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Almost three decades ago the most tragic event of Chilean history was taking place Machine gunfire raged through downtown Santiago the coup had begun Yet at Nixons White House the events were cause for celebration a culmination of three years of covert operations propaganda and economic sabotage Declassified US government records shed light on corners of the story that previously had been suspected but not proven The documents describe how an angry Nixon demanded a coup if necessary to block the inauguration of Marxist Salvador Allende following his victory in the 1970 Chilean elections The documents reveal that the assassination of pro-constitutional Chilean Gen Rene Schneider who was gunned down by military plotters on Oct 22 1970 was part of an early coup plan known as Track II The new declassified documentary record contradicts former Secretary of State Henry Kissingers announcement that Track II was shut down a week before Schneiders murder After Allendes inauguration Nixon did not give up The documents detail what his administration did to make the Chilean economy scream how the CIA spread black propaganda and how Washington finally goaded the Chilean army into the coup of 1973 Yet at the start of the Chilean tragedy three decades ago the US government wasnt even sure that Chile was important to American national interests Except for some multi-national corporations which had mining and other business interests Chiles cooper was barely known to most Americans But the CIA began alerting Washington to the rise of Allendes leftist Popular Unity coalition in 1968 By 1970 the CIA warned that Allende was set to win the largest bloc of votes in the national elections The coup leader Gen Augusto Pinochet held power for the next 17 years giving up his rule in 1989 only after arranging immunity for himself and his top generals Until Oct 16 1998 Pinochet had escaped all punishment for his actions which left 3000 people dead and Chile a bitterly divided
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