoted a cable sent by Davis to Nixon from Santiago "long before the political crisis erupted, which said: "Perhaps what is significant now is growing convic- tion in opposition parties, private sector and others that opposition is possible. ...[Allende's] objectives are increasingly seen as incompatible and as going beyond what can be accepted. If opposition interests are to be protected, confrontation may not be avoidable.' "
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