(National Security Adviser 1969-1975, U.S. Secretary of State 1973-1975)
When I read in depth about Henry Kissinger, it became clear that the United States isn’t as democratic as we claim that it is. The world’s watchdog, United States’s Henry Kissinger led a collusion to overthrow Chile’s government, funded opposition to its democratically elected president, and imposed U.S. supported terrorism on Chile.
The United States claims to be this great republican democracy. But when Chile, an important economic partner, elects a socialist, the United States takes on the responsibility to show Chile the superior political system, tyranny. Largely ignoring Chile’s politics and sovereignty, Kissinger threw away Chile’s political process and chased after U.S. economic interests.
His acts violated the U.S.’s principles of democracy and also uses this mentality that the United States knows what is best for Chile. It ignored the society, economics, and politics of a foreign country in favor of U.S.’s interests. Not only that but he also disrespected the U.S. political process.
Salvador Allende, a socialist who worked toward the interests of the working class, was elected by the Chilean population in 1970.
Kissinger feared the likely success of the elected socialist Allende leading to the loss of dependence from Chile’s copper mines on American entities. Without publicly declaring war, Kissinger sought to dismantle Allende’s presidency during friendly relations between the U.S. and Chile.
Responding with protecting the United States, his plan was tied to the fear of U.S. security being threatened.
The U.S. government wanted to prevent the “domino effect” of Chile’s big, “nasty” socialism, causing other Latin American countries following suit. The U.S. found that socialism threatened American liberties and capitalism, and feared the loss of Latin American countries as economic partners. But the having civil responsibilities and representing ideas of the public aren’t mutually exclusive.
Elected by the population and running a socialist campaign, Allende was referred to as democratic socialist. During his leadership, economic and political decisions were based on public need and collective ownership. He transferred power from private businesses to the state and had the state take over agricultural entities; thereby preventing the development of private property rights and private businesses.
Upon the election of Allende, CIA director Richard Helms met with Kissinger and Nixon to stop Allende from taking up Chile’s presidency. These government officials colluded in Virginia to kidnap and assassinate Allende. They planned to subvert Allende’s regime.
The executive branch conspired against Allende’s regime without the knowledge of Congress. The Congress, elected by the people, is there to represent the people’s interests and enforce checks and balances. The United States, a so called republican democracy, didn’t even meet the minimum requirements of representing the public’s interests.
Kissinger, Helms, and Nixon sought assistance from Chilean General Rene Schneider to enlist Chile’s military to control Allende’s election. But Schneider didn’t want the military to be involved. A firm holder of Chile’s constitution, Schneider opposed the U.S. planned coup. He wanted to uphold Chile’s democratic process. Kissinger then decided that General Schneider should be taken out too.
Later, Kissinger convinced General Roberto Viaux, a military leader connected to the neo-fascist political party Patria y Libertad, to help the U.S. government get rid of General Schneider. The U.S. government supplied machine guns and tear gas to Viaux to execute the coup.
Imagine that. The United States supplied the opposition of another nation’s elected president with weapons, to take out Allende.
Under Kissinger’s authority, the CIA funded two attempts to kidnap General Schneider. Viaux successfully headed the kidnapping and eventual murdered General Schneider in October 1970. The Chilean police called the kidnapping and death of Schneider a “straightforward murder,” according to Christopher.
The CIA also funded anti-Allende institutions opposing Allende. It found that the CIA had provided $8 million to armed forces which opposed Allende’s government, to weaken Allende’s leadership. It included $350,000 in bribes of Chile’s Congress.
In his first year of office, Allende enacted socialist policies. He nationalized businesses, including the copper corporations. This act meant that the state owned these mining businesses. Therefore, the preceding owners didn’t profit from them. The state took over agricultural land that was run, before, by landowners. Short term, his policies slowed down inflation in Chile and improved employment among Chilean people.
Long term, however, his measures failed. Chile’s government nationalized copper corporations, despite relying on foreign investments. The nationalization of industries caused foreign investors to lose faith in investing in Chile and to stop investing there. He also printed out unapproved currency to erase the fiscal deficit, causing the currency to lose value.
Turmoil and discontent rose among the upper and middle classes.
Social unrest and the failure of the economy, combined with the U.S. government supported armed forces destabilizing Allende’s government, created the perfect storm for a coup.
Regardless, the CIA was informed well in advance of the intention to usurp Allende, passing the information on to President Nixon a day before the coup was to take place. Lack of action from the Nixon administration demonstrated its involvement.
On September 11, 1973, the national police and armed forces used tanks, troops, and fighter jets to attack Allende’s palace. The forces intimidated his supporters into surrender. Then the fighter jets blasted rockets at the palace.
Allende survived the attack. But he committed suicide with a an AK-47 gifted by Fidel Castro. He shot himself under the chin.
In summary, all of these events amounted to U.S. “state-supported terrorism.”
Let all of that sink in. Running a socialist platform, Allende was democratically elected. Kissinger feared Chile’s success with socialism and its pervasion throughout Latin America.
Using Kissinger’s foreign policy, the United States government violated the democracy of Chile. Conspiring and taking action to overthrow a democratically elected leader of a foreign country disregards the public interest of the American people.
Through gift money, and bribes to political groups and global media sources that opposed Allende, Kissinger and the U.S. directly influenced and strengthened opposition to Allende. Moreover, funding of Allende’s opposition directly infringed upon Chile’s sovereignty.
When the Nixon administration came to know about the plan for the coup, Kissinger didn’t warn Allende’s office. Their silence was deafening.
As Americans, we take pride in our democracy and acceptance of many political ideals. Kissinger’s foreign policy in Chile, however, infringed upon these American ideals. His disrespect of the U.S. Constitution and disregard for Chile’s foreign democracy warrants that he should be held accountable. Lack of recognition of his human rights and political violations means that the United States isn’t willing to recognize its mistakes and isn’t consistent with democracy. Democracy is for the people, by the people. Kissinger’s actions were neither. We must hold him accountable for his actions.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Salvador Allende.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 14 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Salvador-Allende
Hitchens, Christopher. “The Case Against Henry Kissinger.” The Case Against Henry Kissinger Part One by Christopher Hitchens, www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Kissinger/CaseAgainst1_Hitchens.html.
“Allende Dies in Coup.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/allende-dies
Needleman, Ruth. “CIA Role in Chile Exposed.” Central Intelligence Agency