42. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1


  • Chilean Facilitation of Subversive Activities in Latin America

A. Introduction

1. There is, as yet, little hard intelligence that Chile is actively supporting guerrilla activities in Latin America. The Allende government since it took office on 3 November 1970 has been preoccupied with consolidating its own position. Its existence, however, has improved the prospects for subversive activity in nearby countries.

2. The new Chilean government is in a position to aid significantly insurgent movements against the governments of other Latin American countries. Allowing these groups to train, organize, and otherwise use Chile as a base or safe-haven is one possibility. Facilitation of travel by documentation or providing access to arms, medical care, or funds are others. Allende reportedly has warned Chilean groups supporting Latin American insurgents that they must operate clandestinely in order to avoid the risk of retaliation, [3½ lines not declassified]. Uruguay is another possible target of assistance, especially [2 lines not declassified]. The good offices of the Chilean Foreign Ministry might also be used to facilitate activities of subversive groups.

3. The fact that Chile has a Marxist government will be potentially useful to both Soviet and Cuban subversive activities throughout Latin

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America. [less than 1 line not declassified] Cuban [less than 1 line not declassified] already has several representatives in Chile, and the pro-Cuban sympathies of many officials in the Allende government indicate that these Cubans’ activities will not be circumscribed. The Soviets will probably attempt to influence Cuban activity in Chile to fit Soviet strategy. They will have the aid of the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh), but the fact that most Chilean security organizations are controlled by Socialists and other pro-Fidel Castro groups will assist the Cubans.

B. Support for Guerrilla Activites by Chile and Cuba

1. Fidel Castro long has recognized the need for an insurgency support base in South America. This aspect of the situation was made manifest in 1968 when, after the death of Che Guevara in Bolivia, Allende assisted the three Cuban survivors of his group when they and two native guides escaped from Bolivia across the Chilean border. Allende personally accompanied the guerrillas as far as Tahiti in their flight back to Cuba. [2 lines not declassified]

2. [2 lines not declassified] They may hope that the Allende administration will facilitate to some extent their revolutionary activities.

3. In January 1970 the Cuban press reported that Allende would be one of the six directors of the Chilean Committee of Support for the Bolivian ELN. This group was formed by a group of Socialists, led by Senator Carlos Altamirano, [3 lines not declassified]. If the Chilean government provided sufficient financing, the Bolivian ELN would be in a position to pay travel expenses and per diem for persons selected to attend guerrilla training courses in Chile. [2 lines not declassified]

4. Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, Cuban Minister Without Portfolio, referred to the unity of the Latin American revolutionary process while appearing on a Chilean “Meet the Press” television program in November 1970. Among other statements pertaining to guerrilla warfare, he said: “I would say categorically that our frequently presented revolutionary position that armed struggle is the basis for revolutionary development in Latin America has not been altered.”

5. [2 paragraphs (26 lines) not declassified]

D. Potential Role of the Chilean Foreign Office in External Subversion

1. Allende appointees in the Foreign Office may also contribute to external subversion. The facilities, privileges, and protection of Chilean embassies in various countries could be very helpful to those engaged in subversive activities, and ambassadors appointed by Allende are unlikely to interfere. Several may be inclined to promote such activities while others may merely provide cover. Ranking Communist Party members have already been named to two important posts. Rene Frias, a longtime PCCh leader, will represent Chile in Costa Rica, where the [Page 226] Soviet-supported Communist Party is already expanding its influence with the tolerance of the government. Pablo Neruda, PCCh presidential candidate and Central Committee member, but also world famous as a poet, peace activist, and Nobel prize candidate has been designated Ambassador to Paris, a key transit, support and contact location for international agents.

2. Chilean diplomatic posts are also likely to provide asylum at embassies and free passage to Chile for political refugees. The tradition of political asylum is a hallowed one in Latin America, and Mexican embassies for many years have been the goal of political refugees. The Chilean Embassy in Paraguay now has three asylees who took refuge there after escaping from prison. [2 lines not declassified]

3. [1 paragraph (9 lines) not declassified]

E. Chilean and Regional Communist Trade Union Programs

1. Chile replaced Mexico as the principal Latin American base for the Communist international trade union movement in 1964. In that year the Communist-sponsored Permanent Congress for Latin American Labor Unity, known as CPUSTAL, set up its secretariat in Santiago. The Chilean Labor Federation (CUT), which is controlled by the PCCh and the PS, has provided CPUSTAL a home and a nucleus of personnel. The Communist World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has helped CPUSTAL as have Communist trade unions in other Latin American countries. The CPUSTAL secretariat has thus far provided continuity and liaison for Communist efforts among Latin American trade movements as well as some training sessions in Santiago. Its role as organizer of regional trade union meetings as well as other functions offer a base for broadened Communist labor activity. The conclusion on 7 December of an agreement between the Allende government and the CUT makes the latter virtually the labor arm of the government and may strengthen CPUSTAL as well.

2. The most successful of CPUSTAL’s sometimes halting efforts has been in the organization of regional groups of workers in certain categories, such as graphic art workers, teachers, and bank employees. The Soviets have shown particular interest in the labor field and will probably help expand the CPUSTAL efforts.

F. Use of International Forums to Bolster Allende Government’s Policies and Prestige

1. Stressing its legitimacy as an elected government, Chile is almost certain to increase its activities as an anti-US spokesman in international organizations. Championship of Cuba in the OAS, negotiations toward relations with Communist China and the voting for its entrance into the UN at the expense of Nationalist China, as well as the adoption of aggressive stances in the Andean Group and the all-Latin [Page 227] American CECLA organization are some examples. Such moves will offer new opportunities for agitation against the US among other Latin American countries, without the pitfalls of direct confrontation with the US.

2. Organizations such as the World Peace Council and other “anti-imperialist” propaganda centers will both use and assist the Allende government. The latter’s unique position of acceptability in pro-Moscow, pro-Havana, and pro-Peking circles will assist the propaganda of all. Allende’s predilection for playing his own game may lead to Chile’s attempt to play the game of all these interests.

G. Estimate of Soviet Role in Chile

1. The Soviets are primarily interested in assuring that the Chilean Marxist experience works and that it be an attractive example to other Latin American Marxist movements. Latin American Communists traveling in the USSR are being asked by the Soviets to return home via Chile in order to contact the PCCh to find out what their respective parties can do to help the Allende government. Should this objective be achieved it would be particularly significant in that the Christian Democrat experience under President Frei, and clearly supported by the United States Government, failed. The Soviets would expect economic and political gains to be made under the Allende government.

2. The Soviets can be expected to exploit the Chilean situation to the maximum as far as using it for propaganda to the rest of Latin America and in other underdeveloped areas, to stimulate an increase in the volume of trade with Chile, to expand Soviet activities such as Aeroflot and Soviet shipping lines, to establish “weather stations” or “Antarctic exploration stations” on Chilean territory or with Chile’s aid, to increase greatly the exchange of students to and from the USSR, to use Chileans as a wedge into more and more Latin American organizations, such as trade union organizations. The Soviets will undoubtedly try to avoid any clear appearance of military involvement or exploitation of Chile. For this reason they will probably not supply any significant amount of weapons to Chile at this time.

3. The Soviets, therefore, will do what they can to contribute to the success of the Chilean experiment. This support might well take the form of extending credits, supporting Chile’s internal and foreign policies, sending technical, scientific, and military advisors but the Soviets will be careful not to extend themselves where they could be put in a position of being responsible—at least in the beginning—for the outcome of the Chilean experiment. The Soviets will not be ready to assume major costs or risks to bail out Chile if a crisis occurs, such as a military invasion of Chile by the Argentines. The Soviets will, in all probability, seek to avoid a crisis developing. Some problems may be [Page 228] encountered with the Cubans who tactically would probably prefer to move much faster than the Soviets in the staging of the Marxist takeover of Chile and the spread of its influence throughout Latin America.

4. The Soviet complement in Chile now numbers [number not declassified] of whom [number not declassified] are believed to be members of the RIS. The RIS will certainly be in the midst of all Soviet activities, and will be recruiting assets diligently; however, it will remain clandestine and covert. The RIS will not be visible in the arrest of “reactionaries” or the establishment of controls over the population. This will be carried out entirely by Chileans. It is probable that to the extent that it is consulted at all, the RIS will counsel caution and act as a guide for Chilean security service expansion and activities. On the other hand, the RIS will encourage all possible efforts to “unmask” CIA agents and CIA plots against the new government as a means of justifying tighter controls and in order to lessen U.S. influence in general. The total number of RIS officers in Chile will increase slowly and steadily. The RIS will look for all possible ways to blacken the name of CIA and the U.S., including thrusting the blame on CIA for alleged murder attempts against Allende and others, and any other violent acts which may occur against the new government.

6. The principal effort of the RIS in Chile over the next few years will be to utilize various types of contacts, collaborators, penetrations, and agents to influence at the highest level possible key figures within the Chilean government. The RIS can be expected to conduct and plan discreet political action operations. The RIS will seek to exploit and develop new agents of influence and agents of importance to assure that the Marxist victory of Allende remains a victory and sets the stage for similar political developments in Latin America. To the degree possible the Soviets will attempt to influence Cuban activity in Chile; some competition will exist as it has in other areas, but the Soviets have surely placed a high priority in Chile and internecine warfare with Fidel Castro and the DGI is something they will seek to avoid. Soviet/Cuban collaboration in support of subversive activity elsewhere in Latin America is likely to be enhanced if the Chilean experiment is successful from the Cuban/Soviet point of view.

H. Initial Development of Communist International Press Media Coverage of Events in Chile

While the Cuban Prensa Latina press agency representation in Chile has been, so far, the most active outlet for international reportage favorable to the Allende regime, the USSR’s TASS Agency began to give international coverage of the government in late November. On 7 December a TASS Santiago report used in international broadcasts accused the Inter-American Press Association of supporting “international reactionary propaganda” directed against President Allende and [Page 229] the people’s government. The campaign to discredit unfavorable international news reporting had gotten underway in Chile earlier in November, with an accusation that U.S. funds were supporting a reactionary group in Buenos Aires compiling “distorted accounts of events in Chile.” This accusation was attributed to the Communications Brigade of the Chilean Socialist Party. A Chilean Foreign Office statement condemning “distorted reporting” was replayed on the same day (26 November) by Agence France Press in Spanish. Pravda, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Red Star, and Izvestia all have carried limited reporting and cautiously favorable commentary since 18 November. On 1 December Pravda published an abridgement of an article by Luis Corvalan, which is to be circulated internationally in December 1970 by Problems of Peace and Socialism, the Prague-based international journal of Communist parties. The article devoted substantial attention to Corvalan’s remarks on the importance of the Chilean example for other countries.

  1. Summary: This memorandum, titled “Chilean Facilitation of Subversive Activities in Latin America,” assessed the ability of Allende to aid insurgents or revolutionaries in South America.

    Source: National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, Subject Files, Chile, 1970. Secret; Eyes Only. The memorandum was submitted under cover of a memorandum from Cushman to Kissinger containing Cushman’s stamped signature and Broe’s signature.