Allende and Pinochet in Chile Outline of the 1973 Allende Coup in Chile and Pinochet's Junta (this video under CC-BY-SA)
Allende and Pinochet in Chile
⇐ Use this menu to view and help create subtitles for this video in many different languages. You'll probably want to hide YouTube's captions if using these subtitles.
- What I want to talk about in this video is
- one of the darker periods in Chilean history and
- depending on your point of view,
- also one of the darker periods in American history.
- And what I want to make clear
- in this video and it really applies to every video I make on history is
- be skeptical of everything that I'm telling you.
- I'm going to do my best attempt to give you a
- reasonably accurate series of events and draw connections when they're clear
- And also make it clear where there might be connections and
- no one is sure. But you should be skeptical
- and frankly, you should be skeptical of anything anyone is telling you
- I encourage you all to use this as a scaffold for
- your own research, for you to look up these names
- and these events and figure out what actually happened.
- Now wth that said, let us rewind back to 1970,
- when Chile was having an election for president and
- they have their election and it's considered a
- fairly free and fair election. One of the candidates of
- that election was this gentleman over here,
- Salvador Allende, who was a known Marxist.
- He has communist ideologies here and he is known to be
- sympathetic to what has happened in Cuba,
- sympathetic to the Soviets.
- So you can imagine in this context, America is concerned.
- It's in the middle of the Cold War.
- You have Richard Nixon, president.
- You have Henry Kissinger, as his secretary of state.
- They are actively watching this election.
- They clearly do not want Salvador Allende to become president.
- All of a sudden a major country in Latin America,
- controlled by a Marxist.
- Unlucky for them, Salvador Allende actually does get more votes than everyone else.
- He gets 36 percent of the votes, which is a plurality.
- Just so you know what plurality means,
- it means you got more votes than anyone else,
- but not necessarily the majority of the votes.
- If he had gotten 51% of the votes that would be a majority.
- In this case he didn't get a majority and the standard procedure in Chile is that
- if no one gets a majority it goes to Congress and Congress picks who's president.
- And the usual thing that they would do is that they would pick whoever has the largest amount of votes.
- They normally didn't do a runoff.
- So you can imagine Nixon and Kissinger, they're worried
- so they kind of get into "let's mess with what's going on in Chile" mode
- and this part is well-established, that they had this, what they called a Track 1 strategy,
- of actually trying to get the Chilean Congress to not do what they normally do
- to not pick the guy with the largest number of votes.
- So they were trying to mess there. Didn't seem like something they would be able to pull off.
- The other thing that it looks like they started to kind of get involved with, through the CIA, is
- they started to at least interface--it's not clear how much they actually supported--they actually started to talk to people in the military
- and see, well, how likely is a coup to happen?
- How likely is Allende to be overthrown if he becomes president?
- They were looking for people who could, I guess, keep this known Marxist from becoming president.
- And the number one problem was this guy right over here.
- The number one problem was this guy right over here.
- In this whole video, I would say that Rene Schneider was the only unambiguously good guy in this video.
- He was the commander in chief of the Chilean military
- and he said, "Look, I don't care who becomes president, I don't care how much I disagree with him,
- I don't care how much pressure the Americans put on me
- or how much pressure the rest of the military puts on me
- the role of the Chilean military is not to mess with politics."
- They call him the constitutionalist.
- The role of the Chilean military is not to overthrow people when we don't like them.
- The role of the Chilean military is only to defend Chile.
- Is only to literally do, I guess, what militarys are supposed to do, what constitutions say the military is supposed to do.
- So you can imagine that the people who wanted to overthrow Allende,
- now that he's, now that it looks like he's going to come to power,
- they say that this guy is not a convenient guy to have in power.
- He doesn't like to play the way we play.
- Even though there were other elements in the military that did want to do that.
- And so, and this is what is a little unclear, you have this former general in the Chilean military
- who is clearly anti-Allende, and he is also anti-Schneider.
- Because this guy right here, Roberto Viaux, he thinks that the military should be, I guess,
- actively overthrowing dictators.
- So there is some contact between him and the CIA.
- It seems like the CIA may have supplied some support to him and then gotten a little freaked out,
- at least Kissinger might have gotten a little freaked out, that this guy seemed a little bit extreme.
- But remember, we are in this period where Allende was, he got 36% of the votes,
- Congress is kind of trying to figure out what they do about it.
- And during this period there are some people say,
- "Well, look, if Rene Schneider is not going to do what's in their mind the 'right' thing
- and depose the eventual Allende, then we'll have to depose Rene Schneider."
- So you have this plot that's worked up by Roberto Viaux
- to essentially kidnap Rene Schneider that would essentially depose him
- from being head of the military and they could put in his place
- someone who is more likely to have a coup, more likely
- to want to overthrow Allende.
- Unfortunately, when this guy's people try to kidnap Schneider,
- Schneider he's got a gun, he sees these guys kidnapping
- he takes out the gun and then the kidnappers shoot him, several times and he eventually dies.
- So this essentially turns into, this kidnapping turns into an assassination of Rene Schneider
- and they wanted to kill him just because or remove him
- or whatever just because he essentially wanted to do his job.
- So he's the only person in this whole narrative where I'll say he was an unambiguous good guy.
- Now what's not clear is how much involvement the Americans or the CIA had
- in supporting this kind of assassination or this kidnapping of Schneider.
- It does look like they kind of knew something was going on.
- This is a quote from Kissinger. Seems pretty well substantiated, where he told Nixon,
- a few days before Scheider was assassinated,
- when Nixon said, "Hey, what's going on in Chile?
- Are we working on any ways through the military, are we doing anything potentially, maybe about Schneider?"
- I don't know. Look that up for yourself. I don't know how much Nixon may or may not have known.
- Kissinger told Nixon, "This looks hopeless. I turned it off. Nothing could be worse than an abortive coup."
- So this quote is interesting because it looks like they thought about it.
- I mean, "I turned it off" which implies that at one point he had it turned on.
- So at one point they were actively thinking about working with Roberto Viaux,
- maybe to kidnap Schneider, maybe to orchestrate a coup against Allende
- but they turned it off. So it's definitely not, they're not morally above doing this type of thing,
- but they decided this guy was not as competent as maybe they thought he should
- and at least according to Kissinger, he's saying,
- "We turned it off because nothing could be worse than an abortive coup."
- And it turned out that's exactly what happened, because as soon as this guy go killed,
- everyone was like, oh my god, you have all of these shady elements
- who are trying to kind of overthrow democracy.
- And that actually put more pressure on Congress to say hey, we have to let Allende become president.
- So in November he gets inaugurated president.
- November, Allende becomes president.
- And this is always, there is a bunch of different stories here
- how much the CIA was involved.
- The counter-argument is look, the CIA would not have wanted to assassinate Schneider
- because this would have only made it, made Allende all the more popular.
- They would only have wanted to remove him and put someone else there
- who was more likely to have a coup against Allende later.
- Who knows? If you believe Kissinger's words, it looks like maybe he,
- they provided some initial support to Viaux and then they backed off a little bit.
- Who knows? Well regardless, by November of 1970 Salvador Allende became president.
- And he starting implementing his kind of Marxist ideology and it didn't go that well.
- Chile's economy, especially if you fast forward to 1972, 1973, not doing so well.
- He started doing price fixing. He tried to do the fairly naive approach
- of raising salaries while keeping prices fixed, which will obviously lead to shortages.
- So all around, he wasn't the most popular president.
- It didn't look like his, especially his economic policies, were working out that well.
- People who are pro-Allende would say, well look, just like what the United States did to Cuba
- they started doing in Chile.
- As soon as they had a Marxist in charge, someone they didn't like,
- the United States started swinging its huge economic power around to kind of hurt the Chillean economy
- so that this guy would come out of power.
- I let you decide that.
- You fast forward all the way to 1973. So now Allende has been in power for about three years.
- Things are not going well for him. There are strikes going on.
- He tries to clamp down on the media a bit.
- There is unrest. There people who definitely do not want him to be president anymore.
- And the people who don't think much of the United States will say
- Hey, but the United States the whole time was kind of actively undermining Allende and that's probably true.
- The United States will say no, look, we were trying to keep the press free.
- This guy was clamping down on free press.
- We were trying to keep things so that there will be another election.
- So that this guy won't turn into another Fidel Castro
- and essentially just turn Chile into a totalitarian, Communist regime.
- Regardless of which side you take, on September 11, 1973 Allende is deposed.
- The military surrounds the presidential palace and,
- it is said, that he commits "suicide."
- And I put that in quotes because, once again, some people believe that he really did commit suicide.
- Some people believe he was assassinated.
- And some accounts say that he committed suicide with an automatic weapon.
- Well, I guess you could commit suicide with an automatic weapon,
- but it doesn't seem like the weapon of choice for many people.
- But I'll leave that once again for you to decide.
- Maybe it's not even, well, whether or not he committed suicide,
- or whether he was killed,
- but regardless, on September 11th he gets thrown out of power
- and once again, it's not clear what role the CIA played.
- They clearly were sympathetic to the people who wanted to overthrow him.
- They clearly were providing indirect support throughout Allende's regime
- to all of the people who were anti-Allende.
- And you could look up, there are actually some declassified documents
- that hint at what the level of CIA involvement might have been.
- Regardless to say, Allende deposed, and this gentleman comes to power right over here.
- Augusto Pinochet. And he comes to power and he says,
- look, you know, this democracy thing is silly.
- I am the president. I am the commander in chief.
- Chile will be run by military junta. And let me write that word down.
- Chile will be run by a junta.
- And a junta just means a government that's run by the military.
- It's a military dictatorship. The military is now in charge of Chile.
- We don't need people to do silly things like voting anymore.
- And you can imagine Nixon didn't care so much that this guy didn't like democracy,
- but he was happy, let me see if I can put a smile on his face,
- he was happy that at least Pinochet was not a Marxist,
- that at least we had stopped the spread of Communism in Latin America.
- Unfortunately, and Nixon with that said, and this is explicit, he wanted to do everything in his power
- to make Augusto Pinochet successful, especially from an economic point of view.
- So Nixon does, we do, the United States does start supporting Pinochet.
- He's viewed as kind of an American friend.
- Unfortunately for America and unfortunately for Chile, this guy is one of those big time tyrants in history.
- So he is a tyrant. And he starts rounding up people.
- He starts killing people. He's one of those people that anything, anyone who had a whiff of Communism,
- or a whiff of political opposition, he would round them up
- he would round their family up, he would torture people.
- And just to kind of put some...and this is another picture of him when he's older.
- It's amazing how gentle some fairly evil people can look in the world.
- So I'll put some unambiguous horns on him.
- But he killed many, many people.
- And many, many people disappeared.
- And just to give an idea of what this...these are some of the people who disappeared.
- And it was anyone from people who were critical of him, people who were perceived to be left-leaning, whatever it was.
- And he tortured, including women and children and all the rest.
- So all around bad guy. He stuck around in Chile as president until 1990, so that's 17 years.
- And he really stayed in power until 1998 where he was commander in chief of the army.
- You can imagine if the military is in control, the president isn't that important of a title,
- commander in chief is.
- So for 25 years he hung around Chile and he continued to be kind of this totalitarian guy,
- although he was a big, he liked free markets, he was a capitalist in the traditional sense.
- And the one, I guess, silver lining, if you have to throw a silver lining on Pinochet's regime
- is that the Chilean economy actually did well during his regime.
- Chile is considered one of the success stories economically over that time period.
- So I'll let you decide.
- And some people would say, oh, that's because Pinochet was, he understood economics.
- He didn't try to do all this price fixing stuff that Allende tried to do.
- Regardless of the fact that he was a tyrant,
- at least people, you know, the economy was doing well.
- The other side of the equation would be, well look, of course the economy did well.
- Now you had the United States doing everything in its power,
- this huge, the largest economy in the world doing everything in its power
- to make sure that Chile's economy thrives while one of its buddies are in power.
- So I'll let you decide who's right, who's wrong,
- what was the actual involvement of the CIA and Nixon and Kissinger
- and all of this mess over here.
Be specific, and indicate a time in the video:
At 5:31, how is the moon large enough to block the sun? Isn't the sun way larger?
Have something that's not a question about this content?
This discussion area is not meant for answering homework questions.
Share a tip
When naming a variable, it is okay to use most letters, but some are reserved, like 'e', which represents the value 2.7831...
Have something that's not a tip or feedback about this content?
This discussion area is not meant for answering homework questions.
Discuss the site
For general discussions about Khan Academy, visit our Reddit discussion page.
Flag inappropriate posts
Here are posts to avoid making. If you do encounter them, flag them for attention from our Guardians.
- disrespectful or offensive
- an advertisement
- low quality
- not about the video topic
- soliciting votes or seeking badges
- a homework question
- a duplicate answer
- repeatedly making the same post
- a tip or feedback in Questions
- a question in Tips & Feedback
- an answer that should be its own question
about the site