277. Memorandum for the 303 Committee1


  • Financial Support to Selected Candidates in the 7 March 1965 Congressional Elections in Chile

1. Summary

This is a proposal to provide funds in the amount of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] to approximately 35 selected candidates running for Senate and Chamber of Deputies (Lower House) seats in the 7 March 1965 congressional election in Chile. Selection of these candidates is being made jointly with the Ambassador. Each candidate is involved in a close race with a candidate of the Communist-Socialist [Page 607] FRAP coalition and in some cases against undesirable extremist candidates of his own or other parties as well. This action is primarily a denial operation against the FRAP [2 lines of source text not declassified]. Candidates to be supported represent all non-FRAP parties, and support is for specific individuals rather than for parties. Funds will be passed covertly through several channels to ensure maximum security. The net result of this operation should be an increase in the overall ability of the Chilean Christian Democratic Party (PDC) to promote those activities needed to bring about necessary reforms and to reduce the effectiveness of the FRAP opposition.

2. Problem

To defeat those FRAP candidates who are in close competition with candidates from other parties in the 7 March congressional election. Secondary advantages to be obtained from this denial operation will be: (a) the defeat of troublesome members of non-FRAP parties who are running on the same party ticket with the more moderate, pro-U.S. candidates who receive our support [2½ lines of source text not declassified].

3. Factors Bearing on the Problem


Significance of the Congressional Election

The March election will be the most important political event to take place in Chile in 1965 since its outcome will influence future political alignments and determine whether the Frei government can successfully carry out its reform program. Elective offices to be filled are all 147 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 20 of the 45 Senate seats. The FRAP is trying to stage a comeback after its defeat in the September presidential elections, while the PDC, which is now a minority party with only four Senators and 28 Deputies, is hoping to obtain the congressional strength it will need to implement its reform program. Even if the Christian Democrats attain an election majority in the Chamber of Deputies they will still need the support of individuals in other parties to put through this program in the Senate. The Radical Party is badly split, and the moderate Radicals now in control of the party are being challenged by left-wing Radical candidates who are determined to swing the party into an alliance with the FRAP in opposition to the Frei government. A small dissident Socialist group which supported Frei in the presidential elections is running candidates under the label of the Democratic Party and is hoping to attract a portion of the electoral support of Socialists and other FRAP members who are dissatisfied with Communist domination of the FRAP coalition. The FRAP parties themselves were unable to reach a firm electoral agreement; in some districts there is an electoral pact whereby all FRAP coalition members are instructed to vote for one of the FRAP parties; in other districts the FRAP parties will be competing against each other.



Since all political parties are participating in the March elections, we are not basing our support on a choice of one political faction, as was necessary in the presidential election where the campaign was clearly between the Christian Democrats and the Communists. The upcoming congressional races have been studied in great detail, electoral district by district, in order to select candidates of non-FRAP parties who need help in order to defeat their FRAP opponents and who have a good chance of success if they receive our support.

4. Coordination

This proposal has the approval of Ambassador Dungan, who has reviewed the list of proposed candidates and has agreed that covert support should be provided to most of them. The remaining candidates are under consideration and final selection will be made only with the approval of the Ambassador.

5. Recommendation

It is recommended that the amount of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], which is available within the CIA, be used to provide covert support to selected candidates who are in close competition with FRAP contenders in the 7 March congressional elections in Chile.2

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, 303 Committee Special Files, January–June 1965. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. Acting Deputy Under Secretary Thompson agreed to support the proposal on the understanding that Dungan would determine the amount of money actually spent. (Memorandum from Mann to Thompson, February 3; ibid.) The 303 Committee ratified this decision by telephonic vote on February 5. (Memorandum from Murat W. Williams to Mann, February 16; ibid.) On March 7 the Christian Democrats captured an absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies and emerged as the strongest party in the Senate. In a March 11 memorandum, the CIA reported that Dungan had authorized [text not declassified] for 29 candidates, [text not declassified] of whom were subsequently elected. The Agency assessed the outcome as follows: “The landslide proportions of the Christian Democrats’ congressional victory had not been expected by the Embassy or the CIA Station or, indeed, by President Frei himself. It is believed that Agency operations contributed modestly to the victory by insuring the defeat of some FRAP candidates who might otherwise have been elected and by helping to elect [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Christian Democratic deputies which assured a working majority.” (National Security Council, 303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Chile thru 1969)