Allende's Chile: An inside View

By Edward Boorstein | Go to book overview

11
Political Developments November 1970 to Mid-1972

T he collapse of the Viaux- Valenzuela plot, upon the death of Schneider, left the CIA with inadequate "assets" among the Chilean armed forces. These "assets" had not been able, even at full strength, to mount a successful coup. Now the plot and some of the participants were under investigation. Several of the CIA's leading military collaborators had been forced into retirement; and those who remained were in disarray because of the failure of the plot, the investigation, and the elimination of their leaders. The CIA needed new, additional "assets." It set about -- in the words of the Senate report, Covert Action in Chile, -- "to rebuild a network of agents among the cautious Chilean military."1

But the retirements forced by Allende's change of Commanders-in-chief did not clean out all who had been involved in plotting a coup, much less those who were potential coupists but had not had a chance to become involved. Allende did not act -- did not use his powers as president -- to remove more of the potential coupists. Was this a mistake? We must try to keep hindsight from so coloring our judgment that we lose sight of how the problem may have appeared at the time, of the practical difficulties and risks. It was not always easy to know who was a coupist and who was not. An excessive or poorly managed

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