825.5045/10–2147: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State


825. For Lovett and Armour. With understanding coal strike finished last night, 2,000 miners of night shift entered the mines; this morning when day shift reported was met at entrance with some inside with dynamite and refused entrance and those inside would not come out. Small detachment soldiers under a lieutenant entered mine to investigate and met by explosion of dynamite, no one hurt. The soldiers took out a deputation to parley with military authorities and their proposition was would return to work on three conditions: (1) that state of emergency be called off; and (2) that the armed forces be withdrawn; and (3) that all the Communist agents and agitators arrested and sent away be released and brought back. This arrogant demand naturally not considered and deputation told that if miners did not emerge by 2 p.m. would be declared in state of rebellion. At 2, tear gas put in the mine and miners emerged and were taken into custody by army who will institute proceedings to determine guilt. Government understands that of the 2,000 in mines about 200 were armed Communists who kept others in by terrorism.

Council of Ministers in continuous session today. President furious and proposed breaking relations with Russia, with Vergara and others urging nothing be done without specific proof of Embassy’s implication. But at 5:30 this evening Vergara sent for me to say that Chile is breaking relations with both Russia and Czechoslovakia.

Russian Ambassador summoned for 6:30. This done on President’s conviction revolutionary strike ordered and engineered from without on instructions he is sure come from Communist diplomatic missions. Czechoslovak Chargé17 who clings to Zhukov like a burr on public occasions and looks like a sneak will be no loss. Vergara stressed break with Russia due to recent developments and nothing to do with Brazil’s action.18

Government heard yesterday of threat which materialized and intercepted message instructions to miners from Communist headquarters [Page 512] in Santiago. Government ordering all Communist leaders in Chile aside from parliamentarians be detained. Clearly concerned lest the conspiracy involve nitrate.

Since miners’ demands, and more, granted at beginning strike this clearly revolutionary. Clear I think that the Comintern determined to make desperate effort in Chile as first step toward the Continent. Situation may become very serious. President who thought that 100,000 tons coal from United States sufficient now begs that we will not yet abandon the original plan of standing by beyond November. Says since this involves the very life of nation and democratic institutions all the resources of the nation will be put behind the credit.

Will keep advised any important development.

  1. Frantisek Cejka.
  2. For documentation on the Brazilian break with the Soviet Union, see pp. 391 ff.