254. Telegram From the Deputy Chief of Mission in Chile (Jova) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann)1

76320. Please pass to Mann and Dentzer from Jova.

Accompanied by Robinson2 I had a two-hour conversation May 4 with Frei at latter’s home. Also present was latter’s top political advisor, Juan de Dios Carmona. At end of conversation3 Frei asked to see me alone.
He started off this private conversation by expressing gravest concern activities and indiscretion of [name not declassified]. He said he had been horrified to hear that on at least two occasions [name not declassified] had spoken indiscriminately in regard to USG aid to the Frei campaign. On one occasion speaking to Salvador Pubill, PDC campaign finance manager, [name not declassified] told him he saw no emergency requirement in collecting funds from industrialists for campaign in view of fact that Frei was to receive one million dollars in assistance from USG. On another occasion he told Antonio Baeza of COPEC that the financial resources of the business community should be kept in reserve for the congressional elections in March as the Frei campaign was well supplied with funds amounting to approximately one million dollars from USG and private sources. On a third occasion he said (it was not clear to whom) that on his recent trip to the U.S. he had agreed arrange with [name not declassified] and his group that the technique to follow would be to feed funds raised by [name not declassified] to Frei to help him win campaign but with ultimate intention of using this as a noose with which to control him once he were elected president.
Frei said that he has only seen [name not declassified] three times in his life and on only one occasion, at a recent tea at his house, had serious campaign matters been discussed. He was concerned however at [name not declassified] thrashing around in a variety of political fields in which he was unfamiliar and in which he seemed to be enjoying “playing cops and robbers”. He told me that he had impression [name not declassified] respected and paid attention to me and hoped that I would convey to him the message to be discreet. Statements such as those he had made above might already have done great damage to his campaign and moreover they were in large part untrue. He hoped that all concerned would be extremely careful on any loose talk on any matters connected with financial assistance. Much of this in any case was still undecided upon but any linking of him to USG or U.S. private sector financial assistance was fatal.
(FitzGerald and Gomez felt that their own conversation with [name not declassified] seems bear out some of above allegations. Hence we decided Belton4 in view his close friendship might be best person admonish [name not declassified] and we asked him to do so prior his departure last night’s plane.)
As will be reported in separate telegram5 Frei said he thought that Duran should be kept in the race at any price. Although some members of his party disagreed with him he said he still was of firm opinion that a withdrawal by Duran might have as its consequence the endorsement of Allende by Radical Party or instances of individual Radical senators and deputies proclaiming Allende individually. Such actions would then enhance Allende’s stature as “democratic”, respectable candidate and would serve increase his independent votes.
He spoke with considerable cordiality in regard to Duran and expressed hope that some way might be found help him financially. While such support might be obtained from Radical bankers and business men, he doubted that enough would be forthcoming and felt that serious consideration should be given subsidizing him either from PDC campaign funds or from other (presumably USG) sources. He said subsidy required would add up to some escudos 450,000. From this campaign chest Radical deputies would in turn be subsidized at rote escudos 4,000 apiece. He said some “dignified” manner to channel this subsidy would have to be found, that it should not in any way be through PDC officials but might preferably be handled through some pro-Radical banker or business man.
Frei said he would call on Duran personally in next few days in order try salve his feelings which have been hurt by other PDC activities and church attitudes. He would speak to [name not declassified] on latter and asked me to do same. (I intend to do this by merely reporting to [name not declassified] without comment some of Duran’s complaints.)6
  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Chile, 1964–1967. Secret; Priority. Also addressed to Dentzer. The telegram was forwarded through CIA channels.
  2. John P. Robinson, AID mission director in Santiago.
  3. During the earlier discussion, Frei expressed “unusual optimism” concerning his electoral prospects—although he “jokingly observed that his selfish interests should lead him paint a bleaker picture to the US authorities for obvious reasons.” (Telegram 999 from Santiago, May 5; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 14 CHILE) Jova urged Frei to reconsider his position on a presidential election by congress should no candidate receive an absolute majority of the vote; Frei had publicly accepted the tradition of selecting the front-runner, even though the Chilean constitution formally allowed a choice between the two leading candidates. Jova reported that “this is obviously a course which does not appeal to him [Frei], but which he might be prepared to follow if the margin by which he trailed were small and providing the military as well as the congress were cooperative.” (Telegram 1005 from Santiago, May 5; ibid.)
  4. William Belton, then political advisor to the Commander in Chief, Southern Command, had been counselor at the Embassy in Santiago, 1956-1958.
  5. Telegram 1000 from Santiago, May 5. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 14 CHILE) On April 5 Durán reentered the race as the candidate of the Radical Party.
  6. Mann replied on May 18: “We informed [name not declassified] of [name not declassified] indiscretions and told him effort being made put gag on [name not declassified]. We have no reason to believe American business community will make contributions to campaign.” (Mann to Jova, undated; Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, ARA Country Files, Chile, 1964–1967)