349. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Chilean Developments—Situation Report

Intensive shooting and explosions were heard late this morning in downtown Santiago and in outlying industrial areas. A radio station controlled by the junta said that “extremist groups continue to resist the action of the Armed Forces in downtown Santiago.” There is no hard information as yet concerning the scale of the fighting, although ham operators monitored in Buenos Aires report many deaths resulting from “serious confrontations” between army troops and factory workers in the suburbs of the capital.

The military radio network is still Chile’s sole source of information. There has been no official mention of Allende’s fate, despite unofficial reports of his death, probably by suicide.

Press reports quote Mexican President Echeverria as expressing “deep regret” at the coup. Echeverria stressed Mexico’s loyalty to the principle of non-intervention and expressed solidarity with the people of Chile and confidence that Chile “would soon find again the way for a democratic and peaceful life.” Echeverria offered asylum in Mexico to Allende’s supporters.2

The WSAG met this morning and based upon those deliberations we are adopting a public line that this is an internal situation in Chile and that as to the question of recognition the issue has not arisen—in any event, we do not recognize individual governments, but rather countries. We will keep a low-key posture to allow time for Latin American governments and possibly some Europeans to announce the [Page 907] continuation of their relations3 before we make any direct statements in order that we can defuse any charge of our implication which would not only be damaging to us, but more importantly to the new Chilean Government. We will, however, have Ambassador Davis discreetly let the new leadership know informally that we are favorably disposed.4 We are preparing a list of possible responses to likely aid requests which we can anticipate at an early point from the new Chilean Government.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 777, Country Files, Latin America, Chile, Vol. VIII. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Mrs. Allende took asylum in the Mexican Embassy. Davis cabled the Department that unless he heard otherwise from Washington, he would send the following condolence letter to her: “Dear Ms. Allende, my wife Elizabeth and I wish to express to you our sympathy over the death of your husband, President Allende. We were saddened to learn of it. Over the almost two years I have been in Chile, I came to know President Allende in a wide variety of formal and informal situations and came to appreciate his many qualities and to be grateful for the understanding he expressed to me on many occasions. Elizabeth and I have also been grateful for your generous gestures to us both. Respectfully yours.” (Telegram 4198 from Santiago, September 13; ibid.)
  3. Nixon highlighted and underlined this phrase and wrote at the bottom of the page, “K[issinger]—good—as we discussed it.” According to the President’s Daily Diary and Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, the two men met three times on September 12: 9:31–10:05 a.m. in the Oval Office; 1:13–1:18 p.m. in Kissinger’s Office; and 6:16–6:30 in the Oval Office. In addition to events in Chile and elsewhere, Kissinger was preoccupied with the process of confirmation in the Senate of his appointment as Secretary of State. No substantive records of the conversations between Nixon and Kissinger on September 12 have been found.
  4. Nixon underlined this sentence.