Chile, 1973

so instead of sleeping i’ve been going over some important (economic) history, declassified today:…/2017/06/Declassified.Chile-1973.pdf

UK documents re: US-backed coup d’etat of in Chile, 1973.

On the coup:

“The coup was carried out efficiently and with a cold-blooded, surgical approach untypical of the Chilean character… It is likely that casualties run into the thousands, certainly it has been far from a bloodless coup”

“Mr Davis [US ambassador] said that these [US-Chilean relations] were of course bedevilled by the nationalisation of American copper interests in Chile. The United States government were concerned, not only about the loss to the copper companies, but also about the precedent that the Chilean action would set for the nationalisation of other big American interests throughout the developing world.”

After seizing power, Britain’s ‘long-standing friend’ (Thatcher’s words, 1999) and fascist Augusto Pinochet set about brutalising the population:

“Unfortunately, there is (as you have pointed out to us) a good deal of fact behind the atrocity stories and that alone makes it impossible for us to counter the propaganda… We can do little about the press… but you can assure them [Chileans] that we and our Ministers do understand the facts… and that HMG has taken a bolder line publicly than any other government in Europe about having normal relations with Chile”.

“On number of casualties says reports of many thousands dead can be discounted but that a confidential figure given to the embassy by the armed forces saying 500 is “doubtful” and probably higher. “There are lots of stories of deliberate killings and brutalities, though these are also hard to pin down… There were reports of summary executions of some of those who resisted the Armed Forces, and the large-scale round-up of government supporters and sympathisers, particularly foreigners. Several thousand were held in the football stadium where some received very rough treatment. As a result, there were many frightened people in Santiago and Latin American embassies were soon filled with those seeking asylum”.

Concurrently, a team of (US trained) radical free market economists (the Chicago boys) implemented Milton Friedman’s “reforms” – they included: privatisation, deregulation, smashing of unions, removal of protectionist measures, exposure to foreign capital (speculative trading, investment etc).

As for the results? Thatcher considered it “a remarkable success”. Arnold Harberger – a Chicago school economist, who studied under Friedman – disagreed: in 1976 he published ‘Economic Genocide in Chile. Open Letter to Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger’. (linked below).


We should note, prior to the coup, now declassified documents reveal ‘economic war’ to be Nixon’s intention, ordering the CIA to, in his words, “make the economy scream” in Chile to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him” (source below). It is in this context we should consider the joint intelligence committee’s assessment of the pre-coup government in 1971:

“The Allende government has been directing its economic efforts primarily at effecting a redistribution of income. Prices have been held down and wages and salaries have been allowed to increase. Inflationary pressures have built up and business growth and confidence deteriorated”.

“Allende himself is committed to proving that socialism can be brought to Chile in a peaceful and democratic fashion. He and his supporters will doubtless be anxious to prove to Latin America in particular that their chosen method will work… The success or failure in economic terms of the Chilean ‘experiment’ could have considerable significance for developments elsewhere on the continent; and failure, which cannot be ruled out at present, could thoroughly discredit the way of democratic Socialism, following the readily apparent failure of the Cuban revolution in these terms”.


And what to do about it all?

“Meanwhile, the current regime [Pinochet] has infinitely more to offer British interests than the one which preceded it. The new leaders are unequivocally on our side and want to do business, in its widest sense, with us. I hope that Her Majesty’s Government will respond”.


Chile, 1973

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