145. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Colby to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- CIA’s Covert Action Program in Chile Since 1970
1. This Agency did not conduct covert action operations in support of either of the two democratic candidates who opposed Salvador Allende in the 1970 presidential election. Our role in the election was limited to an effort to denigrate Allende and his Popular Unity (UP) coalition during the campaign. Since Allende’s inauguration, U.S. policy has been to maintain maximum covert pressure to prevent the Allende regime’s consolidation. Under this policy the 40 Committee has approved since January 1971 financial support totaling $6,476,166 for Chilean political parties, media, and private sector organizations opposed to the Allende regime. The attachment provides a summary of the amounts approved by the Committee and the purposes for which these funds were used.[Page 743]
2. Funds [less than 1 line not declassified] channeled to opposition forces in Chile through our Santiago Station enabled the three opposition political parties—Christian Democratic Party (PDC), National Party (PN) and Democratic Radical Party (PDR)—to improve their internal organizations, acquire new media outlets, and to compete successfully in a number of congressional by-elections. [3 lines not declassified] These congressional elections were considered by both the UP and the opposition as a form of plebiscite to determine whether or not the government had a popular mandate to continue the implementation of its revolutionary program. [4 lines not declassified] Funds authorized by the 40 Committee were also used to insure the continued existence of El Mercurio, Chile’s largest and most important newspaper, which acted as an effective rallying-point for opposition forces. Limited support was also made available to private sector organizations, but because some of these groups began to try to provoke a military coup, our funding was confined to specific activities in support of the opposition coalition in the March congressional elections.
3. After the March 1973 elections, it became increasingly apparent that three years of political polarization had strained the fabric of Chilean society to the breaking point. Various U.S. policy options were considered, and on 20 August 1973 the 40 Committee approved an additional $1,000,000 to support opposition political parties and private sector organizations through June 1974; support to the private sector, however, was made contingent on the concurrence of Ambassador Davis and the Department of State. Since this concurrence was not given, no support was provided to the private sector, whose initiative in launching and maintaining a series of crippling strikes was instrumental in provoking the military coup of 11 September 1973. Thus, while the Agency was instrumental in enabling opposition political parties and media to survive and to maintain their dynamic resistance to the Allende regime, the CIA played no direct role in the events which led to the establishment of the new military government.