“It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup…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 U.S government and American hand be well hidden.”
— Thomas Karamessines, CIA Deputy Director of Plans, in 1970
Democratically elected President Salvador Allende of Chile was overthrown by a U.S-backed military coup on Tuesday, September 11, 1973. Three years earlier, the same year Karamessines sent the secret cable quoted above to the CIA station in Santiago, former U.S. President Richard Nixon had ordered the CIA to “make the [Chilean] economy scream to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.”
Allende was replaced by General Augusto Pinoche, a fascist dictator whose rise to power was backed by Nixon and his Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. More than 3,000 Chileans were killed under Pinochet, who maintained power for 17 years until 1990. He died of a heart attack in 2006.
Since Allende was a Marxist, Nixon was afraid Chile would become “another Cuba.” To thwart the threat of communism in “America’s backyard,” he green-lighted an even bigger nightmare that drove Chile’s economy into the ground and resulted in the torture and death of thousands of Chilean citizens.
Notable among these was Chilean folk singer Victor Jara, the voice of those who had no voice. Jara was taken to the Estadio Chile stadium along with thousands of others, where he was beaten, tortured and his hands were broken by Pinochet’s soldiers so he could no longer play guitar. After four days of abuse, starvation and sleep deprivation, he was taken to a deserted area and shot. Jara’s murderer got his just reward, and has been living comfortably in the U.S. for more than two decades.
Apparently, all this was preferable to communism, not to mention in the interest of U.S. national security. I shudder to think of the horrors that would have been unleashed had communism been allowed to take root!
Before allegedly committing suicide with an AK-47 given to him by Fidel Castro, Allende addressed his country in a farewell speech broadcast live on the radio:
“Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society. Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!”