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Montevideo, January 27th 2022 - 17:17 UTC

 

 

“British interests” and the Pinochet 1973 military coup.

Friday, January 2nd 2004 - 20:00 UTC
Full article

United Kingdom archives made public this week reveal London's positive attitude towards the military coup of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile in 1973, describing military officers as “decent professionals”, who “stand on our side”.

Although anticipating harsh times for the left wing opposition, British Ambassador at the time Reginald Seconde said General Pinochet was better for Britain than the deposed elected Socialist president Salvador Allende.

"The current (military) regime has infinitely more to offer to British interests than the previous one. The new leaders stand on our side and undoubtedly wish to make business in a more ample sense, with us", reads one of the released documents written three weeks after the coup that deposed President Allende September 11, 1973.

Ambassador Seconde describes General Pinochet officers as "decent professionals, without political experience and little kindness or idea about public relations". Their twin objectives are the "elimination of Marxism and restoration of order", which they will instinctively apply through disciplinary actions "and most likely with a heavy hand".

The British diplomat also anticipated that "it was unlikely the military would return power to the civilians soon".

Mr. Pinochet remained in office for 17 years until 1990 when an adverse referendum and the decisive action of other officers, forced him to give up office, although he remained as Commander in Chief of the Army.

Mr. Seconde describes president Allende as a "sincere and convinced" Marxist and an astute politician. "He was a brilliant strategist and manipulator however he had a limited overview".

The released reports also give an idea of the atmosphere in Santiago several months before the coup describing the military option as inevitable, since the country was collapsing politically and economically. This seems to have been the general opinion among the diplomatic community at the time in Chile.

"Allende is in a mess", reads another letter from July 1973, "the sad thing is that Chile is being conducted to a situation where more and more Chileans accept the possibility of a violent solution".

Nevertheless the released British documents are limited since many from the same day of the coup, September 11 remain retained, presumably because they could contain incriminating evidence of Western, mainly American, participation in the bloody coup and military dictatorship that followed

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