U.S. Policy / Chile

Birns, Laurence, ed. The End of Chilean Democracy: An IDOC Dossier on the Coup and its Aftermath. New York: Seabury Press, 1974. 219 pages.

Petras, James and Morley, Morris. The United States and Chile. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975. 217 pages.

Sergeyev, F. Chile: CIA Big Business. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981. 248 pages.

Uribe, Armando. The Black Book of American Intervention in Chile. Boston: Beacon Press, 1975. 163 pages. Translated from Spanish by Jonathan Casart.

Chile is a well-documented example of covert destabilization by the U.S., and NameBase includes several books on the subject. The CIA had been passing out money since 1964 to influence elections in Chile, but Salvador Allende won the presidency in 1970 anyway. Under orders from Nixon and Kissinger, a broad economic blockade was then launched in conjunction with U.S. multinationals (ITT, Kennecott, Anaconda) and banks (Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank). According to notes taken by CIA director Richard Helms at a 1970 meeting in the Oval Office, his orders were to "make the economy scream." Street demonstrations and various dirty tricks were paid for by the CIA over the next three years to increase the pressure.


The coup wasn't unexpected by the time it happened in September 1973, although the brutality of the junta surprised many because of Chile's democratic traditions. The major media in the U.S. ignored the issue of U.S. complicity until a year later, when Michael J. Harrington (D-MA) leaked details of secret Congressional testimony by William Colby. In late 1975, a Senate Committee headed by Frank Church released a report on "Covert Action in Chile, 1963-1973." By then so much information on Chile was in the public domain that the CIA had decided to trade a "limited hangout" on Chile for the Church Committee's silence on covert operations in five other countries.

Hauser, Thomas. Missing. New York: Avon Books, 1982. First published in 1978 under the title "The Execution of Charles Horman: An American Sacrifice." 255 pages.

Charles Horman was a 30-year-old American free-lance journalist in Chile during the 1973 coup. He had inadvertently been given sensitive information about U.S. involvement in the coup while chatting with a U.S. Navy engineer, which apparently led to his secret arrest and execution. The efforts of his family to find him were met with foot-dragging or worse at the U.S. embassy in Santiago.

In 1982 the movie "Missing," directed by Costa-Gavras and starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek, was released by Universal based on Houser's book. Nathaniel Davis, U.S. ambassador to Chile from 1971-73, filed a $150 million libel suit against the studio, even though he wasn't named directly in the movie. The book, however, uses real names throughout and is even more convincing than this excellent movie.

Davis was last spotted as a Professor of Humanities [sic] at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont CA, where he no doubt spends his time sipping sherry with grad-student proteges and inspiring tomorrow's foreign service officers.

North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 454, New York NY 10115, Tel: 212-870-3146. New Chile. 1973. 208 pages.

NACLA began in 1966 and quickly became one of the most important research organizations to emerge out of the U.S. student movement. Through the mid-seventies their publications concentrated on the role of U.S. corporations and foreign policy in Latin America, with special emphasis on U.S. universities, development policy, police training, and CIA covert activities. Reports were well-researched, with more facts than analysis.

New Chile is an objective pre-coup analysis of the successes and failures of Allende's socialism. The lines are drawn between the old order and the new hope, with sobering sections on remaining obstacles: U.S. police aid, the U.S. economic boycott, the Chilean right. It all came tumbling down in September, 1973.

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