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Coup d’etat in Chile

Chile was known for its stability in Latin America compared to its neighbors until the 1960s. By then the Cold War began to affect the mountainous nation, and Chile became a part of the Alliance for Progress. The alliance was meant as a way to keep socialistic revolutions from taking hold in Latin America. However, the Alliance for Progress was scorned by conservatives in many of the countries that signed it, including Chile. During the 1960’s, Eduardo Frei served as president of Chile. Frei was endorsed by the Johnson administration and he sought to pass radical reforms. However, the more industrialized Chile became, the more Labor Unions asked for higher wages. The Labor Unions were not satisfied with the wages they received, leading to higher prices and more inflation. Furthermore, the Chilean youth adopted a Leftist view and began to protest the government with labor unions, both leaning towards the Communist Party in Chile.

In 1970, the Socialist Party won the presidency with Salvador Allende Gossens. Allende had promised a republic to the people of Chile and said he would provide reforms that would make the working class more equal. President Nixon told his advisers, namely Henry Kissinger, that he wanted Allende out of power. The only way for Allende to be overthrown was by the Chilean military rising up against him. Kissinger sent a cable to the CIA office in Chile saying that agents were to continue instigating a military coup. However, the CIA wasn’t truly necessary in Chile. After three years, the Chilean people were standing against the president. Allende nationalized the copper industry and other industries. He froze prices and raised wages to try and stop inflation, which only raised inflation. On top of his reforms, the CIA was running propaganda against Allende.

By 1973, the Chilean Congress and Judiciary stood against Allende. They claimed that his government went against the Chilean constitution. The military then stormed his palace and Allende died while armed. Although the U.S. appeared to have no involvement in the coup, many historians and analysts have claimed that Kissinger played a part in the death of Gen. Rene Schneider, since the general was against a military overthrow of Allende.

Researched by Christina Vernon
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
Cosby High School


“Henry Kissinger, US Involved in 1970 Chilean Plot.” Global Policy Forum. September 9, 2001. Global Policy Forum. 3 Jun 2008 ,>.

Smitha, Frank E. “Chile, to Chile to 1970.” Chile, to the Overthrow of Allende in 1973. 2002. 3 Jun 2008 ,>.

“The Memory of the Bloody Military Overthrow in Chile — September 11th, 1973.” The Memory of the Bloody Military Overthrow in Chile . September 10th, 2003. 3 Jun 2008 ,>.

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