The Pinochet File produced by Peter Kornblugh and the National Security Archive uses declassified US government documents and phone conversations to demonstrate America’s involvement in Chile through the ’70s and ’80s. With shocking, stunning detail, Kornblugh uses government secrets to tell a story that will surprise most Americans.
The Pinochet File shows how US administrations from Nixon through Clinton either participated in acts America claims to oppose, lied about them to Congress and the public, and/or attempted to hide the truth.
In 1970 Salvador Allende, a socialist, was democratically elected the president of Chile. Surprised by the outcome, the Nixon administration engaged in efforts to make sure Allende never served. Those efforts included:
- Assisting a campaing that resulted in the Chilean defense minister’s murder
- Paying terrorists to use violence to create instability
- Paying media outlets to publish false stories about Allende and his government
- Using American corporations to cause economic problems
When Allende took office, the United States continued its financial support of rival parties and used its clout with financial institutions, like the World Bank, to deny Chile loans and other financial assistance.
In September of 1973, the government of the United States supported a military coup that resulted in Allende’s overthrow and the instalation of Augusto Pinochet as the military leader of Chile.
Over the next 17 years, Pinochet’s government murdered thousands of civilians in and out of Chile. Thousands more were kidnapped. The murders and kidnappings were coordinated through Operation Condor (a secret organization of Latin American dictatorships).
The Pinochet File demonstrates how the United States overlooked and in some cases encouraged obvious human rights violations; in fact, CIA Director Richard Helms committed perjury before Congress to hide what was happening.. Other American leaders, most notably Henry Kissinger, regularly lied to Congress and the public.
The Pinochet File is a disturbing, important read for anyone interested in learning how America has too often acted. We talk about democracy and human rights. But when democracy results in elections that corporations don’t like, America trades democracy for dictatorship. We talk some about human rights. But when a government allows for corporate exploitation and stamps out leftist government and thought, America cheers.
The Pinochet file leaves me wondering what we will know about Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and more in 30 years we don’t know now. Something tells me the stories of what is happening in those countries will look much different when the truth is published against the will of those lying today.
As cynical as I can sometimes be about politics, The Pinochet File has left me wondering how much we can believe from our government. Remember when Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? At some point, we need to take a hard look at the CIA’s unquestioned role in government.