Courtesy Reuters

Two Hundred Years of American Foreign Policy: The United States and Latin America: Ending the Hegemonic Presumption

Like the last streak of lightning in a summer storm, the Chile Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence illuminates the contours of recent relations between the United States and Latin America, even as that landscape is changing. With impressive detail and understated force, the Report not only documents what the United States did in Chile from 1963 through 1973; it also illustrates the hegemonic presumption upon which this country has long based its policies toward Latin America and the Caribbean.

But the days of unchallenged U.S. control of the Western Hemisphere are numbered, if not already past. U.S. relations with Latin America are consequently being transformed. The historic "special relationship" between the United States and Latin America is coming to an end-in fact if not yet in rhetoric. A new U.S. approach toward hemispheric relations is required.


The Senate's Chile Report shows that the U.S. government engaged for over a decade in a massive, systematic, and sustained covert campaign against the Chilean Left. The Report removes from further controversy these key facts about U.S. involvement in Chilean politics:

1. The United States spent about $3 million during the 1964 election campaign in Chile, mostly on behalf of Eduardo Frei's Christian Democratic campaign; an equivalent level of spending in a U.S. election would be over $75 million, much more than was used to finance Richard Nixon's lavishly funded 1972 election.

2. The United States spent some $8 million on covert intervention in Chilean politics from 1970 through 1973. Among the items financed were political activities among workers, students, women's groups, professional organizations, and other civic associations; propaganda; planted "news" stories and editorials in Chilean newspapers and magazines; and even the inspiration and subsequent diffusion of articles on Chile by CIA-subsidized "journalists" from other countries.

3. The United States also employed various economic pressures-first to try to prevent the election of Salvador Allende, Chile's Marxist leader, and then to abort his presidency. Although the CIA formally rejected the suggestion of the U.S. corporation, ITT, that

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