by Alex Powell, Hoover High School
Parallel diaries based on differing perspectives on the U.S. Cold War policy in Latin America.
In November 1970, Salvador Allende, a Chilean socialist, was elected president of Chile. Those who supported Allende saw a man ready to set equality in rights, wealth, and land in a country where U.S. companies controlled most of the Chilean industry and the wealthy elite held most of the land. In the U.S., the Nixon administration saw this election as an even greater threat to America than the Cuban Revolution that occurred 11 years earlier. The election of a Marxist set a terrible precedent, for it undermined the U.S. claim of socialism being totalitarianism.
As a supporter of Allende in Chile, how would you feel if the man you elected to bring change to a country was being stifled at every turn by covert operations by the U.S. intelligence services, U.S. businesses, and opposition within the country? A foreign country was doing as much as it possibly could, covertly, to undermine your president and cause his administration to collapse?
As part of the opposition to Allende, how would you feel if the greatest threat of the era (Soviet/Cuban style socialism) had just been elected to power? With support from Cuba and the Soviet Union, would Chile become another Cuba? With the economy collapsing under the Allende presidency, what needed to be done to fix the country?
As with many of the major conflicts of the post WWII era, much of the actions are not cleanly split between right and wrong, good and evil. They are dependent of points of view, perspectives, and ideologies which allow people to go in directions that other people would never think of. In this activity, you will take on a specific perspective of a specific event that helped shape or was shaped by U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.