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Fleeing the Chilean Coup: The Debate Over U.S. Complicity

Courtesy Reuters

MYTHMAKING AND FOREIGN POLICY

The myth that the United States toppled President Salvador Allende of Chile in 1973 lives. In 1975, a Senate subcommittee headed by Frank Church -- a stalwart Democrat and no friend of the Nixon administration -- determined that there was "no real evidence" of U.S. support for the military coup or for an earlier botched kidnapping by Chileans that ended in the death of Army Chief of Staff Rene Schneider. A more recent CIA study confirmed these conclusions. No evidence to the contrary emerged from the 24,000 Chile-related documents declassified by the Clinton administration.

There is, in short, no smoking gun. Yet the myth persists. It is lovingly nurtured by the Latin American left and refreshed from time to time by contributions to the literature like Peter Kornbluh's The Pinochet File and Kenneth Maxwell's review of that book, "The Other 9/11" (November/December 2003).

Both Kornbluh and Maxwell recognize that

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