Chile/1973 coup d'état

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Event.png Chile/1973 coup d'état (coup,  US/Sponsored Regime-change efforts since 1945) Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Chile 1973 coup d'état.jpg
Date11 September 1973
PerpetratorsCIA, ASIO, ASIS, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, National Security Council, ITT Inc, Felix Rohatyn
Interest ofNathaniel Davis, John Dinges, Project FUBELT
DescriptionA CIA military intelligence operation that overthrew of the democratically elected Salvador Allende.

The September 11, 1973 Chilean coup d'état overthrew of the democratically elected Salvador Allende. The regime change was enforced through a covert CIA military intelligence operation, which laid the groundwork for economic warfare, the military takeover, the assassination of president Allende as well as the neoliberal macro-economic reforms that was adopted in the wake of the military coup.


Immediately following Allende’s election in September 1970 and prior to his inauguration in November 1970: “Kissinger initiated discussion on the telephone with CIA director Richard Helm’s about a preemptive coup in Chile. “We will not let Chile go down the drain,” Kissinger declared. “I am with you,” Helms responded. Their conversation took place three days before president Nixon, in a 15-minute meeting that included Kissinger, ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream,” and named Kissinger as the supervisor of the covert effort to keep Allende from being inaugurated.[1]

In the weeks leading up the coup, US Ambassador Nathaniel Davis and members of the CIA held meetings with Chile’s top military brass together with the leaders of the National Party and the ultra-right nationalist front Patria y Libertad.

In 1975 Thomas Braden was the principle interviewee in a three-part World In Action documentary The Rise and Fall of the CIA in which he stated that Henry Kissinger had been the main operator in the US government's running the 1973 Chilean coup d'etat."Doctor Kissinger ran the Chile operation, very much like a desk officer. He's that way, he likes to do things himself."

Australian spooks

In June 2021, the Australian government conceded that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) were involved. This had been known for a long time.[2]

Economic warfare

After Allende’s election in November Wall Street’s major commercial banks (including Chase Manhattan, Chemical, First National City, Manufacturers Hanover, and Morgan Guaranty), cancelled credits to Chile. In turn, in 1972, Kennecott Corporation “tied up Chilean copper exports with lawsuits in France, Sweden, Italy, and Germany”.[3]


The main objective of the US-supported military coup in Chile was ultimately to impose the neoliberal economic agenda. The latter, in the case of Chile, was not imposed by external creditors under the guidance of IMF. “Regime change” was enforced through a covert military intelligence operation, which laid the groundwork for the military coup. Sweeping macro-economic reforms (including privatization, price liberalization and the freeze of wages) were implemented in early October 1973[4]. In August 1972, a year prior to the coup, the CIA funded a 300-page economic blueprint to be implemented in the wake of the overthrow of the Allende government.

Barely a few weeks after the military takeover, the military Junta headed by General Augusto Pinochetstarted an “economic shock treatment”. While food prices skyrocketed, wages had been frozen to ensure “economic stability and stave off inflationary pressures.” From one day to the next, an entire country had been precipitated into abysmal poverty; in less than a year the price of bread in Chile increased thirty-six fold (3700%). Eighty-five percent of the Chilean population had been driven below the poverty line.[5]

Contrarian view

Gonzalo Lira, who is Chilean, is of the opinion that the coup was not illegal, but was being called for by the Chilean Congress and that the CIA had no significant influence in what was happening.[6]


Related Quotation

Edward Korry“not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty".”Edward Korry1970


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Covert Action in Chile, 1963-73report1976Church CommitteeA Church committee report of the hearings before them to study governmental operations with respect to intelligence activities of the United States Senate. A very thorough, but lengthy, investigation into CIA activity in Chile. Includes numerous instances of media manipulation and propaganda in the millions of dollars.
Document:The Pinochet Coup in Chilebook extract12 February 2007Mark Curtis
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