US ‘Regime Changes’: The Historical Record

Global Research, November 29, 2019

First published on February 5, 2019

As the US strives to overthrow the democratic and independent Venezuelan government, the historical record regarding the short, middle and long-term consequences are mixed.

We will proceed to examine the consequences and impact of US intervention in Venezuela over the past half century.

We will then turn to examine the success and failure of US ‘regime changes’ throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Venezuela: Results and Perspectives 1950-2019

During the post WWII decade, the US, working through the CIA and the Pentagon, brought to power authoritarian client regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and several other countries.

In the case of Venezuela, the US backed a near decade long military dictatorship (Perez Jimenez ) roughly between 1951-58. The dictatorship was overthrown in 1958 and replaced by a left-center coalition during a brief interim period. Subsequently, the US reshuffled its policy, and embraced and promoted center-right regimes led by social and christian democrats which alternated rule for nearly forty years.

In the 1990’s US client regimes riddled with corruption and facing a deepening socio-economic crises were voted out of power and replaced by the independent, anti-imperialist government led by President Chavez.

Image on the right: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2005 (Source: Public Domain)

The free and democratic election of President Chavez withstood and defeated several US led ‘regime changes’ over the following two decades.

Following the election of President Maduro, under US direction,Washington mounted the political machinery for a new regime change. Washington launched, in full throttle, a coup by the winter of 2019.

The record of US intervention in Venezuela is mixed: a middle term military coup lasted less than a decade; US directed electoral regimes were in power for forty years; its replacement by an elected anti-imperialist populist government has been in power for nearly 20 years. A virulent US directed coup is underfoot today.

The Venezuela experience with ‘regime change’ speaks to US capacity to consummate long-term control if it can reshuffle its power base from a military dictatorship into an electoral regime, financed through the pillage of oil, backed by a reliable military and ‘legitimated’ by alternating client political parties which accept submission to Washington.

US client regimes are ruled by oligarchic elites, with little entrepreneurial capacity, living off of state rents (oil revenues).

Tied closely to the US, the ruling elites are unable to secure popular loyalty. Client regimes depend on the military strength of the Pentagon — but that is also their weakness.

Regime Change in Regional-Historical Perspective

Puppet-building is an essential strategic goal of the US imperial state.

The results vary over time depending on the capacity of independent governments to succeed in nation-building.

US long-term puppet-building has been most successful in small nations with vulnerable economies.

Image below: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the advocate of the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état that installed the right-wing dictatorship (Source: Public Domain)

The US directed coup in Guatemala has lasted over sixty-years – from 1954 -2019. Major popular indigenous insurgencies have been repressed via US military advisers and aid.

Similar successful US puppet-building has occurred in Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Being small and poor and having weak military forces, the US is willing to directly invade and occupy the countries quickly and at small cost in military lives and economic costs.

In the above countries Washington succeeded in imposing and maintaining puppet regimes for prolonged periods of time.

The US has directed military coups over the past half century with contradictory results.

In the case of Honduras, the Pentagon was able to overturn a progressive liberal democratic government of very short duration. The Honduran army was under US direction, and elected President Manual Zelaya depended on an unarmed electoral popular majority.Following the successful coup the Honduran puppet-regime remained under US rule for the next decade and likely beyond.

Chile has been under US tutelage for the better part of the 20th century with a brief respite during a Popular Front government between 1937-41 and a democratc socialist government between 1970-73. The US military directed coup in 1973 imposed the Pinochet dictatorship which lasted for seventeen years. It was followed by an electoral regime which continued the Pinochet-US neo-liberal agenda, including the reversal of all the popular national and social reforms. In a word, Chile remained within the US political orbit for the better part of a half-century.

Chile’s democratic-socialist regime (1970-73) never armed its people nor established overseas economic linkage to sustain an independent foreign policy.

It is not surprising that in recent times Chile followed US commands calling for the overthrow of Venezuela’s President Maduro.

Contradictory Puppet-Building

Several US coups were reversed, for the longer or shorter duration.

The classical case of a successful defeat of a client regime is Cuba which overthrew a ten-year old US client, the Batista dictatorship, and proceeded to successfully resist a CIA directed invasion and economic blockade for the better part of a half century (up to the present day).

Cuba’s defeat of puppet restorationist policy was a result of the Castro leadership’s decision to arm the people, expropriate and take control of hostile US and multinational corporations and establish strategic overseas allies – USSR , China and more recently Venezuela.

In contrast, a US military backed military coup in Brazil (1964) endured for over two decades, before electoral politics were partially restored under elite leadership.

Twenty years of failed neo-liberal economic policies led to the election of the social reformist Workers Party (WP) which proceeded to implement extensive anti-poverty programs within the context of neo-liberal policies.

After a decade and a half of social reforms and a relatively independent foreign policy, the WP succumbed to a downturn of the commodity dependent economy and a hostile state (namely judiciary and military) and was replaced by a pair of far-right US client regimes which functioned under Wall Street and Pentagon direction.

The US frequently intervened in Bolivia, backing military coups and client regimes against short-term national populist regimes (1954, 1970 and 2001).

Morales 20060113 02.jpg

In 2005 a popular uprising led to free elections and the election of Evo Morales, the leader of the coca farmers movements. Between 2005 – 2019 (the present period) President Morales led a moderate left-of-center anti imperialist government.

Unsuccessful efforts by the US to overthrow the Morales government were a result of several factors: Morales organized and mobilized a coalition of peasants and workers (especially miners and coca farmers). He secured the loyalty of the military, expelled US Trojan Horse “aid agencies’ and extended control over oil and gas and promoted ties with agro business.

The combination of an independent foreign policy, a mixed economy , high growth and moderate reforms neutralized US puppet-building.

Not so the case in Argentina. Following a bloody coup (1976) in which the US backed military murdered 30,000 citizens, the military was defeated by the British army in the Malvinas war and withdrew after seven years in power.

The post military puppet regime ruled and plundered for a decade before collapsing in 2001. They were overthrown by a popular insurrection. However, the radical left lacking cohesion was replaced by center-left (Kirchner-Fernandez) regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade (2003 – 15).

The progressive social welfare – neo-liberal regimes entered in crises and were ousted by a US backed puppet regime (Macri) in 2015 which proceeded to reverse reforms, privatize the economy and subordinate the state to US bankers and speculators.

After two years in power, the puppet regime faltered, the economy spiraled downward and another cycle of repression and mass protest emerged. The US puppet regime’s rule is tenuous, the populace fills the streets, while the Pentagon sharpens its knives and prepares puppets to replace their current client regime.

Conclusion

The US has not succeeded in consolidating regime changes among the large countries with mass organizations and military supporters.

Washington has succeeded in overthrowing popular – national regimes in Brazil, and Argentina. However, over time puppet regimes have been reversed.

While the US resorts to largely a single ‘track’ (military coups and invasions) in overwhelming smaller and more vulnerable popular governments, it relies on ‘multiple tracks’ strategy with regard to large and more formidable countries.

In the former cases, usually a call to the military or the dispatch of the marines is enough to snuff an electoral democracy.

In the latter case, the US relies on a multi-proxy strategy which includes a mass media blitz, labeling democrats as dictatorships, extremists, corrupt, security threats, etc.

As the tension mounts, regional client and European states are organized to back the local puppets.

Phony “Presidents” are crowned by the US President whose index finger counters the vote of millions of voters. Street demonstrations and violence paid and organized by the CIA destabilize the economy; business elites boycott and paralyze production and distribution… Millions are spent in bribing judges and military officials.

If the regime change can be accomplished by local military satraps, the US refrains from direct military intervention.

Regime changes among larger and wealthier countries have between one or two decades duration. However, the switch to an electoral puppet regime may consolidate imperial power over a longer period – as was the case of Chile.

Where there is powerful popular support for a democratic regime, the US will provide the ideological and military support for a large-scale massacre, as was the case in Argentina.

The coming showdown in Venezuela will be a case of a bloody regime change as the US will have to murder hundreds of thousands to destroy the millions who have life-long and deep commitments to their social gains , their loyalty to the nation and their dignity.

In contrast the bourgeoisie, and their followers among political traitors, will seek revenge and resort to the vilest forms of violence in order to strip the poor of their social advances and their memories of freedom and dignity.

It is no wonder that the Venezuela masses are girding for a prolonged and decisive struggle: everything can be won or lost in this final confrontation with the Empire and its puppets.

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Award winning author Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Images.com/Corbis

Message for my Latin American friends (in the form of a song)

The Saker

Dear friends,

I have to admit that I am absolutely heartbroken at the news coming out of Latin America.  Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia – everywhere the people are struggling against what has been known as “Yankee imperialism” for decades.  The pendulum of history has swung back and forth many times in Latin America.  I remember the civil war in Argentina just before the coup of 1976, I was still a kid, but I remember it all.  Then the coup, the vicious and ugly “dirty war”, the disaster of the (just!) war for the Malvinas, then the years of “democracy”.  Rivers of blood, and still the new era of freedom and peace everybody kept hoping for did not come.  Now, four or five decades later, the people of Latin America are still dying and suffering under the yoke of a CIA-installed and CIA-controlled comprador class which would gladly sell their mothers and daughters to Uncle Shmuel for a few bucks.

And yet.

And yet 40 or 50 years are short when seen from the point of view of history, other struggles in history have lasted much longer.  So, as a poignant reminder that we will never lose hope, nor will we ever accept oppression, here is a song by Pedro Aznar whose beautiful lyrics will be understood by everyone from Patagonia to Mexico’s northern border (including my Brazilian friends) and which beautifully expresses the hope common to all of us!

Venceremos!

The Saker

PS: if somebody had the time to translate these lyrics into English, I would be most grateful.

Roger Waters expresses his support for the Chilean demonstrators

OMISSION OF ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE VENEZUELAN “OPPOSITION” DISCREDITS UN HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

Global Research, August 05, 2019

Former lawyer for the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Alfred de Zayas stated:

“As a former staffer of the Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights, I know how things work.  There are people with prejudices.   They have an axe to grind and they grind it and they omit information that just doesn’t fit the matrix that they want to put forward…Now this, of course, is not just a problem of methodology.  This is also a problem of ethics.  The professional ethics of a staff member must include a true reproduction of the information received from all sources…the information given to the High Commissioner, I have seen much of that information, which also dates back to 2017, and none of it was ever reflected by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and is also not reflected by this new report…I think it is necessary for the credibility of the office to change the team that has been doing these reports in the past because they have proven not to be objective.  They have proven not to follow what I would consider the minimum requirements of any serious research.”

“I think that not giving appropriate weight to the violence of the guarimbas, of the opposition, not going into the dislocation, the disturbance of repeated attempts at overthrowing the government, the coup d’etat, the unilateral declaration of the presidency of Guaido, followed by the so-called humanitarian aid that the United States was going to force from Colombia into Venezuela, followed by the call to the army to overthrow Maduro on the 30th of April last, etc., the attempts on the life of Maduro himself—All of these things have an impact on the functioning of any government….But back in 2017, and I’ve seen the videos, the opposition used Molotov cocktails.  The opposition used real bullets.  The opposition burned alive seven human beings.”

In an appallingly distorted and biased report by United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the shameful failure to report or even mention the atrocities committed by the Venezuelan so-called “peaceful opposition” is a sin of omission so egregious as to discredit the entire report, and disqualify the professionalism of those who compiled it.  It is also shocking that Michelle Bachelet affixed her own imprimatur to this report:  Madame Bachelet should, at the very least, have mentioned  particularly infamous atrocities perpetrated by the Venezuelan opposition, atrocities which actually exceeded in savagery some of the horrors perpetrated by the fascist dictatorship of Chile’s Pinochet, barbarism of which Chile’s Michelle Bachelet herself must be fully aware.

This report on Venezuela dates back as far as 2014, and clearly includes 2017, during which racist atrocities perpetrated by the opposition against supporters of the government are so heinous that their glaring omission from this current report constitutes a deliberate attempt to suppress and deny the truth, transforming the report into a blatant propaganda device, devoid of reliability.

On May 22, 2017 the torture-murder of an Afro-Venezuelan was committed by members of the opposition demonstrating in the wealthy community of Altamira:  a young Afro-Venezuelan, Orlando Jose Figuera was beaten to the ground by a mob of over 40 members of the opposition, who knifed him six times in the stomach, doused his body with gasoline and burned him alive.  Figuera, a government supporter, died ten days later.  The opposition perpetrators of this heinous atrocity were never apprehended.

“What does the Organization of American States General Secretary Luis Almagro say?  What does the Colombian President say?  What does Donald Trump say?”

These Venezuelan racist members of the opposition  subsequently burnt alive at least five other government supporters, including Danny Subero, Pedro Josue Carillo, several other youths: at least eighteen government supporters were murdered in this “peaceful” opposition demonstration, alone.  Absolutely no mention of this is contained in Michelle Bachelet’s current report, which virtually demonizes the Venezuelan government.

During this orgy of sadism perpetrated by the so-called “peaceful” Venezuelan opposition, fifty four public – operated TransBolivar buses in Ciudad Guyana were  set on fire with Molotov cocktails hurled by members of the opposition. This was confirmed by Bolivar state Governor Francisco Rangel Gomez. Of course, the well-to-do members of Venezuelan society do not need to use public buses.  They frequently ride in chauffeured limosines.  The destruction of public buses harms the poorer sectors of Venezuela, those very members of society which Presidents Chavez and Maduro were attempting to help, and raise the standard of living.

These opposition protests have caused the country $140,000,000 in damages in 2017 alone.

These crass omissions of numerous crimes and atrocities perpetrated by the Venezuelan opposition scandalously discredit this report, and reveal it to be sycophantic propaganda, both intellectually and morally bankrupt, currying favor with Western financial powers, and unworthy of Madame Bachelet, herself, who cannot, or should not have forgotten the cases in Chile of the “Quemados.”  Rodrogo Rojas and Carmen Gloria Quintana,  were similarly doused with gasoline and set on fire by Pinochet’s gestapo:  Rojas died of his burns, and Carman Gloria underwent more than 30 plastic surgery operations to attempt repair her face and body, still disfigured with scarring.  There is one difference:  Pinochet’s killers omitted the six knife wounds to the stomach that Figueroa suffered.  Members of the Venezuelan opposition seem to have exceeded in savagery even Pinochet’s Nazis.

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Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y.

The Spontaneous “Military Coup” in Caracas was Meant to Fail?

Comparison with the Failed June 29, 1973 Coup which preceded the September 11, 1973 military coup against Salvador Allende

Global Research, May 01, 2019

Was it really a military coup? 

Anybody who has lived in Caracas, knows that you cannot wage a spontaneous military coup starting up in Chacaito, an upper middle class residential area, with a view to eventually marching towards the Miraflores presidential palace located in the historical centre of Caracas, without getting caught in dense traffic.  

There are important historical precedents of failed coups caught up in traffic.

Guaido presents the operation as the “Final phase” of “Operation Freedom.” ???

An attempted coup or violent street riots?

Lopez and Guaido released videos on social media, calling on the armed forces to back their efforts and urging supporters to take to the streets, in what they termed as the “final phase” of the so-called “Operation Freedom.” Large crowds of anti-government protesters, as well as opposition lawmakers, made their way to the Altamira overpass. (Venezuela Analysis, May 1, 2019)

The government responded by sending in the riot police, with the Armed Forces using tear gas against the protesters.

This spontaneous so-called military putsch was meant to fail.

Visibly, it was not a carefully planned operation. And Washington was fully aware from the outset that it would fail.  In fact it was carefully staged “not to succeed”:

The scene then saw armed confrontations between the soldiers that backed Juan Guaido and those inside La Carlota airbase.

[Carlota is not a full-fledged military base, it is a former private airport, largely defunct. It is now under the jurisdiction of the State of Miranda, used for both military and civilian emergencies]

According to witnesses in La Carlota [air base], the Venezuelan armed forces fired tear gas towards the Altamira overpass, where civilian protesters began to gather, whereas Guaido’s soldiers returned live fire. Riot police also appeared on the scene to try and disperse the crowds. There are reports of protesters wounded and arrested that are unconfirmed at the time of writing.

At the same time, many of the originally deployed soldiers withdrew from the scene, later revealing that they had been “deceived” by their superiors. Simultaneously, Chavista leaders took to state and social media to denounce what they termed a coup in progress, and large crowds gathered to defend Miraflores Presidential Palace.

Guaido later attempted to lead a march, including some armed soldiers, into western Caracas but was stopped by Venezuelan National Guard forces in Chacaito, some 10 kilometers away from Miraflores.(Venezuela Analysis, May 1, 2019)

From Washington’s standpoint, the ‘putsch” nonetheless served a “useful” purpose. It created a “narrative”, which serves as propaganda and media disinformation.  In turn, the Western media goes into high gear.

The “coup” becomes a talking point for the Bolton -Pompeo national security team. It becomes a pretext and a justification for US military intervention in the name of Democracy at some future date. See Pompeo below

 

National security Advisor John Bolton calls upon Venezuela’s military to intervene, with US support.

Mild thunder before the storm? It sets the stage? What is the intended timeline?

A failed putsch which may be followed by a “real” US sponsored military coup at some later date? That option is already on the drawing-board of the Pentagon.

The failed coup, a sloppy intelligence operation? Unlikely. US intelligence was fully informed.

Was this event planned to fail from the very outset?

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An Important Historical Precedent, Santiago de Chile. The Failed June 29, 1973 Coup

In Chile in 1973, the September 11 coup d’Etat which led to the assassination of Allende and the installation of a military government was a carefully prepared military-intelligence operation supported by the US. with Henry Kissinger playing a key role.

Of historical significance: The September 11, 1973 coup was preceded by a failed coup on June 29, 1973 , which, in retrospect, was intended to fail.

In 1973, I was visiting professor at the Catholic University of Chile. The following text is an excerpt from an article I wrote in Santiago de Chile in the immediate wake of September 11, 1973 military coup against the democratically elected government of president Salvador Allende.

Bear in mind: The circumstances of  Chile in 1973 as well as the command structure of the (Chilean) Armed Forces were very different to those of Venezuela in 2019.

In the course of the months of July-August 1973, following the June 29, 1973 failed coup, important shifts occurred within Chile’s Armed Forces.In turn, the Christian Democrats were pressuring Allende to bring the military into the government.

Chile: The June 29, 1973 Failed Coup

On June 29, 1973, Coronal Roberto Souper led his tank division in an isolated attack on La Moneda, the Presidential Palace, in the hope that other units of the armed forces would join in. The June coup had initially been planned for the morning of September 27 by Patria y Libertad as well as by several high ranking military officers. The plans were found out by Military Intelligence and the coup was called off at 6pm on the 26th. A warrant for the arrest of Coronal Souper had been issued. Confronted with knowledge of his impending arrest, Colonel Souper in consultation with the officers under his command, decided to act in a most improvised fashion. At 9 am, amidst morning rush hour traffic, Tank Division Number Two drove down Bernardo O’Higgins, Santiago’s main down-town avenue towards the Presidential Palace.

While the aborted June Coup had the appearance of an insolated and uncoordinated initiative, there was evidence of considerable support in various sectors of the Navy as well as from Air Force General Gustovo Leigh, now [September 1973] member of the military junta [on 11 September General Leigh integrated the military Junta headed by General Pinochet]. According to well-informed sources, several high ranking officers in the aero-naval base of Quintero near Valparaiso had proposed the bombing of State enterprises controlled by militant left wing groups, as well as the setting up of an air corridor to transport navy troops. The latter were slated to join up with the forces of Colonel Souper in Santiago.

The June trial coup was «useful» indicating to the seditious elements within the Chilean Armed Forces that an isolated and uncoordinated effort would fail. After June 29, the right-wing elements in the Navy and the Air Force were involved in a process of consolidation aimed at gaining political support among officers and sub-officers. The Army, however, was still under the control of Commander in Chief General Carols Prats, who had previously integrated Allende’s cabinet and who was a firm supporter of constitutional government.

Meanwhile in the political arena, the Christian Democrats were pressuring Allende to bring in members of the Military into the Cabinet as well as significantly revise the programme and platform of the Unidad Popular. Party leaders of the government coalition considered this alternative [proposed by the Christian democrats] as a « legalized military coup» (golpe legal) and advised Allende to turn it down. Carlos Altamirano, leader of the Socialist Party had demanded that an endorsement of the programme of the Popular Unity coalition by the military be a sina qua non condition for their entry into the Cabinet. Upon the impossibility of bringing in the Military into the Cabinet on acceptable terms, Allende envisaged the formation of a so-called “Cabinet of Consolidation” composed of well known personalities. Fernando Castillo, rector of the Catholic University and a member of the Christian Democratic Party, Felipe Herrera, President of the Inter-|American Development Bank and other prominent personalities were approached but declined. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Ingredients of a Military Coup, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, September 1973)

Minor edits to this text on May 1-2, 2019

A message from Roger Waters to Venezuela from Switzerland via Chile

March 25, 2019

 

The Planning of a Coup against Venezuela: Chile, September 11, 1973: The Ingredients of a Military Coup. The Imposition of a Neoliberal Agenda

Chicago Economics: Neoliberal Dress Rehearsal of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)

Global Research, February 20, 2019
Global Research 11 September 2003

 

The main objective of the US-supported military coup in Chile was to impose the neoliberal economic agenda. “Regime change” was enforced through a covert military intelligence operation. Sweeping macro-economic reforms (including privatization, price liberalization and the freeze of wages) were implemented in early October 1973.

Barely a few weeks after the military takeover, the military Junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet ordered a hike in the price of bread from 11 to 40 escudos, a hefty overnight increase of 264%. This “economic shock treatment” had been designed by a group of economists called the “Chicago Boys.” “While food prices had skyrocketed, wages had been frozen.  From one day to the next, an entire country had been precipitated into abysmal poverty.

In 1973, I was teaching economics at the Catholic University of Chile. I lived through two of the most brutal US sponsored military coups in Latin America’s history: Chile, September 11, 1973 and less than three years later, Argentina, March 24, 1976 under Operation Condor, which initiated Argentina’s Dirty War: “La Guerra Sucia”.

And today, the Trump administration is threatening to invade Venezuela with a view to “restoring democracy”, replacing an elected president (casually described by the Western media as a “dictator”) by a US proxy, speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly.

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Author’s Introduction

More than forty-five years ago on September 11, 1973, the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet, crushed the democratically elected Unidad Popular government of Salvador Allende.

The objective was to replace a progressive, democratically elected government by a brutal military dictatorship.

The military coup was supported by the CIA. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a direct role in the military plot.   

Is Washington’s ongoing initiative directed against Venezuela modelled on Chile?

In early 1970s, in a note to the CIA in relation to Chile, Henry Kissinger recommended “Make the economy scream.” Visibly the same concept has been applied to Venezuela, with advanced techniques of financial warfare, which were not available in the 1970s.

Today it’s Mike Pompeo and John Bolton who are calling the shots, in tandem with the CIA.

Bolton has gone far beyond the Nixon-Kissinger agenda formulated at the height of the Cold War. Bolton refers to “The Troika of Tyranny”. The US sponsored coup against Venezuela is also directed against Cuba. And from Washington’s standpoint “after Venezuela, Cuba is next”.

The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere—Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua—has finally met its match. In Venezuela, the United States is acting against the dictator Maduro, who uses the same oppressive tactics that have been employed in Cuba for decades.”  (John Bolton)

The model of US intervention against Venezuela nonetheless bears some striking similarities with Chile 1973:

  • A reshuffle within Chile’s Armed Forces occurred barely one month before the military coup followed by the resignation of General Carlos Prats
  • It should be emphasized that in 1973, the US did not have the support of its European allies. There was a firm and cohesive movement both in North America and Western Europe against the US sponsored coup d’Etat under the  helm of General Augusto Pinochet.
  • In contrast to Chile in the month preceding the September 1973 coup, the Venezuelan military is firmly committed to the Maduro government and the possibilities of coopting the top brass are “limited” in comparison to Chile in 1973. But this situation could evolve. Washington is currently involved in an ongoing process seeking to create divisions within Venezuela’s armed forces.
  • Linked to the Venezuelan Armed Forces, the National Bolivarian Militia, a civilian grassroots force created by Chavez in 2009 is slated to play a key role in the case of a Military Coup. In contrast, in Chile in 1973, the grassroots civilian militia linked to the cordones industriales were disarmed in August 1973.

The US sponsored Pinochet dictatorship prevailed during a period of 16 years. During this period, there was no initiative on the part of the US to call for the replacement of the dictatorship by a duly elected government.

In 1989, elections were held and parliamentary democracy was restored. Continuity prevails. Patricio Aylwin of the Christian Democratic Party (DC) who was elected president in 1989 had endorsed a “military solution” in 1973. He was largely instrumental in the breakdown of the “Dialogue” between the Unidad Popular government and the Christian Democrats (DC). In August 1973, Patricio Aylwin provided a Green Light to the Chilean Armed Forces led by Augusto Pinochet on behalf of the DC.

The following texts shed light on the Chilean Coup d’Etat. The first text first published in 2003 serves as an introduction to the text I wrote in Chile in the month following the September 11 1973 military coup, which describes the chronology of the 1973 military coup.

Chile, September 11, 1973: The Ingredients of a Military Coup. The Imposition of a Neoliberal Agenda, 

Global Research, Montreal, 20o3

The Ingredients of a Military Coup

Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, September 1973

Today our thoughts are with the people of Venezuela.

Michel Chossudovsky, February 11, 2019

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Chile, September 11, 1973: The Ingredients of a Military Coup. The Imposition of a Neoliberal Agenda

Introduction

In the weeks leading up the 1973 coup, US Ambassador Nathaniel Davis and members of the CIA held meetings with Chile’s top military brass together with the leaders of the National Party and the ultra-right nationalist front Patria y Libertad.  While the undercover role of the Nixon administration is amply documented,  what is rarely mentioned in media reports is the fact that the military coup was also supported by a sector of the Christian Democratic Party.

(Nixon and Kissinger, image right)

For details see:

http://globalresearch.ca/articles/KOR309A.html

and references below.

Patricio Aylwin, who became Chile’s president in 1989,  became head of the DC party in the months leading up to the September 1973 military coup (March through September 1973). Aylwin was largely instrumental in the break down of the “Dialogue” between the Unidad Popular government and the Christian Democrats. His predecessor Renan Fuentealba, who represented the moderate wing of the Christian Democratic (PDC), was firmly against military intervention. Fuentealba favored a dialogue with Allende (la salida democratica). He was displaced from the leadership of the Party in May 1973 in favor of Patricio Aylwin.

The DC Party was split down the middle, between those who favored “the salida democratica”, and the dominant Aylwin-Frei faction, which favored “a military solution”.

See Interview with Renan Fuentealba,

http://www.finisterrae.cl/cidoc/citahistoria/emol/emol_22092002.htm )

On 23 August 1973, the Chilean Camera de Diputados drafted a motion,  to the effect that the Allende government “sought to impose a totalitarian regime”. Patricio Aylwin was a member of the drafting team of this motion. Patricio Aylwin believed that a temporary military dictatorship was “the lesser of two evils.”

See http://www.fjguzman.cl/interiores/noticias/tema_se/2003/julio/Patricio%20Aylwin%20y%20la%20dictadura%20transitoria.pdf ,

See also: El acuerdo que anticipó el golpe, http://www.quepasa.cl/revista/2003/08/22/t-22.08.QP.NAC.ACUERDO.html

This motion was adopted almost unanimously by the opposition parties, including the DC, the Partido Nacional and the PIR (Radical Left).

The leadership of the Christian Democratic Party including former Chilean president Eduardo Frei,had given a green light to the Military.

And continuity in the “Chilean Model” heralded as “economic success story” was ensured when, 16 years later, Patricio Aylwin was elected president of Chile in the so-called transition to democracy in 1989.

At the time of the September 11, 1973 military coup, I was Visiting Professor of Economics at the Catholic University of Chile. In the hours following the bombing of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda, the new military rulers imposed a 72-hour curfew.

Salvador Allende in the defense of the Palacio de la Moneda, September 11, 1973 (left)

When the university reopened several days later, I started patching together the history of the coup from written notes. I had lived through the tragic events of September 11, 1973 as well as the failed June 29th coup. Several of my students at the Universidad Catolica had been arrested by the military Junta.

In the days following the military takeover,  I started going through piles of documents and newspaper clippings, which I had collected on a daily basis since my arrival in Chile in early 1973. Some of this material, however, was lost and destroyed in the days following the coup.

This unpublished article (below) was written forty-five years ago. It was drafted on an old typewriter in the weeks following the September 11, 1973.

This original draft article plus two carbon copies were circulated among a few close friends and colleagues at the Catholic University. It was never published. For 30 years it lay in a box of documents at the bottom of a filing cabinet.

I have transcribed the text from the yellowed carbon copy draft. Apart from minor editing, I have made no changes to the original article.

The history of this period has since then been amply documented including the role of the Nixon administration and of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the plot to assassinate Allende and install a military regime.

Chicago Economics: Neoliberal Dress Rehearsal of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)

The main objective of the US-supported military coup in Chile was ultimately to  impose the neoliberal economic agenda.  The latter, in the case of Chile, was not imposed by external creditors under the guidance of IMF. “Regime change” was enforced  through a covert military intelligence operation, which laid the groundwork for the military coup. Sweeping macro-economic reforms (including privatization, price liberalization and the freeze of wages) were implemented in early October 1973.

Augusto Pinochet, 1973

Barely a few weeks after the military takeover, the military Junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet ordered a hike in the price of bread from 11 to 40 escudos, a hefty overnight increase of 264%. This “economic shock treatment” had been designed by a group of economists called the “Chicago Boys.”

While food prices had skyrocketed, wages had been frozen to ensure “economic stability and stave off inflationary pressures.” From one day to the next, an entire country had been precipitated into abysmal poverty; in less than a year the price of bread in Chile increased thirty-six fold (3700%). Eighty-five percent of the Chilean population had been driven below the poverty line.

I completed my work on the “unpublished paper’ entitled “The Ingredients of a Military Coup” (see text below) in late September.

In October and November, following the dramatic hikes in the price of food,  I drafted in Spanish an initial “technical” assessment of the Junta’s deadly macro-economic reforms. Fearing censorship, I limited my analysis to the collapse of living standards in the wake of the Junta’s reforms, resulting from the price hikes of food and fuel, without making any kind of political analysis.

The Economics Institute of the Catholic University was initially reluctant to publish the report. They sent it to the Military Junta prior to its release.

I left Chile for Peru  in December 1973. The report was released as a working paper (200 copies) by the Catholic University a few days before my departure. In Peru, where I joined the Economics Department of the Catholic University of Peru, I was able to write up a more detailed study of the Junta’s neoliberal reforms and its ideological underpinnings. This study was published in 1975 in English and Spanish.

Needless to say, the events of September 11 1973 also marked me profoundly in my work as an economist. Through the tampering of prices, wages and interest rates, people’s lives had been destroyed; an entire national economy had been destabilized. Macro-economic reform was neither “neutral” –as claimed by the academic mainstream– nor separate from the broader process of social and political transformation.

I also started to understand the role of military-intelligence operations in support of what is usually described as a process of “economic restructuring”. In my earlier writings on the Chilean military Junta, I looked upon the so-called “free market” reform as a well-organized instrument of “economic repression.”

Two years later, I returned to Latin America as a visiting professor at the National University of Cordoba in the northern industrial heartland of Argentina. My stay coincided with the 1976 military coup d’État. Tens of thousands of people were arrested; the “Desaparecidos” were assassinated. The military takeover in Argentina was “a carbon copy” of the CIA-led coup in Chile. And behind the massacres and human rights violations, “free market” reforms had also been prescribed, this time under the supervision of Argentina’s New York creditors.

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Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order by Michel Chossudovsky (click image to order)

The IMF’s deadly economic prescriptions under the “structural adjustment program” had not yet been officially launched. The experience of Chile and Argentina under the “Chicago boys” was “a dress rehearsal” of things to come.

In due course, the economic bullets of the free market system were hitting country after country.

Since the onslaught of the debt crisis of the 1980s, the same IMF economic medicine has routinely been applied in more than 100 developing countries. From my earlier work in Chile, Argentina and Peru, I started to investigate the global impacts of these reforms. Relentlessly feeding on poverty and economic dislocation, a New World Order was taking shape.

(For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky,The Globalisation of Poverty and the New World Order, Second Edition, Global Research, Montreal, 2003.

I should mention that the ongoing US-led economic destabilization of Venezuela including the manipulation of the foreign exchange market, leading to the collapse of the national currency the Bolivar  and the dramatic hikes in the prices of essential consumer goods, bears a canny resemblance to the months preceding the September 1973 military coup in Chile.

 

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 11 September 2003, updated 11 September 2018

*        *         *

The Ingredients of a Military Coup

by Michel Chossudovsky

Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago

September 1973 

Original 1973 draft: click to enlarge

The transition to a right-wing military regime in Chile on September 11 [1973] has resulted after a lengthy and drawn-out process of economic boycott, subversion within the Armed Forces and political opposition to Allende’s Popular unity government.

In October 1970, General René Schneider was assassinated in a plot of the ultra-right together with seditious elements of the Armed Forces led by General Roberto Viaux. The assassination of General Schneider was part of a coordinated plan to prevent Parliament from ratifying Allende’s victory in the September 1970 presidential elections.

Last year’s [1972] October strike which paralyzed the economy for over a month, was organized by the gremios (employers’ organizations together with opposition labor and self employed organizations), the Partido Nacional and the ultra-right nationalist front Patria y Libertad. Some sectors of the Christian Democratic Party were also involved.

The October Strike had initially been planned for September 1972. “Plan Septiembre”  was apparently postponed due to the sudden dismissal of General Alfredo Canales from the Armed Forces. Canales together with Air Force General Herrera Latoja had earlier been in touch with Miguel Ubilla Torrealba of the nationalist front Patria y Libertad. Ubilla Torrealba was said to have been closely connected to the CIA. Despite General Canales premature retirement from the Armed Forces, Plan Septiembre was implemented in October beginning with a transport strike. The Right was hoping that those elements of the Armed forces, which had been inspired by General Canales would intervene against Allende. The October “Patronal” strike (employers and self-employed) failed due to the support of the Armed Forces headed by General Carlos Prats, who had integrated Allende’s cabinet as Minister of the Interior.

The June Failed Coup

On June 29, 1973, Coronal Roberto Souper led his tank division in an isolated attack on La Moneda, the Presidential Palace, in the hope that other units of the armed forces would join in. The June coup had initially been planned for the morning of September 27 by Patria y Libertad as well as by several high ranking military officers. The plans were found out by Military Intelligence and the coup was called off at 6pm on the 26th. A warrant for the arrest of Coronal Souper had been issued. Confronted with knowledge of his impending arrest, Colonel Souper in consultation with the officers under his command, decided to act in a most improvised fashion. At 9 am, amidst morning rush hour traffic, Tank Division Number Two drove down Bernardo O’Higgins, Santiago’s main down-town avenue towards the Presidential Palace.

While the aborted June Coup had the appearance of an insolated and uncoordinated initiative, there was evidence of considerable support in various sectors of the Navy as well as from Air Force General Gustovo Leigh, now [September 1973] member of the military junta [on 11 September General Leigh integrated the military Junta headed by General Pinochet]. According to well-informed sources, several high ranking officers in the aero-naval base of Quintero near Valparaiso had proposed the bombing of State enterprises controlled by militant left wing groups, as well as the setting up of an air corridor to transport navy troops. The latter were slated to join up with the forces of Colonel Souper in Santiago.

The June trial coup was «useful» indicating to the seditious elements within the Chilean Armed Forces that an isolated and uncoordinated effort would fail. After June 29, the right-wing elements in the Navy and the Air Force were involved in a process of consolidation aimed at gaining political support among officers and sub-officers. The Army, however, was still under the control of Commander in Chief General Carols Prats, who had previously integrated Allende’s cabinet and who was a firm supporter of constitutional government.

Meanwhile in the political arena, the Christian Democrats were pressuring Allende to bring in members of the Military into the Cabinet as well as significantly revise the programme and platform of the Unidad Popular. Party leaders of the government coalition considered this alternative [proposed by the Christian democrats] as a « legalized military coup» (golpe legal) and advised Allende to turn it down. Carlos Altamirano, leader of the Socialist Party had demanded that an endorsement of the programme of the Popular Unity coalition by the military be a sina qua non condition for their entry into the Cabinet. Upon the impossibility of bringing in the Military into the Cabinet on acceptable terms, Allende envisaged the formation of a so-called “Cabinet of Consolidation” composed of well known personalities. Fernando Castillo, rector of the Catholic University and a member of the Christian Democratic Party, Felipe Herrera, President of the Inter-|American Development Bank and other prominent personalities were approached but declined.

“The Dialogue”

Pressured by economic deadlock and the transport strike, inflation of more than 15 percent per month and mounting political opposition, Allende sought in the course of July [1973] to resume the political dialogue with the Christian Democratic Party.  After the March [1973] parliamentary elections, Patricio Aylwin had replaced Renan Fuentealba [May 1973] as leader of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). Fuentealba, who represented the progressive wing of the Christian Democratic (PDC), was known to be in favor of a rapprochement with Allende. In other words, this rightward shift and hardening of the Christian Democrats in relation to the Unidad Popular, contributed to reinforcing their tacit alliance with the ring wing National Party. This alliance was initially intended as an electoral pact in the March [1973] parliamentary elections in which the Unidad Popular obtained 43 percent of the popular vote.

The Dialogue between Allende and Alwyin was a failure. Aylwin stated :

I have no trust in the democratic loyalty of the Marxist parties because they do not believe in Democracy. They have an inherent totalitarian conception. We are convinced that the democratic path will not solve the underlying economic problems…

The Communist Party Senator and prominent intellectual Volodia Teitelbaum response was:

The Christian Democrats are not that innocent. Basically they are in favor of a coup d’Etat because it constitutes a means to conveniently obtaining political power. The Christian Democrats have moved to the Right. They are not interested a Dialogue which implies a consolidation of revolutionary changes

While the Right was becoming more cohesive, a political split of the Left was imminent. The Communist Part sided with Allende’s constitutional strategy while a section of the Socialist Party (Allende’s own Party) led by Carlos Altamirano and the MAPU (Movimiento de Accion Popular Unitaria -initially a group of Christian Democrats which joined the Unidad Popular in 1969) led by Oscar Garreton, signified their distrust in “bourgeois legality” and the constitutional process and moved increasingly closer to the leftist revolutionary front Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). MIR maintained ideological and strategic relations with Cuban revolutionary groups as well as with the Bolivian and Uruguayan Tupamaros. While endorsing many features the programme of the Unidad Popular, the MIR rejected Allende’s “Chilean Road to Socialism” :

We must create popular power (poder popular) based on the industrial belts (cordones industriales).

The cordones industriales were organized and politicized labor groups. Together with MAPU, MIR was in the process of developing the Grupos de Accion Urbana (Urban Action Groups), with the task of educating and preparing the masses for armed resistance in the case of a military coup.

Purges in the Armed Forces

In August [1973], the Armed forces initiated a series of violent search and arrests directed against the MIR and state enterprises integrated by the industrial belts (cordones industriales). These searches were conducted in accordance with the Fire Arms control Act, adopted by [the Chilean] Congress after the October [1992 employers] strike and which empowered the Armed Forces [bypassing the civilian police authorities] to implement (by Military Law) the control of fire arms. [The objective of this measure was to confiscate automatic weapons in the members of the industrial belts and curb armed resistance by civilians to a military coup]. Meanwhile, right-wing elements in the Navy and Air Force were involved in actively eliminating Allende supporters by a well organized operation of anti-government propaganda, purges and torture. On August 7 [1973], the Navy announced that a “subversive left wing group” integrated by MIR had been found out. Meanwhile, according to reliable sources, a seditious plan of the Right with the intent to bring down Allende’s government, using the Navy to control the entry of supplies into the country, had been discovered. Sailors and officers [within the Navy], who knew about these plans, were tortured and beaten.

The Role of the Political Right

[In August 1973], high ranking military officers and members of Patria y Libertad, met with Senator Bulnes Sanfuentes of the National Party. Admiral Merino now [September 1973] a member of the Junta participated in meetings with members of National Party, senators of the Christian Democratic Party and staff of the US embassy. In fact towards mid-August [1973], In FACT, towards mid-August, a motion declaring US ambassador Nathaniel Davis as persona non grata was drafted by a parliamentary committee of the Unidad Popular. Furthermore, the Armed Forces were colluding with the Ultra-Right by setting up a so-called Base operacional de Fuerzas especiales (BOFE) (Operational Base of Special Forces). BOFE units were integrated by member of the nationalist front Patria y Libertad.

BOFE units were paramilitary divisions receiving material and financial support from the Armed forces. They were intended to undertake subversive and terrorist activities, which the Armed Forces could not openly undertake. BOFE was responsible for the many bomb attacks on pipelines, bridges and electric installations in the months preceding the military coup of September 11 [1973].

General Prats’ Resignation from the Armed Forces

On August 9, Allende reorganized his cabinet and brought in the three joint chiefs of staff, Carlos Prats (Army), Cesar Ruis Danyau (Air force) and Raul Montero (Navy) into a so-called “National Security Cabinet”. Allende was only intent upon resolving the Transport Strike, which was paralyzing the country’s economy, he was anxious to gain whatever support was left within the Armed Forces.

The situation was not ripe for a military coup as long as General Carol Prats was member of the cabinet, commander in Chief of the Army and Chairman of the Council of Generals. Towards mid-August, the armed forces pressured Allende and demanded Prats’ resignation and retirement ” due to basic disagreements between Prats and the Council of Generals”. Allende made a final attempt to retain |Prats and invited General Prats, Pinochet (now [September 1973] head of the Military Junta), Bonilla now Minister of the Interior), and others for dinner at his private residence. Prats resigned officially on August 23, both from the Cabinet and from the Armed Forces: “I did not want to be a factor which would threaten institutional discipline.. or serve as a pretext to those who want to overthrow the constitutional government”

The Generals’ Secret Meeting

With General Carlos Prats out of the way, the road was clear for a consolidated action by the Army, Navy and Air Force. Prats successor General Augusto Pinochet convened the Council of 24 generals in a secret meeting on August 28. The purpose and discussion of this meeting were not made public. In all likelihood, it was instrumental in the planning of the September 11 military coup. The reshuffle of Allende’s National Security Cabinet took place on the same day (28 August). It resulted after drawn out discussions with party leaders of the Unidad Popular coalition, and in particular with Socialist Party leader Carlos Altamirano.

The following day, August 29, Altamirano in a major policy speech made the following statement:

We hope that our Armed Forces have not abandoned their historical tradition, the Schneider Doctrine … and that they could follow a course leading to the installation of a reactionary Brazilian style [military] dictatorship … We are convinced that our armed forces are not prepared to be instrumental in the restoration of the privileges of the financial and industrial elites and landed aristocracy. We are convinced that if the Right wing golpe (coup) were to succeed, Chile would become a new Vietnam.

On the weekend preceding the military coup, leaders of the National Party and Christian Democratic Party made major political statements, declaring Allende’s government illegal and unconstitutional. Sergio Onofre Jarpa of the National Party declared:

After the Marxist downfall, the rebirth of Chile! … We will continue our struggle until we see out of office those who failed to fulfill their obligations. From this struggle, a new solidarity and a new institutional framework (institucionalidad) will emerge.

A few days later, the Presidential Palace was bombed and Allende was assassinated. The “rebirth” of Chile, and a new institutional framework had emerged.

Michel Chossudovsky

Santiago de Chile, September 1973

Selected References on the Role of Henry Kissinger in the 1973 military coup

Articles

Christopher Hitchens, The Case against Henry Kissinger, Harpers Magazine, February 2001,  http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m1111/1809_302/69839383/p1/article.jhtml?term=kissinger

Henry Kissinger, US Involved in 1970 Chilean Plot, AP, 9 Sept 2001,  http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/general/2001/0909cbskiss.htm

Kissinger May Face Extradition to Chile, Guardian,  June 12, 2002, http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/wanted/2002/0614kiss.htm

Marcus Gee, Is Henry Kissinger a War Criminal? Globe and Mail, 11 June 2002,  http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0611-03.htm

Jonathan Franklin, Kissinger may face extradition to Chile, Guardian, 12 June 2002,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/pinochet/Story/0,11993,735920,00.html

Kissinger’s Back…As 9/11 Truth-Seeker, The Nation, 2003, http://www.thenation.com/capitalgames/index.mhtml?bid=3&pid=176

Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB8/nsaebb8i.htm

30th anniversary of Chile coup; Calls for justice, scrutiny of United States role, Santiago. 11 Sep 2003, http://www.newsahead.com/NewWNF/ChileCoup.htm

USA Regrets Role in Chile’s September 11 Tragedy: US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, admitted Washington’s participation in Chile coup of 1973, Pravda, 17 March 2003,http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/9766_chile.html     [this statement was made barely a week after the military occupation of Iraq by US and British troops.]

Larry Rohter, NYT, 13 Feb 2000, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDallende.htm

Websites

ICAI, Kissinger Watch, http://www.icai-online.org/45365,45370.html

The Kissinger Page, Third World Traveler, http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Kissinger/HKissinger.html

Wanted for War Crimes, http://www.zpub.com/un/wanted-hkiss.html

Remember Chile.org,  http://www.remember-chile.org.uk/

War Crimes Bio of Augusto Pinochet http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/pinochet.htm

Chile Information Project — “Santiago Times” http://ssdc.ucsd.edu/news/chip/h98/chip.19981116.html

Salvador Allende and Patricio Aylwin

Carta de Salvador Allende al presidente del Partido Demócrata Cristiano, señor Patricio Aylwin, publicada el día 23 de agosto de 1973
en el diario La Nación de Santiago. http://www.salvador-allende.cl/Textos/Documentos/cartaAylwin.pdf

Andrés Zaldívar, presidente del Senado: “Allende no divide a la Concertación”, Mercurio, 13 August 2003 http://www.mercuriovalpo.cl/site/apg/reportajes/pags/20030831030907.html

Salvador Allende Archive http://www.salvador-allende.cl/

Authors Writings on the Chilean Military Junta’s Economic Reforms

Capital Accumulation in Chile and Latin America”, Yale University Lecture Series on Post-Allende Chile, North South, Canadian Journal of Latin American Studies, vol. IV, vol. XIII, no. 23, 1978, also published in Economic and Political Weekly.

“Acumulación de Capital en Chile”, Comercio Exterior, vol. 28, no. 2, 1978 (Spanish version of above article)

“Chicago Economics, Chilean Style”, Monthly Review, vol. 26, no. 11, 1975, in Spanish in a book published in Lima, Peru,

“Hacia el Nuevo Modelo Economico Chileno, Inflación y Redistribución del Ingreso, 1973-1974”, Cuadernos de CISEPA, no. 19, Catholic University of Peru, 1974, Trimestre Economico, no. 166, 1975, 311-347.

“The Neo-Liberal Model and the Mechanisms of Economic Repression: The Chilean Case”, Co-existence, vol. 12, no. 1, 1975, 34-57.

La Medición del Ingreso Minimo de Subsistencia y la Politica de Ingresos para 1974, documento de trabajo no. 19, Institute of Economics, Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, 1973, p. 37. (Initial  text on the economic reforms of the Chilean Military Junta published in December 1973)

 

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