By Maria Rivera and Otavio Calegari, MIT Chile
On October 22, 1970, just over a month after the election of Salvador Allende to the presidency of Chile, the then Commander in Chief of the Army, René Schneider, suffered an attack by an extreme right-wing group and some soldiers. who wanted to prevent Allende from assuming the presidency. The attack, which would be attributed to a left-wing group, was part of a series of other actions that aimed to generate a situation of instability in the country that would justify a military coup to “put the house in order.” Schneider was a “democratic” officer and was seen as an obstacle by the coup sectors. This attack ended with his death, but did not achieve his main objective. The coup attempt failed due to the enormous popular commotion generated by his assassination, which caused the coup plotters to hesitate in carrying out the coup.
Behind Schneider’s assassination and the failed coup attempt was one of the most important politicians in the United States, Henry Kissinger, then National Security Advisor in the United States government of Richard Nixon. Today, November 30, 2023, Kissinger died at the age of 100. He died in total impunity and leaving a profound legacy at the service of North American imperialism and against the people of the entire world. In this brief note we do not intend to talk about the importance of Kissinger for North American imperialism, but rather to rescue one of the aspects of the innumerable atrocities for which he was responsible, his intervention in Chile.
Henry Kissinger y Chile
The intervention of the United States in Chilean national politics did not begin with the election of Salvador Allende. Since the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States, with its Alliance for Progress policy, had been financing and promoting the strengthening of the Christian Democratic Party as a possible alternative against the advance of communism (since the traditional right showed itself increasingly politically exhausted). After the Cuban Revolution (1959) North American imperialism perceived that its power in Latin America was at risk and that it could not allow “new Cubas” to exist. In Chile, in 1964, the US financed more than 50% of the campaign of Eduardo Frei Montalva, the Christian Democrat candidate for president, as an alternative to Salvador Allende, candidate of the Popular Front. The CIA helped organize a true campaign of terror against Allende and the UP, trying to increase the fear of the middle classes and the working class about a possible Allende government. This resulted in the election of Frei Montalva.
After the exhaustion of the so-called “Revolution in freedom” of Eduardo Frei Montalva and the DC as a “third way” against the right and against the “Marxist left”, Allende was elected in September 1970. Thus began the most direct initiatives military coup. The attack against General Schneider was the third attempted coup against the newly elected Allende government, which had not yet taken office. The two previous attempts were also organized by Kissinger, the CIA and some large North American and Chilean businessmen, who used extreme right-wing groups and military coup plotters, such as Roberto Viaux, for dirty work.
Following Schneider’s death and the failure of that coup attempt, Kissinger (with the support of Nixon) ordered a plan to economically, politically and socially destabilize Salvador Allende’s government. According to Jorge Magasich, UP scholar:
“Before Allende is president, the National Security Council (NSC) establishes its boycott policy that anticipates what is to come: taking actions to divide Popular Unity; economic boycott stimulating the exodus of technicians; support for the media that will criticize the government at a level sufficient to provoke a clampdown, thus driving a wedge to demand “freedom of the press”; sponsor programs so that the military continues to be an independent power; claim that Investigations is controlled by Cubans to provoke a reaction; financial support for anti-Allende groups; use clandestine techniques to promote a climate of uncertainty, especially in the political center that seems to have accepted Allende; develop an international propaganda campaign denouncing the weakening of the democratic system.”
This destabilization plan will be carried out during the 1,000 days that Salvador Allende’s government lasted and will culminate with the coup of September 11, 1973. Kissinger’s role was also fundamental in the preparation of September 11, as he coordinated the initiatives with the CIA, the Chilean big bourgeoisie, the right and the military coup plotters. Today there are no longer doubts about the participation of the United States and Kissinger’s role in the coups d’état in Latin America, particularly in the Chilean case. Many secret archives have been opened in recent decades and a large number of books have been written on the subject.
After the military coup, Kissinger was one of the great defenders of the Pinochet dictatorship within the United States and also on his travels around the world. Kissinger was in Chile in 1976, when he met with Pinochet and thanked him for his services against communism. Kissinger’s words to Pinochet at that time were:
“We sympathize with what they are trying to do here, […] did a great service to the West by overthrowing Allende […] “My assessment is that you are a victim of all leftist groups in the world and that your greatest sin was overthrowing a government that was becoming communist.”
Henry Kissinger was clear that Pinochet, despite his countless crimes against Chilean workers, had been necessary to defeat the socialist revolution that was underway during the 1970s.
Some years later, during Henry Ford’s government, the State Department, under the responsibility of Kissinger, also promoted and strengthened the so-called Operation Condor, a coordination between the intelligence apparatus of the different dictatorships of the southern cone, promoted by Pinochet and which included the dictatorships of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. Operation Condor was responsible for the death, torture and disappearance of thousands of people in different countries around the world (including murders in European countries and in the United States itself, such as the case of the murder of former communist minister Orlando Letelier).
Imperialism has no remorse
Kissinger died in total impunity. The case of the assassination of General Schneider was brought to court in the United States. However, the Columbia Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Kissinger, stating that Kissinger’s actions were due to political orders in the context of the Cold War and the United States’ fight against communism. The Supreme Court later rejected requests to reopen the case. In other words, the North American judicial system defended and justified all the crimes committed by Kissinger (and Pinochet) to “confront communism” and defend the property of the great North American and Chilean capitalists.
For the workers around the world who continue to fight to end capitalist society, what we must be clear about is that imperialism and its strategists, like Henry Kissinger, will not hesitate for a second to do the same thing they did in the years 70.
Kissinger was one of the greatest criminals of the 20th Century. His crimes, however, were not crimes of an evil or psychopathic individual. Kissinger represented everything that imperialism is capable of doing to continue dominating and plundering all peoples around the world.
 MAGASICH, Jorge. History of Popular Unity, vol. 1 p. 164.
 In Chile there was a profound revolutionary process between 1971 and 1973, with land seizures, factories, the emergence of embryos of worker and popular power, the possibility of ruptures in the bourgeois Armed Forces, etc. The government of Salvador Allende and the UP tried to stop the revolutionary process that put in check the entire bourgeois and imperialist domination in the country. Allende tried until the last moment to avoid a socialist revolution and lead the revolution towards bourgeois institutions, taking some anti-imperialist measures, but without breaking with capitalism. However, his role was questioned by imperialism and the Chilean bourgeoisie, who perceived Allende to be a danger mainly because he could not control the revolution advancing below.
 See the book The Condor Yearsthe John Dinges.
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