266. Memorandum From the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Barall) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann)1


  • U.S. Identification with Frei in the Chilean Election

At your staff meeting, today, and in all conversations regarding the forthcoming election in Chile, both Chileans and Americans unquestioningly accept U.S. support of Frei. While the alternative of Allende is a horrible one, it is safe to predict that we will have many severe problems even with Frei, and that Chile’s problems will not be solved automatically by the election results—at least this is what my Chilean friends tell me, and all support Chile.

Since we are identified as such ardent supporters, Frei is likely to ask for enormous sums of money on political rather than economic-development grounds. He is almost certain to urge us to finance some doctrinaire programs which will be unacceptable to the U.S.

Frei is not likely to have the political strength to cope with inflation and mount an effective stabilization program. Even if he obtains a majority of the popular vote, it is hard to believe that he will be able to coalesce a majority in the Congress, particularly since he cannot be sure of internal discipline on the part of the left wing in his own party. [Page 588] For the same reason, and in the light of his promises to workers and peasants, I don’t see how he can tackle the problems of wage stabilization effectively.

Although I am sure we cannot change our over-identification with Frei before the election, I would recommend a much cooler, factual, “show-me” attitude as soon as the election results are known, so that he doesn’t take for granted U.S. support for his programs on the theory that we consider him to be the only alternative to a Communist takeover. I am not suggesting that we should not be willing to provide massive aid to CHILE if the conditions are right. But if we provide big sums without real assurance of permanent change for the better, the net result may be permanent change for the worse—and we’ll get Allende next time around.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/LA Files: Lot 66 D 65, Chile 1964. Confidential. Copies were sent to Adams, Rogers, and Dentzer.