from the book
The CIAs Greatest Hits
by Mark Zepezauer
In 1973, the CIA destroyed the oldest
functioning democracy in South America. Twenty years later, the
agency is still trying to deny its involvement.
The CIA intervened massively in Chile's
1958 and 1964 elections. In 1970, its fears were realized-the
socialist candidate, a physician named Salvador Allende, was elected
Horrified, President Nixon ordered the
CIA to prevent Allende's inauguration. The agency did its best
to promote a military coup, but the Chilean military's long history
of respect for the democratic process made this virtually impossible.
One of the main impediments was the Chilean army's chief of staff,
General Rene Schneider, so the CIA plotted with fanatics in the
military to assassinate him. The killing backfired, solidifying
support for Allende, who took office as scheduled.
That approach having failed, the CIA was
ordered to create a "coup climate." ("Make the
economy scream," President Nixon told CIA Director Helms.)
CIA-backed acts of sabotage and terror multiplied. The agency
trained members of the fascist organization Patria y Libertad
(PyL) in guerrilla warfare and bombing, and they were soon waging
a campaign of arson.
The CIA also sponsored demonstrations
and strikes, funded by ITT and other US corporations with Chilean
holdings. CIA-linked media, including the country's largest newspaper,
fanned the flames of crisis. The military's patriotism was gradually
eroded by endless stories about Marxist "atrocities"
like castration and cannibalism, and rumors that the military
would be purged or "destroyed" and Soviet bases set
When the coup finally came, in September
1973, it was led by the most extreme fascist members of the military,
and it was unrelenting in its ferocity. Allende was assassinated
(some CIA apologists maintain he committed suicide-by shooting
himself with a machine gun!). Several cabinet ministers were also
assassinated, the universities were put under military control,
opposition parties were banned and thousands of Chileans were
tortured and killed, many fingered as "radicals" by
lists provided by the CIA.
Under the military junta headed by General
Pinochet, torture of dissidents became routine, particularly at
a gruesome prison called Colonia Dignidad. It drew expatriate
Nazis from all over South America, one of whom told a victim that
the work of the Nazi death camps was being continued there.
No wonder the CIA tries to deny it was
involved in the Chilean coup. It turned a democratic, peace loving
nation into a slaughterhouse.