Allende and Pinochet in Chile | The 20th century | World history | Khan Academy

Allende and Pinochet in Chile | The 20th century | World history | Khan Academy

September 12, 2019 100 By Kody Olson


Male: What I’m going to
talk about in this video is one of the darker
periods in Chilean history and depending on your point of view, also one of the darker
periods in American history. What I want to make clear in this video, and it applies to every
video I’ll make in history, is be skeptical of everything
that I’m telling you. I’m going to do my best
attempt to give a reasonably accurate series of events
and draw connections when they’re clear and
also make it clear where there might be connections
and no one is sure. But you should be skeptical
and frankly you should be skeptical of anything
anyone is telling you. I encourage y’all to kind
of use this as a scaffold for your own research, for you to look up these names and these
events and figure out what actually happened. Now, with that said,
let’s rewind back to 1970 when Chile was having an
election for president. And they have their
election and it’s considered a fairly free and fair election, and one of the candidates in that election was this gentleman over here, Salvadore Allende, who
was a known Marxist. A known Marxist. He has communist ideologies here. He’s known to be sympathetic to what has happened in Cuba,
sympathetic to the Soviets. So you can imagine in this
context America is concerned. It’s in the middle of the cold war. You have Richard Nixon President. You have Henry Kissinger
is his Secretary of State. They’re actively watching this election. They clearly do not want Salvadore Allende to become president. All of a sudden a major
country in Latin America being controlled by a Marxist. Unlucky for them, Salvadore
Allende actually does get more votes than everyone else. He gets 36% of the votes,
which is a plurality. Just so you know what
plurality means, it means that you got more of the
votes than anyone else but not necessarily the
majority of the votes. If he’d gotten 51% of the
votes that would be a majority. In this case, he didn’t get a majority and the standard
procedure in Chile is that if no one gets a majority
it goes to Congress and Congress picks who’s president. The usual thing that they
would do is they would pick whoever has the
largest amount of votes. They normally didn’t do a runoff. So, you can imagine Nixon and
Kissinger they’re worried. So they kind of get into
let’s mess with what’s going on in Chile mode. And this part is well
established that they had this what they called a track one strategy of actually trying to
get the Chilean congress to not do what they normally
do, to not pick the guy with the largest number of votes. So, they were trying to
mess there, didn’t seem like something they would
be able to pull off. The other thing that it
looks like they started to kind of get involved
with through the CIA is they started to at least
interface, it’s not clear how much they actually
supported, they actually started to talk to people
in the military and see how likely is a coup to happen. How likely is Allende to be overthrown if he becomes president? They were looking for
people who could I guess keep this known Marxist
from becoming president. And the number one problem
was this guy right over here, the number one problem was
this guy right over here. In this whole video I would
say that Rene Schneider was the only unambiguously
good guy in this video. He was the commander in chief
of the Chilean military. He said, “Look, I don’t
care who becomes president. I don’t care how much I disagree with him. I don’t care how much
pressure the Americans put on me or how much
pressure the rest of the military puts on me, the
role of the Chilean military is not to mess with politics.” The called him the constitutionalist. “The role of the Chilean
military is not to overthrow people when we don’t like them. The role of the Chilean military
is only to defend Chile. It’s only to literally do …” I guess you know what
militaries are supposed to do what constitutions say the
military is supposed to do. So, you can imagine that
the people who wanted to overthrow Allende, now that it looks like he’s coming to power. They said this guy is not a
convenient guy to have in power. He doesn’t like to play the way we play, even though maybe there
were other elements in the military that did want to do that. So, this is what’s a little bit unclear. You have this former general
in the Chilean military who is clearly anti Allende, and he’s also anti Schneider because this guy right here Roberto Viaux, he thinks
that the military should be I guess actively overthrowing dictators and so there is some
contact between him and the CIA. It seems like the CIA
may have supplied some support to him and then
maybe got a little bit freaked out that … At least Kissinger might
have gotten a little bit freaked out that this guy
seemed a little bit extreme. But remember we’re in
this period where Allende was, he got 36% of the votes, Congress is trying to figure out what they do about it and during this period there
are some people who say Well look, if Rene Schneider
is not going to do, what’s in their mind, the right thing and depose the eventual
Allende then we’ll have to depose Rene Schneider. So, you have this plot that’s worked up by Roberto Viaux to essentially
kidnap Rene Schneider. And that would essentially
depose him from being head of the military
and maybe they could put somebody in his place who
is more likely to have a coup, more likely to
want to overthrow Allende. Unfortunately, when this
guy’s people tried to kidnap Schneider, Schneider
he’s got a gun, he sees these guys kidnapping,
he takes out the gun and then the kidnappers
shoot him several times and he eventually dies. So, this kidnapping turns into
an assasination of Rene Schneider and they wanted to kill him
or remove him or whatever just because he essentially
wanted to do his job. So he’s the only person
in this whole narrative where I’ll say he was
an unambiguous good guy. Now, what’s not clear is how
much involvement the Americans or the CIA had in supporting
this kind of assassination or this kidnapping of Scheider. It does look like they kind of
knew that something was going on. This is a quote from Kissinger. Seems pretty well substantiated. Where he told Nixon a
few days before Schneider was assassinated when
Nixon said hey what’s going on in Chile? Are we working on any
ways through the military and are we doing anything
about potentially maybe about Schneider. I don’t
know look that up for yourself. I don’t know how much Nixon
may or may not have known. Kissinger told Nixon, “This
looks hopeless. I turned it off. Nothing could be
worse than an aborted coup.” So this quote is interesting
because it looks like they thought about it. I turned it off. Which implies that at one
point he had it turned on. So at one point they
were actively thinking about working with Roberto
Viaux maybe to kidnap Schneider, maybe to orchestrate
a coup against Allende, but they turned it off. So, they’re not morally above
doing this kind of thing, but they decided that this
guy was a little bit … Was not as competent as
maybe they thought he should, and at least according
to Kissinger he’s saying we turned it off because
nothing could be worse than an abortive coup. It turned out that’s exactly what happened because as soon as this
guy got killed everyone was like oh my God you have
all these shady elements who are trying to overthrow
democracy and that actually put more pressure
on Congress to say hey we have to let
Allende become president. So, in November he gets
inaugurated president. November Allende becomes president. There’s a bunch of
different stories here how much the CIA was involved. The counter argument is
look the CIA would not have wanted to assassinate
Schneider because this would have only made Allende
all the more popular. They would have only
maybe wanted to remove him and put someone else
there who was more likely to have a coup against Allende later. Who knows. If you believe Kissinger’s
words here it looks like maybe they provided
some initial support to Viaux and then they backed off a little bit. Who knows. Well, regardless to say by
November of 1970 Salvadore Allende became president, and
he started implementing his kind of Marxist ideology
and it didn’t go that well. Chile’s economy especially
if you fast forward to 1972, 1973, not doing so well. He started price-fixing. He tried to do the
fairly naive approach of raising salaries while
keeping prices fixed, which will obviously lead to shortages. So, all around he wasn’t
the most popular president. It didn’t look like it,
especially his economic policies wereworking out that well. People who were pro
Allende would say well look just like what the
United States did to Cuba they started doing to
Chile as soon as they had a Marxist in charge,
someone they didn’t like. The United States
started swinging its huge economic power around to
kind of hurt the Chilean economy so that this guy
would come out of power. I’ll let you decide that. You fastforward all the
way to 1973 so now Allende has been in power for about three years, things are not going well for him. There are strikes going on. He tries to clamp down on the media a bit. There is unrest. There are people who definitely don’t want him to be president
anymore, and the people who don’t think much of the
United States will say hey but the United
States the whole time was kind of actively undermining
Allende and that’s probably true. The United States will
say no look we were trying to keep the press free. This guy was clamping down on free press. We were trying to keep
things so that there will be another election so that this guy won’t turn into another Fidel
Castro and essentially just turn Chile into a
totalitarian communist regime. Regardless of which side you
take, on September 11, 1973, Allende is deposed. The military surrounds
the presidential palace and it is said that he commits “suicide.” I put that in quotes
because once again some people believe that he
really did commit suicide. Some people believe that
he was assassinated, and some accounts say
that he committed suicide with an automatic weapon and well I guess you could commit suicide
with an automatic weapon but it doesn’t seem like
the weapon of choice for many peoples, but
I’ll leave that once again for you to decide. Whether or not he committed
suicide or whether he was killed, but regardless to say September 11 he gets thrown out of power and
once again it’s not clear what role the CIA played. They clearly were
sympathetic to the people that wanted to overthrow him. Clearly were providing
indirect support throughout Allende’s regime to all
of the people who were anti Allende, and you can look up. There actually are some
declassified documents that hint at what the
level of CIA involvement might have been. Regardless to say, Allende
deposed and this gentleman, this gentleman comes to power
right over here, Augusto Pinochet. And he comes to power and he says look you know this democracy thing is silly. I am the president. I am the commander in chief. Chile will be run by military junta. Let me write that down. Chile will be run by a junta. A junta just means a government that’s run by the military. It’s a military dictatorship. The military is now in charge of Chile. We don’t need people to do silly
things like voting anymore. And you can imagine
Nixon didn’t care so much that this guy didn’t like
democracy but he was happy. Let me see if I can put
a smile on his face. He was happy that at least
Pinochet was not a Marxist, that at least we had stopped the spread of communism in Latin America. And Nixon, with that said,
and this is explicit, he wanted everything in his power to make Augusto Pinochet successful especially from an economic point of view. So, the United States does
start supporting Pinochet. He’s viewed as kind of an American friend. Unfortunately for America
and unfortunately for Chile, this guy is one of those
big time tyrants in history. So, he is a tyrant. He starts rounding up people. He starts killing people. He’s one of those people that anything anyone…there was a whiff
of communism, a whiff of political opposition
he would round them up, he would round their family up. He would torture people, and
just to kind of put some … This is another picture
of him when he’s older. It’s amazing how gentle
some fairly evil people can look in the world. So I’ll put some unambiguous horns on him. He killed many, many people and many, many people disappeared. Just to give an idea, these
are some of the people who disappeared. It was anyone from people
who were critical of him, people who were perceived
to be left-leaning, whatever it was. He tortured including women
and children and all the rest. So, all around bad guy. He stuck around in Chile
as president until 1990. So, that’s 17 years, and he really stayed in power until 1998 where
he was commander and chief of the army. You can imagine if the
military is in control President isn’t that important of a title. Commander and chief is. So for 25 years he hung around Chile and continued to be this totalitarian guy, although he liked free markets. He was a capitalist in
the traditional sense and the one I guess silver lining if you had to throw a silver
lining on Pinochet’s regime was that the Chilean
economy actually did well during his regime. Chile is considered one
of the success stories economically over that time period. So, I’ll let you decide,
and some people would say oh that’s because
Pinochet understood economics, he didn’t try to do all
this price fixing stuff that Allende tried to do. Regardless of the fact
that he was a tyrant, at least the economy was doing well. The other side of the
equation would be well look of course the economy
did well, now you had the United States doing
everything in its power, this huge the largest
economy in the world, doing everything in its power to make sure that Chile’s economy
thrives while one of its buddies are in power. So, I’ll let you decide
who’s right, who’s wrong, what was the actual involvement of the CIA and Nixon and Kissinger and
all of this mess over here. But I think needless
to say that this was a not so pleasant chapter
in I guess world history.