273. Editorial Note

At a meeting with Central Intelligence Agency officials on October 12, 1964, Assistant Secretary Mann reported his approval of a proposal for additional covert assistance to the Christian Democratic Party. The proposal would provide [text not declassified] to maintain the grass-roots organizations of the party—the slum-dweller and campesino departments—for the remainder of the calendar year. Ray Herbert, Deputy Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division, recommended extending the term of the program, arguing that the Christian Democrats were “the only effective force fighting Communists in these areas.” Mann disagreed: the Christian Democrats might use U.S. support against the “other non-Marxist parties.” He maintained that the current proposal was sufficient but agreed to reconsider the issue in several months. When Herbert raised the question of assistance for the congressional elections in March 1965, Mann was more adamant: “Tell them not to expect any help to beat other non-Commie groups. Tell them we helped them fight Marxists. This is different. This would be intervention.” (Memorandum from Carter to Hughes, October 13; Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, ARA–CIA Weekly Meetings, 1964–1965)

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On October 13 the CIA drafted a memorandum to the 303 Committee detailing its program to support the Christian Democratic grass-roots organizations. Before the memorandum was submitted, however, Mann insisted on redrafting the proposal. The final memorandum stipulated that the CIA explain to Frei: a) the difference between assistance for a presidential election against a Marxist candidate and assistance for a congressional election against a field of democratic parties; and b) that the current program was intended for a “transitional period” only, to allow the Christian Democrats to combat Communist influence in the “campesino and slum sectors.” (Ibid., 303 Committee Files, October 29, 1964) Ambassador-designate Dungan expressed similar concerns when asked to comment on the proposal:

“I would only add to the recommendation a caveat that support during this period does not mean a continuation of support for this or other PDC activities in the future. It seems to me that this should be made explicit so that no inference to the contrary might be drawn. It may well be that we will want to continue some support, but unless there are overriding considerations of which I am not aware at this time I believe it is a sound principle to permit popular democratic parties to go it alone. If the PDC or any other democratic party comes to power, part of assuming the responsibility that goes with power is finding ways and means of supporting the party structure.”

The 303 Committee approved the CIA paper, as amended, by telephone on October 20. The official record of the decision notes that Dungan’s statement set “the limitations under which any future proposals of this kind will be viewed in this Chilean post-election period.” (Memorandum for the record from Jessup, October 22; ibid.)