On September 4, two months before our own elections, a critical
presidential election is scheduled in Chile. The two leading candidates
are Salvador Allende, an avowed
Marxist leader of a Communist-Socialist coalition, and Eduardo Frei. Frei heads the Christian Democratic Party, a somewhat
left of center reform party close to the Catholic Church. In the 1958
election Allende came within
32,000 votes of winning a plurality and becoming president.
At this point in the campaign, most observers rate Frei slightly ahead, but the race will
be extremely close and many things could happen in the four months
before the election. The democratic forces are presently split, with
Radical party candidate Julio
Duran back in the race after the results of a
congressional bi-election in March shattered his coalition of rightist
parties and indicated he stood almost no chance of being elected. Also
working against Frei is a Chilean
tolerance for native Communists, who have long been on the public scene,
and a long-standing anticlerical feeling which hurts the
Church-identified Christian Democrats.
Discussion of U.S. Action Program
Clearly, the September election will be determined by factors which are
deeply rooted in the political, economic, and social fabric of the
Chilean scene and by the campaign abilities of the major contenders.
Given the consequences, however, if this major Latin American nation
should become the first country in the hemisphere to freely choose an
avowed Marxist as its elected president, the Department, CIA, and other agencies have embarked on a
major campaign to prevent Allende's election and to support Frei, the only candidate who has a
chance of beating him. Chief elements in this campaign are the
1) Providing covert assistance through secret CIA channels to Frei's campaign chest and for other anti-Allende campaign uses. [less than 1 line of
source text not declassified] has been approved by the Special
Group and earmarked for these purposes, and additional funds will be
sought as necessary.
3) Examining means to alleviate the rising cost of living through efforts
to increase the supply and lower the price of major foods. We are making
available $20 million of PL 480, almost
half of which is wheat. In addition, we are reviewing our on-going
PL 480 Title III food distribution
program through voluntary organizations to expand it wherever possible;
the current FY 64 program costs $12.5
million and touches an estimated 2 million people, 1/4 of Chile's
4) Assisting U.S. business groups with information and advice through
David Rockefeller's Business
Group for Latin America—a blue ribbon group of American companies in
Latin America—in their support of a Chilean business group helping
Frei and attempting to hold
5) Organizing a political action and propaganda campaign through CIA contacts in coordination with or
parallel to Frei's campaign. This
includes voter registration drives, propaganda, person-to-person
campaigning in the cities and rural areas, and arrangements to provide
some Italian Christian Democratic organizers to Frei as advisers on campaign
6) Encouraging the GOC and IMF to avoid rupturing their standby
stabilization agreement, a break which would have damaging financial and
psychological consequences. An IMF team
presently is completing a review in Chile, and a Chilean team sent by
President Alessandri will arrive
in Washington on May 4 for discussions with the Department.
7) Attempting discreetly through normal U.S. contacts with the
non-political Chilean military and police to encourage their rising
awareness of the subversion which would take place under an Allende government.
8) Continuing USIA placement in Chile of
unattributed material, giving special care to low-keyed efforts which do
not expose U.S. Government involvement.
9) Encouraging, through covert ties and private U.S. organizations,
effective anti-Allende efforts by
Chilean organizations including the Roman Catholic Church, trade union
groups, and other influential bodies, such as the anti-clerical
We are attempting to insure that extraordinary caution is observed in
this action campaign to conceal official U.S. government interest, and
we have rejected several ideas which have seemed to entail undue risks
or excessive American involvement.
1Source: Johnson Library,
National Security File, Country File, Chile, Vol. I, 1/64–8/64. Top
Secret. Drafted by Dentzer.
2Bundy forwarded this
memorandum to the President under a May 13 covering memorandum that
noted the importance of the upcoming Presidential election in Chile.
“In essence, the problem we face is that a very popular and
attractive candidate, named Allende, who has thrown in his lot with the
Communists, has more than a fighting chance to win. We have a
coordinated Government-wide program of action to strengthen his
opponent and support actions in Chile which will work to the
advantage of those now in power. It is a highly fluid situation and
one in which there may have to be further action as we get into the
summer. I have been very much encouraged by the determination and
unity which all Departments of the Government are showing on this
one, and we will be watching it very closely, but I do think you
ought to know about it yourself.” (Ibid., Memos to the President,
McGeorge Bundy, Vol.
3On April 3 the United States
and Chile signed an agreement to provide $55 million in program loan
assistance in CY 1964. For an account
on how the funds were utilized, see United States Senate, Committee
on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Foreign Aid Expenditures,
United States Foreign Aid in Action: A Case
Study, Washington, 1966, p. 31.
given the rank of first secretary in the Embassy's political
section. Although he reported to Santiago in May, Hurwitch did not officially assume
his position until July 5.
that afternoon Mann told
Rusk that “he would like
to talk about Chile and a number of problems.” A meeting was set for
6 p.m. (Rusk to Mann, May 1, 12:14 p.m., National Archives and
Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls
4/20/64–5/22/64) According to Rusk's Appointment Book Rusk met Mann
at 6:35 p.m. (Johnson Library) No substantive record of the
conversation has been found.