After the West had pushed Chile in 1973 in a brutal dictatorship people write now a new constitution
Analysis. The vote to choose the Constituent Assembly overcomes repression: ‘It is the first Constitution in the world that will be written by an assembly with an equal number of men and women and with a strong representation of the original peoples.’ The communist Irací Hassler is the new mayor of Santiago.
In Chile, the left beats expectations and has a chance to write the future
written by Andrea Cegna
The elections to determine the composition of the Constituent Assembly and the holders of many local offices on May 15-16, 2021 turned into a rout over the country’s right wing, and over the traditional parties in general. The atmosphere before the polls closed was very different, as the low turnout figures (42.5%) were worrying the left, convinced that only a repeat of the high turnout of the October referendum could have guaranteed them control of the Constituent Assembly. Instead, the right, united in a single list, won only 37 seats out of 155.
“No one expected such an outcome — those who are claiming that now are lying. Certainly, many of us dreamed of it,” Tomás Hirsch told us from Santiago. Hirsch is a deputy from Acción Humanista del Cile and among the coordinators of the Apruebo Dignidad list, a coalition formed with the Frente Amplio and the Communist Party.
The goal of the “Vamos por Chile” coalition, which brought together everyone from the Pinochetists to President Piñera, was to take more than one-third of the constituent assembly, at least 52 deputies, in order to be able to have veto power during the process of writing the new Constitution.
“The traditional parties, the so-called duopoly, had a very bad result overall. The Christian Democrats practically disappeared, electing only one representative out of 155,” Hirsch said. “Furthermore, the most important municipalities in the country, starting with Santiago de Chile, were won by candidates from the left wing of the Frente Amplio or the Communist Party. In short, it was much more than we had hoped for.”
There were 28 elected from the Apruebo Dignidad coalition, 25 from Lista del Apruebo (center-left) and 48 seats won by independent candidates, most of whom represent the movements that have been marching in the streets with a great proportion of feminist representation since October 2019. Then, there were the 17 seats allocated to the original peoples.
“Clearly, getting more than the two-thirds needed to control the Constituent Assembly should allow us to do more than just erase the most undemocratic parts of the current constitutional charter, but also to convert it into a modern Constitution with a vision of the future,” Hirsch said. “It is the first Constitution in the world that will be written by an assembly with an equal number of men and women and with a strong representation of the original peoples.”
The forces of the struggle have defeated the repression—that can be said to be the verdict on the result. It was no different in the local elections, where the right wing collapsed, the opposition candidates won outright in three regions and will go to the runoff having won more votes in the first round in another 10.
The Valparaiso region, the second most important in the country, will be governed by Rodrigo Mundaca, the candidate of the Frente Amplio. Irací Hassler, of the Communist Party, is the new mayor of Santiago, the country’s capital, beating Felipe Alessandri, the incumbent mayor. No mayor of Santiago in the last 24 years has managed to get elected twice, and the tradition has been maintained, but now the winner is a woman and a communist, a novelty for the capital of a country that must still reckon with male chauvinism as one of its weak points.
As soon as she was elected, the new mayor said: “We hope that what is happening today in Santiago is the prelude to what will happen at the national level. Today we have a historic opportunity, in this very important moment, we will have a new Constitution and we will also have a transformation starting from the neighborhoods of the municipality of Santiago to reconquer our dignity and buen vivir, in this historic moment of transformation. We are going to build a municipality for the people. We are going strong.”
President Sebastián Piñera had to once again acknowledge defeat, as he did in October: “A strong and clear message has been sent to the government, and also to all the traditional political forces. We are not responding adequately to the demands and wishes of the citizens.”
WILLIAM BLUM / KILLING HOPE
when Salvador Allende, a committed Marxist, came
within three percent “of winning the Chilean
presidency in 1958,the United States decided that
the next election, in 1964, could not be left in the
hands of providence, or democracy.
Washington took it all very gravely. At the outset of the Kennedy administration
in 1961, an electoral committee was established, composed of top-level officials from the State Department, the CIA and the White House. In Santiago, a parallel
committee of embassy and CIA people was set up.
“U.S. government intervention in Chile in 1964 was blatant and almost obscene,”
said one intelligence officer strategically placed at the time. “We were shipping
people off right and left, mainly State Dept. but also CIA, with all sorts of covers.” continuing after the introduction of William Blum:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia in 2007BornMarch 6, 1933 Brooklyn, New York CityDiedDecember 9, 2018 (aged 85) Arlington, Virginia, U.S.OccupationJournalist, author, U.S. foreign policy criticGenrePolitical journalism, historyNotable works
williamblum.orgWilliam Henry Blum (/bluːm/; March 6, 1933 – December 9, 2018) was an American author and critic of United States foreign policy. He lived in Washington, DC. In 1969, Blum wrote and published an exposé of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in which were revealed the names and addresses of more than 200 CIA employees. He worked as freelance journalist in the United States, Europe and South America. In 1972–1973, Blum worked as a journalist in Chile where he reported on the Allende government's "socialist experiment". In the mid-1970s, he worked in London with ex-CIA officer Philip Agee and his associates "on their project of exposing CIA personnel and their misdeeds". He supported himself with his writing and speaking engagements on college campuses. One of Blum's stories on Iraq was listed by Project Censored as one of "The Top Ten Censored Stories of 1998" In his books and online columns, Blum devoted substantial attention to CIA interventions and assassination plots. Noam Chomsky has called Blum's book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, "far and away the best book on the topic." Blum supported Ralph Nader's presidential campaigns. He circulated a monthly newsletter by email called "The Anti-Empire Report". Blum described his life's mission as: "If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It's causing so much suffering around the world." In an interview with C-SPAN in 2006, Blum stated: "Speaking about U.S. foreign policy, which is my specialty, the authors I would most recommend would be Michael Parenti and Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman and Howard Zinn and Alexander Cockburn." Osama bin Laden statement In early 2006, Blum briefly became the subject of widespread media attention when Osama bin Laden issued a public statement in which he quoted Blum and recommended that all Americans read Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower. As a result of the mention, sales of his book greatly increased. "I was quite surprised and even shocked and amused when I found out what he'd said," Blum commented. "I was glad. I knew it would help the book's sales and I was not bothered by who it was coming from. If he shares with me a deep dislike for certain aspects of US foreign policy, then I'm not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it's good that he shares those views and I'm not turned off by that." On the Bin Laden endorsement, Blum stated, "This is almost as good as being an Oprah book." In an interview on MSNBC Countdown, he said: "Basically it's US foreign policy which creates anti-American terrorists. It's the things we do to the world. It's not, as the White House tells us, that they hate our freedom and democracy. That's just propaganda." In a May 22, 2006 article entitled "Come Out of the White House With Your Hands Up", Blum wrote: "Since the bin Laden recommendation, January 19, I have not been offered a single speaking engagement on any campus. . . . This despite January–May normally being the most active period for me and other campus speakers."
All in all, as many as 100 American operatives were dedicated to the operation.
They began laying the groundwork for the election years ahead, a Senate
investigating committee has disclosed, “by establishing operational relationships
with key political parties and by creating propaganda and organizational
mechanisms capable of influencing key sectors of the population.” Projects were
undertaken “to help train and organize ‘anti-communists’’’ among peasants, slum
dwellers, organized labor, students,the media, etc.
After channeling funds to several non-leftist parties,the electoral team eventually
settled on a man of the center, Eduardo Frei, the candidate of the Christian
Democratic Party, as the one most likely to block Allende’s rise to power. The CIA
underwrote more than half the party’s total campaign costs,one of the reasons that
the Agency’s overall electoral operation reduced the U.S.Treasury by an estimated
$20 million – much more per voter than that spent by the Johnson and Goldwater
campaigns combined in the same year in the United States. The bulk of the
expenditures went toward propaganda. As the Senate committee described it:
In addition to support for political parties, the CIA mounted a massive anticommunist propaganda campaign. Extensive use was made of the press, radio, films, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, direct mailings, paper streamers, and wall
painting. It was a “scare campaign”, which relied heavily on images of Soviet tanks
and Cuban firing squads and was directed especially to women. Hundreds of
thousands of copies of the anti-communist pastoral letter of Pope Pius XI were
distributed by Christian Democratic organizations. They carried the designation,
“printed privately by citizens without political affiliation, in order more broadly to
disseminate its content.” “Disinformation” and “black propaganda” – material
which purported to originate from another source, such as the Chilean Communist
Party – were used as well.
The scare campaign played up to the fact that women in Chile, as elsewhere in
Latin America, are traditionally more religious than men,more susceptible to being
alarmed by the specter of “godless, atheist communism”. One radio spot featured
the sound of a machine gun,followed by a woman’s cry: “They have killed my child
– the communists.” The announcer then added in impassioned tones: “Communism
offers only blood and pain. For this not to happen in Chile,we must elect Eduardo
Other scare tactics centered around warnings of Russian control, and that the left
would confiscate everything near, dear and holy.
The committee report continued:
The propaganda campaign was enormous. During the first week of intensive
propaganda activity (the third week of June 1964), a CIA-funded propaganda group
produced twenty radio spots per day in Santiago and on 44 provincial stations;
twelve-minute news broadcasts five times daily on three Santiago stations and 24
provincial outlets; thousands of cartoons, and much paid press advertising. By the
end of June, the group produced 24 daily newscasts in Santiago and the provinces,
26 weekly “commentary” programs, and distributed 3,000 posters daily.
One poster which appeared in the thousands showed children with a hammer
and sickle stamped on their foreheads.
Newspaper articles from elsewhere in Latin America which supported the
political lines of the CIA campaign were collected and reprinted in Chile.
Undoubtedly, many of these articles had been written in the first place by CIA
stations in the particular countries. There were also endorsements of Frei solicited
from famous personages abroad, advertisements such as a “message from the
women of Venezuela”, and a vitriolic anti-communist radio broadcast by Juanita
Castro, sister of Fidel,who was on a CIA-organized speaking tour of South America:
“If the Reds win in Chile,” she said, “no type of religious activity will be possible ...
Chilean mother,I know you will not allow your children to be taken from you and
sent to the Communist bloc, as in the case of Cuba.”
The Senate committee also revealed that:
In addition to buying propaganda piecemeal,the [CIA] Station often purchased
it wholesale by subsidizing Chilean media organizations friendly to the United
States.Doing so was propaganda writ large.Instead of placing individual items,
the CIA supported – or even founded – friendly media outlets which might not
have existed in the absence of Agency support.
From 1953 through 1970 in Chile,the Station subsidized wire services, magazines
written for intellectual circles, and a right-wing weekly newspaper.
Of one subsidized newspaper,a State Department veteran of the campaign recalls
that “The layout was magnificent.The photographs were superb.It was a Madison
Avenue product far above the standards of Chilean publications.”
The same could be said about the electioneering itself. Besides running political
action projects on its own in a number of important voting blocks,the CIA directed
the Christian Democrats’ campaign along American-style lines, with voter
registration, get-out-the-vote drives, and professional management firms to carry
out public opinion surveys. To top it all off, they sent for a ringer – an election
specialist from the staff of that eminent connoisseur and guardian of free elections,
Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago. What the function of Daley’s man in Chile was,
can only be guessed at.
Several of the grassroots programs funded by the CIA were those run by Roger
Vekemans, a Belgian Jesuit priest who arrived in Chile in 1957 and founded a
network of social-action organizations, one of which grew to have 100 employees
and a $30 million annual budget.By his own declaration in 1963,Vekemans received
$5 million from the CIA as well as a like amount from AID to guide his
organizations’ resources in support of the Christian Democrats and Eduardo Frei,
with whom Vekemans had close relations. The Jesuit’s programs served the classic
function of channeling revolutionary zeal along safe reformist paths.Church people
working for the CIA in the Third World have typically been involved in gathering
information about the activities and attitudes of individual peasants and workers,
spotting the troublemakers, recruiting likely agents, preaching the gospel of anticommunism, acting as funding conduits, and serving as a religious “cover” for
various Agency operations.An extreme anti-communist,Vekemans was a front-line
soldier in the struggle of the Christian Democrats and the Catholic Church against
the “liberation theology” then gaining momentum amongst the more liberal clergy
in Latin America and which would lead to the historic dialogue between
Christianity and Marxism.
The operation worked. It worked beyond expectations. Frei received 56 percent
of the vote to Allende’s 39 percent. The CIA regarded “the anti-communist scare
campaign as the most effective activity undertaken”, noted the Senate committee.
This was the tactic directed toward Chilean women in particular. As things turned
out,Allende won the men’s vote by 67,000 over Frei (in Chile men and women vote
separately), but amongst the women Frei came out ahead by 469,000 ...testimony,
once again, to the remarkable ease with which the minds of the masses of people
can be manipulated, in any and all societies.
What was there about Salvador Allende that warranted all this feverish activity?
What threat did he represent, this man against whom the great technical and
economic resources of the world’s most powerful nation were brought to bear?
Allende was a man whose political program, as described by the Senate committee
report, was to:
Redistribute income [two percent of the population received 46 percent of the
income] and reshape the Chilean economy, beginning with the nationalization of
major industries, especially the copper companies; greatly expanded agrarian
reform; and expanded relations with socialist and communist countries.
A man committed to such a program could be expected by American policy
makers to lead his country along a path independent of the priorities of US foreign
policy and the multinationals. (As his later term as president confirmed, he was
independent of any other country as well.)
The CIA is an ongoing organization. Its covert activities are ongoing, each day, in
each country. Between the 1964 and 1970 presidential elections many of the
programs designed to foster an anti-leftist mentality in different sections of the
population continued; much of the propaganda and electioneering mechanisms
remained in place to support candidates of the 1965 and 1969 congressional
elections; in the latter election, financial support was given to a splinter socialist
party in order to attract votes away from Allende’s Socialist Party; this reportedly
deprived the party of a minimum of seven congressional seats.
The Senate committee described some of the other individual covert projects
undertaken by the CIA during this period:
● Wresting control of Chilean university student organizations from the
● Supporting a women’s group active in Chilean political and intellectual life;
● Combatting the communist-dominated Central Unica de Trabajadores Chilenos
(CUTCh) and supporting democratic [i.e., anti-communist] labor groups; and,
● Exploiting a civic action front group to combat communist influence within
cultural and intellectual circles.
In 1968, at the same time the CIA was occupied in subverting unions dominated
by the Chilean Communist Party, a US Senate committee was concluding that the
Latin American labor movement had largely abandoned its revolutionary outlook:
“Even the Communist-dominated unions, especially those which follow the
Moscow line, now generally accept the peaceful road as a viable alternative.”
“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because
of the irresponsibility of its own people.” Thus spoke Henry Kissinger, principal
adviser to the President of the United States on matters of national security. The
date was 27 June 1970, a meeting of the National Security Council’s 40 Committee,
and the people Kissinger suspected of imminent irresponsibility were the Chileans
whom he feared might finally elect Salvador Allende as their president.
The United States did not stand by idly. At this meeting approval was given to
a $300,000 increase in the anti-Allende “spoiling” operation which was already
underway. The CIA trained its disinformation heavy artillery on the Chilean
electorate, firing shells marked: “An Allende victory means violence and Stalinist
repression.” Black propaganda was employed to undermine Allende’s coalition and
support by sowing dissent between the Communist Party and the Socialist Party,
the main members of the coalition, and between the Communist Party and the
Nonetheless,on 4 September Allende won a plurality of the votes.On 24 October,
the Chilean Congress would meet to choose between him and the runnerup, Jorge
Alessandri of the conservative National Party. By tradition, Allende was certain to
The United States had seven weeks to prevent him from taking office. On 15
September, President Nixon met with Kissinger, CIA Director Richard Helms, and
Attorney General John Mitchell. Helms’ handwritten notes of the meeting have
One in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile! ... not concerned with risks involved ...
$10,000,000 available, more if necessary ... make the economy scream ...
Funds were authorized by the 40 Committee to bribe Chilean congressmen to
vote for Alessandri, but this was soon abandoned as infeasible, and under intense
pressure from Richard Nixon, American efforts were concentrated on inducing the
Chilean military to stage a coup and then cancel the congressional vote altogether.
At the same time, Nixon and Kissinger made it clear to the CIA that an
assassination of Allende would not be unwelcome.One White House options-paper discussed various ways this could be carried out.
A fresh propaganda campaign was initiated in Chile to impress upon the military,
amongst others, the catastrophe which would befall the nation with Allende as
president.In addition to the standard communist horror stories,it was made known
that there would be a cutoff of American and other foreign assistance; this was
accompanied by predictions/rumors of the nationalization of everything down to
small shops, and of economic collapse.The campaign actually affected the Chilean
economy adversely and a major financial panic ensued.
In private, Chilean military officers were warned that American military aid
would come to a halt if Allende were seated.
During this interim period, according to the CIA, over 700 articles, broadcasts,
editorials and similar items were generated in the Latin American and European
media as a direct result of Agency activity.This is apart from the “real” media stories
inspired by the planted ones. Moreover, journalists in the pay of the CIA arrived in
Chile from at least ten different countries to enhance their material with on-thespot credibility.
The following portion of a CIA cable of 25 September 1970 offers some indication
of the scope of such media operations:
Sao Paulo, Tegucigalpa, Buenos Aires, Lima, Montevideo, Bogota, Mexico City
report continued replay of Chile theme materials. Items also carried in New York
Times and Washington Post. Propaganda activities continue to generate good
coverage of Chile developments along our theme guidance.
The CIA also gave “inside” briefings to American journalists about the situation
in Chile. One such briefing provided to Time enlightened the magazine as to
Allende’s intention to support violence and destroy Chile’s free press.This,observed
the Senate report, “resulted in a change in the basic thrust” of the Time story.
When Allende criticized the leading conservative newspaper El Mercurio (heavily
funded by the CIA), the Agency “orchestrated cables of support and protest from
foreign newspapers, a protest statement from an international press association,
and world press coverage of the association’s protest.”
A cable sent from CIA headquarters to Santiago on 19 October expressed concern
that the coup still had no pretext or justification that it can offer to make it
acceptable in Chile or Latin America. It therefore would seem necessary to create
one to bolster what will probably be [the military’s] claim to a coup to save Chile
One of headquarters’ suggestions was the fabrication of:
Firm intel[ligence] that Cubans planned to reorganize all intelligence services
along Soviet/Cuban mold thus creating structure for police state ... With
appropriate military contact can determine how to “discover” intel[ligence] report
which could even be planted during raids planned by Carabineros [the police].
Meanwhile,the Agency was in active consultation with several Chilean military
officers who were receptive to the suggestion of a coup. (The difficulty in finding
such officers was described by the CIA as a problem in overcoming “the apolitical,
constitutional-oriented inertia of the Chilean military”.) They were assured that
the United States would give them full support short of direct military involvement.
The immediate obstacle faced by the officers was the determined opposition of the
Commander-in-Chief of the Army, René Schneider, who insisted that the
constitutional process be followed. He would have to be “removed”.
In the early morn of 22 October the CIA passed “sterilized” machine guns and
ammunition to some of the conspirators. (Earlier they had passed tear gas.) That
same day, Schneider was mortally wounded in an attempted kidnap (or “kidnap”)
on his way to work. The CIA station in Santiago cabled its headquarters that the
general had been shot with the same kind of weapons it h