On 57th anniversary of military coup in Brazil, the National Security Archive Posts Declassified Documentation on Brazilian Regime's Effort to Subvert Democracy and Support Dictatorship in Chile
New Book Reveals Brazilian Intervention to Undermine Allende, Bolster Pinochet
Edited by Peter Kornbluh
Washington D.C., March 31, 2021 – The Chilean ambassador to Brazil, Raúl Rettig, sent an alarming cable in March 1971 to his foreign ministry titled “Brazilian Army possibly conducting studies on guerrillas being introduced into Chile.” Multiple sources had informed the Embassy that the Brazilian military regime was evaluating how to instigate an insurrection to overthrow the Allende government. The military had established a “war room” with maps and models of the Andean mountain range along the Chilean border to plan infiltration operations, stated the cable, classified “strictly confidential.” According to Rettig’s report, “the Brazilian Army apparently sent a number of secret agents to Chile who would have entered the country as tourists, with the intention of gathering more background on possible regions where a guerilla movement might operate.” No date had yet been set, one informant said, to initiate this “armed movement.”
The revealing Rettig cable is one of hundreds of documents obtained from Brazilian, Chilean and U.S. archives by investigative reporter Roberto Simon for his new book, Brazil against Democracy: the Dictatorship, the Coup in Chile and the Cold War in South America. Published in Brazil last month, the book exposes the clandestine role Brazil’s military regime played in the September 11, 1973, coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, as well as the Brazilian contribution to Chile’s apparatus of repression during his 17-year dictatorship. The book highlights the infamous Oval Office meeting in 1971 between President Nixon and the head of the Brazilian military dictatorship, a conversation originally revealed by the National Security Archive's publication of the Top Secret White House memcon and cited by Brazil's truth commission.
"The book shows how the Brazilian military dictatorship actively worked to undermine Chile's democracy during the Allende years and, after 1973, to help the Chilean junta consolidate its power,” Simon noted in an interview with the National Security Archive. “Brazil provided direct support to, and a model for, the Pinochet dictatorship."
“This book is a game changer for the historical narrative on imperial intervention in Chile,” according to Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Chile and Brazil documentation projects at the Archive. “It provides a far fuller understanding of the history of foreign violations of Chile’s sovereignty, and suggests there is more to be learned.”