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|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
|4 The Pentagon Tells the Generals to Go Ahead
While Allende was on his two-week tour of various countries, the Pentagon's Latin-American experts in Washington were analyzing the events of the October work stoppage. It had come to the conclusion that the popular insurrection in Chile was about to explode. By the same token, they decided that Salvador Allende was no longer in a position to control the popular insurrection. It was pointless not to help to overthrow him now and replace him with a strong regime that would dismantle the workers' organizations and thus prevent the possibility of subversion from below.
Without consulting or informing President Nixon, the Pentagon apparently decided to give the green light to the Chilean generals for an efficient, thorough, and sure-fire overthrow of Allende.
When Allende was received by General Prats on November 19, 1972, and had the reins of state returned to him, the Pentagon's envoys were already in Santiago to begin talks with the Chilean generals for the forthcoming coup. This adventure, by Pentagon decision, was not to include General Prats. 1
The Latin-American experts' "October in Chile"2 report had been placed before the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer.3 And the Pentagon representatives in the U.S. Embassy in Chile, experts on the internal situation of the Chilean armed forces, got in contact with "the right men."
In November 1972, Pentagon envoys had spoken with General Gustavo Leigh Guzmán, the Air Force's second-in-command; with Vice-Admiral José Toribio Merino, the Navy's second-in-command; with the "reformist" Generals Washington Carrasco, Herman Brady, and Sergio Arellano Stark; with the "hard-liners" Manuel Torres de la Cruz and Oscar Bonilla; and with the "constitutionalist" General Hector Bravo Muńoz.
|Their message was clear: The moment has come to prepare to overthrow Allende. It is a
race against time and a question of "your survival." If "the masses are
allowed to keep on the way they were going in October, in a year or two they are going to
run right over us."
The Pentagon envoys' line of reasoning was this: U.S. intelligence reports show that Peru is preparing for war with Chile in order to reclaim provinces lost in the nineteenth century. Reliable sources have informed us that the Peruvian generals are arming themselves with heavy tanks and will buy weapons in the Soviet Union. (Naturally, the Pentagon envoys did not inform the Chilean generals that they had planned to stop selling arms to Peru so that the Peruvian government would be forced to turn to the Soviet Union for replacements. This would provide the United States with a "strategic excuse" to begin a campaign against Peru, as soon as it had solved the Chilean problem.) Also, the Peruvian Air Force has an air transport division for their attack on Chile, and has built a modern superhighway from north to south to the Chilean border. Peru will attack in from one to three years, taking advantage of the moment when the Chilean economy has been destroyed by Marxism. Chile is not the Russia of 1917. It is not going to be able to resist this attack, and it will be defeated. Only an alliance with Brazil can put a stop to the "revanchist anxieties" of the Peruvians. But the Brazilian government has informed us that it will help Chile only if it can trust the government. It will never support the present Marxist government. Chile's survival as a nation is threatened not merely by Marxism (which wants to conquer it so that the Soviet Union can use it as a base against the U.S. and the entire civilized world) but also by external enemies who want to partition its territory and take over the rich mineral lands in the north. Peru will get support from Argentina. We (the Pentagon) could hold off Bolivia 4 (but we don't know for how long), but with the Allende government in office, the Chilean armed forces will be defeated. You generals will understand the responsibility you must assume if you know these facts.
|The "Pentagon report" was a drug to many generals, who used it as the
patriotic "justification" to join the plot against Allende. Very few of the
generals questioned the reliability of this "Pentagon report." Among those few
was General Carlos Prats Gonzalez, the Army's commander in chief. An expression he once
used to characterize it was "grotesque."
But what Prats thought was now irrelevant; since November, the "reformist" and "hard-line" generals were in firm agreement, which meant that a substantial majority were in favor of Allende's overthrow. Furthermore, the aid offered by the Pentagon and its announcement that Brazil's military government would also be on their side gave strong impetus to the idea that the overthrown government could be replaced by one "without fixed duration."
In the Chilean generals' last meeting with Pentagon envoys, they made a counterproposal that was accepted. They said they would give the "constitutional organizations" until March 1973 to overthrow Allende. If by that time the Christian Democrats and the National party had not been able to obtain two-thirds of the Parliament's seats and thus depose the President by a simple congressional mandate, then they would quickly mobilize for an effective, thorough, and massive military coup. The machinery was already on the launching pad.
In January 1973, in the city of Vina del Mar, the expanded directorate of the Society for Industrial Development met. They reviewed the failure of the previous year's campaign to overthrow the constitutional government. An official government analysis of the effects of the "October work stoppage," prepared in November 1972, was read:
The owners' strike of October pursued the downfall of the Popular government, and was a decided failure. But what did affect the country was its economic objective: to provoke disorder in the trucking industry, which transports and distributes consumer goods, raw materials, and fuel. In spite of the workers' efforts to keep the industries in operation, in spite of the young people who helped by volunteering to load, unload, and move products, in spite of the armed forces' protection, serious and even irreparable damage was caused to the economy, and to present and future productivity.
|During the twenty-six days of the owners' strike, vast quantities of
perishable goods were lost, among them more than 10 million liters of milk which could not
be gotten to the plants. Thousands of swine and poultry had to be sacrificed for lack of
feed. Seeds and fertilizers were not delivered in time, meaning that plantings were fewer
and harvests will be smaller. A large number of industries, although not shut down, had to
cut production so as not to exhaust their stocks of raw materials. The Paipote,
Potrerillos, Ventanas, and Chagres foundries had to stop production of more than 5,000
tons of copper owing to the interruption of ore shipments from the big mines. Other
factories were affected by the fuel shortage. Many construction and investment projects
fell way behind. Urgent repairs were postponed because indispensable material, parts, or
equipment did not arrive. All of this contributed to a substantial reduction in October's
production, which will have repercussions in the year's index and in the next months.
From a financial point of view, the government lost the income from highway and bridge tolls as well as from sales taxes, its two most important sources of tax revenue. Other revenue sources were also considerably reduced. This meant that new financial deficits and additional expenditures were incurred to avoid greater evils.
In spite of everything, however, the reactionaries did not succeed. The proletariat proved stronger, as did the overwhelming majority of peasants, young people, women, and patriotic segments of small and medium-sized industry, commerce, and the truckers who defied the rebels' threats. The people, organized and aware, proved they were capable of keeping the country functioning under the most difficult of circumstances.
The lesson of October is that in spite of their vast resources and the backing of the international conspiracy [the economic blockade], the reactionaries can be overcome.
The members of the industrial oligarchy who met at Vina del Mar agreed with the government report: the country's economy had been seriously damaged, but not the laborers', peasants', and office workers will to fight. They and other groups were still supporting the Unidad Popular's program. Although national production had been brought to the verge of collapse, the Allende government was still on its feet, and apparently in a better position than before. The bosses had managed to prevent the armed forces from helping the government, but after twenty-six critical days, in the face of the intimidating people's mobilization, the armed forces had resurfaced, in the role of Minister of the Interior.
|But the bosses were also agreed that they had to keep trying to throw out Allende.
During the mere twenty-six days the October strike had lasted, the bosses had paid the
strikers more than $100 million (so huge an expenditure that the dollar went down to
nearly half its price on the black market, owing to the huge influx of American currency,
which people called "Frei dollars"). The money had come in part from important
industrial groups in Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela. And the contributors wanted
results, not excuses.
The industrial oligarchy also noted that the cost of living had risen 99.5 percent by December 1972, a record inflation for Chile. The production apparatus had been badly damaged by the October work stoppage: foodstuffs and staples were so scarce that lines to buy them lasted for days in various districts in the capital. It could easily be predicted that January and February 1973 would see an inflationary stampede, a considerable deterioration in living conditions, and therefore an opportunity "to favorably influence public opinion to vote against the government in the congressional elections on March 4."
The bosses then agreed to ask for aid from the U.S. multinationals and Brazilian industrial groups to form a "campaign fund" for candidates of the Christian Democrat, National, and Radical Democrat parties, as well as those of other small right-wing groups. The "campaign fund" turned out to be huge. In a mere seven days, between Saturday the seventeenth and Friday the twenty-third of February 1973, the candidate for the Santiago Senate seat, Eduardo Frei Montalva, allegedly spent a total of $2 million on advertising in newspapers, magazines, posters, pamphlets, TV, radio, and street campaigns. 5
|But the Vina del Mar meeting of the Society for Industrial Development also discussed
the possibility that "the Unidad Popular might get more than 40 percent of the
vote." Although this seemed "very remote" to them, "our only
way out would be civil war." The Chilean oligarchs concluded their meeting by
pledging to put all their resources at the disposal of the election campaign, but at the
same time not to discontinue nourishing the fascist groups Fatherland and Liberty,
ex-Cadet Commandos, and so on, so that they could continue their sabotage and their
infiltration of the armed forces. 6
The Society for Industrial Development conferred with the National Agriculture Society and the National Confederation of Production and Commerce. They found themselves generally agreed on the same points.
The reactionaries' election campaign used the slogan: "Get two-thirds of the vote to oust Allende." One of the candidates for the Santiago Senate seat, Onofre Jarpa, used the slogan: "We don't need a new Parliament, we need a new government."
The election campaign was conducted by the parties of the right in such a way that soon it was common knowledge that the election was a mere pretext. Throughout February, editorials in the leftist daily Puro Chile were saying:
It doesn't matter to the Society for Industrial Development, the National Agriculture Society, and the National Confederation of Production and Commerce whether or not their politicians, among them Frei and Jarpa, ever get to the Senate to "legislate." They want them in to overthrow the Allende administration in a way that is cloaked in "constitutionality." Thus, for this country's right wing, obtaining two-thirds of the vote is essentially a mere accident of chance. It can happen or it cannot happen. If they get them, then Allende will be deposed after May 21. If they don't get them, they will nonetheless carry out their plot to depose him, turning to the fascist officers in our armed forces who have let themselves be seduced by their siren songs. The danger of a coup will begin on the night of March 4. The North American imperialists have already given the order to their lackeys in Chile to overthrow the constitutional government by any means. Thus the people must be on the alert. They must not let themselves be tricked by the idea that "the elections will solve the problem of power." The elections won't solve anything. The problem of power can be solved only by preparing to confront the fascists on their own ground, using their own weapons. Certainly, we must fight to make sure the enemy doesn't win a two-thirds majority in March. That will be easy. You can see it in the streets, in the communities, in the factories, and in the peasant settlements. What is hard is the other thing, and this must be achieved. The laborers must organize, under their own leaders, as must the peasants, office workers, and other patriotic groups among the small and medium-sized businessmen, to form an unbreakable wall against counterrevolutionary fascism and swiftly destroy it, using its own methods.
|This kind of editorial in Puro Chile caused all sorts of problems in the core
of the Unidad Popular (excepting an important group in the Socialist party and the MIR or
Revolutionary Left Movement, which shared the same viewpoint as the newspaper). The Unidad
Popular, under Salvador Allende's personal supervision and with the complete support of
the Communist party leaders, viewed success in the March elections as the only task of
those people's organizations that had shown such tremendous strength in the October 1972
work stoppage. They were trying very hard to replace the leaders of the industrial
cordons,* ( A kind of leftist vigilante committee-one of several people's
organizations, which included supply and price control juntas, ect.) who were members
of advanced groups of the Socialist party, the Revolutionary Left Movement, the PCR, and
independent leftists, in favor of a staff that would adhere to the path of Allende and his
Communist ministers who said that "to make a revolution is to produce."
But the industrial cordons had another idea. And that was to form "battalions of masses" to halt the armed counterrevolution. This was classified by the official publications of the Unidad Popular as "leftist childishness."
For the editors of such publications as Puro Chile, another problem besides emphasizing the thought of "preparing for the fight" existed:
to warn the people that the fascist conspiracy had deep roots in the armed forces' high command, but without having their publications shut down for "insulting the armed forces." The leftists were being hampered in every way by the legal veneer covering the developments in the country.
The election results surprised nobody. Two or three weeks before, a public opinion poll of Santiago, Valparaiso, and Concepcion, taken by Eduardo Frei's group in the Christian Democrat party, showed that the Unidad Popular was going to win about 40 percent of the votes. That is, the opposition was not going to win the two-thirds needed to replace Allende with the president of the Senate while new elections were called.
The Christian Democratic and National party candidates had trapped themselves by devoting all their propaganda to getting "two-thirds of the vote."
On the night of March 4, when it was clear that the Unidad Popular had won nearly 44 percent of the vote, the masses reacted as if the government parties' coalition had achieved a landslide victory over the oligarchs' and imperialists' maneuvers to prevent the Unidad Popular program's accomplishment.
In Allende's own words, the Unidad Popular's interpretation of the election results was:
The parliamentary elections of March 4 have shown something that causes the despair and confusion of some of our opponents: the orthodox functioning of the political institutions' mechanisms through which the people express their will. Defying the schemes of those who have not stopped trying to destroy them, because they saw the elections as a "pointless goal," March 4 was a clear manifestation of defense of our democratic way of government.
On the other hand, the meaning of the election results is clarified by the historic context in which the voting took place. The government's policy has been interpreted by the massive support received by the political parties that defend it, the largest that any government has received in the last twenty years after twenty-seven months in office. The fourth of March has reconfirmed the Chilean way to socialism. . . .7
|The day after the elections, the masses' enthusiasm got a bath of cold water. All the
industrial cordons, communal commandos, peasant councils, and supply and price control
juntas had planned meetings to "analyze the election results and take a leap forward
in forming the people's power" by "better preparing to confront the armed
counterrevolution." But these discussions never took place, because that day
President Allende began a campaign against "the lunatic fringe" who,
"objectively speaking," were playing into the hands of the imperialists and
oligarchs.(See Chapter 5, especially on the bated "gun control searches.) The
slogan "To make a revolution is to produce" was replaced by "And now, let's
produce for the revolution."
Bit by bit, the echoes of October, which had been heard again in March, began to die down. The debate whether it was a "provocation" or a "revolutionary act" to prepare for the fight against armed fascism was now a moot one. As the days passed, nobody paid very much attention to the antigovernment conspiracy that seemed to be forming in the heart of the armed forces.
The week following the elections, the generals in direct touch with the Pentagon envoys had several meetings to plan their next moves. One thing was clear: the civil politicians had failed. For that very reason, the generals felt they must undertake to discharge the Pentagon's orders: do the whole job out in the open, without shielding themselves behind the other power groups, the Chilean oligopolists and the North American multinationals.
The truth was, the generals and admirals were no longer afraid. While the politicians had devoted January and February to the election campaign, the generals and admirals had set themselves to "studying" and "thinking." They had examined the history of Chile during this century. They had looked at the Latin-American and the world situation. They had delved further into the histories of the workers' movement, the peasants' movement, and the leftist parties in their country. They had studied the economic problems and the periodic crises in the nation's system. They had looked for inspiration -and they had found it. It came in the form of a National party pamphlet entitled "The New Republic," which was simply the platform of the candidate defeated in 1970, Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez, the most conservative President Chile had had in the previous thirty-five years.
|The main ideas "The New Republic" put forth were:
"Only an authoritarian government" which imposes "order and discipline" and "rejects political maneuvering "will be able to solve Chile's problems.
"It is a question, then, of replacing the divisive class struggle with a vigorous national conscience, united in solidarity."
"The contribution of foreign capital to our economic development makes investment grow without having to postpone social benefits for a population who needs them."
"Unity, solidarity, and the higher motivation of the Chilean people will be possible only if these are preceded by a vigorous rebirth of the national spirit." For example, "Young people will study more and march less."
"There are many factors which conspire against nationalism. The most important of these is brought in by international Marxism, represented in Chile by the Socialist and Communist parties."
But the pamphlet's quotes didn't express everything the generals thought. For example, they did not state that the generals believed that the "breakdown of our society" had begun to be a serious factor not just in 1970, with the inauguration of a government representing "factors that conspire against nationalism," but much earlier, since 1964, when "the Christian Democrats, a party that has clear and possibly unpatriotic international links, let loose the forces of disorder with peasant unionization, excessive agrarian reform, and a populism that raised the people's aspirations."
|The pamphlet's quotes also didn't say that the generals thought that the process of
"breakdown" had been going on for such a long time that by now the entire
society was corrupted by the lack of "national unity." It was the
"politicians of all parties" who, in their eagerness to be elected or in their
desire to seem "progressive and advanced," were responsible for the situation,
and for that reason, the country needed "a total overhaul." Neither did the
quotes reveal that the Chilean generals cherished the Pentagon's assessment of them as
"the only cohesive organization in the nation capable of taking on the task of
rebuilding the country." Since they were not involved with any civilian political
coalition, they would be in good condition, after Allende's overthrow, to undertake the
dismantling of all the factors of "disorder," that is, the workers' and
peasants' union organizations, juntas of supply and price control, peasant councils,
communal councils, industrial cordons, and political parties of the left.
The generals were agreed on the following principles:
1. The government that replaces Salvador Allende should be purely military, involving the three branches of the armed forces and the military police.
2. The new government should seek support from civilians only as technicians on specific matters and not as members of political parties.
3. All "foreign" ideologies must be eradicated from Chile by "re-moralizing" actions on the part of the armed forces.
4. The economic crisis has only one solution: All Chileans must concentrate on their work and cease any political discussions; the Western countries, led by the United States, must give Chile substantial financial support.
5. To obtain this financial support, it will be necessary to offer "assurances to foreign capital," beginning with discussions on a "reasonable" compensation for the North American copper companies. The mechanism for this would be to annul the discount of the "excess" profits established by Allende. (That is, Chile would not deduct $774 million from the indemnizations set in October 1971. In other words, it would have to pay Anaconda and Kennecott a sum of around $500 million.)
|The second phase of the generals' discussions took place in the first and second weeks
of March 1973 and was dedicated to determining how to put their ideas into action.
As a first step, they set out to convert the "constitutionalist" generals, who were still adhering to Commander in Chief Prats's theory "to keep pressing until we get a government made up of Allende and the armed forces." Prats had informed the generals on numerous occasions, especially after October 1972, that "we must wait a while. President Allende has repeatedly said that he is tired of the parties with him, because they are not capable of leading the people on the road to social order and dedication to their work." To those officers who would listen, Prats said: President Allende "is coming to a point when he will be alone and will have no choice but to rule with the armed forces." A few days before the March election Prats told them:
"Allende is a brilliant politician, with very good intentions, who wants the best for his people, and he is totally committed to preventing a bloody insurrection by extremists of the right or of the left." 8
To the "reformist" and "hard-line" generals, Prats's declarations were nothing more than an indication of his personal ambitions. What Prats wanted, these generals declared, was to become Allende's heir apparent, to come out in 1976 as the leftist parties' presidential candidate.
Obviously Prats had to be left out of their plans, isolated from his sympathizers in the corps of generals, and dumped when the time came for the coup. The conspirators decided to approach General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, chief of the General Staff and second in seniority in the Army. Pinochet was then ostensibly a "constitutionalist" like Prats, but the generals felt that they had to attract him to their side anyway in order to avoid any appearance of weakness produced by having to go over the heads of the Army's two highest-ranking officers.
The generals also decided to woo the military police high command. They chose Cesar Mendoza Duran to contact first, since he had already demonstrated a strong dislike for Allende and "the Marxists."
|And as far as their requested participation in Allende's Cabinet was concerned, they
decided they would have to ask him to form one without officers, suggesting that "the
armed forces have already accomplished the purpose of guaranteeing honest elections and
pacifying hard feelings from last October." But at the same time they decided to
leave all the military men in responsible government jobs where they were, for two
reasons: to keep receiving through their minions fresh "and timely" information
about the internal maneuvers of the Unidad Popular leaders, and to annul the influence on
the troops of those officers loyal to Allende. These had revealed their
"extremist" sympathies in October 1972 and were "setting a bad
example" (as in the case of Air Force General Alberto Bachelet Martinez, named by
Allende to the National Distribution Secretariat, who gave press interviews in which he
endorsed "disordering" ideas-that is, that the supply and price control juntas,
made up of the "rabble," should see to the proper distribution of food in the
country. General Bachelet was thrown in prison on September 11, kept in the Air Force
torture camp at Los Cerrillos air base until October, and afterward transferred to the
public jail, where he died on March 12, 1974).
While the generals were discussing the details of the coup, the chief officers of the Army (the backbone of the plot) were distributed thus, from north to south:
Armored Division, stationed in Iquique, Tarapaca Province. Division commander, Brigadier General Carlos Forestier Haensgen, a "hard-liner."
First Division, with headquarters in Antofagasta, Antofagasta Province. Division commander, General Joaquin Lagos Osorio, a "constitutionalist" and an enthusiastic partisan of Prats's idea of forming an Allende-armed forces government.
|Second Division, with headquarters in Santiago, Santiago Province. Commander in chief,
Brigadier General Mario Sepulveda Squella, head of military intelligence, a
"reformist," a violent partisan of throwing out civil politicians of any party,
but seriously disagreeing with the other "reformist" generals, such as Herman
Brady Roche, in the struggle to gain control of the situation, which drew him nearer to
General Prats. Along with General Guillermo Pickering, head of the Military Institutes, he
was the only "reformist" who openly stated that "the overthrow should take
place in two stages," the first an Allende-armed forces government, the second the
armed forces alone, "to avoid useless bloodshed." General Sepulveda Squella's
Santiago garrison comprised eight regiments. Of these, the Junior Officers' School, the
2nd Armored Regiment, and the Telecommunications School were commanded by
"hard-line" colonels; the Paratrooper and Special Forces School by a
"reformist" colonel; and the Infantry School, and the Bum, Tacna, and Puente
Alto Railwaymen regiments by "constitutionalist" colonels.
Third Division, with headquarters in Concepcion, Concepcion Province. Division commander, Brigadier General Washington Carrasco Fernandez of the SIM, a "reformist" with very close ties to the Pentagon.
Cavalry Division, with headquarters in Valdivia, Valdivia Province. Division commander, Brigadier General Hector Bravo Munoz, ostensibly a "constitutionalist" but really a "reformist" who had infiltrated the former group for reasons of personal ambition. He was another division commander with strong ties to the Pentagon.
Fifth Division, with headquarters in Punta Arenas, Aisen Province. Division commander, Division General Manuel Torres de la Cruz, the true leader of the "hard-liners" while appearing to be "Allende's personal friend" and a "great supporter" of General Prats.
By the first half of March 1973, the alliance of "hard-linen" and "reformists," plus the personal position of the "constitutionalist' Bravo Munoz, had already given overwhelming control of the Army troops to the generals who had decided to accede to the Pentagon's wishes to overthrow Allende. The conspirators went about their task quietly, slowly and surely putting together all the pieces of their plot.
|They were so calm that they even managed to perform their roles with the civil
politicians to perfection, making them believe that they, the generals, were only the
politicians' tools. This is most evident in the case of Eduardo Frei, who still believed
two or three weeks after the September 11 coup that it was "his coup." He had
worked feverishly from the Senate (to which he had been reelected in the March 1973
elections) to persuade the generals to overthrow Allende, so that he could afterward
become President for the second time. The generals allowed him to believe they were
working on his behalf, and they got what they wanted: the wholehearted support of the
organizations controlled by Frei's reactionary backers. The eulogies that the Christian
Democrat politicians, organizations, and journalists heaped on the "military saviors
of our Fatherland" in the first days after the coup were incredible. In speeches,
world tours, and books they praised "the heroes in uniform." Only months
afterward, in December 1973, did they realize that the generals had been using them, that
they were out of the game, and, worst of all, that they had been glorifying men who were
slaughtering their fellow citizens with such brutality and in such numbers that the entire
world was horrified.
But the Chilean officers weren't the only ones who hurriedly got together after the night of March 4, 1973. The directors of the Society for Industrial Development, the National Agriculture Society, and the National Confederation of Production and Commerce also did. And in their meetings they could only have reaffirmed the opinion first voiced after the October 1972 work stoppage failed, that is, that it would be impossible to overthrow Allende by constitutional means.
They must have decided it would be best to concentrate their efforts instead on turning the armed forces against the President. Their thinking probably ran thus:
1. Only if there were real economic, political, and social chaos would the armed forces feel it their duty to intervene and depose Allende.
2. Once Allende had been ousted, the armed forces would take charge of maintaining social, political, and economic order, and the bosses would then devise a new way to develop the country.
|On March 28, twenty-four hours after Allende, accepting the generals' suggestion, had
again changed the composition of his Cabinet to remove all representatives of the armed
forces, Orlando Saenz, president of the Society for Industrial Development, had El
Mercurio publish an article by him which contained the two main tenets of the
Saenz said that the departure of the armed forces from the Cabinet proved that "they have repudiated the government," because the government meant to bring chaos on the country. This oncoming situation threatened the national security and sovereignty. He stated that "the Marxists' goal is to destroy Chile," and therefore the severe economic crisis afflicting Chile should not surprise anyone. The only solution was a "unifying" government, "strong and efficient," which would "make the state an arbiter, and not a suffocating monopolist." This "unifying government" would include the active participation of the "trade guilds"-that is, the oligopolies. With the voice of a prophet, Saenz pointed out that it was very important to "be prepared," because "the coming days will be very difficult, serious, and critical," and "who is to win in Chile will be decided, whether Marxist chaos or democracy." He urged all "democrats" in the country to fight tirelessly, until "Marxism is overcome," and voiced the hope that "the President of the Republic will listen to us."
Saenz, representing the Society for Industrial Development, had asked Eduardo Frei, who in late May had been elected president of the Senate and was thereby "in direct line of succession" should Allende be declared "unfit" for the job, if he would undertake a special task, in conjunction with his former Defense Minister, Juan de Dios Carmona. This task was to begin "precise, frank, and direct" conversations with General Oscar Bonilla Bradanovic, to devise a scheme to overthrow Allende and to ask him, as "the good friend of both of them," to speak to Generals Carlos Prats and Augusto Pinochet to propose the same ideas.
|For his part, Jorge Fontaine, representing the National Confederation of Production
and Commerce, got in touch with Senator Onofre Jarpa, the National party president, as
well as Senators Patricio Phillips and Pedro Ibanez Ojeda, to "approach" the
commander in chief of the Air Force, Cesar Ruiz Danyau; the commander of the First Naval
District, Vice-Admiral Jose' Toribio Merino; and Division General Manuel Torres de la
Cruz. The three politicians were told to speak frankly to the generals and admirals, and
promise them "a big publicity campaign" pushing for "a government of the
armed forces." The Society for Industrial Development, the National Confederation,
and other industrial associations would propagate the idea of "military power' as
opposed to "popular power." They would take charge of creating constant problems
in transportation, trade, and production, so that the national productive apparatus would
be completely paralyzed, worse even than in October 1972. They would follow whatever
suggestions the generals might make for the use of their news media (El Mercurio, Channel
13, the Catholic University's TV station, and the Mineria, Balmaceda, Cooperativa, and
National Agriculture Society radio stations, as well as others throughout the country) to
"undermine the prestige" of anybody they wanted, if that would help them achieve
their ultimate goals. 9
They would also guarantee the generals "a rapid decrease in Allen-de's prestige with the workers," because the trade unions controlled by the Christian Democrats and the National party would "promote an increase in strikes for higher wages and salaries."
The directors of the national oligopolies did not stop at the politicians, however. They also approached the president of the Supreme Court, Enrique Urrutia Manzano, an expropriated latifundtsta and a shareholder in half a dozen industrial monopolies. They asked him to begin a campaign of declarations impugning the "legality" of the government's actions and to talk to "whichever of the senior officers you can," to influence their decision "to liberate us from Allende's government." They did the same with the controller general of the Republic, Hector Humeres, asking him to double his efforts to outlaw all state acquisitions, requisitions, or interventions in the oligopolistic industries.
By the end of March 1973, the Chilean oligarchy and the U.S. imperialists had once more set up all their pawns at the starting position for a new campaign against the Chilean government. But, unlike previous occasions, this time all the pawns in the system were really in the starting position.
1. The decision of the Pentagon to encourage a coup without the participation of Prats, the commander in chief of the Army, seems to have been a reaction to Prats's behavior from the beginning of Allende's policy of inviting the "participation" of the Chilean high command in some aspects of his government. Before that time, General Prats, like the rest of the Chilean generals, was perfectly aware of the "ideological" influence of American senior officers on the top ranks of the Chilean armed forces. Nevertheless, following the October 1970 suggestion of "wait and see"' Prats had dedicated himself to promoting a line of conduct in his generals that would avoid a bloody coup. In that sense he tried to develop support for a possible armed forces-Allende government. This gradually drew him inside the inner circle of Allende's advisers, which won him the distrust of the Pentagon and the coup's high command. Until November 1972, the coup attempts from the heart of the armed forces had all been "erratic" and incoherent, lacking organization; Prats had disarmed all of them himself, though he yielded to some internal pressure not to punish the generals most deeply involved. In sum, he tried throughout to be loyal to his generals and at the same time to Allende in a play that would put him in a position to be considered a presidential candidate in 1976. His indecisive character is well expressed by this testimony Joan Garces gave to Le Monde, Oct. 5, 1974, p.3, after Prats was killed in Buenos Aires: "Last July, Prats said to me: 'I want to tell you something I never told President Allende. In May 1968 certain Christian Democratic ministers in Frei's government wanted to provoke a coup d'etat.' He did not believe it to be compatible with his position and duties to reveal something of that political character to the late President." Prats's murder on September 30, 1974, occurred at a time when the CIA's participation in the destabilizing of Chile's Unidad Popular government to pave the way for a coup was being denounced in the United States; this suggests that Prats knew many details of the conspiracy which he did not tell Allende and did not dare to reveal after September 1973, when he was in Argentina in exile. Apparently, his game of being "loyal" to two antagonistic sides at the same time caused his death.
2. It is very possible that this title, "October in Chile," given to the Pentagon report was a figment of the coup generals' imagination when they mentioned it to some civil politicians in late 1972 and late 1973. Fragmentary knowledge of this text was leaked out through conversations of General Oscar Bonilla with such civilian conspirators as Fduardo Frei and Juan de Dios Carmona, leaders of the right wing of the Christian Democrat party. Later, after the September 1973 coup, my information about this report was more detailed, coming through channels that I cannot reveal at this time. In the same way, I found out that "October in Chile" had two parts, or two sections: the Pentagon's opinion on the necessity of a coup, of preparing a coup against Allende, which was first made known only to the senior officers who met in November 1972 with the Pentagon envoys; and second, the "routine" report shared with the entire General Staff regarding the armies of countries adjoining Chile (Peru and Bolivia). These "routine" intelligence reports from the Pentagon to the Chilean armed forces were not published on a regular basis; their normal number is one or two per year, and they belong inside the framework of "exchange of intelligence" as envisioned by the Mutual Aid Pact. The second section was the one known to Prats at that time.
3. The Pentagon's meddling in the Chilean oligarchy's efforts to overthrow AlIende was exposed in a series of articles by Julio Zapata Bernales in Puro Chile's Sunday supplement, Dec.1972 and Jan.1973, under the titles "Anatomia de un golpe de estado," "Como la gran burguesia quiere derrocar a Allende," "El Fascismo como tecnica del golpe de estado," "Estados Unidos detras de Frei y Jarpa"' and "La Sociedad de Fomento Fabril y el imperialismo: Golpe." These articles revealed the general orientation of the instructions to isolate Prats, leave the politicians in the background, create the "trade guild power" base of fascism, and induce the senior officers to form a conspiratorial bloc. Punto Final, March-April 1973, took up again these denunciations of the Pentagon plans. After July 20, 1973, when General Washington Carrasco traveled from Concepcion to Santiago to talk to Air Force Group 7 -that is, to its commander Cesar Guevara Fuentes and fifteen other officers--about a scheme to "attack Santiago by air from La Serena, Quintero, and Concepcion" (this referred to attacking the industrial sectors and working class living areas), more information came out about the Pentagon's meddling (see Chile Hoy, Aug.-Sept. 1973).
4. The Bolivian chief of state, General Hugo Banzer, had, from the time he took power after the 1971 coup, repeatedly uttered the slogan "We will regain our coastline," as he led campaigns to strengthen the Bolivian Army to recover "our historic territory." He was referring to the 66,000 square kilometers that form part of the present Chilean province of Antofagasta, which Chile snatched from Bolivia after winning the war of 1879 against Bolivia and Peru. (Chile took from Peru the present province of Tarapaca, 55,000 square kilometers in area.) Both provinces contain Chile's richest copper and saltpeter resources. Banzer's campaign to "regain the coastline" at times acquired the character of real war hysteria, naturally for his own internal political purposes.
"The CIA director also said that after Dr. Allende's election, $5 million was authorized by the 40 Committee for more 'destabilization' efforts in 1971, 1972, and 1973. An additional $1.5 million was provided to aid anti-Altende candidates in municipal elections last year. Some of these funds, Mr. Colby testified, were provided to an unidentified influential anti-Allende newspaper in Santiago."
The unidentified newspaper was El Mercurio, property of the Edwards economic group, whose chief, Agustin Edwards, was living in New York, as vice-president of Pepsi CoIa. Puro Chile and Ultima Hora in Santiago February 26, 27, 28, 1973, denounced ITT, Anaconda, Kennecott, Dow Chemical, Grace, Chase Manhattan Bank, and First National City Bank for contributing to the "campaign fund" through the Edwards clan. For their part, the Chilean magnates also opened up their pocketbooks: the Feb. l9-26, 1975, issue of the Chilean magazine Ercilla interviewed Orlando Saenz, president of the Sociedad de Fomento Fabril (SOFOFA, Society for Industrial Development) at that time. He stated: "I never saw the CIA. It was so easy to collect money during the UP that there was no need to use hot money ... ." (p.14). Time magazine (Sept.30, 1974, p.21) reported: "Approximately half the CIA funds were funneled to the opposition press, notably the nation's leading daily El Mercurio.... Additional CIA funds went to opposition politicians, private businesses and trade unions." The Time article also said:" 'You buy votes in Boston, you buy votes in Santiago,' commented a former CIA agent assigned to the mission. But not enough votes were bought; Allende had a substantial following."
6. It may seem absurd to affirm that the civilian fascist groups were trying to infiltrate the armed forces, but the situation was that fascism at that moment was operating on two parallel levels: the civilian and the military. The civilian fascist groups were used as political tools by the oligarchs who supported Frei's election as "emergency President" after a military coup, to try to convince the high command to mount a coup "for Eduardo Frei." But events were to show that "military fascism" won the game and retained power on all levels.
8. In October 1972, regarding the strategy to be used to destroy the owners' conspiracy, the great crisis between the leaders of the Communist and Socialist parties broke open, as did that between Carlos Altamirano and Salvador Allende, the top leaders of the Socialists. Allende felt that Altamirano was falling over the precipice of the extreme left, as he would tell anyone who would listen to him. This was reflected in violent personal attacks on Altamirano in Puro Chile during November-December 1972 by the journalists and editors sympathetic to Allende and the Socialist party leadership. In January 1973, in relation to an argument about the supply and price control juntas (people's organizations to control food distribution and speculation) with Treasury Minister Fernando Flores, the President, in the presence of journalists in La Moneda, shouted that the Unidad Popular parties bored him, that they were "a bag full of cats" (a Chilean expression for very intense, serious disputes), and that they did not know how to lead the people. For months, ever since the December 1971 crisis created by the Empty Pots March staged by the right, Allende had said the same things semipublicly. These were used by right-wing newspapers, which even ran front-page stories on the subject (e.g., "Allende Fed Up with the UP," in La Tribuna, first week of Sept., 1972). It may have been owing to this situation that General Prats stated to his military colleagues that Allende was almost ready to unite with the armed forces in his government. However, later events show that the President never had that intention, although his private and public declarations might seem to lead to the opposite conclusion. About this leadership crisis and fragmentation at the top of the Unidad Popular, see, for more information, Chapter 5.
9. From April 1973, the newspapers El Siglo, Ultima Hora, and Puro Chile, and the magazines Punto Final, Chile Hoy, De Frente, and El Rebelde were constantly denouncing the conspiratorial activities of Juan de Dios Carmona, Patricio Phillips, Eduardo Frei, Pedro Ibanez, and Generals Oscar Bonilla and Cesar Ruiz Danyau, not to mention Vice-Admiral Merino. This situation climaxed in August 1973, when Allende accepted Ruiz Danyan's resignation and decided to retire Oscar Bonilla and five other generals, as well as Vice-Admiral Merino, in the second half of September. The coup, however, came first. See Joan Garces's U.N. document, already cited, and details of this affair in Chapter 5.