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Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War

Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War

Tanya Harmer
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    Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War
    Book Description:

    Fidel Castro described Salvador Allende's democratic election as president of Chile in 1970 as the most important revolutionary triumph in Latin America after the Cuban revolution. Yet celebrations were short lived. In Washington, the Nixon administration vowed to destroy Allende's left-wing government while Chilean opposition forces mobilized against him. The result was a battle for Chile that ended in 1973 with a right-wing military coup and a brutal dictatorship lasting nearly twenty years.Tanya Harmer argues that this battle was part of a dynamic inter-American Cold War struggle to determine Latin America's future, shaped more by the contest between Cuba, Chile, the United States, and Brazil than by a conflict between Moscow and Washington. Drawing on firsthand interviews and recently declassified documents from archives in North America, Europe, and South America--including Chile's Foreign Ministry Archive--Harmer provides the most comprehensive account to date of Cuban involvement in Latin America in the early 1970s, Chilean foreign relations during Allende's presidency, Brazil's support for counterrevolution in the Southern Cone, and the Nixon administration's Latin American policies. The Cold War in the Americas, Harmer reveals, is best understood as a multidimensional struggle, involving peoples and ideas from across the hemisphere.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0272-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvii)
    (pp. 1-19)

    On 5 November 1970, thousands of people crammed into Chile’s national stadium to mark the beginning of Salvador Allende’s presidency and what was being heralded as the birth of a new revolutionary road to socialism. For some, Allende’s inauguration two days earlier had been a cause for mass celebration. Along the length of Santiago’s principal avenue, musicians, poets, dancers, and actors had performed on twelve open-air stages specially erected for the occasion, and crowds had partied into the evening. Now, on a sunny spring afternoon, along with foreign journalists and invited dignitaries from around the world, they flocked to hear...

  6. 1 IDEALS: Castro, Allende, Nixon, and the Inter-American Cold War
    (pp. 20-48)

    “It is hard to imagine,” a Chilean Socialist Party militant mused as he looked back on the late 1960s more than forty years later. Back then, when you walked into any bookshop, there were lots of Marxist publications, and news of Latin American guerrilla struggles reached Chile all the time. Especially toward the end of the decade, Che Guevara’s ideas and Régis Debray’s books were also endlessly discussed within Chile’s different left-wing parties, and everyone was engaged in what seemed like a permanent ideological debate.¹

    This ideological fervor in Chile resulted as much from internal as from external factors. International...

  7. 2 UPHEAVAL: An Election in Chile, September–November 1970
    (pp. 49-72)

    Fidel Castro was in the offices of Cuba’s official newspaper,Granma, when he heard that Salvador Allende had narrowly won Chile’s presidential election late at night on 4 September 1970. “The miracle has happened!” he exclaimed, when Luis Fernández Oña walked through the door. Oña then joined Fidel, Manuel Piñeiro, and others as they debated the election’s significance for Chile, for Latin America, for the cause of socialism worldwide, and for Cuba. Castro also instructed the next day’s edition ofGranmato categorically proclaim the “Defeat of Imperialism in Chile.” Later, he signed a copy for Allende and, having been...

  8. 3 REBELLION: In Pursuit of Radical Transformation, November 1970–July 1971
    (pp. 73-106)

    Salvador Allende embraced the idea that his election represented a turning point for inter-American affairs. On the night of his election victory, he had spoken elatedly to thousands of supporters in downtown Santiago and declared that countries around the world were looking at Chile.¹ And they were, but not necessarily with the admiration that Allende implied. Beyond Cuba, and across the Americas, his election simultaneously sparked jubilation, terror, respect and apprehension. While the majority of Latin America’s leaders adopted moderate postures toward Chilean events, others were far more alarmist. Brazilian military leaders, in particular, began referring to Chile as “yet...

  9. 4 DISPUTES: Copper, Compañeros , and Counterrevolution, July–December 1971
    (pp. 107-148)

    On 17 November 1971 Fidel Castro visited the southern Chilean city of Concepción and told crowds that a brilliant revolutionary future lay ahead. “The road that revolutionaries propose for humanity is rose colored!” he proclaimed. Yet, he also urged his audience to be realistic about the present. “In a revolution not everything is rose colored,” he warned. “We revolutionaries cannot speak of any rose-colored present . . . we revolutionaries can speak of a present of self-denial, a present of work, a heroic, sacrificial and glorious present.”¹ Castro’s visit to Concepción was just one stop on a gargantuan tour that...

  10. 5 BATTLE LINES: Détente Unmasked, January–October 1972
    (pp. 149-189)

    A year after Allende’s presidency began, he spoke enthusiastically about signs that the world was undergoing some sort of profound transformation. “The American empire is showing signs of crisis,” he proclaimed. “The dollar has become nonconvertible. Apparently, the definitive victory of the Vietnamese people is drawing near.” More important, “The countries of Latin America [were] speaking the same language and using the same words to defend their rights.”¹ Yet the transformative trends in international affairs in the early 1970s were obviously far more complicated than Allende suggested.

    In many ways, the world was changing dramatically but not necessarily in the...

  11. 6 CROSSROADS: Incomprehension and Dead Ends, November 1972–July 1973
    (pp. 190-219)

    In late November 1972 Salvador Allende set off on an international tour that took him from Mexico City to Havana via New York, Algiers, and Moscow. In many respects, the trip was a gamble—a somewhat uncoordinated effort both to improve Chile’s position before its representatives sat down to bilateral negotiations with the United States in December and to boost the UP parties’ chances in Chile’s forthcoming congressional elections. The journey also encapsulated the different strands of Chilean foreign policy, which since 1970 had aimed to protect La Vía Chilena and to promote systemic change on behalf of the global...

  12. 7 CATACLYSM: The Chilean Coup and Its Fallout
    (pp. 220-254)

    In mid-August 1973 a retired Chilean admiral, Roberto Kelly, arrived in Brasilia on a highly secret and special mission. His goal was to inform the Brazilians that a group of Chilean plotters was poised to overthrow Allende’s government and then to sound them out about the international repercussions this could have for Chile. The plotters’ primary concern was that Peru might take advantage of a coup to seize disputed territory on the Chilean-Peruvian border. Kelly was therefore in town, waiting nervously at a hotel, to find out what Brazilian intelligence services knew about Lima’s intentions. As Kelly recalled years later,...

    (pp. 255-276)

    A concerned scholar once asked me whether my researching the details of Cuba’s role in Chile meant that I thought the United States was justified in destabilizing Chilean democracy. Having spent decades uncovering the many wrongs of U.S. interventionism in the Third World, he wanted to know whether by writing about Cuban arms transfers and military training of the Left I was condoning U.S. covert operations, those who celebrated the bombing of La Moneda, and the violent repression in the years that followed. This question, together with fears expressed by some who shared their memories with me for the purpose...

  14. A Note on Sources
    (pp. 277-282)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 283-344)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 345-362)
  17. Index
    (pp. 363-376)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 377-377)