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Date: Sat, 19 Sep 98 00:20:01 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: RIGHTS-CHILE: Hot Debate over Extent of US Intervention in Coup
Article: 43469
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.20125.19980921121536@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 517.0 **/
** Topic: RIGHTS-CHILE: Hot Debate over Extent of US Intervention in Coup **
** Written 4:15 PM Sep 17, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1998 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

Hot Debate over Extent of US Intervention in Coup

By Gustavo Gonzalez, IPS
14 September 1998

SANTIAGO, Sep 14 (IPS) - Right and left-wing senators in Chile argued Monday over the extent of US intervention against the government of Salvador Allende, in the wake of the declassification of documents in Washington.

Rightist opposition parliamentarians maintained that US support for the military was not decisive, and that the coup staged 25 years ago against the democratically elected socialist president would have taken place with or without US intervention.

Socialist legislators of the centre-left ruling coalition argued, however, that the White House campaign to destabilise the Allende administration sparked the bloody Sep. 11, 1973 coup, which - they insisted - could have been avoided.

The declassification of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Richard Nixon administration documents has shed new light on the US role in the military coup.

The documents, declassified by the government of President Bill Clinton, were published on the Internet Friday by the independent National Security Archive and reported on in Chile by the 'La Tercera' daily on Sunday.

Also on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the coup, former US ambassador to Chile Edward Korry provided 'Radio Television France' with new information on CIA intervention in the 1964 presidential elections in Chile, when Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva - the father of current President Eduardo Frei - defeated Allende and his coalition of socialists and communists with the support of right-wing forces.

Senator Francisco Prat, an independent right-leaning lawmaker, said US intervention in Chilean politics dated back to World War II. "Without a doubt, the intervention designed to prevent Allende from taking office (in 1970), and once he was in office efforts against him, are absolutely believable."

But he maintained that "there was never any intervention with respect to the armed forces, whose independence was clearly demonstrated after the coup by their relation with the United States" - an allusion to the distance marked by the Jimmy Carter administration, which even banned military aid to the dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet (1973-90).

But Nixon, who governed until 1974, and his security adviser Henry Kissinger instructed the CIA after the coup which overthrew Allende to "assist the junta in gaining a more positive image, both at home and abroad," according to the declassified documents.

It was not until 1975 that the US government began to review its economic and military aid to the dictatorship, in response to denunciations of human rights violations in Chile.

Senator Ignacio Perez of the rightist National Renovation Party said the 1973 coup against Allende's government of Popular Unity (UP) would have come about even without US intervention. "The armed forces did not need US help in staging the coup, but the opposition and business associations did need money to finance campaigns, radio stations and other tools used to fight the UP."

But in the view of socialist Senator Carlos Ominami, the declassified documents show that "US intervention in Chile was a clearly established fact."

While the senator admitted that the UP committed errors, he stressed that Nixon was already attempting to set the new government up for failure even before it took office.

Ominami said the coup could have been avoided, because "there were various possible solutions, and those who finally imposed their own chose the cruelest and most violent option."

Senator Sergio Bitar, president of the Party for Democracy (PPD), said that US intervention - economic pressure and the financing of acts of sabotage - was without any doubt decisive in Allende's overthrow.

"Many factors are involved in military coups. They cannot be blamed on one single element. Twenty-five years have passed and we must not forget that the more autonomous and independent a country, the better," Bitar stressed.

The socialists and the PPD form the left wing of the governing Coalition for Democracy, which is also comprised of the Christian Democratic and Radical Social Democratic parties.


Origin: Montevideo/RIGHTS-CHILE/

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