305. Editorial Note

From July to September 1972, U.S. Government officials closely followed the deteriorating political situation in Chile, including monitoring the political parties and private-sector organizations opposed to the Popular Unity (UP) government. Although Department of State policymakers stated that “US interests would ideally be served by a downward trend of UP government and concomitant strengthening of opposition,” they were concerned about the “‘adventurist’ tendencies” of the private sector organizations. As a result, policymakers did not believe the time was right for a coup because they feared that such a coup would not be successful, “in view of other reports of military coolness.” They feared funneling support to the private-sector organizations would send the Chilean opposition a “green light” as “our financial support to elements interested in bringing about a coup now might be, no matter how hedged about with conditions concerning ‘adventurism,’ the final determinant in a decision to go for a coup.” (Mem[Page 811]orandum from Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Meyer and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Crimmins to Ambassador Nathaniel M. Davis, August 30; Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, INR/IL Historical Files, Chile, July–December 1972)

Department officials, however, kept the idea of funding the organizations on the back burner. Davis identified [text not declassified] as an organization “we may want to be able to work with at a later time.” While [text not declassified] appeared to be ready to collapse unless it received an immediate infusion of funds, Davis concluded that: “If you can see your way clear to supporting consideration in principle of private sector support in the Forty Committee, we could hold off implementation—including support in funds to [less than 1 line not declassified]—for as long as possible and recommend it for quick CIA and State clearance only when local conditions make further delay critical to survival.” (Memorandum from Davis to Meyer and Crimmins, August 31; ibid.)

Another private sector group, Patria y Libertad, a right-wing political-military organization, differed from other groups as it had a specific 60-day timetable for a coup. Although it was not fully trusted by the other organizations, all groups shared information and the common goal to “bring about an extended nationwide strike during September or October.” An extended strike “would produce a national crisis” and as a result, “President Salvador Allende would declare a state of siege. Subsequently, the military would be called in to help run the government.” (CIA Intelligence Information Cable, TDCS DB–315/07400–72, September 1; ibid.)

Central Intelligence Agency officials monitored the strike-organization efforts and the plans of General Alfredo Canales to foment a coup. (TDCS DB–315/07455–72, September 5; 315/07480–72, September 8; 315/07572–72, September 8; 315/07724–72, September 14; ibid.) The NSC Staff concluded that the time was not right for an overthrow as “the essential condition for a successful coup against Allende would be broad support within the military, tacit support from the police, and fairly strong backing from the people and the political parties of the opposition. These conditions do not appear now to exist.” (Memorandum from Deputy Senior Staff Member of the National Security Council William J. Jorden to Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry A. Kissinger, September 6; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 776, Country Files, Latin America, Chile, Vol. VII)