Former President of Chile
He ran many attempts at the Presidency over 40 years in politics. He was a Marxist. He 'won' in 1970. Technically, he assumed power after failing to win a three way race. Parliament gave him power without resorting to a new vote.
As president, Allende adopted a policy of nationalization of industries and collectivization; due to these and other factors, increasingly strained relations between him and the legislative and judicial branches of the Chilean government (which did not share his enthusiasm for Sovietization of Chile) eventually culminated in an impeachment resolution authorizing his removal. On 11 September 1973, the military, acting upon said authorization, moved to oust Allende. As troops surrounded La Moneda Palace, Allende gave his last speech vowing not to resign, and then committed suicide.
Not mentioned is the number of civilians who 'disappeared' under the Allende administration.
Allende was born under the familiar family names of Uribe and Castro. He was well off. His grandfather had been a social reformer who founded secular schools in Chile.
As a student he was a fan of an Italian anarchist. He co founded the socialist party while studying medicine. He joined Freemasons and was listed as number 4 in Valparaíso which is unusual because Freemasons are supposed to believe in God. At the age of 25 he published a thesis on mental health.
When Nazis launched Kristallnacht, Salvador criticised Hitler for targeting Jews. Which is too weasel like for my liking, as it was also an abuse of power, criminal, outrageous, unacceptable and uncivilised. But then the anarchist spirit is not far from Marxism.
Salvador ran the campaign for the Popular Front in '38. The Popular Front's slogan was "Bread, a Roof and Work!" After its electoral victory, he became Minister of Health in the Reformist Popular Front government which was dominated by the Radicals. While serving in this position, Allende was responsible for the passage of a wide range of progressive social reforms, including safety laws protecting workers in the factories, higher pensions for widows, maternity care, and free lunch programmes for schoolchildren.
Upon entering the government, Allende relinquished his parliamentary seat for Valparaíso, which he had won in 1937. Around that time, he wrote La Realidad Médico Social de Chile (The social and medical reality of Chile). After the Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, Allende and other members of the Parliament sent a telegram to Adolf Hitler denouncing the persecution of Jews. Following President Aguirre Cerda's death in 1941, he was again elected deputy while the Popular Front was renamed Democratic Alliance.
In 1945, Allende became senator for the Valdivia, Llanquihue, Chiloé, Aisén and Magallanes provinces; then for Tarapacá and Antofagasta in 1953; for Aconcagua andValparaíso in 1961; and once more for Chiloé, Aisén and Magallanes in 1969. He became president of the Chilean Senate in 1966.
His three unsuccessful bids for the presidency (in the 1952, 1958 and 1964 elections) prompted Allende to joke that his epitaph would be "Here lies the next President of Chile." In 1952, as candidate for the Frente de Acción Popular (Popular Action Front, FRAP), he obtained only 5.4% of the votes, partly due to a division within socialist ranks over support for Carlos Ibáñez. In 1958, again as the FRAP candidate, Allende obtained 28.5% of the vote. This time, his defeat was attributed to votes lost to the populist Antonio Zamorano. In 1964, once more as the FRAP candidate, he lost again, polling 38.6% of the votes against 55.6% for Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei. As it became clear that the election would be a race between Allende and Frei, the political right – which initially had backed Radical Julio Durán– settled for Frei as "the lesser evil".
Allende had a close relationship with the Chilean Communist Party from the beginning of his political career. On his fourth (and successful) bid for the presidency, the Communist Party appointed him as the alternate for its own candidate, the world-renowned poetPablo Neruda.
During his presidential term, Allende took positions held by the Communists, in opposition to the views of the socialists. Some argue, however, that this was reversed at the end of his period in office.
Upon assuming power, Allende began to carry out his platform of implementing a socialist programme called La vía chilena al socialismo ("the Chilean Path to Socialism"). This included nationalization of large-scale industries (notably copper mining and banking), and government administration of the health care system, educational system (with the help of an U.S. educator, Jane A. Hobson-Gonzalez from Kokomo, Indiana), a programme of free milk for children in the schools and shanty towns of Chile, and an expansion of the land seizure and redistribution already begun under his predecessor Eduardo Frei Montalva, who had nationalized between one-fifth and one-quarter of all the properties listed for takeover. Allende also intended to improve the socio-economic welfare of Chile's poorest citizens; a key element was to provide employment, either in the new nationalised enterprises or on public work projects.
Allende’s first step in early 1971 was to raise minimum wages (in real terms) for blue-collar workers by 37%-41% and 8%-10% for white-collar workers. Educational, food, and housing assistance was significantly expanded, with public-housing starts going up twelvefold and eligibility for free milk extended from age 6 to age 15. A year later, blue-collar wages were raised by 27% in real terms and white-collar wages became fully indexed. Price controls were also set up, while the Allende Government introduced a system of distribution networks through various agencies (including local committees on supply and prices) to ensure that the new rules were adhered to by shopkeepers.
The new Minister of Agriculture, Jacques Chonchol, promised to expropriate all estates which were larger than eighty “basic” hectares. This promise was kept, with no farm in Chile exceeding this limit by the end of 1972.
The Allende Government also sought to bring the arts (both serious and popular) to the mass of the Chilean population by funding a number of cultural endeavours. With eighteen-year olds and illiterates now granted the right to vote, mass participation in decision-making was encouraged by the Allende government, with traditional hierarchical structures now challenged by socialist egalitarianism. The Allende Government was also able to draw upon the idealism of its supporters, with teams of "Allendistas" travelling into the countryside and shanty towns to perform volunteer work.
Social spending was dramatically increased, particularly for housing, education, and health, while a major effort was made to redistribute wealth to poorer Chileans. As a result of new initiatives in nutrition and health, together with higher wages, many poorer Chileans were able to feed themselves and clothe themselves better than they had been able to before. Public access to the social security system was increased, while state benefits such as family allowances were raised significantly.
Chilean presidents were allowed a maximum term of six years, which may explain Allende's haste to restructure the economy. Not only was a major restructuring program organized (the Vuskovic plan), he had to make it a success if a Socialist successor to Allende was going to be elected. In the first year of Allende's term, the short-term economic results of Minister of the Economy Pedro Vuskovic's expansive monetary policy were highly favorable: 12% industrial growth and an 8.6% increase in GDP, accompanied by major declines in inflation (down from 34.9% to 22.1%) and unemployment (down to 3.8%). However by 1972, the Chilean escudo had an inflation rate of 140%. The average Real GDP contracted between 1971 and 1973 at an annual rate of 5.6% ("negative growth"); and the government's fiscal deficit soared while foreign reserves declined. The combination of inflation and government-mandated price-fixing, together with the "disappearance" of basic commodities from supermarket shelves, led to the rise of black markets in rice, beans, sugar, and flour. The Chilean economy also suffered as a result of a US campaign against the Allende government. The Allende government announced it would default on debts owed to international creditors and foreign governments. Allende also froze all prices while raising salaries. His implementation of these policies was strongly opposed by landowners, employers, businessmen and transporters associations, and some civil servants and professional unions. The rightist opposition was led by National Party, the Roman Catholic Church (which in 1973 was displeased with the direction of educational policy), and eventually the Christian Democrats. There were growing tensions with foreign multinational corporations and the government of the United States.
Allende also undertook Project Cybersyn, a system of networked telex machines and computers. Cybersyn was developed by British cybernetics expert Stafford Beer. The network transmitted data from factories to the government in Santiago, allowing for economic planning in real-time.
In 1971, Chile re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, joining Mexico and Canada in rejecting a previously-established Organization of American States convention prohibiting governments in the Western Hemisphere from establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Shortly afterward, Cuban president Fidel Castro made a month-long visit to Chile. Originally the visit was supposed to be one week, however Castro enjoyed Chile, and one week turned to another.
October 1972 saw the first of what were to be a wave of strikes. The strikes were led first by truckers, and later by small businessmen, some (mostly professional) unions and some student groups. Other than the inevitable damage to the economy, the chief effect of the 24-day strike was to induce Allende to bring the head of the army, general Carlos Prats, into the government as Interior Minister. Allende also instructed the government to begin requisitioning trucks in order to keep the nation from coming to a halt. Government supporters also helped to mobilize trucks and buses but violence served as a deterrent to full mobilization, even with police protection for the strike breakers. Allende's actions were eventually declared unlawful by the Chilean appeals court and the government was ordered to return trucks to their owners.
Throughout this presidency racial tensions between the poor descendants of indigenous people, who supported Allende's reforms, and the white settler elite increased.
Allende raised wages on a number of occasions throughout 1970 and 1971, but these wage hikes were negated by the in-tandem inflation of Chile's fiat currency. Although price rises had also been high under Frei (27% a year between 1967 and 1970), a basic basket of consumer goods rose by 120% from 190 to 421 escudos in one month alone, August 1972. In the period 1970–72, while Allende was in government, exports fell 24% and imports rose 26%, with imports of food rising an estimated 149%.
Export income fell due to a hard hit copper industry: the price of copper on international markets fell by almost a third, and post-nationalization copper production fell as well. Copper is Chile's single most important export (more than half of Chile's export receipts were from this sole commodity). The price of copper fell from a peak of $66 per ton in 1970 to only $48–9 in 1971 and 1972. Chile was already dependent on food imports, and this decline in export earnings coincided with declines in domestic food production following Allende's agrarian reforms.
Throughout his presidency, Allende remained at odds with the Chilean Congress, which was dominated by the Christian Democratic Party. The Christian Democrats (who had campaigned on a socialist platform in the 1970 elections, but drifted away from those positions during Allende's presidency, eventually forming a coalition with the National Party), continued to accuse Allende of leading Chile toward a Cuban-style dictatorship, and sought to overturn many of his more radical policies. Allende and his opponents in Congress repeatedly accused each other of undermining the Chilean Constitution and acting undemocratically.
Allende's increasingly bold socialist policies (partly in response to pressure from some of the more radical members within his coalition), combined with his close contacts withCuba, heightened fears in Washington. The Nixon administration continued exerting economic pressure on Chile via multilateral organizations, and continued to back Allende's opponents in the Chilean Congress. Almost immediately after his election, Nixon directed CIA and U.S. State Department officials to "put pressure" on the Allende government.
On 26 May 1973, the Supreme Court of Chile unanimously denounced the Allende government's disruption of the legality of the nation in its failure to uphold judicial decisions, because of its continual refusal to permit police execution of judicial decisions contrary to the government's own measures.
Discussion from the CIA fact book
In the 1960s and the early 1970s, as part of the US Government policy to try to influence events in Chile, the CIA undertook specific covert action projects in Chile. Those hereby acknowledged are described below. The overwhelming objective—firmly rooted in the policy of the period—was to discredit Marxist-leaning political leaders, especially Dr. Salvador Allende, and to strengthen and encourage their civilian and military opponents to prevent them from assuming power.
Overview of Covert Actions. At the direction of the White House and interagency policy coordination committees, CIA undertook the covert activities described below. There were sustained propaganda efforts, including financial support for major news media, against Allende and other Marxists. Political action projects supported selected parties before and after the 1964 elections and after Allende’s 1970 election.
- In April 1962, the “5412 Panel Special Group”—a sub-cabinet body charged with reviewing proposed covert actions—approved a proposal to carry out a program of covert financial assistance to the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) to support the 1964 Presidential candidacy of Eduardo Frei.
- Also in 1962, the CIA began supporting a civic action group that undertook various propaganda activities, including distributing posters and leaflets.
- In December 1963, the 5412 Group agreed to provide a one-time payment to the Democratic Front, a coalition of three moderate to conservative parties, in support of the Front’s Presidential campaign.
- In April 1964, the 5412 Group approved a propaganda and political action program for the upcoming September 1964 Presidential election.
- In May 1964, following the dissolution of the Democratic Front, the “303 Committee,” successor to the 5412 Group, agreed to give the Radical Party additional covert assistance.
- In February 1965, the 303 Committee approved a proposal to give covert assistance to selected candidates in upcoming Congressional elections.
- In 1967, the CIA set up a propaganda mechanism for making placements in radio and news media.
- In July 1968, the 303 Committee approved a political action program to support individual moderate candidates running in the 1969 Congressional elections.
- As a result of 1968 propaganda activities, in 1969 the “40 Committee” (successor to the 303 Committee) approved the establishment of a propaganda workshop.
- In the runup to the 1970 Presidential elections, the 40 Committee directed CIA to carry out “spoiling operations” to prevent an Allende victory.
- As part of a “Track I” strategy to block Allende from taking office after the 4 September election, CIA sought to influence a Congressional run-off vote required by the Constitution because Allende did not win an absolute majority.
- As part of a “Track II” strategy, CIA was directed to seek to instigate a coup to prevent Allende from taking office (see discussion below).
- While Allende was in office, the 40 Committee approved the redirection of “Track I” operations that—combined with a renewed effort to support the PDC in 1971 and a project to provide support to the National Party and Democratic Radical Party in 1972—funneled millions of dollars to strengthen opposition political parties. CIA also provided assistance to militant right-wing groups to undermine the President and create a tense environment.
Support for Coup in 1970. Under “Track II” of the strategy, CIA sought to instigate a coup to prevent Allende from taking office after he won a plurality in the 4 September election and before, as Constitutionally required because he did not win an absolute majority, the Chilean Congress reaffirmed his victory. CIA was working with three different groups of plotters. All three groups made it clear that any coup would require the kidnapping of Army Commander Rene Schneider, who felt deeply that the Constitution required that the Army allow Allende to assume power. CIA agreed with that assessment. Although CIA provided weapons to one of the groups, we have found no information that the plotters’ or CIA’s intention was for the general to be killed. Contact with one group of plotters was dropped early on because of its extremist tendencies. CIA provided tear gas, submachine-guns and ammunition to the second group. The third group attempted to kidnap Schneider, mortally wounding him in the attack. CIA had previously encouraged this group to launch a coup but withdrew support four days before the attack because, in CIA’s assessment, the group could not carry it out successfully.
Summary of Response to Questions
- Q. All activities of officers, covert agents, and employees of all elements of the Intelligence Community with respect to the assassination of President Salvador Allende in September 1973.A. We find no information—nor did the Church Committee—that CIA or the Intelligence Community was involved in the death of Chilean President Salvador Allende. He is believed to have committed suicide as the coup leaders closed in on him. The major CIA effort against Allende came earlier in 1970 in the failed attempt to block his election and accession to the Presidency. Nonetheless, the US Administration’s long-standing hostility to Allende and its past encouragement of a military coup against him were well known among Chilean coup plotters who eventually took action on their own to oust him.
- Q. All activities of officers, covert agents, and employees of all elements of the Intelligence Community with respect to the accession of General Augusto Pinochet to the Presidency of the Republic of Chile.A. CIA actively supported the military Junta after the overthrow of Allende but did not assist Pinochet to assume the Presidency. In fact, many CIA officers shared broader US reservations about Pinochet’s single-minded pursuit of power.
- Q. All activities of officers, covert agents, and employees of all elements of the Intelligence Community with respect to violations of human rights committed by officers or agents of former President Pinochet.A. Many of Pinochet’s officers were involved in systematic and widespread human rights abuses following Allende’s ouster. Some of these were contacts or agents of the CIA or US military. The IC followed then-current guidance for reporting such abuses and admonished its Chilean agents against such behavior. Today’s much stricter reporting standards were not in force and, if they were, we suspect many agents would have been dropped.