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The Rules of the Game:
Allende’s Chile, the United States and Cuba, 1970-1973.

Tanya Harmer
London School of Economics and Political Science

February 2008

Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
PhD in International History, Department of international History, LSE.

Word Count (excluding bibliography): 99,984.


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information “Bolivian exiles, Cubans, Eastern Europeans and other leftist foreigners” were working

for Chile’s intelligence services.114 Chile certainly became a place of curiosity, refuge and solidarity

for revolutionaries around the region and reliable evidence suggests that limited numbers of Latin

American revolutionaries received training in Chilean camps.115 By the end of 1972, many of

Uruguay’s Tupamaros sought refuge in Chile and Brazilian left-wing exiles in Chile numbered

approximately one thousand by 1973.116 Allende knew and met with Latin American revolutionary

leaders whilst he was president, including Tupamaros who often joined his intimate Chilean and

Cuban friends at El Canaveral, his private secretary’s weekend home.117 However, when in August

1972, Argentinean political prisoners belonging to the Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo

(Revolutionary Army of the People or ERP) hijacked a plane with 92 passengers and landed it at

Santiago’s airport, Allende was put in a difficult position.118 This not only provided Allende’s

opposition with evidence of links to ‘foreign extremism’, but even when Santiago sent the prisoners

to Cuba, this also temporarily damaged his working relationship with Argentina.119

Speculation also abounded about the Chilean Left’s intervention in Bolivia. To Santiago’s

horror, US Defence Secretary, Melvin Laird, publicly used such allegations to justify increased US

military spending programme in the country.120 Despite being a convenient justification for

increased spending, Washington actually had no precise or compelling intelligence. Instead, the

State Department noted, “some extra-legal support, principally from the Socialist Party, has already

been given, and aid to subversives from Castro or other sources will almost certainly transit through

Chile” but acknowledged there was “no known direct GOC support for subversives against other

neighbouring countries”.121 Even Brazil privately acknowledged Cuba’s support for revolutionary

movements in the hemisphere had diminished.

However, as Allende strove to deny intervention in neighbouring countries, the United

States bolstered the region’s counter-revolutionary dictatorships. Kissinger regarded Bolivia’s right-

wing dictator Hugo Banzer as a “friend”. During his first year in power, the US increased aid to

Bolivia by 600 percent and the White House intervened to ensure economic aid would not be
1 99

conditional on La Paz’ fiscal performance. Kissinger’s assistant, William Jorden, argued

Banzer’s “heart [was] in the right place” and that Bolivia had “progressed nicely” by expelling

Soviet personnel and cracking down “hard” on “leftists”. Indeed, Washington was struggling to

keep up with Bolivia’s right-wing dictator. Despite receiving extensive economic assistance and 45

percent of Nixon’s Military Assistance Programme (MAP) expenditure for Latin America,


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Washington received “complaints” of “too little too late”.124 These complaints notwithstanding, and

compared to earlier Brazilian preoccupations, Brasilia’s Foreign Minister now remarked favourably

on increased US support to Bolivia when he met Secretary Rogers. In September1972, he reflected

| on the “much improved” situation in Uruguay where the Tupamaros' leadership had “virtually

disappeared” following a government crackdown with Brazilian and Argentinean help (In just three

months, Uruguay’s civilian-military regime took 2,600 prisoners). Foreign Minister Barboza

noted the Southern Cone’s revolutionary “snowball had been reversed” and that the Chile’s road to

socialism was nearing its end. As he told Rogers, Chile in 1972 resembled Joao Goulart’s final days

in 1964.126

As the tide turned against Chile’s revolutionary process at home and abroad, Allende had

| found it hard to attract external assistance or pull his government together. Allende had dismissed

| his controversial Minister of the Economy back in June and appointed the more pragmatic

Communist, Orlando Millas, to deal with Chile’s financial difficulties.127 But abroad, Moscow was

increasingly reluctant to bail out the UP. Allende’s curious decision to send the anti-Soviet radical

Socialist Altamirano to the USSR in June in search of assistance must not have helped, especially as

it occurred only a month after Brezhnev’s summit with Nixon. Rather than being governed by

superpower relations alone, however, the Soviet leadership was disdainful of the UP’s performance.

A report by the Latin American Institute at Moscow’s Academy of Sciences commissioned by the

Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party in mid-1972 described the Chilean situation as

“uncertain and unstable”. The report predicted the months ahead would be “agitated and tense”,

concluded that the UP only had partial political power and that Chilean parties had no fixed ideas,

means or potential for launching Chile on a road to socialism in the foreseeable future.

The Soviets also regarded the Chileans as being wildly optimistic about what the Soviet

Union could provide. In early 1972, the UP had proposed increasing trade between Chile and the

USSR from 7.8 million rubles in 1971 (achieved mainly as a result of Soviet wheat and tractor

exports) to $300 million a year by 1975. The Chileans also suggested that they would pay for

immediate Soviet imports after presidential elections in 1976 whilst selling Chilean products to
j Moscow and demanding immediate payment in hard currency. As those who compiled the

| Institute’s report noted, the Chilean plan implied the USSR would have to comply with conditions it

had not granted any other developing country. Considering the USSR was desperate for grain itself


Page 268

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