The Pinochet File
By Peter Kornbluh, The New Press, Updated edition (September 11, 2013)
Pinochet: Los Archivos Secretos
By Peter Kornbluh, Critica (Barcelona)
In the News
Peter Kornbluh receives the Charles Horman Tribute to Justice Award
September 9, 2013
Chileans Confront Their Own 9/11
The Nation, September 23, 2013
"Make the Economy Scream": Secret Documents Show Nixon, Kissinger Role Backing 1973 Chile Coup
Democracy Now, September 10, 2013
The Pinochet File: How U.S. Politicians, Banks and Corporations Aided Chilean Coup, Dictatorship
Democracy Now, September 10, 2013
Justice in Chile
The Leonard Lopate Show, September 10, 2013
Chile's coup 40 years on: a Q&A with author of The Pinochet Files
By Charlotte Karrlsson-Willis, The Santiago Times, September 10, 2013
Peter Kornbluh: "Pinochet tenía un plan para un segundo golpe"
CNN Chile, September 2, 2013
Peter Kornbluh recieves an award from Chris Lemmon (photo credit: Gabriela Vega).
Joyce Horman, Peter Kornbluh, and Joan Jara, widow of Victor Jara (photo credit: Gabriela Vega).
On September 9, 2013, Peter Kornbluh moderated the "Taking Accountability to the Top for Human Rights Crimes" panel discussion for the Charles Horman Truth Foundation's Tribute to Justice event.
Peter Kornbluh, Jennifer Harbury, Judge Guzman, Peter Weiss, Reed Brody (photo credit: Gabriela Vega).
Washington, D.C., September 11, 2013 –
Henry Kissinger urged President Richard Nixon to overthrow the democratically elected Allende government in Chile
because his "'model' effect can be insidious," according to documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The coup against Allende occurred on
this date 40 years ago. The posted records spotlight Kissinger's role as the principal policy architect of U.S. efforts to oust the Chilean leader, and
assist in the consolidation of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
The documents, which include transcripts of Kissinger's "telcons" — telephone conversations — that were never shown to the special Senate Committee chaired by
Senator Frank Church in the mid 1970s, provide key details about the arguments, decisions, and operations Kissinger made and supervised during his tenure
as national security adviser and secretary of state.
"These documents provide the verdict of history on Kissinger's singular contribution to the denouement of democracy and rise of dictatorship in Chile,"
said Peter Kornbluh who directs the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. "They are the evidence of his accountability for the
events of forty years ago."
Today's posting includes a Kissinger "telcon" with Nixon that records their first conversation after the coup. During the conversation Kissinger tells
Nixon that the U.S. had "helped" the coup. "[Word omitted] created the conditions as best as possible." When Nixon complained about the "liberal crap" in
the media about Allende's overthrow, Kissinger advised him: "In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes."
That "telcon" is published for the first time in the newly revised edition of Kornbluh's book,The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, (The New Press, 2013), which has been re-released for the 40th anniversary of the coup. Several of the other documents posted today appeared for the first time in the original edition, which the Los Angeles Times listed as a "Best Book" of 2003.
Among the key revelations in the documents:
On September 12, eight days after Allende's election, 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 efforts to keep Allende from being inaugurated. Since the Kissinger/Helms "telcon" was not known to the Church Committee, the Senate report
on U.S. intervention in Chile and subsequent histories date the initiation of U.S. efforts to sponsor regime change in Chile to the September 15 meeting.
Kissinger ignored a recommendation from his top deputy on the NSC, Viron Vaky, who strongly advised against covert action to undermine Allende. On
September 14, Vaky wrote a memo to Kissinger arguing that coup plotting would lead to "widespread violence and even insurrection." He also argued that such
a policy was immoral: "What we propose is patently a violation of our own principles and policy tenets .… If these principles have any meaning, we
normally depart from them only to meet the gravest threat to us, e.g. to our survival. Is Allende a mortal threat to the U.S.? It is hard to argue this."
- After U.S. covert operations, which led to the assassination of Chilean Commander in Chief of the Armed forces General Rene Schneider, failed to stop
Allende's inauguration on November 4, 1970, Kissinger lobbied President Nixon to reject the State Department's recommendation that the U.S. seek a modus
vivendi with Allende. In an eight-page secret briefing paper that provided Kissinger's clearest rationale for regime change in Chile, he emphasized to
Nixon that "the election of Allende as president of Chile poses for us one of the most serious challenges ever faced in this hemisphere" and "your decision
as to what to do about it may be the most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will make this year." Not only were a billion dollars of U.S.
investments at stake, Kissinger reported, but what he called "the insidious model effect" of his democratic election. There was no way for the U.S. to deny
Allende's legitimacy, Kissinger noted, and if he succeeded in peacefully reallocating resources in Chile in a socialist direction, other countries might
follow suit. "The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on — and even precedent value for — other parts of
the world, especially in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own
position in it."
The next day Nixon made it clear to the entire National Security Council that the policy would be to bring Allende down. "Our main concern," he stated, "is
the prospect that he can consolidate himself and the picture projected to the world will be his success."
In the days following the coup, Kissinger ignored the concerns of his top State Department aides about the massive repression by the new military
regime. He sent secret instructions to his ambassador to convey to Pinochet "our strongest desires to cooperate closely and establish firm basis for
cordial and most constructive relationship." When his assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs asked him what to tell Congress about the
reports of hundreds of people being killed in the days following the coup, he issued these instructions: "I think we should understand our policy-that
however unpleasant they act, this government is better for us than Allende was." The United States assisted the Pinochet regime in consolidating, through
economic and military aide, diplomatic support and CIA assistance in creating Chile's infamous secret police agency, DINA.
At the height of Pinochet's repression in 1975, Secretary Kissinger met with the Chilean foreign minister, Admiral Patricio Carvajal. Instead of taking
the opportunity to press the military regime to improve its human rights record, Kissinger opened the meeting by disparaging his own staff for putting the
issue of human rights on the agenda. "I read the briefing paper for this meeting and it was nothing but Human Rights," he told Carvajal. "The State
Department is made up of people who have a vocation for the ministry. Because there are not enough churches for them, they went into the Department of
- As Secretary Kissinger prepared to meet General Augusto Pinochet in Santiago in June 1976, his top deputy for Latin America, William D. Rogers, advised him make human rights central to U.S.-Chilean relations and to press the dictator to "improve human rights practices." Instead, a declassified transcript of their conversation reveals, Kissinger told Pinochet that his regime was a victim of leftist
propaganda on human rights. "In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here," Kissinger told Pinochet. "We want
to help, not undermine you. You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende."
At a special "Tribute to Justice" on September 9, 2013, in New York, Kornbluh received the Charles Horman Truth Foundation Award for the Archive's work in
obtaining the declassification of thousands of formerly secret documents on Chile after Pinochet's arrest in London in October 1998. Other awardees
included Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzon who had Pinochet detained in London; and Chilean judge Juan Guzman who prosecuted him after he returned to Chile in
Document 1: Telcon, Helms - Kissinger, September 12, 1970, 12:00 noon.
Document 2: Viron Vaky to Kissinger, "Chile -- 40 Committee Meeting, Monday -- September 14," September 14, 1970.
Document 3: Handwritten notes, Richard Helms, "Meeting with President," September 15, 1970.
Document 4: White House, Kissinger, Memorandum for the President, "Subject: NSC Meeting, November 6-Chile," November 5, 1970.
Document 5: Kissinger, Memorandum for the President, "Covert Action Program-Chile, November 25, 1970.
Document 6: National Security Council, Memorandum, Jeanne W. Davis to Kissinger, "Minutes of the WSAG Meeting of September 12, 1973," September 13, 1973.
Document 7: Telcon, Kissinger - Nixon, September 16, 1973, 11:50 a.m.
Document 8: Department of State, Memorandum, "Secretary's Staff Meeting, October 1, 1973: Summary of Decisions," October 4, 1973, (excerpt).
Document 9: Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation, "Secretary's Meeting with Foreign Minister Carvajal, September 29, 1975.
Document 10: Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation, "U.S.-Chilean Relations," (Kissinger - Pinochet), June 8, 1976.