50 Years After the Coup

Chile continues to press for U.S. documents regarding the coup

Last week, the U.S. State Department released two presidential briefings dating back to 1973. The documents illustrate the extent to which the U.S. was aware of the coup d’état in Chile. Chilean parliamentarians have asked the U.S. to release all related documents from 1970 to 1994.

Two President’s Daily Brief’s (PDBs) were released last week by the U.S. State Department, giving insight in the country’s position with respect to developments in Chile in the days ahead of the coup d’état on Sept. 11, 1973. The reports, addressed to President Richard Nixon, show the extent to which the American government was aware of the coup, and how Chilean president Salvador Allende was seeking a democratic way out of the increasing tensions.

The first document released is from Sept. 8, 1973. Nixon receives intel about the “possibility of an early military coup attempt” involving all armed forces. The intelligence also warns of a possible armed confrontation between the armed forces and Allende’s followers. According to the report, Allende was increasingly worried about the possibilities of a coup.

The second document sheds light on what the U.S. knew the day of the coup. The intelligence describes plans by “navy officers to trigger military action against the Allende government.” Later that day, the uprising against the Allende government would effectively start in Valparaíso, led by navy officers.

Chile wants more documents

In a statement, the U.S. State Department writes: “Along with the thousands of documents previously declassified, the release of these PDBs demonstrates our enduring commitment to the U.S.-Chile partnership and is consistent with our joint efforts to promote democracy and human rights in our own countries and around the world.”

For several left-leaning politicians, the release of the two PDBs is not enough. On Aug. 28, parliamentarians of the Socialist Party (to which President Allende belonged) handed a letter request to U.S. ambassador to Chile Bernadette Meehan. The letter asks the U.S. to release all documents related to Chile from 1970 to 1994.

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