“The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”
– Henry Kissinger, chief foreign policy advisor to Richard Nixon, 1973. On September 11, 1973, a Chilean military general, Augusto Pinochet, led a coup d’etat against the elected government of Chile. The coup, which was heavily backed by the CIA, was successful and the President of Chile, Salvador Allende, was assassinated. Pinochet and his American allies justified their actions by red-baiting Allende, claiming that he was turning the country communist. In reality, however, Allende was more of a social democrat who was pursuing nationalisation policies that would prevent American corporations from exploiting Chile’s natural resources for their own gain. Pinochet, adopting the political authoritarianism and police-state tactics he was said to be saving the country from, became dictator of Chile and ruled for 19 years. His regime became notorious for inventing the practice of ‘disappearing’ (or kidnapping, torturing and murdering) its political opponents, which it did by the tens of thousands.
Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973