CIA Machinations in Chile in 1970: Reexamining the Record

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  • From Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 47, No. 3, 2003 – Unclassified Edition

    From 1970 to 1973, the United States government was involved in overt and covert actions against the elected government of Chile led by Marxist Salvador Allende. Unfolding events during these politically tumultuous years included the death of Chilean Minister of Defense RenŽ Schneider in October 1970. Ultimately, Allende was overthrown and replaced by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The initial history of this period, recorded in the 1970s and early 1980s, told of a US government that abused its power and betrayed its principles. Public reaction was universally negative. This interpretation of events has affected the conduct and perception of American intelligence activities ever since. A generation has now passed and it is time to reexamine this “accepted” version of events. Recently, the US government posted thousands of declassified documents to its on-line “Chile Collection.” These newly available resources allow a more candid–and realistic–look into the actions and thoughts of the CIA agents and officers involved in those controversial operations. This study focuses on CIA covert action during the six weeks following Allende’s victory at the polls in mid-September 1970. While the activities of the CIA may not always be excused, they can at least be better understood.

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