1973 Chilean coup d'état

1973 Chilean coup d'état
1973 Chilean coup d'état
Part of the Cold War
Date 11 September 1973
Location Chile
Result Allende-led Unidad Popular government overthrown; Pinochet assumed power.
Chile Chilean Government:


Chile Military of Chile:


Commanders and leaders
Chile Salvador Allende
Chile Orlando Letelier
Chile Ariel Fontana
Miguel Enríquez
Chile Augusto Pinochet
Chile Gustavo Leigh
Chile José Toribio Merino
Chile César Mendoza

The 1973 Chilean coup d'état was a watershed event of the Cold War and the history of Chile. Following an extended period of political unrest between the conservative-dominated Congress of Chile and the socialist-leaning President Salvador Allende, discontent culminated in the latter's downfall in a coup d’état organised by the Chilean military and unofficially endorsed by the Nixon administration and the CIA, which had covertly worked to spread discontent and opposition against the government. A military junta led by Allende's Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet eventually took control of the government, composed of the heads of the Air Force, Navy, Carabineros (police force) and the Army.[1] Pinochet later assumed power and ended Allende's democratically elected Popular Unity government, instigating a campaign of terror on its supporters which included the murder of former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier.[2][3] Before Pinochet's rule, Chile had for decades been hailed as a beacon of democracy and political stability in a South America hoarding military juntas and Caudillismo.

During the air raids and ground attacks that preceded the coup, Allende gave his last speech, in which he vowed to stay in the presidential palace, denouncing offers for safe passage should he choose exile over confrontation.[4] Direct witness accounts of his death agree that he committed suicide in the palace.[5][6] After the coup, Pinochet established a military dictatorship that ruled Chile until 1990; it was marked by numerous human rights violations. A weak insurgent movement against the Pinochet government was maintained inside Chile by elements sympathetic to the former Allende government.


Antecedent politics

History of Chile
Coat of Arms of Chile
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Early History
Monte Verde
Inca Empire
Colonial times
Conquest of Chile
Spanish Empire
Captaincy General
Arauco War
Building a nation
Patria Vieja
War of Independence
Patria Nueva
1829 Civil War
War of the Confederation
Republican period
Conservative Republic
Liberal Republic
War of the Pacific
Parliamentary period
Chilean Civil War
Parliamentary Republic
1924 coup d'état
Presidential period
1925 coup d'état
Presidential Republic
Radical governments
Allende and UP era
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1973 coup d'état
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Allende contested the 1970 election with Jorge Alessandri Rodriguez of the National Party and Radomiro Tomic of the Christian Democratic Party. Allende received 36.6% of the vote (around 1,070,334 votes). Alessandri was a very close second with 35.3%, and Tomic third with 28.1%. In total, 2,954,799 people voted. Although Allende received the highest number of votes, according to the Chilean constitution because none of the candidates won by an absolute majority, the National Congress had to decide among the candidates. Alessandri announced on 9 September that if Congress decided on him, he would resign – which would then require another election. Congress then decided on Allende. Soon after hearing news of his win, Allende signed a Statute of Constitutional Guarantees, which stated that he would follow the constitution during his presidency.

The United States feared "an irreversible Marxist regime in Chile" and exerted diplomatic, economic, and covert pressure upon Chile's elected socialist government.[7] During his presidency, Allende nationalized US copper firms (in July 1971), nationalized banks and other large industries such as Purina, and sped up land distribution (by 1972, peasants lived in approximately 1700 rural properties). Total expenditures for social programs increased from $562.8 million to $828.5 million under Allende’s rule; this included health, education, housing, child assistance, and social assistance. Between 1967-1969 and 1973, employment in mines increased by 45% -- but, per capita production decreased by 28%. The Allende administration faced other disappointments in its programs.

By 1973, the amount of land in Chile under cultivation fell by 20%. Allende installed a price freeze and increased wages in the industry, which resulted in Chile spending 56% of its export earnings on food (the country was producing 2/3 of what Chileans consumed). Also, Chile’s trade deficit increased from $18 million to $255 million from 1971-1972. Exports fell by 25%, and imports increased by 40%, which caused an economic imbalance. Inflation became another problem during Allende’s rule, due to Allende’s wage increases and increase in spending. Inflation doubled in 1972, and the cost of living increased by nearly 50%. Allende had to deal with labor troubles as well: in 1972, a group of truckers went on strike due to his plan to create a state transportation enterprise. At its peak, 23,000 trucks were stopped. The truckers' strike ignited others all over Chile.

At the end of 1971, the Cuban President Fidel Castro made a four-week state visit to Chile, alarming Western observers worried about the Chilean Way to Socialism yielding to Cuban Socialism, i.e. Soviet Communism.[8]

In 1972, the economics minister Pedro Vuskovic adopted monetary policies that increased the amount of circulating currency and devalued the escudo, which increased inflation to 140 percent in 1972 and engendered a black market economy.[9] The Allende Government acted against the black market with organised distribution of basic products.

In October 1972, Chile suffered the first of many strikes. Among the participants were small-scale businessmen, some professional unions, and student groups. Its leaders — Vilarín, Jaime Guzmán, Rafael Cumsille, Guillermo Elton, Eduardo Arriagada — expected to depose the elected government. Other than damaging the national economy, the principal effect of the twenty-four-day strike was drawing Army head, Gen. Carlos Prats, into the government as Interior Minister, an appeasement to the right wing.[9] Gen. Prats succeeded Gen. René Schneider after his assassination on 24 October 1970 by the groups of Gen. Roberto Viaux and Gen. Camilo Valenzuela, whom the CIA financed and logistically supported. Moreover, Gen. Prats supported the legalist Schneider Doctrine and refused military involvement in a coup d'état against President Allende.[10]

Despite the declining economy, President Allende's Popular Unity coalition increased its vote to 43.2 percent in the March 1973 parliamentary elections; but, by then, the informal alliance between Popular Unity and the Christian Democrats ended.[11] The Christian Democrats allied with the right-wing National Party, who were opposed to Allende's Socialist government; the two right-wing parties forming the Confederación Democrática (CODE) (The Democratic Coalition). The internecine parliamentary conflict, between the legislature and the executive branch, paralyzed the activities of government.[12] To destabilise the Allende Government, the CIA paid some U.S. $8 million to right-wing opposition groups to "create pressures, exploit weaknesses, magnify obstacles" and hasten Allende's deposition.[13][14] The CIA report released in 2000 records some U.S. $6.8 million spent to depose Allende.[15]


On 29 June 1973, Colonel Roberto Souper surrounded the La Moneda presidential palace with his tank regiment and failed to depose the Allende Government.[16] That failed coup d’état — known as the Tanquetazo tank putsch — organized by the nationalist Patria y Libertad paramilitary group, was followed by a general strike at the end of July that included the copper miners of El Teniente.

In August 1973, a constitutional crisis occurred; the Supreme Court publicly complained about the Allende Government's inability to enforce the law of the land. On 22 August, the Chamber of Deputies (with the Christian Democrats united with the National Party) accused the Allende Government of unconstitutional acts and called upon the military to enforce constitutional order.[12]

For months, the Allende Government had feared calling upon the Carabineros (Carabineers) national police, suspecting them to be disloyal. On 9 August, Allende appointed Gen. Carlos Prats as Minister of Defence. He was forced to resign both as defence minister and as the Army Commander-in-chief on 24 August 1973, embarrassed by the Alejandrina Cox incident and a public protest of the wives of his generals before his house. Gen. Augusto Pinochet replaced him as Army commander-in-chief the same day.[12] In late August 1973, 100,000 Chilean women congregated at Plaza de la Constitución to vent their rage against the rising cost and increasing shortages of food, but they were dispersed with tear gas.[17]

Supreme Court's resolution

On 26 May 1973, Chile’s Supreme Court unanimously denounced the Allende régime’s disruption of the legality of the nation in its failure to uphold judicial decisions. It refused to permit police execution of judicial resolutions that contradicted the Government's measures.

Chamber of Deputies' resolution

On 22 August 1973, with the support of the Christian Democrats and National Party members, the Chamber of Deputies passed 81-47 a resolution that asked "the President of the Republic, Ministers of State, and members of the Armed and Police Forces" [18] to "put an immediate end" to "breach[es of] the Constitution . . . with the goal of redirecting government activity toward the path of Law and ensuring the Constitutional order of our Nation, and the essential underpinnings of democratic co-existence among Chileans."

The resolution declared that the Allende Government sought ". . . to conquer absolute power with the obvious purpose of subjecting all citizens to the strictest political and economic control by the State . . . [with] the goal of establishing a totalitarian system", claiming it had made "violations of the Constitution . . . a permanent system of conduct." Essentially, most of the accusations were about the Socialist Government disregarding the separation of powers, and arrogating legislative and judicial prerogatives to the executive branch of government.

Specifically, the Socialist Government of President Allende was accused of:

  • ruling by decree, thwarting the normal legislative system
  • refusing to enforce judicial decisions against its partisans; not carrying out sentences and judicial resolutions that contravene its objectives
  • ignoring the decrees of the independent General Comptroller's Office
  • sundry media offences; usurping control of the National Television Network and applying ... economic pressure against those media organizations that are not unconditional supporters of the government...
  • allowing its socialist supporters to assemble armed, preventing the same by its right wing opponents
  • . . . supporting more than 1,500 illegal ‘takings’ of farms...
  • illegal repression of the El Teniente miners’ strike
  • illegally limiting emigration

Finally, the resolution condemned the creation and development of government-protected [socialist] armed groups, which . . . are headed towards a confrontation with the armed forces. President Allende's efforts to re-organize the military and the police forces were characterised as notorious attempts to use the armed and police forces for partisan ends, destroy their institutional hierarchy, and politically infiltrate their ranks .[19]

President Allende's response

Two days later, on 24 August 1973, President Allende responded,[20] characterising the Congress's declaration as destined to damage the country’s prestige abroad and create internal confusion, predicting It will facilitate the seditious intention of certain sectors. He noted that the declaration had not obtained the two-thirds Senate majority constitutionally required to convict the president of abuse of power: essentially, the Congress were invoking the intervention of the armed forces and of Order against a democratically elected government and subordinat[ing] political representation of national sovereignty to the armed institutions, which neither can nor ought to assume either political functions or the representation of the popular will.

Allende argued he had obeyed constitutional means for including military men to the cabinet at the service of civic peace and national security, defending republican institutions against insurrection and terrorism. In contrast, he said that Congress was promoting a coup d’état or a civil war with a declaration full of affirmations that had already been refuted before-hand and which, in substance and process (directly handing it to the ministers rather than directly handing it to the President) violated a dozen articles of the (then-current) Constitution. He further argued that the legislature was usurping the government's executive function.

President Allende wrote: Chilean democracy is a conquest by all of the people. It is neither the work nor the gift of the exploiting classes, and it will be defended by those who, with sacrifices accumulated over generations, have imposed it . . . With a tranquil conscience . . . I sustain that never before has Chile had a more democratic government than that over which I have the honor to preside . . . I solemnly reiterate my decision to develop democracy and a state of law to their ultimate consequences . . . Parliament has made itself a bastion against the transformations . . . and has done everything it can to perturb the functioning of the finances and of the institutions, sterilizing all creative initiatives.

Adding that economic and political means would be needed to relieve the country's current crisis, and that the Congress were obstructing said means; having already paralyzed the State, they sought to destroy it. He concluded by calling upon the workers, all democrats and patriots to join him in defending the Chilean Constitution and the revolutionary process.

Foreign influence and intervention

Soviet role

According to the Mitrokhin Archive, the KGB and the Cuban Intelligence Directorate launched a disinformation campaign following the coup.[21] It is reported that Salvador Allende had a long-lasting relationship with the KGB[22] and the Cuban packages scandal had revealed arms smuggling from Cuba.[23][24] On the other hand sources suggest that the Soviet Union was sympathetic to Allende, but did not assist him because they believed he was "weak" for refusing to use force against the opposition.[22]

According to Allende’s KGB file, Allende "was made to understand the necessity of reorganizing Chile's army and intelligence services, and of setting up a relationship between Chile’s and the Soviet Union's intelligence services".[22]

It has been argued that the USSR refused to finance Allende mainly because of his unwillingness of forming a Soviet-type bureaucratic system.[25]

U.S. role

The U.S. Government’s hostility to the election of Socialist President Salvador Allende government was substantiated in documents declassified during the Clinton administration.[26] The CIA inserted covert operatives in Chile, in order to prevent a Socialist government from arising, and conducted propaganda operations which were designed to push the Chilean president Eduardo Frei to support "a military coup which would prevent Allende from taking office on the 3rd of November."[27][28] While U.S. government hostility to the Allende government is unquestioned, the nature of the U.S. role in the coup is highly controversial. Claims of the direct US involvement in the coup have not been supported by publicly available documentary evidence.[29]

In 1970, the U.S. manufacturing company ITT Corporation owned of 70% of Chitelco, the Chilean Telephone Company, and funded El Mercurio, a Chilean right-wing newspaper. Declassified documents released by the CIA in 2000 suggest that ITT financially helped opponents of Salvador Allende's government prepare a military coup.[30][31]

In 1972 the newspaper columnist Jack Anderson disclosed a memo of ITT's Washington lobbyist, Dita Beard, which revealed a relationship between ITT's providing funds for the Republican National Convention and a Justice Department settlement of an antitrust suit favorable to ITT.[32] On September 28, 1973, ITT's headquarters in New York City, New York, was bombed by the Weather Underground for the alleged involvement of the company in the overthrow of Allende.[33]

Immediately after assuming office, the new U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the CIA to depose President Allende in 1970, approving Project FUBELT. The U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Chile was a foreign policy meant to worsen the economic crisis that President Allende faced — in order to propitiate a right-wing coup d’état.[34] In a document dated September 15, 1970, Nixon orders CIA director Richard Helms to "Make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him."[35]

Agustín Edwards Eastman, one of the wealthiest men in Chile at the time, played a critical role in convincing the U.S. to “lend a helping hand.” After Allende received 36.3% of popular vote in a three-way election and was chosen by the Chilean congress as president, Edwards almost immediately opposed him (Kinzer 170). Edwards consulted the U.S. ambassador to Chile to ask if the U.S. would “do anything militarily, directly or indirectly?”(Kinzer 170). After the ambassador (Edward Korry) rejected his request, Edwards went to the CEO of Pepsi-Cola, who had direct access to President Nixon.[citation needed] Edwards’ friend from Pepsi-Cola notified Nixon of the “problem” in Chile and from that point on, “he (Nixon) had been triggered into action,” as Henry Kissinger said.[citation needed] In addition, ITT offered up to $1 million dollars to support any action by the U.S. to oppose Salvador Allende.[citation needed] ITT had set up shop in Chile and was at risk because “the Chilean telephone system was high on Allende’s list for nationalization.” (Kinzer 171)[citation needed]

Military action

By 7:00 AM on 11 September 1973, the Navy captured Valparaíso, strategically stationing ships and marine infantry in the central coast and closed radio and television networks. The Province Prefect informed President Allende of the Navy's actions; immediately, the president went to the presidential palace, La Moneda, with his bodyguards, the Grupo de Amigos Personales (GAP) (Group of Personal Friends). By 8:00 AM, the Army had closed most radio and television stations in Santiago city; the Air Force bombed the remaining active stations; the President received incomplete information, and was convinced that only a sector of the Navy conspired against him and his government.

President Allende and Defence minister Orlando Letelier were unable to communicate with military leaders. Admiral Montero, the Navy's commander and an Allende loyalist, was rendered incommunicado; his telephone service was cut and his cars were sabotaged before the coup d’état, to ensure he could not thwart the opposition. Leadership of the Navy was transferred to José Toribio Merino, planner of the coup d’état and executive officer to Adm. Montero. Augusto Pinochet, General of the Army, and Gustavo Leigh, General of the Air Force, did not answer Allende's telephone calls to them. The General Director of the Carabineros (uniformed police), José María Sepúlveda, and the head of the Investigations Police (plain clothes detectives), Alfredo Joignant answered Allende's calls and immediately went to the La Moneda presidential palace. When Defence minister Letelier arrived at the Ministry of Defense, controlled by Adm. Patricio Carvajal, he was arrested as the first prisoner of the coup d’état.

Despite evidence that all branches of the Chilean armed forces were involved in the coup, Allende hoped that some units remained loyal to the government. Allende was convinced of Pinochet's loyalty, telling a reporter that the coup d’état leaders must have imprisoned the general. Only at 8:30 AM, when the armed forces declared their control of Chile and that Allende was deposed, did the president grasp the magnitude of the military's rebellion. Despite the lack of any military support, Allende refused to resign his office.

By 9:00 AM, the armed forces controlled Chile, except for the city centre of the capital, Santiago. Allende refused to surrender, despite the military's declaring they would bomb the La Moneda presidential palace if he resisted being deposed. The Socialist Party proposed to Allende that he escape to the San Joaquín industrial zone in southern Santiago, to later re-group and lead a counter-coup d’état; the president rejected the proposition. The military rebels attempted negotiations with Allende, but the President refused to resign, citing his constitutional duty to remain in office. Finally, Allende gave a potent farewell speech, telling the nation of the coup d’état and his refusal to resign his elected office under threat.

Annoyed with negotiating, Leigh ordered the presidential palace bombed, but was told the Air Force's Hawker Hunter jet aircraft would take forty minutes to arrive. Pinochet ordered an armoured and infantry force under General Sergio Arellano to advance upon the La Moneda presidential palace. When the troops moved forward, they were forced to retreat after coming under fire from GAP snipers perched on rooftops. General Arellano called for helicopter gunship support from the commander of the Chilean Army Puma helicopter squadron and the troops were able to advance again.[36]Chilean Air Force aircraft soon arrived to provide close air support for the assault (by bombing the Palace), but the defenders did not surrender until nearly 2:30 pm.[37] First reports said the 65-year-old president had died fighting troops, but later police sources reported he had committed suicide.

In the first months after the coup d’état, the military killed thousands of Chilean Leftists, both real and suspected, or forced their "disappearance". The military imprisoned 40,000 political enemies in the National Stadium of Chile; among the tortured and killed desaparecidos (disappeared) were the U.S. citizens Charles Horman, and Frank Teruggi. [38] In October 1973, the Chilean song-writer Víctor Jara, and 70 other political killings were perpetrated by the death squad, Caravan of Death (Caravana de la Muerte).

The government arrested some 130,000 people in a three-year period;[39][40] the dead and disappeared numbered thousands in the first months of the military government. Those include the British physician Sheila Cassidy, who survived to publicize to the UK the human rights violations in Chile.[41] Among those detained was Alberto Bachelet (father of former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet), an air force official; he was tortured and died on 12 March 1974,.[42][43][44][45][46] The right-wing newspaper, El Mercurio (The Mercury),[47] reported that Mr Bachelet died after a basketball game, citing his poor cardiac health. Michelle Bachelet and her mother were imprisoned and tortured in the Villa Grimaldi detention and torture centre on 10 January 1975.[42][43][46][48][49][50][47][51][52][53][54][55]

After Gen. Pinochet lost the election in the 1988 plebiscite, the Rettig Commission, a multi-partisan truth commission, in 1991 reported the location of torture and detention centers: Colonia Dignidad, Esmeralda ship and Víctor Jara Stadium. It said that some 2,700 people were killed or disappeared by the military régime for seventeen years, from 1973 to 1990. Later, in November 2004, the Valech Report confirmed the number as less than 3,000 killed, and reduced the number of cases of forced disappearance; but some 28,000 people were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured.

Critics of the Valech Report say that families are falsely claiming that their relatives went missing during the 1973-1990 military regime, as there have been reports since 2000 that four people listed as killed or missing, were alive or had died in unrelated circumstances.[56] The cases have raised questions about the system of verification of victims of dictatorships.[57] The Age newspaper has reported that the number of people killed or reported missing and presumed dead is a total of 1,183 people, and that their names appear on a special memorial at the General Cemetery of Santiago.[58] Clive Foss, in The Tyrants: 2500 years of Absolute Power and Corruption, estimates that 1,500 Chileans were killed or disappeared during the Pinochet regime. Nearly 700 civilians disappeared in the 1974-1977 period, after being detained by the Chilean military and police.[59] In October 1979, the New York Times reported that Amnesty International had documented the disappearance of approximately 1,500 Chileans since 1973.[60]

In El día decisivo (The Decisive Day), Pinochet recounts the coup d’état, affirming he was the leading plotter. He said that he co-ordinated from his army commander office the deposition of President Salvador Allende. Recently, high military officials from the time said Pinochet was at first a reluctant participant and followed the lead of Adm. Merino and air force Gen. Leigh.


Fewer than sixty individuals died as a direct result of fighting on the 11th of September although the MIR and GAP continued to fight the following day. In all, 46 of Allende's praetorian guard (the GAP, Grupo de Amigos Personales, including ex-Chilean Special Forces Black Beret Mario Melo) were killed, some of them in combat with the soldiers that took the Moneda.[61] Allende's praetorian guard under Cuban-trained commando Ariel Fontana would have had about 300 elite commando-trained GAP fighers at the time of the coup,[62] but the use of brute military force, especially the use of Hawker Hunters, may have handicapped many GAP fighters from further action.[63]

According to official reports prepared after the return of the democracy, at La Moneda only two people died: President Allende and the journalist Augusto Olivares (both by suicide). Two more were injured, Antonio Aguirre and Osvaldo Ramos, both members of President Allende's entourage; they would later be allegedly kidnapped from the hospital and disappeared. In November 2006, the Associated Press noted that more than fifteen bodyguards and aides were taken from the palace during the coup and are still unaccounted for; in 2006 Augusto Pinochet was indicted for two of their deaths .[64]

On the military side, there were 34 deaths: two army sergeants, three army corporals, four army privates, 2 navy lieutenants, 1 navy corporal, 4 naval cadets, 3 navy conscripts and 15 carabineros.[65] In Mid-September, the Chilean military junta claimed its troops suffered another 16 dead and 100 injured by gunfire in mop-up operations against Allende supporters, and Pinochet said "sadly there are still some armed groups who insist on attacking, which means that the military rules of wartime apply to them."[66] A press photographer also died in the crossfire while attempting to cover the event. On 23 October 1973, 23-year-old Army Corporal Benjamín Alfredo Jaramillo Ruz, who was serving with the Cazadores, became the first fatal casualty of the counterinsurgency operations in the mountainous area of Alquihue in Valdivia after being shot by a sniper.[67] The Chilean Army suffered twelve killed in various clashes with MIR guerrillas and GAP fighters in October 1973.[68]

While fatalities in the battle during the coup might have been relatively small, the Chilean security forces sustained 162 dead in the three following months as a result of continued resistance[69] and tens of thousands of people were arrested during the coup and held in the National Stadium.[70] This was because the plans for the coup called for the arrest of every man, woman and child on the streets the morning of 11 September. Of these approximately 40,000 to 50,000 perfunctory arrests, several hundred individuals would later be detained, questioned, tortured, and in some cases murdered. While these deaths did not occur before the surrender of Allende's forces, they occurred as a direct result of arrests and round-ups during the coup's military action.

Allende's death

President Allende died in La Moneda during the coup. The junta officially declared that he committed suicide with a revolver (an AK 47 according to the link 'death of Salvador Allende) given to him by Fidel Castro, two doctors from the infirmary of La Moneda stated that they witnessed the suicide,[71] and an autopsy labelled Allende's death a suicide. Vice Admiral Patricio Carvajal, one of the primary instigators of the coup, claimed that "Allende committed suicide and is dead now."

At the time, few of Allende's supporters believed the explanation that Allende had killed himself. Even today, the explanation is still largely contested.[72]


Original members of the Government Junta of Chile (1973).

On 13 September, the Junta dissolved Congress.[73] At the same time, it outlawed the parties that had been part of the Popular Unity coalition, and all political activity was declared "in recess".[74]

Initially, there were four leaders of the junta: In addition to General Augusto Pinochet, from the Army, there were General Gustavo Leigh Guzmán, of the Air Force; Admiral José Toribio Merino Castro, of the Navy (who replaced Constitutionalist Admiral Raúl Montero); and General Director César Mendoza Durán, of the National Police (Carabineros de Chile) (who replaced Constitutionalist General Director José María Sepúlveda). Coup leaders soon decided against a rotating presidency and named General Pinochet permanent head of the junta[75]

The newspaper La Tercera published on its front page a photograph showing prisoners at the Quiriquina Island Camp who had been captured during the fighting in Concepcion. The photograph's caption stated that some of the detained were local leaders of the "Unidad Popular" while others were "extremists who had attacked the armed forces with firearms". The photo is reproduced in Docuscanner [2]. This is consistent with reports in newspapers and broadcasts in Concepción about the activities of the Armed Forces, which mentioned clashes with "extremists" on several occasions from the 11th to the 14th of September. Nocturnal skirmishes took place around the Hotel Alonso De Ercilla in Colo Colo and San Martino Street, one block away from the Army and military police administrative headquarters. A recent published testimony about the clashes in Concepcion offers several plausible explanations for the reticence of witnesses to these actions.[76]

Assault on the Neltume police station

After hearing the news about the 11 September coup MRC (Spanish acronym for Revolutionary Campesino Movement), a group formed with help of MIR, decided to take actions against the police station in Neltume as a first step to defend the Unidad Popular government. The idea of the MRC was to take control of the building, have the police surrender, make them join the revolt, and seize any weapons to be found there. People from MRC gathered all the weapons they could find, four rifles and some shotguns, and prepared dozens of molotov cocktails and home-made grenades. The assault was launched at 02.00 in the night, September 12. The attackers numbered between 60 and 80 men.

Jorge Durán Delgado, a former MIR militant who was 19 years old when he participated in the assault on the police station, remembers these moments: "Pepe shouted at them to surrender, not to fear for their lives; to [surrender and] fight together with us to defend the government of Allende". Benito Carrasco Riffo, by then commandant of the police station, said that they shouted back: "We won't surrender, carabiniers do not surrender mierda!"

The four carabiniers inside the police station had two SIG automatic rifles and two carbines with which they answered the fire from the MRC. The police station was a rustic tree building but was enough to resist the weak fire power of the assailants and rain prevented the molotov cocktails to put the structure on fire. Inside the police station were also the wives and children of the carabiniers. Corporal Juan Campos in the police station asked for help to the police station in Choshuenco some 20 km west and shouted desperately though the radio: "Send the aerial cavalry!"

At around 03.00 a reinforcement of four carabiniers arrived on a pickup truck. These reinforcements erroneously fired at carabiniers at first, and by the time they had arrived, the attack was almost over and the MRC assailants had retired.

Guerrilla resistance

MIR newspaper El Rebelde saying; Neltume, Spark of Rebellion.

After the coup, left-wing organizations tried to set up resistance groups against the regime. Many activists created groups of resistance from refugees abroad, while the Communist Party of Chile set up an armed wing, which became in 1983 the FPMR (Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez). In the first three months of military rule, the Chilean forces recorded 162 military deaths.[69] A total of 756 servicemen and police are reported to have been killed or wounded in guerrilla incidents.[77] The Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Left Movement, MIR) founded at the University of Concepción suffered heavy casualties in the coup's immediate aftermath, and most of its members fled the country.[78] Among the killed and disappeared during the military regime were 440 MIR guerrillas.[79] Many guerrillas confessed under torture and several hundred other young men and women, sympathetic to the guerrillas, were detained and tortured and often killed. Nearly 700 civilians disappeared in the 1974-1977 period, after being detained by the Chilean military and police.[59] In 1976 there had been plans to infiltrate 1,200 Marxist guerrillas from Argentina into Chile in an operation christened Plan Boomerang Rojo (Red Boomerang Plan), but the infiltration failed to materialize due to the cooperation with Argentine authorities.[80] Chilean officials reported 100 of the "Red Boomerang" guerrillas succeeded in infiltrating into Chile, but that 14 were captured.[81]

On the fighting reported to have taken place in Concepcion from 11–14 September, the newspaper La Tercera published a frontpage article about the prisoners being held at the Quiriquina Island Camp. In an accompanying photograph it is reported that the detainees being held under guard, were largely local leaders of the "Unidad Popular" and "extremists that have attacked the armed forces with firearms".[82] A recent account by a MIR leader explains that the sheer brutality of the military forces, especially the spectacular bombing of La Moneda, may have dissuaded many Allende sympathizers from taking action.[63]


  • "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."Henry Kissinger[citation needed]
  • "Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty."Edward M. Korry, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, upon hearing of Allende's election.[citation needed]
  • "Make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him" — Richard Nixon[83]
  • "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. It would be much preferable to have this transpire prior to October 24 [1970] but efforts in this regard will continue vigorously beyond this date. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end, utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG and American hand be well hidden..."[84]
  • "[Military rule aims] to make Chile not a nation of proletarians, but a nation of entrepreneurs." — Augusto Pinochet[85]
  • "We didn't do it. I mean we helped them. [Garbled] created the conditions as great as possible. — Henry Kissinger conversing with President Nixon about the coup.[86]

See also



  1. ^ Genaro Arriagada Herrera, Pinochet: The Politics of Power
  2. ^ "Controversial legacy of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet ....Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Chile's democratically elected Communist government in a 1973 coup ...", The Christian Science Monitor, 11 December 2006
  3. ^ "CHILE: The Bloody End of a Marxist Dream", Time Magazine, Quote: "....Allende's downfall had implications that reached far beyond the borders of Chile. His had been the first democratically elected Marxist government in Latin America..."
  4. ^ http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Salvador_Allende%27s_Last_Speech
  5. ^ Davison, Phil (2009-06-20). "Hortensia Bussi De Allende: Widow of Salvador Allende who helped lead opposition to Chile's military dictatorship". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/hortensia-bussi-de-allende-widow-of-salvador-allende-who-helped-lead-opposition-to-chiles-military-dictatorship-1710766.html. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  6. ^ Gott, Richard (2009-09-12). "From the archive: Allende 'dead' as generals seize power". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2009/sep/12/from-the-guardian-archive. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  7. ^ Kristian C. Gustafson. "CIA Machinations in Chile in 1970: Reexamining the Record", CIA, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Accessed August 21, 2007.
  8. ^ "Castro speech database", University of Texas: English translations of Castro speeches based upon the records of the (United States) Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). See locations of speeches for November–December 1971. Accessed September 22, 2006.
  9. ^ a b (Spanish) Comienzan los problemas, part of series "Icarito > Enciclopedia Virtual > Historia > Historia de Chile > Del gobierno militar a la democracia" on LaTercera.cl. Accessed September 22, 2006.
  10. ^ http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2000/05/22/mun6.html
  11. ^ Development and Breakdown of Democracy, 1830-1973, United States Library of Congress Country Studies: Chile. Undated; according to Preface, "The body of the text reflects information available as of March 31, 1994." Accessed September 22, 2006.
  12. ^ a b c (Spanish) Se desata la crisis, part of series "Icarito > Enciclopedia Virtual > Historia > Historia de Chile > Del gobierno militar a la democracia" on LaTercera.cl. Accessed September 22, 2006.
  13. ^ "CIA, Operating Guidance Cable on Coup Plotting, October 16, 1970", National Security Archive, George Washington University: Quote: In a secret cable, CIA deputy director of plans, Thomas Karamessines, conveys Kissinger's orders to CIA station chief in Santiago, Henry Hecksher: "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup." The "operating guidance" makes it clear that these operations are to be conducted so as to hide the "American hand," and that the CIA is to ignore any orders to the contrary from Ambassador Korry, who has not been informed of Track II operations.
  14. ^ El paro que coronó el fin ó la rebelión de los patrones, El Periodista, June 8, 2003 (Spanish)
  15. ^ CIA 2000 report, p. 12, National Security Archive, George Washington University
  16. ^ Second coup attempt: El Tanquetazo (the tank attack), originally on RebelYouth.ca. Unsigned, but with citations. Archived on Internet Archive 13 October 2004.
  17. ^ The Bloody End of a Marxist Dream. Time Magazine. 24 September 1973.
  18. ^ "el Presidente de la República y a los señores Ministros de Estado y miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas y del Cuerpo de Carabineros" Acuerdo de la Cámara de Diputados).
  19. ^ English translation on Wikisource.
  20. ^ (Spanish) La respuesta del Presidente Allende on Wikisource. (English) English translation on Wikisource, accessed September 22, 2006.
  21. ^ Andrew, Christopher; Mitrokhin, Vasili. The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. Basic Books (2005)
  22. ^ a b c "How 'weak' Allende was left out in the cold by the KGB". London: The Times. 2005-09-19. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article568154.ece. 
  23. ^ "Bultos Cubanos" (in (Spanish)). Special edition ("Que Pasa" magazine): pp. 21. 1982. 
  24. ^ Sigmund, Paul (2005). "Los años verde olivo" (in (Spanish)). Special edition ("La Tercera" newspaper). http://docs.tercera.cl/especiales/2001/verdeolivo/capitulo01/entrevista01.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-07. 
  25. ^ "For the PARADISO-2009 Conference". Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. http://www.ototsky.mgn.ru/it/presentations/paradiso2009m.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  26. ^ Memorandum for Mr. Henry Kissinger. United States Department of State. 1970-12-04. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB8/ch20-01.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  27. ^ http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB8/ch18-01.htm
  28. ^ http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB8/ch01-01.htm
  29. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._intervention_in_Chile#cite_note-FrontPage-4
  30. ^ http://foia.state.gov/Reports/HincheyReport.asp#17
  31. ^ Stout, David (2003-01-30). "Edward Korry, 81, Is Dead; Falsely Tied to Chile Coup". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/30/world/edward-korry-81-is-dead-falsely-tied-to-chile-coup.html?pagewanted=1. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  32. ^ United States and American History: 1972
  33. ^ Montgomery, Paul L. (1973-09-29). "I.T.T. OFFICE HERE DAMAGED BY BOMB; Caller Linked Explosion at Latin-American Section to 'Crimes in Chile' I.T.T. Latin-American Office on Madison Ave. Damaged by Bomb Fire in Rome Office Bombing on the Coast Rally the Opponents". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0815FA3554137A93CBAB1782D85F478785F9. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  34. ^ United States Senate Report (1975), "Covert Action in Chile, 1963-1973", U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C.
  35. ^ Document reproduced as part of George Washington University's National Security Archive. Accessed online 22 September 2006.
  36. ^ La misión era matar: el juicio a la caravana Pinochet-Arellano, By Jorge Escalante Hidalgo, Page 43, Lom Ediciones, 2000
  37. ^ ROME NEWS TRIBUNE Sep 11, 1973
  38. ^ National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 33
  39. ^ Collins, Stephen (2000-12-16). "Now open - Pinochet's torture chambers". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/722163/Now-open---Pinochets-torture-chambers.html. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  40. ^ "Chile Issues Report on Pinochet Torture | Article from AP Online | HighBeam Research". Archived from the original on 2009-05-05. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-102284469.html. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  41. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (2000-03-03). "Right rejoices as general's foes vow to keep up fight". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/mar/03/pinochet.chile13. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  42. ^ a b Chile's President-Elect
  43. ^ a b Chile's Bachelet visits site of her own torture
  44. ^ From torture victim to president.(Michelle Bachelet) : An article from: The Progressive
  45. ^ Chile: The Good Democracy?
  46. ^ a b Chile set to elect first woman President
  47. ^ a b Pérez de Arce, Hermógenes. "Michelle Bachelet, ¿quién es realmente usted?", El Mercurio, January 15, 2006
  48. ^ Official biography of M. Bachelet on Chilean governmental website (Spanish)
  49. ^ 0,23599,20906656-1702,00.html Little sadness over Pinochet death.
  50. ^ Thousands gather for Pinochet
  51. ^ Chile head revisits torture site
  52. ^ Chile inaugurates female leader
  53. ^ Chile's Pinochet Charged for Torture, Probed over Gold
  54. ^ Chile Leader Visits Site of Her Torture
  55. ^ Pinochet stripped of immunity in torture, kidnapping cases
  56. ^ "Impunity Watch: South America 2008". Archived from the original on 2009-08-21. http://www.impunitywatch.com/impunity_watch_south_amer/2008/12/index.html. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  57. ^ ""Chilean government to sue disappeared tricksters"". Albuquerque Express. 30 December 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-08-21. http://story.albuquerqueexpress.com/index.php/ct/9/cid/c08dd24cec417021/id/447655/cs/1/. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  58. ^ "The Age". 30 December 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-08-21. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/human-rights/false-reports.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  59. ^ a b "New Chilean Leader Announces Political Pardons", New York Times, 13 March 1990
  60. ^ "A Green Light for The Junta?", New York Times, 28 October 1977
  61. ^ Associated Press January 11, 2006
  62. ^ The Nixon Administration and the Death of Allende's Chile: A Case of Assisted Suicide, Jonathan Haslam, page 64, Verso Press 2005
  63. ^ a b Marcello Ferrada-Noli. That morning of September 11, 1972. A personal testimony". Stockholm (2008)
  64. ^ Associated Press, Pinochet indicted for deaths of Allende bodyguards, put under house arrest, Nov. 27, 2006. Accessed December 11, 2006.
  65. ^ Arce, Juan Alvaro. "Martires y Victimas de la Unidad Popular". Archived from the original on 2009-10-21. http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/1687/History_Chile_1970-73/martires.html. 
  66. ^ Chile wars armed civilians. The Montreal Gazette. 17 September 1973.
  67. ^ Informe de la Comisión Nacional de Verdad y Reconciliación”, Volume I, Page 441, Santiago, Chile, 1991. (SM, V, Chro)
  69. ^ a b Latin America's Wars: The age of the professional soldier, 1900-2001, Robert L. Scheina, p. 326
  70. ^ Alex Wilde, In Chile, a New Generation Revisits Haunted Space, Ford Foundation Report, Winter 2003. Accessed Dec. 11, 2006.
  71. ^ Ronald Hilton, Chile: The Continuing Historical Conflict, World Association of International Studies, December 22, 1997. Accessed September 22, 2006.
  72. ^ Róbinson Rojas, The murder of Allende and the end of the Chilean way to socialism, originally published by Harper and Row, New York, 1975,1976-Fitzhenry&Whiteside Ltd., Toronto, Canada, 1975. Accessed online September 22, 2006.
  73. ^ Junta general names himself as new President of Chile. The Guardian, Friday, 14 September 1973
  74. ^ History in brief
  75. ^ Hinchey Report on CIA Activities in Chile 18 September 2000
  76. ^ Marcello Ferrada-Noli. That morning of September 11, 1972. A personal testimony". Stockholm (2008) [1]
  77. ^ "El terrorismo de los años 70". Archived from the original on 2009-09-03. http://www.analitica.com/va/internacionales/opinion/9892262.asp. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  78. ^ Terrorism Review Chile: Change in MIR tactics
  79. ^ Su revolución contra nuestra revolución: izquierdas y derechas en el Chile, Verónica Valdivia Ortiz de Zárate, p. 179, LOM Ediciones, 2006
  80. ^ Battling for hearts and minds: memory struggles in Pinochet's Chile, 1973-1988, Steve J. Stern, page 53, Duke University Press 2006
  81. ^ Crackdown continues. Chilean junta plans long rule. Ottawa Citizen. 3 January 1976.
  82. ^ http://docscanner.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/prisoner-of-pinochet-at-quiriquina-island-2/
  83. ^ orders to CIA director Richard Helms on September 15, 1970
  84. ^ A communique to the CIA base in Chile, issued on October 16, 1970
  85. ^ Dandan, Zaldy (2006). "Gracias mi general" Marianas Variety (accessed December 20, 2006)
  86. ^ Telephone call from Kissinger to Nixon

Further reading

  • Simon Collier & William F. Sater (1996). A History of Chile: 1808-1994. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Julio Faundez (1988). Marxism and democracy in Chile: From 1932 to the fall of Allende, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Ignacio González Camus, ed. (1988). El día en que murió Allende (The day that Allende Died), Chilean Institute of Humanistic Studies (ICHEH) / CESOC.
  • Anke Hoogvelt (1997). Globalisation and the postcolonial world, London: Macmillan.
  • Thomas Karamessines (1970). Operating guidance cable on coup plotting in Chile, Washington: National Security Council.
  • Jeane Kirkpatrick (1979). "Dictatorships and Double Standards", Commentary, November, pp 34–45.
  • Henry Kissinger (1970). National Security Decision 93: Policy Towards Chile, Washington: National Security Council.
  • Richard Norton-Taylor (1999). "Truth will out: Unearthing the declassified documents in America which give the lie to Lady Thatcher's outburst", The Guardian, July 8, 1999, London.
  • Alec Nove (1986). Socialism, Economics and Development, London: Allen & Unwin.
  • James F. Petras & Morris H. Morley (1974). How Allende fell: A study in U.S.–Chilean relations, Nottingham: Spokesman Books.
  • Sigmund, P.E. (1986). "Development Strategies in Chile, 1964-1983: The Lessons of Failure", Chapter 6 in I.J. Kim (Ed.), Development and Cultural Change: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, New York: Paragon House Publishers, pp. 159–178.
  • Valenzuela, J.S., & Valenzuela, A. (1993). "Modernisation and Dependency: Alternative Perspectives in the Study of Latin-American Underdervelopment", in M.A. Seligson & J.T. Pass-Smith (Eds.), Development and Underdevelopment: The Political Economy of Inequality, Boulder: Lynnes Rienner, pp. 203–216.

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