How 'weak' Allende was left out in the cold by the KGB
Allende was the first Marxist anywhere in the world to win power through the ballot box. He was unlike any stereotype of a Marxist leader. During his visits to Havana in the 1960s, he had been privately mocked by Castro's entourage for his aristocratic tastes: fine wines, expensive objets d’art, well-cut suits and elegantly dressed women. Allende was also a womaniser. Gabriel García Márquez described him as “a gallant with a touch of the old school about him, perfumed notes and furtive rendezvous”.
Despite the private mockery which they aroused in Allende’s Communist allies, however, his bourgeois appearance and expensive lifestyle were electoral assets, reassuring middle-class voters that their lives would continue normally under an Allende presidency. As even his opponents acknowledged, he had enormous personal charm.
Allende’s election left President Nixon, according to his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, “beside himself” with rage. Having berated the Democrats for more than a decade for allowing Cuba to go Communist, Nixon now faced the prospect as a Republican president of seeing Chile follow suit. There was, he angrily told Kissinger, “only a one in ten chance” of preventing Allende’s confirmation, but the attempt must be made in order to “save Chile” from communism. The CIA drew up a two-track plan. Track 1 was to find some method of persuading the Chilean Congress not to vote Allende into office. Track 2 was to engineer a military coup. Both failed. On October 24, Allende was formally elected President by vote of the Chilean Congress.
Regular Soviet contact with Allende after his election was maintained not by the Soviet Ambassador but by his KGB case officer, Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, who was instructed by the centre to “exert a favourable influence on Chilean government policy”. According to Allende’s KGB file, he “was made to understand the necessity of reorganising Chile's army and intelligence services, and of setting up a relationship between Chile’s and the USSR’s intelligence services”. Allende was said to react positively.
CIA covert action against Allende continued during his presidency. Nixon gave instructions to “make the [Chilean] economy scream”.
comments powered by Disqus
- 'Sexist' Paris streets renamed in the name of feminism
- NYT profiles a path-breaking transgender pioneer who became a judge
- CIA Plans Huge Release of Top-Secret Reports From the 1960s
- South Dakota drops history as a high school requirement
- The Forgotten History Of 'Violent Displacement' That Helped Create The National Parks
- Historian author Antony Beevor says his new World War 2 book may anger Americans
- Ron Radosh and Allis Radosh plan to defend Warren Harding in a new book
- Historians tackle America’s mass incarceration problem
- Report: Russian studies in crisis
- Ken Burns: Donald Trump’s birtherism — a “politer way of saying the ‘N-word'” — proves America isn’t remotely “post-racial”