264. Memorandum From Robert M. Sayre of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Chilean Contingency Planning

The LAPC has held two meetings on a contingency plan for Chile. Although the first draft, and the revised draft which the LAPC considered July 30, cover contingencies should Frei win (a) handily or (b)[Page 585]by a slim margin, all of the discussion has centered on the contingency of an Allende victory.2

As you are aware, the polls and recent reports indicate Frei is ahead. Frei himself is now plotting his strategy on winning big instead of just winning.

The consensus on contingency plans is shaping up as follows, based on current intelligence:

The revised draft of July 30 is too wordy (it runs to 31 double-spaced pages), attempts to cover too much ground, and proposes courses based on inadequate intelligence. It should be tightened up and shortened.
We should proceed on the assumption that Allende is bad medicine, but we should not slam the door because he might double-cross his Communist friends. President Alessandri, Felipe Herrera, and others, insist we can work with Allende.
The most likely possibility, should Allende win, is that he would try to establish a broadly based government, play for time to consolidate himself, and try to get the U.S. to finance his administration. We should, therefore, move promptly, but without provocation, to get him to define his position. We should do nothing that would let rumors start that we support him. (Current intelligence is that the Communist Central Committee is telling its people they cannot expect any important posts in an Allende Government at first.)
If Allende wins a bare majority, the key to keeping him out peacefully is Radical support for Frei in the Congress. The Chilean Congress has a tradition of confirming the candidate with the highest popular vote, but we could push for a Frei approval on the theory that the Chilean people gave a majority vote to policies espoused by Frei and Duran, and a minority to Communist-Socialist policies.
The Soviets will probably offer substantial financial assistance to Allende if we refuse, and may be even if we do not. But they would be inheriting an economy which is in serious difficulty as opposed to Cuba, where it was basically strong. In the Soviet-Chinese fight, Chile is extremely important to the Soviet thesis that communism can achieve power by peaceful means.
We would have an extremely difficult time marshalling forces against letting a victorious Allende take office, or doing anything about getting him out. Chilean tradition is to let the victor take office. If the reluctance of Latin Americans on Cuba is any criterion, the Latins would not go along with a move against Allende. There would probably be a serious division of opinion in the U.S.
The armed forces in Chile are anti-Communist. It is possible that they might move as the Peruvian military did to keep out Haya de la Torre, but the odds are they would not. They would more likely play it as the armed forces did in Brazil, but divisions among the Chilean armed forces are less likely.

DOD is reviewing its supply situation in the Canal Zone, should additional riot control supplies be needed in a hurry. It is also identifying the location of additional supplies in the U.S., should these be needed. Riot control supplies already approved, are in place in Chile, and the feeling is that these are adequate for the foreseeable future, i.e., the next month or two.

State is having another try at a contingency paper and the LAPC will review it at an early meeting.3

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Chile, Vol. I, Memos, 1/64–8/64. Secret.
  2. The Latin American Policy Committee first met on July 9 to consider a draft of the contingency plan for Chile. The May 28 draft was forwarded on June 5 as an enclosure to airgram A–926 from Santiago. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1–1 Chile ) The action minutes of the July 9 meeting are in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Latin America, Vol. II, Memos 6/64–8/64. The revised draft and the minutes of the LAPC meeting on July 30 have not been found.
  3. No evidence has been found that the LAPC met to discuss a subsequent draft of the contingency paper for Chile.