304. Memorandum From the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division (Broe) to the Deputy Director for Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Karamessines)1


  • Circumstances Leading up to CIA Participation in Electoral Operations in Chile

The second confrontation in Chile between the Christian Democratic Party and the Socialist–Communist Political Front (FRAP) will come in September 1970. In the first round in 1964, the Christian Democrats were victorious resulting in the election of President Frei. Since that time the Christian Democrats have encountered increasing difficulty in both the economic and political fields. As an indicator of their economic problems, inflation which was reduced in the first two years of the Frei administration from a level of about 39% to 17% a year has begun to climb again. In 1967 the rate was 21% and for the first three months of 1968 it was 10%. Since these are government figures the actual rate is undoubtedly higher. Perhaps even more important than a deteriorating economic situation has been the development of a leftist trend within the non-Communist political parties and a growing political isolation of the Frei administration. The Radical Party, a key left of center group, is now controlled by its more extreme faction which favors an electoral alliance with the FRAP. The National Party, a right of center group, which has borne the brunt of some of the reforms carried out by the Christian Democrats, such as in the agrarian sector, has been alienated from the Christian Democrats and is now in active opposition. Even within the Christian Democratic Party itself there is a strong extreme faction which would be amenable to collaboration with the FRAP and for a period was in control of the party leadership. The control of the Radical Party by its extreme faction is one of the more worrisome aspects of the situation since a Radical–FRAP electoral alliance could elect a president in 1970. As a recent example of the desperate situation confronting Frei, the administration felt it had to turn to the Communist Party to get Congressional approval of their wage readjustment bill. The Communists exacted their price by forcing the Christian Democrats to remove a no-strike provision from the bill. During further consideration of this bill the Christian Democrats then turned to the National Party for support; they in turn forced the Frei administration to agree to lower taxes. As a result of both of these deals the prospects for increased inflation are better than ever.

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Faced with this deteriorating situation and with the prospect that if left unchecked the present political trends could bring to power a popular front government in Chile in 1970 the Ambassador began to mobilize his Embassy. He brought together key officers, which included the Chief and Deputy Chief of Station, and began to map out his program. It was understood by all that the major response by the Embassy would have to be in the overt sector probably through providing additional program loan assistance to the Chilean Government in order to help it hold down inflation and to carry forward its essential programs. It was also recognized that a smaller, supplementing effort would be needed in the covert field through an election operation in connection with the Congressional elections of 1969. These elections are all important since their outcome will determine the nature of the party alliances that will be formed in connection with the presidential election of September 1970.

Using information and analyses provided by the Embassy’s political section as well as from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the Station has begun to put together a political action program to be carried out within the context of the overt effort. The final political action proposal will be a joint Station/Embassy effort with the Ambassador playing the key role. This proposal is expected to arrive in Washington within the next 7–10 days and will be submitted to the 303 Committee for approval.2 The basic concept is to undertake a district by district analysis of the voting patterns and electoral trends in each district so that we can determine where covert leverage can be most effectively applied. With this information the objective is to elect as many moderate candidates of the Radical, Christian Democratic, and National parties as possible at the expense of the FRAP. If this can be successfully accomplished and an overt program implemented, our prospects for heading off a FRAP victory in 1970 might be improved.

William V. Broe
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO/IMS Files, Job 79–00207A, [file name not declassified] Political and Economic 1968. Secret.
  2. Korry subsequently forwarded a proposal for a “covert election operation of very limited scope,” a [text not declassified] contingency fund including direct support to moderate candidates from the Christian Democratic, Radical, and National parties. According to an undated memorandum prepared by the CIA: “The Ambassador has no intention to channel support to candidates through the political parties themselves because of the danger that funds so channeled would be used to support individuals contrary to our interests; i.e. left-wing Radicals and left-wing Christian Democrats.” (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Chile, 1967–1968)