1973 Chilean coup d'état
The Chilean coup d'état of 1973 was a watershed event in the history of Chile and the Cold War. Historians and partisans alike have wrangled over its implications ever since.
On September 11, 1973, less than two months after the first failed coup attempt (Tanquetazo), and less than a month after the Chamber of Deputies, where the Opposition held a majority, condemned Allende's alleged breaches of the constitution, the Chilean military overthrew president Salvador Allende, who died during the coup. US intervention in Chilean politics and support to opponents of Allende, including support for an assassination, has been documented by the declassification in 1998 of documents concerning the Project FUBELT operations, although its exact nature is still controversial. General Augusto Pinochet took over and established an anti-communist military dictatorship which lasted until 1990.
It has sometimes been argued that the removal of the democratically-elected socialist Allende by the US-backed Pinochet, among other factors, led the Soviet Union to partially step away from détente, and pursue a more ambitious foreign policy concerning Third World influence. As such the coup may have had a considerable geopolitical impact.
On September 11, 1973, by 7:00 AM, the Navy took over Valparaíso, stationing ships and marines in strategic places throughout the central coast and closing down all radio and TV networks. The prefect of the province called Allende to inform him of the mysterious actions by the Navy. Allende immediately left for the presidential palace together with his personal bodyguards (Grupo de Amigos Personales, GAP). By 8:00 AM, the Army had silenced many TV and radio stations in Santiago, while others were bombed by the Air Force. The information that reached Allende was still very sketchy, and he was convinced the coup was by a "sector" of the Navy.
Allende and his Minister of Defense, Orlando Letelier, fruitlessly attempted to contact the leaders of the Armed Forces. Admiral Montero, the commander of the Navy and a loyalist, had had his telephone lines cut and his cars sabotaged before the coup began to ensure he did not interfere in the coup. The leadership of the Navy was transferred to second-in-command and coup-planner José Toribio Merino. Augusto Pinochet, General of the Army, and Gustavo Leigh, General of the Air Force, did not respond to Allende's phone calls. The General Director of Carabineros (uniformed police), José María Sepúlveda, and the head of the Investigations Police (plainclothed detectives), Alfredo Joignant, were the only ones who responded to Allende and went immediately to La Moneda. When Letelier arrived at the Ministry of Defense, controlled by Admiral Patricio Carvajal, he was immediately arrested: the first prisoner during the coup.
Ring some bells?