Henry Alfred Kissinger turns 100 this Saturday. On the occasion of his birth, the National Security Archive of the United States has published a selection of declassified documents that reveal “the darker side” of the powerful former US Secretary of State (1970-1977) during the administrations of the Republicans Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. One of the issues in which the historical record places special emphasis is the role that Kissinger played in the overthrow of the socialist government of Salvador Allende and the support to consolidate the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile (1973-1990). In the transcript of a private meeting held in Santiago in 1976, the American, whose advisers had recommended that he be critical of the dictator for human rights violations, gave him a boost: “We want to help him, not harm him.”
“We sympathize with what they are betraying to do here,” Kissinger said on behalf of the Nixon government. “He did a great service to the West by overthrowing Allende.” And he adds his personal vision: “My assessment is that you are a victim of all the leftist groups in the world and that your greatest sin was to overthrow a government that was turning communist.” The meeting in Santiago took place when the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) was being held in the Chilean capital. The Secretary of State tells Pinochet that he delayed his speech that day before to warn him in advance that in his speech he will briefly refer to the report prepared by the Human Rights Commission of the multilateral organization on the situation in the country South American. Kissinger excuses himself by saying that he will do it to prevent the US Congress, where there are “problems” over the issue of human rights, from approving sanctions against Chile. “I wanted him to understand my position. We want to deal with moral suasion, not with legal sanctions, ”he adds before Pinochet.
During the conversation, Kissinger insists to the dictator that it would be “of great help” if he announces the measures they are adopting in terms of human rights. The first thing Pinochet responds to is that the country is “returning to institutionalization step by step.” “But we are constantly being attacked by Christian Democrats. They have a strong voice in Washington. Not the people in the Pentagon, but they reach Congress. [El diplomático Juan] Gabriel Valdés has access. Also [el excanciller de Allende, Orlando] Letelier”, he maintains. Letelier was assassinated in September of that year in Washington in a bomb attack attached to his car. It took years for US authorities to acknowledge that Pinochet ordered his death, the first foreign government-sponsored terrorist act in the capital of power.
At the meeting in the Chilean capital, Kissinger told the dictator that the announcements on human rights that they could “use” at a political level are constitutional guarantees, the exact number of prisoners, and the right to habeas corpus (right to be taken immediately to the presence of the judge). He advises you to report them as a package of actions so that it has a “better psychological impact.” To assuage Pinochet’s apprehensions about the Christian Democrats, the secretary of state maintains that they are not being used and that he has not seen one in Washington since 1969. “I want to see our relations and friendship improve. I encouraged the OAS to have its General Assembly here (in Santiago). He knew that this would add prestige to Chile. I came for that,” he continued.
Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst in charge of the South American country at the Washington-based organization National Security Archive, says that “Chile is Kissinger’s Achilles heel,” he explained by phone from Vancouver. “Everybody talks about the Kissinger legacy because of his centenary. The transcripts of these recordings are his legacy, the true evidence of the dark side of his impact on the world. These documents remind us. They are like having a fly perched on the wall listening to what was said in his office, ”says Kornbluth, who has analyzed the documents declassified by the US after Pinochet’s arrest in London in 1998.
Kornbluh will publish the book at the end of June Pinochet, declassified (Catalonia), in which he breaks down the role of Kissinger in the Chilean dictatorship and promises “numerous revelations.” “This is one of the most powerful men alive whose reputation is stained with blood from Chile to Cambodia,” he posits.
The National Security Archive has more than 30,000 pages of transcripts of Kissinger’s phone conversations, many of which he secretly recorded. The declassified historical record leaves no doubt that he was the “main architect of US efforts to destabilize” the Allende government, postulates the NGO that investigates and disseminates the documents. In the weeks before Allende’s inauguration in 1970, CIA records reveal that Kissinger oversaw covert operations to foment a military coup that led directly to the assassination of Chilean Army commander-in-chief General René Schneider. One of the documents reveals that on September 15 Kissinger held a meeting at the White House with President Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms about Chile. The CIA director’s notes record Nixon’s orders to “make the economy scream” and prevent Allende from taking office.
Once the socialist doctor came to power, Kissinger authorized a clandestine intervention to “intensify Allende’s problems” and thus either fail in his objective or create the conditions for the overthrow to be feasible, according to transcripts of a meeting with the Council. of Security three days after Allende assumed the presidency.
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