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After 50 years, documents point to Nixon’s order to topple Allende in Chile

A US national security study looked at the advantages and disadvantages of a military coup in Chile Image: AFP

On September 15, 1970, during a 20-minute meeting, the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, gave the order to prevent Chile’s elected socialist leader, Salvador Allende, from taking power, according to documents published today by the National Security Archive .

“The extreme option: overthrowing Allende” is the title of this set of declassified reports, which are the annex to a national security study that analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of a military coup in Chile.

This “script”, which ended with the September 11, 1973 coup, was completed in mid-August 1970, that is, before Allende’s electoral triumph.

The file includes memos from the employees involved, including then CIA director Richard Helms.

“Helms’ cryptic memo about the conversation with Nixon remains the only record of an American president ordering a coup to defeat an elected leader,” said the Washington-based study group.

Documents selected before the meeting trace the “genesis of this presidential guideline”.

“These documents outline a roadmap for the coup planned by the United States,” explained Peter Kornbluh, who runs the documentation project in Chile and is the author of the book “Pinochet: The Secret Files”.

After the election of Allende, on September 4, 1970, the United States debated between two scenarios “the formula Frei”, which had former President of Chile Eduardo Frei “to deal with the coup” and the “formula of chaos” “to create a” coup climate “to give the military the pretext of taking power, according to the National Security Archives.

“A significant number of CIA agents, embassies and State Department officials” opposed the plans, noted the National Security Archive.

The overthrow of Allende, who died under siege in the burning La Moneda palace after the Air Force bombings on the day of the coup, gave way to 17 years of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, which left more than 3,200 dead and missing.

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