Soy Loco Por Ti, América

CIA activities in Chile following Salvador Allende’s election in 1970 are notorious, but the ongoing Russia panic in the United States brings to mind the election Allende lost. In order to ensure that Eduardo Frei would defeat Allende in 1964, the CIA spent “30 cents for every man, woman, and child in Chile,” more than twice as much per capita as Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater spent combined (in a much richer country) that same year.

Further material for an indictment can be found in Covert Action in Chile, 1963-1973, a 1975 report of Senator Frank Church’s Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. The gap in critical self-awareness separating Church from contemporary liberals is staggering.


1. United States Policy

The United States was involved on a massive scale in the 1964 presidential election in Chile. The Special Group authorized over three million dollars during the 1962-64 period to prevent the election of a Socialist or Communist candidate. A  total of nearly four million dollars was spent on some fifteen covert action projects, ranging from organizing slum dwellers to passing funds to political parties….

Covert action during the 1964 campaign was composed of two major elements. One was direct financial support of the Christian Democratic campaign. The CIA underwrote slightly more than half of  the total cost of that campaign….

In addition to support for political parties, the CIA  mounted a massive anti-communist propaganda campaign. Extensive use was made of the press, radio, films, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, direct mailings, paper streamers, and wall painting. It was a ‘scare campaign,’ which relied heavily on images of Soviet tanks and Cuban firing squads and was directed especially to women. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the anti-communist pastoral letter of Pope Pius XI were distributed by  Christian Democratic organizations. They carried the designation, ‘printed privately by  citizens without political affiliation, in order more broadly to disseminate its content.’ ‘Disinformation’ and ‘black propaganda’-material which purported to originate from another source, such as the Chilean Communist Party-were used as well.

The propaganda campaign was enormous. During the first week of intensive propaganda activity (the third week of June 1964), a CIA funded propaganda group produced twenty radio spots per day in Santiago and on 44 provincial stations; twelve-minute news broadcasts five time daily on three Santiago stations and 24 provincial outlets; thousands of cartoons, and much paid press advertising. By the end of June, the group produced 24 daily newscasts in Santiago and the provinces, 26  weekly “commentary” programs, and distributed 3,000 posters daily. The CIA regards the anti-communist scare campaign as the most effective activity undertaken by  the U.S. on behalf of the Christian Democratic candidate.

The propaganda campaign was conducted internationally as well, and articles from abroad were ‘replayed’ in Chile….

The CIA ran political action operations independent of the Christian Democrats’ campaign in a number of important voter blocks, including slum dwellers, peasants, organized labor, and dissident Socialists. Support was given to ‘anti-communist’ members of the Radical Party in their efforts to achieve positions of influence in the party hierarchy, and to prevent the party from throwing its support behind Allende.

3. U.S. Government Organization for the 1964 Chilean Election

To manage the election effort, an electoral committee was established in Washington, consisting of the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Thomas Mann the Western Hemisphere Division Chief of the CIA, Desmond Fitzgerald; Ralph Dungan and McGeorge Bundy from the White House; and the Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division Branch Four, the branch that has jurisdiction over Chile. This group was in close touch with the State Department Office of Bolivian and Chilean Affairs. In Santiago there was a parallel Election Committee that coordinated U.S. efforts. It included the Deputy Chief of Mission, the CIA Chief of Station, and the heads of the Political and Economic Sections, as well as the Ambassador. The Election Committee in Washington coordinated lines to higher authority and to the field and other agencies.

4. Role of Multinational Corporations

CIA money, represented as private money, was passed to the Christian Democrats through a private businessman.

6. Effects of Covert Action

A CIA study concludes that U.S. intervention enabled Eduardo Frei to win a clear majority in the 1964 election, instead of merely a plurality….Some of the propaganda and polling mechanisms developed for  use in 1964 were used repeatedly thereafter, in local and congressional campaigns, during the 1970  presidential campaign, and throughout the 1970-1973  Allende presidency.”

After Frei’s victory, the interagency committee behind the covert operations met. According to their minutes:

“[Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs] Bundy indicated that a vote of commendation should be extended to those responsible for the successful outcome of the Chilean election. Those present concurred wholeheartedly. [CIA Director John] McCone remarked that the voters, themselves, in Chile deserved some commendation….Mr. McCone commented that certain U.S. business leaders with direct interests were immensely pleased and felt that they could negotiate any problems arising during the Frei administration. Mr. McCone added that it was the present analysis of his area specialists that without the large scale covert support provided for the campaign, Frei would have gained, at most, a bare plurality. This was the first clear majority in a Chilean election in 22 years.”

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