This article examines the policies of Warsaw Pact countries toward Chile from 1964, when Eduardo Frei was elected Chilean president, until 1973, when Frei's successor, Salvador Allende, was removed in a military coup. The article traces the role of the Soviet Union and East European countries in the ensuing international campaign raised in support of Chile's left wing, most notably in support of the Chilean Communist Party leader Luis Corvalán. The account here adds to the existing historiography of this momentous ten-year period in Chile's history, one marked by two democratic presidential elections, the growing covert intervention of both Washington and Moscow in Chile's politics, mass strikes and popular unrest against Allende's government, a violent military coup, and intense political repression in the coup's aftermath. The article gives particular weight to the role of the East European countries in advancing the interests of the Soviet bloc in South America. By consulting a wide array of declassified documents in East European capitals and in Santiago, this article helps to explain why Soviet and East European leaders attached great importance to Chile and why they ultimately were unable to develop more comprehensive political, economic, and cultural relations with that South American country.

In 1970 the unexpected electoral victory of a broad leftwing coalition in Chile stunned the world. Defying all odds, the hard-fought success of the Popular Unity (Unidad Popular, UP) coalition led by Salvador Allende was the first instance in the twentieth century in which a Marxist government had come to power by peaceful, democratic means, much to the amazement of the USSR and the alarm of the U.S. government. Allende's government, however, failed to live up to the expectations it had generated, succumbing to sharp internal cleavages, conservative opposition, and the rapidly worsening Chilean economy. The Soviet Union, for its part, was not sufficiently confident about the durability of Allende's government to become deeply involved economically and militarily, leaving the UP government to an inhospitable domestic environment, further exacerbated by Washington's continuous overt and covert attempts to undermine the UP's political and economic base. Chile's remoteness, the limited economic opportunity it presented, and the tangible U.S. political presence in the region encumbered Soviet and East European options.

Nonetheless, even though Allende's government survived only a few years, its activities engendered wide discussion within the Soviet bloc. Relations between Moscow and the East European states, on the one hand, and the Chilean Left, on the other, gained a new lease on life after General Augusto Pinochet's coup, as East European Warsaw Pact states extended notable diplomatic and material support to Chilean Communists in exile.

This article examines the relations of the Warsaw Pact states with Chile from Eduardo Frei's election victory in 1964 until Allende's ouster in 1973. It also considers the European Communist states’ involvement with the ensuing international campaign raised in support of Chile's left, most notably in support of the leader of the Communist Party of Chile (Partido Comunista de Chile, PCCh), Luis Corvalán. Although the secondary literature abounds with accounts detailing Washington's relations with Santiago during the Cold War, little research has been done on Soviet involvement in Chile, with the exception of Olga Ulianova's groundbreaking work. Based on original research in Soviet and Chilean archives, it gives a rare glimpse into the Soviet Union's mixing of praise for Allende's reforms with doubts about their viability and positive outcome.1 Similarly, we know little about the relationships between the Soviet Union's closest East European allies and Chile, except for the links between East Berlin and Santiago prior to and following Pinochet's coup, as well as Czechoslovakia's involvement with these developments.2

The existing secondary literature on Soviet-Chilean relations devotes considerable attention to analyzing the reasons for Moscow's restraint during the Allende period. Some authors see Moscow's hesitation as based on economic considerations. Despite the gradually increasing Soviet interest in Latin America after the Cuban revolution, the region, which did not supply Moscow with any vital materials or important markets, managed to attract only a limited portion of Soviet resources.3 Others, like Óscar Guardiola-Rivera, look more closely at East-West interactions as the reason for Moscow's restraint. In this interpretation, the Soviet Union did not want to risk a confrontation with the United States by getting its hands dirty in Chile and possibly jeopardizing détente with its global arch-rival.4 Jonathan Haslam claims that the Soviet Union's inability to control Allende's administration and Chile's remoteness were the causes of Moscow's apparent reluctance to become too heavily involved in the country.5 My analysis here also looks into the motivations behind Moscow's circumscribed approach, aiming to shed light on Soviet leaders’ reactions to Allende's reforms and Pinochet's rise. Additionally, research by Christopher Andrew into available documents of the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB) demonstrates how Soviet security agents and their Cuban colleagues operated against the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and trained local forces, which they hoped would turn Chile into a Marxist-Leninist state. Eventually, Christopher Andrew and Kristian Gustafson contend, the KGB ended up subsidizing both the PCCh and the UP coalition with funds that almost matched the CIA's support for the UP's rightwing opponents. Although their claim needs further supporting evidence and elaboration, it opens up interesting perspectives for the analysis of Soviet behind-the-scenes involvement in Chile in the 1960s.6

As this article reveals, an analysis of Soviet and East European involvement in Chile provides a fuller understanding of the complex domestic and international forces that were at play during that fateful decade in Chilean history. This research focuses on official state and party relations between Chile and Moscow and between Chile and the USSR's core East European allies, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Hungary, and Poland. Although the article does acknowledge the existence of covert channels between the East-bloc states and Chile, any full assessment of their role would require a separate study. The account here makes use of a wide array of original documents, mainly from diplomatic and Communist Party channels, collected from Polish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, German, and Czech archives, as well as published U.S. and Soviet primary materials. The East-bloc documents cast more light on the complex international repercussions of Allende's victory, and, although they are but a small fraction of what has been made public by U.S. authorities, they paint a more nuanced picture of the events in Chile in the decade preceding Pinochet's violent ascent to power. The documents show the difficulties the East European states endured in trying to establish a presence in Chile from the mid-1960s. The new archival evidence shows that the UP's experience was seen as a stimulating, thought-provoking experiment by the individual East European Warsaw Pact states. Yet, they could not do much to alter the fate of Chile's left for the better. Instead, a multitude of records shows that the violent overthrow of the short-lived Allende regime mobilized the Soviet bloc to launch enthusiastic solidarity campaigns in support of Chilean Communist functionaries who fell victim to Pinochet's military junta and were forced to flee the country.

This article aims to add to the existing historiography on this feverish decade in Chile's history—one in which it faced covert interventions by foreign powers, strikes and popular unrest, military coups, and political repression—by listening to the voices of the small East European Communist states in the Soviet-led expansion into hitherto lesser-known faraway lands. The documents originating from East European capitals and their representatives in Chile reveal not only the drivers behind East-bloc involvement in the South American country but also the circumstances that prevented the Soviet-bloc states from developing more-comprehensive political, economic, and cultural relations. Chile, despite its dynamic political life, location in the Western Hemisphere, and distance from Moscow and Eastern Europe, serves as an important and fascinating case study demonstrating how the East European Warsaw Pact states, as they pursued their own international relations, had to reconcile their national interests with Moscow's watchful eye and wider international pressures. Instead of offering a detailed country-to-country account, this article looks into the major themes in the bilateral and multilateral relations that developed, along state and party lines, between Chile and Moscow and its East European allies. The experiences of Poland and Czechoslovakia, among the first East European countries to establish full diplomatic relations with Santiago, are discussed with respect to their attempts to further develop economic ties with Chile during Frei's years. Hungarian and East German analyses form the core of the discussion of the Soviet bloc's understanding of Allende's importance and the failure of his policies. Warsaw Pact involvement is mostly discussed with regard to lack of a full embrace of the UP's reforms. Discussion of East European attempts to deal with Chilean Communists exiled in Europe centers on the experiences of Bulgaria and the GDR, and the KGB's involvement in the liberation of Corvalán completes the article.

Frei and the Eastern Bloc

In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Chile swiftly turned into a confrontation zone between the two superpowers in their global contest.7 This contradicted Chile's earlier attempts to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between the two big powers. Its claimed neutral foreign policy found unequivocal expression in the pleas solemnly uttered at Santiago's National Congress in the early 1950s by none other than Frei, who dismissed Chile's role as an intermediary between the two antagonistic forces in world politics.8 Only a decade later, as Frei changed office, moving the few blocks from the National Congress to La Moneda Palace (the traditional residence of the Chilean president), Chile became part of a completely different international power configuration and was caught up in the whirlwind of the Cold War. This did not happen because of the country's strategic importance. Chile was distant from the large international theaters of operation and lacked any globally significant economic, territorial, or military weight. Copper, the country's major export, was an important commodity but was not of crucial importance to either East or West. However, Chile began to command a disproportionately large political weight after Allende's remarkable electoral victory. His rise to power began in the 1960s, when his attempt to win at the polls was obstructed by covert U.S. participation in support of the country's rightwing forces.9

The 1964 presidential election was the first occasion when the U.S. government played a major behind-the-scenes role in the Chilean electoral process. CIA covert meddling in the 4 September elections helped open La Moneda's gates to Frei and his Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano, or PDC).10 The 1964 elections were thus an important stage in the “internationalization of politics” in Chile. The elections saw the country's domestic political conflict strongly affected by the ideological struggle within the Cold War. Nonetheless, one can certainly not attribute Frei's election solely to CIA involvement. Any attempt to do would gloss over the complexity of Chilean sociopolitical struggles at the time. Although the election campaign was marked by notable anti-Communist sentiments, amplified by an elaborate propaganda machine, these attitudes were not a new element in Chilean political discourse; rather, they dated at least to the beginning of the twentieth century and reached their zenith during the Pinochet years. The 1964 “campaign of terror,” as it was known then, was far more than the unilateral imposition of U.S. interests; it was also a product of how Chile's political scene was incorporated into the global context of the time.11 Similarly, despite the significant U.S. clandestine support for Frei in the presidential election, the new Chilean head of state, in an attempt to demonstrate his independence from the United States, professed an interest in working with the Soviet Union and the other Warsaw Pact countries, as well as with the West, by increasing trade exchanges and further developing cultural and scientific ties.12

Accordingly, in the first weeks of his term, Frei established diplomatic and consular relations with Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. His foreign policy diversification and perceived openness toward these Communist countries was not a strictly Chilean phenomenon, however, but part of a wider regional trend that included the leftward turn of Peru's Juan Velasco Alvarado, which culminated in the receipt of Soviet weaponry following his seizure of power in October 1968. Frei's moves also coincided with Colombia's reestablishment of relations with the Soviet Union in 1968, which led to Bogotá signing several commercial, scientific, and educational agreements with Moscow and its East European allies. Nevertheless, Chile's generally favorable disposition toward the Communist states at the end of the 1960s did not come to fruition as planned. Both Chile and the East European Warsaw Pact states lacked the resolve to promote political and economic relations. As late as 1969, a Bulgarian Communist Party delegation to Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil noted that the most fundamental weakness of the socialist countries’ efforts in Latin America was the absence of a common, coordinated policy toward the continent.13 Discussing the report, the Bulgarian Communist Party Politburo decided to step up economic, political, and cultural ties with the Latin American countries, a move that was highly valued by Moscow, especially in light of the Soviet bloc's previous underestimation of the Latin American continent.14

However, in the Chilean context, this was easier said than done. The Soviet bloc's political and economic relations with the Frei administration were far from straightforward, as is clear from Warsaw's earlier interactions with Santiago. Diplomatic relations between Chile and Poland were launched on 7 January 1965 with the simultaneous establishment of embassies after the inception of trade relations at the end of 1962 and the opening of a Polish trade mission to Santiago.15 The Chilean Foreign Ministry, however, was still not ready to enter into meaningful political dialogue with Poland. Initially, the work of the Polish embassy in Chile was complicated by Chilean suspicions of Polish intentions. But Polish-Chilean relations finally improved after a few successful cultural events and the development of cultural and scientific exchanges with Warsaw.16 Friendlier political relations culminated with the sending of a delegation of the Chilean National Congress to Poland from 10 to 13 November 1965. Later, these contacts lost their momentum against the backdrop of Chile's growing internal political problems, which consumed much of the government's attention and led to some reorientation of its foreign policy. Frei's government increased the focus of Chilean foreign policy on inter-American issues, focusing Santiago's foreign policy interests on relations with the United States.17 As bloc observers found out, the Chilean president's “open door” approach did not necessarily mean that Chile intended to deepen relations with the Communist states. According to a Polish assessment, the “open door” position was a posture, aimed at using the bloc states as leverage against the West.18

Czechoslovak dealings with Frei's government were not much different from those of the Poles or Bulgarians. Political intentions were again significantly mismatched, limiting the potential for economic exchange. In its initial report, written shortly after Frei's inauguration, the just-opened Czechoslovak security services residence in Santiago described the Latin American country as one of the most promising in terms of the potential development of its revolutionary movement in the future.19 The security officers’ political colleagues in Prague's embassy did not share this optimistic outlook, however, and offered a more guarded assessment. They considered the establishment of socialism in Chile to be a distant possibility because the country was unready.20 Czechoslovak officials were afforded a warm political welcome in Santiago, but they received little beyond that. Stanislav Svoboda. Prague's ambassador to Santiago during Frei's years, recalls that the Chilean president treated them very well. Yet, apparently because of strong U.S. pressure, the Chilean welcome did not translate into economic opportunities.21 U.S. officials discouraged even the slightest inclination on the part of the Chilean administration to develop economic relations with Prague.22 Consequently, Czechoslovak exports to Chile and Latin America remained low. The region came in last in Czechoslovakia's trade with various parts of the world.23

Therefore, despite Santiago's stated intentions, the relatively narrow temporal horizon of Frei's government and the reported pressures from the United States, which had invested a great deal in the country and enjoyed considerable influence in the Chilean bureaucratic apparatus, helped render untenable any significant short-term development in Chile's economic relations with the East-bloc states. Additionally, both Chile and the East European countries failed to find a mutually agreeable form on which to establish and develop trade, and East European economic relations with Chile remained minuscule. Czechoslovak and Bulgarian loan proposals did not move beyond the “research stage” in 1967 as talks came up against difficulties created by the Chilean side.24 The Hungarians, who spent a year in negotiations with the economic mission chaired by the Chilean minister of mining, encountered similar problems.25 In the assessment of the president of the Senate of Chile, Tomás Pablo, the trade agreements signed with the Warsaw Pact states in the mid-1960s failed to live up to both sides’ expectations. They proved to be unsuitable instruments for the expansion of trade relations because the Chilean side favored direct trade with private companies. Moreover, as Pablo made clear when he met with Bulgaria's leader Todor Zhivkov, Chile was interested in more than just selling raw materials and sought ways to export primary technological processing, which would create additional highly qualified jobs.26

As the Poles noted, attempts at establishing closer relations between Chile and the East European states during Frei's years did not go according to plan and remained “illusory.”27 The Frei government's decision to open Chile to the Eastern bloc amounted to little more than political rhetoric. Nevertheless, it managed to send positive political signals halfway around the world. The enthusiasm with which Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Hungary attempted to enter the Southern Cone by establishing a diplomatic presence in Santiago in the mid-1960s was curbed by the limited possibilities for converting diplomatic representation into significant economic opportunity. Taking into account the precarious domestic situation in Chile, one Polish report concluded it was inadvisable to hurry in signing a trade agreement or to expect specific initiatives from the Chileans.28 But the surprising victory of Allende in September 1970 created new opportunities for a deeper rapprochement between Chile and the Eastern bloc. The way this prospect was handled engendered notable opposition from domestic Chilean sources and U.S. business capital and highlighted Soviet indecisiveness as well as the paltry economic capabilities of the East Europeans.

Enter Allende

As early as 1968, it became clear to U.S. officials that they might face a difficult situation with the potential election of a Marxist candidate in the Chilean presidential contest of September 1970. Seeking to preserve U.S. interests both in Chile and throughout the hemisphere, the U.S. envoy to Santiago, Edward Korry, asked the CIA to mount a covert support program. This was supposed to boost Chile's moderate forces through “a very selective election program,” which was assisted by other covert means, including military, as Czechoslovak intelligence suggested.29 On 4 September 1970, despite CIA support for the rightwing candidate in the election, Allende and the newly formed Unidad Popular coalition achieved (of 36.2 percent as against 34.9 percent) over former president Jorge Alessandri. The constitutional phase in Allende's accession to the highest political post in Chile was completed on 3 November with the official transfer of presidential powers. This followed the failure of the dual-track strategy developed by the CIA, involving congressional procedures and ultimately the removal of the Chilean army's commander-in-chief, René Schneider.30 The U.S. government's failure to prevent Allende from assuming the presidency allowed Chile roughly 1,000 days, from November 1970 to September 1973, to attempt to champion a non-violent path to democratic socialism, an effort that sent shockwaves around the world.

Allende's victory at the September 1970 polls was arguably the most significant revolutionary accomplishment in Latin America since the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba in1959. By the same token, Allende's ouster, 1,000 days later, represented the most important victory for counterrevolutionary forces in South America since the overthrow of Brazilian President João Goulart in 1964 by rightwing militants.31 Allende's election reverberated across the region and revitalized the hopes of Latin America's revolutionaries and the fears of the conservatives in the U.S. government. It also increased the potential unification of the Latin American left, which the Cuban revolution had fractured. Without completely abandoning the established Cuban line, an increasingly flexible Castro expressed his support for the Chilean model during a nearly month-long visit to the country in 1971.

At the same time, Washington feared the advent of a second Communist country in the Western Hemisphere that might work with General Alvarado's radical regime in Peru to establish an effective anti-U.S. axis in South America. The CIA appraised Allende's election victory as a potential threat to “hemispheric cohesion” and “a definite psychological advance for the Marxist idea.”32 As a result, the so-called vía chilena al socialismo (Chilean road to socialism) attracted serious international attention, disproportionate to Chile's size and location.33 Even Castro considered the UP's triumph as the most important revolutionary event in Latin America after the Cuban revolution.34 Until the late 1960s the Cubans had advocated urgent revolution by force, but they altered their approach in the closing years of the decade to allow greater flexibility. Havana grew more receptive to embracing Chile's peaceful, democratic road to socialism.35 Castro had originally supported the Chilean left at a time of growing enthusiasm for following the path of armed struggle, which Havana saw as the only revolutionary way for Latin America. In early 1970, Castro ordered Chile's radical left to terminate the incipient armed struggle in order to avoid damaging Allende's candidacy.36 Later, Castro vowed to protect the new Chilean president's life and support his revolutionary goals as U.S. President Richard Nixon issued instructions to ensure the Allende administration's demise.37

Allende's electoral victory was unique not only in Latin America but also to the world, representing the first case in which a Marxist government ascended to power through democratic means. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivan Bashev's assessment summarized the sentiment across the Eastern bloc, where the UP victory was seen as a new, “incredibly important moment” in the development of the revolutionary process throughout Latin America, with political and ideological significance for the continent and the world.38 Allende was a freely elected president and had claimed to be supportive of Chile's well-established pluralist political system, which contrasted with the established one-party Communist state model. Allende's vision focused mainly on asserting state ownership of all major economic sectors. Corvalán, the leader of the Chilean Communists and Allende's coalition partner, later insisted that they were “seeking a peaceful solution to the acute social conflict that threatened to lead to an outpouring of blood, a civil war or another form of armed confrontation.”39

Empty-Handed from Berlin to Moscow

Allende's foreign policy agenda was as ambitious as his domestic policies, with a particular focus on neutralizing U.S. “imperialist” hegemony.40 Chile, however, was heavily dependent on U.S. capital. When Allende was elected, the country had $4 billion of foreign debt, 300,000 unemployed, and 500,000 homeless, as one East German report noted.41 To overcome the accumulated difficulties inherited from previous governments, meet Chile's financial obligations, and restructure the distribution of payments, the UP coalition was hoping to receive ample support from Soviet-bloc countries.42 This objective formed the nucleus of Allende's strategy of diversifying Chile's foreign relations, with the ultimate goal of reinforcing the country's autonomy.43

Six months after assuming power, a UP delegation, led by Foreign Minister Clodomiro Almeyda, embarked on a nearly month-long tour to the Soviet Union, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and the GDR. This fact-finding mission sought the political and economic support of Warsaw Pact countries and Yugoslavia for the new policies of the Chilean government. Friendship with the Communist states represented one of the pillars of Chile's new foreign policy, as Almeyda told his East-bloc hosts. The tour was part of a strategy of developing friendly relationships with all Communist countries, exemplified by Chile's renewal of diplomatic ties with Castro's Cuba and establishment of relations with Mao Zedong's China. The Chilean delegation hoped to intensify trade with the Communist states, creating new markets that would liberate Chile from its dependence on the “imperialist” states.44 As Almeyda told Polish Foreign Minister Stefan Jędrychowski, cooperation with the Communist states was of fundamental political importance to Chile. However, Allende's government was realistic about the capacity of the individual Soviet-bloc states and sought to use their assistance in pragmatic fashion.45 In a meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivan Bashev, Almeyda expressed hope that industrial cooperation with Warsaw Pact states would allow Chile to replace the technical and financial assistance it had been receiving from the United States prior to the UP's victory.46

The mission was a political success for the Chilean government, providing opportunities to explain the country's pressing needs and expectations to prospective Communist partners. But Hungarian officials worried that because Allende's government was failing to create a “proletarian identity” as it pursued a socialist transformation, the Chilean left would come up against serious “oligarchic and imperialist opposition.”47 At the same time, the government's decision to continue its peaceful reformist path received support from Castro, who advised Allende to stay the course and refrain from complicating relations with the Chilean army. He also thought it best for Chilean leaders not to take further revolutionary steps in Latin America for the time being and to establish good neighborly relations with Argentina and Bolivia while also supporting Velasco Alvarado's radical reforms in Peru.48

In practice, Allende's foreign policy options proved far more limited than initially expected. He found the Soviet Union more interested in developing mutually beneficial economic ties than in advancing relations along the principle of “socialist internationalism” (the principle invoked during the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia). Moscow appeared disinclined to provide the extensive amounts of economic support the UP government needed to uphold its radical agenda. Soviet officials repeatedly made clear to Allende that responsibility for the country's economy rested mainly with the Chileans themselves.49 Although Soviet leaders were certainly keenly interested in Allende's policies, they were not yet willing to provide the all-out support he sought. Given the high ideological and political stakes involved in the success of Allende's project, within the context of both Latin America and the global East-West divide, the Soviet Union's economic support for the UP government was remarkably modest.50

In early November 1970, during a visit to the Soviet Union, Corvalán pointed out to his hosts that the new government had hoped to obtain more significant Soviet aid. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the absence of concrete proposals for the development of economic and commercial collaboration with the UP. The Chilean Communist leader suggested joint ventures based on collaboration between specialists from the Soviet bloc, with the administration of the companies left to the locals. Disappointingly for the Chileans, however, trade with Moscow, which in 1970 was worth only 800,000 rubles, rose in 1971 through greater Soviet exports, but by much less than the Chileans wanted, to only 7.8 million rubles.51

Despite the UP government's inability to procure from the Soviet Union the financial and material support it needed for its wholesale nationalization of the Chilean economy, it took few steps to improve relations with the other Warsaw Pact states. The GDR expressed displeasure with Allende's lack of interest in establishing diplomatic relations between Santiago and East Berlin.52 Although political and economic ties intensified in the Allende years, the process of increasing those ties did not go smoothly. The first contacts between East Germany's ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) and the PCCh had been in 1960, but the GDR's first diplomatic offensive gathered pace only after 1964 with efforts to set up state commercial representations in Chile, Mexico, and Argentina and to upgrade the presence of the East German Foreign Trade Chamber in Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay. In 1966, a foreign trade office was set up in Santiago, which was converted into an official trade mission in 1967. That year, GDR exports to Chile reached the $4 million mark, matching the combined exports of the other Soviet-bloc states.53 Despite this promising start, Allende did not rush to establish relations with the GDR, for fear of offending the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which was still an important trading partner for Chile. Allende waited until 1971 to establish official diplomatic relations and then only after obtaining tacit West German approval.

Political and economic relations between Moscow, the East European states, and Chile failed to gather momentum despite some initial promise. In Allende's last year in office, the Soviet Union, continuing its earlier restraint, proved unresponsive to Chilean pleas to provide the massive financial assistance so desperately needed to boost the country's struggling economy. In December 1972, Allende traveled to Moscow to look for new convertible currency credits or commodity assistance in an attempt to ease Chile's balance-of-payments crisis. Instead, Moscow provided additional long-term ruble credits, largely to finance the import of Soviet machinery and equipment, and advised Chile to stabilize its economy.54 During the thousand days Allende was in power, the Soviet Union authorized $98.5 million worth of short-term credits and $162.0 million worth of long-term supplier's credits.

By 1972, the UP government had received $400 million from the Eastern bloc in the form of loans, with Soviet help being the most significant. However, this assistance proved insufficient when the price of copper on the international market dropped from 67 to 43 cents in 1971, a loss of income Santiago could scarcely afford.55 Additionally, in the first eight months of 1973, the Soviet government refused to grant Chile additional credits, despite the continuing deterioration of the Chilean economy. Agricultural production fell, necessitating food imports worth $650 million. Industrial output continued to decline, and Chile's foreign exchange earnings, which were tied to the price of copper, declined in parallel with the drop in commodity prices, causing further trouble for the already strained Chilean budget.56 At the same time, a rapidly worsening political climate culminated in a series of clashes between the opposition and the UP government, starting in October 1972. One Czechoslovak assessment described Chile as being almost on the brink of a civil war. These events resulted in an acute political crisis for Allende and prevented the government from exerting fuller control over the deteriorating economic situation. In the first half of 1973, this confluence of events greatly diminished the UP's chances of political survival.57

Behind Moscow's Restraint

Despite the ideological importance of Chile's revolutionary transformation, it failed to overcome Soviet leaders’ cautiousness and attract the Soviet Politburo's thorough and timely attention. In Moscow's calculus, the correlation of forces in Chile was extremely unfavorable. Soviet officials recognized that the United States had a strong position in Chile based on its vast investments and the political support these bought. The USSR, for its part, enjoyed only marginal political support in the country, mostly connected with the PCCh. Although the PCCh's support drew on emotion and ideology, it did not have a solid material base.58 Moscow's hesitation to embrace Allende's reforms was the result of considerable deliberation and not simply a consequence of Soviet concern about Washington's reaction. The hesitation had much to do with the Chilean president's own personality, his political opportunism, his conflict with members of his own Socialist Party and the PCCh, and his inability to win support from the extreme left. Moscow was also concerned that Allende had no loyal military group able and prepared to defend his regime.

According to Karen Khachaturov, the former deputy director of the Novosti Press Agency and an expert on Latin America, the question of Soviet aid for Allende's administration was discussed for the first time at a Soviet Politburo meeting in the wake of the Chilean leader's visit to Moscow in December 1972. Soviet leaders did not seem to have a well-defined policy toward Chile and instead based their approach on a combination of considerations developed by the various Soviet institutions responsible for dealing with the country's foreign policy, such as the International Department of the Soviet Communist Party (CPSU), the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the KGB, and the military.59 Raul Castro suggested that part of Moscow's hesitation in dealing with Allende's urgent requests for support was attributable to the lack of a clear idea about how to respond to Chilean requests for weaponry. Soviet officials turned for advice to their Cuban counterparts, who advised waiting until the situation inside Chile became clearer.60 Back in Moscow, this wait-and-see policy was reinforced by differences of opinion at various levels of the decision-making process.61 As Khachaturov remembers, the more pragmatic members of the CPSU Politburo, such as Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin and KGB Chairman Yurii Andropov, were wary of taking on a new overseas economic commitment similar to the one in Cuba. On the other hand, those on the ideological side, such as Mikhail Suslov, Boris Ponomarev, and Andrei Kirilenko, were more willing to help consolidate the revolution in Chile. Khachaturov's testimony indicates that despite Moscow's wariness about the evolution of events in Chile, Soviet leaders were ideologically inclined toward greater involvement there. However, the pragmatic disposition of some on the CPSU Politburo won out over the ideological line. Resource constraints and lack of belief in the UP's viability and longevity also worked in favor of caution.62

For much the same reason, the CPSU Politburo saw little economic rationale for mobilizing military and intelligence resources to defend Soviet interests in Chile.63 Even though leaders in Moscow continued to hope they could make inroads into Latin America to counter U.S. influence, they were averse to investing major resources or taking high risks there.64 This was the case despite positive signals in the early 1970s, when developments in several Latin American countries, including Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, sparked optimistic assessments from the KGB's main intelligence directorate.65 The ascendance of Latin American governments that were wary of U.S. influence prompted Soviet intelligence officials to consider publicly warning about Washington's plans to overthrow Allende's regime, as well as similar plans for Castro in Cuba and Velasco Alvarado in Peru. The hope would be highly publicized warnings would hinder U.S. actions and bolster the socialist regimes’ chances of survival.66

In the spring of 1973 Andropov met with experts on Latin America at the KGB's foreign intelligence headquarters in Yasenevo (on the outskirts of Moscow) and asked whether they could see ways of helping Allende. Nikolai Leonov, then head of the KGB's Information and Analysis Department, recalls that the participants thought even a sizable cash loan would not shift the domestic situation conclusively in Allende's favor. Soviet policymakers were unwilling to go all-out to back a revolutionary government unless it had reasonable prospects of surviving. In the summer of 1973, Soviet ships carrying weapons were already on their way to Chile in response to Allende's earlier request for arms, but KGB officials received urgent reports indicating that the CIA was seeking to instigate a coup in Chile. To ensure that no Soviet weapons would be compromised, the ships were ordered to change course and unload their cargo, which would be sold elsewhere.67

Moscow and Its Allies Analyze Allende's Fall

On 11 September 1973, a military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet, the commander-in-chief of the Chilean army, overthrew Allende's government. The junta abolished the National Congress and the political parties forming the UP and suspended the country's democratic liberties. The abrupt end of the revolutionary process in Chile confirmed the observations and expectations expressed during consultations in recent months among the East European Communist parties. The SED's International Relations Department had felt that Chile's distance from the Soviet bloc, the challenging situations in Cuba and Argentina, and the succession of rightwing regimes in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, and Uruguay had created relatively unfavorable external conditions for the revolutionary process in Chile.68 SED experts on the region believed that the 11 September 1973 military coup in Chile also had broader international underpinnings, being a part of the “imperialist strategy” devised by the CIA and U.S. State Department “to repress revolutionary movements throughout Latin America.”69

East-bloc diplomatic observers were well aware that the worsening Chilean economy was the main precipitant of the coup. Warsaw Pact diplomats stationed in Santiago had reported that the first year of La vía chilena brought about some encouraging progress toward a centrally controlled economy. The UP government asserted state ownership of the mining of copper, nitrates, coal, and iron and nationalized more than 70 percent of other industries. Industrial production grew approximately 12 percent in the first year of Allende's term, but industrial capacity, as the Hungarians critically noted, dropped precipitously, by 65–70 percent.70 East German officials also were upbeat in their appraisal of the UP's initial efforts to impose central state control of the Chilean economy. In 1972, after nationalization, copper production had increased by 40,000 tons to 730,000 tons, and industrial productivity had risen by 9 percent compared with 1970. In agriculture, 5.5 million hectares of land, or 35 percent of the total arable land, had been expropriated in 1971 and 1972.71

The UP's progress toward a centrally planned economy was brief, however. Chile, as the Bulgarians observed, was one of the few countries in Latin America to have made considerable headway inn capitalist development.72 However, as Bulgaria's Czechoslovak colleagues in Santiago reported, Allende and his government inherited a “shattered and deformed capitalist economy.”73 The ambitious economic restructuring failed to sustain momentum, precipitating a rapid decline in the last year of Allende's government, when it lacked crucial external support and encountered increasing economic and financial pressures from within. Subsequently, Allende's administration faced serious structural problems as it quickly became exposed to growing pressures from both “national and foreign reaction.”74 Even though Allende had inherited an unhealthy economy with strong inflationary tendencies, his administration planned to address these issues with pay raises for workers, creating a significant increase in the buying power of the population amid disorganized production activity and the “sabotages of the capitalists.” Still, the failure to solve Chile's economic problems was one of the UP government's main weaknesses.75

Other factors in the collapse of Allende's government, according to one Hungarian assessment, included the country's civil-military relations, specifically its long-standing democratic tradition of civilian control of the military. Chile's leftwing politicians apparently underestimated the possibility that the army would contravene this long-standing norm and launch a coup. Corvalán, like Allende, believed almost until the end that such a prospect was “impossible.”76 The highest ranks of the army were full of officers trained at U.S. military academies. Normally these academies instilled the norm of civilian supremacy, but various factors came together in the early 1970s to convert the Chilean officer corps from a neutral professional body into an entity deeply involved in civilian affairs. Big business and U.S. interests had steadfastly opposed the UP's power and had helped create economic crisis and financial chaos.77 As Bulgarian analysts noted, Allende's government and the parties forming the coalition failed to arm their own political activists. The UP stressed the importance of Chile's peaceful revolutionary path to socialism in conditions of ideological pluralism and democracy, but Bulgarian officials worried that the UP's idealism was blinding it to the prospect of armed clashes and the potential for civil war, which became a real possibility as early as mid-1973.78

Party officials in the Warsaw Pact countries evaluated the PCCh favorably, believing it was advocating a “correct Marxist-Leninist policy” and was worthy of Soviet-bloc support.79 But within the UP coalition, the PCCh proved unable to enforce its strategic and tactical line.80 In the GDR's analysis, the UP had thus far acquired only a portion of political power, and the question of “the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the workers, peasants, and anti-imperialist democratic forces of the middle class” was not completely resolved.81 Under traditional Marxist-Leninist doctrine, revolution and socialist construction were feasible only if the revolutionaries first dismantled the existing state apparatus, including the old armed forces, and then pursued a complete societal transformation. Although Soviet leaders sympathized with Allende's reforms, they did not believe the UP could succeed because Chile's case contradicted the USSR's experience and knowledge of the revolutionary process.82

This largely explains the Soviet Union's lukewarm response to Chilean requests for economic support. Moscow did not believe Chile was ripe for a full-fledged socialist revolution. The country had a large middle class and long-standing bourgeois democratic political traditions. Prominent elements of Chile's middle class were beneficiaries of U.S. “imperialism” and thus unlikely to allow “the proletariat” to assume power. According to Soviet theorists, the potential for revolution in Chile was further hindered by the power of the “comprador class,” which acted as an intermediary between foreign capital and local businesses. This distinctly Latin American social layer opposed the working class and also opposed “bourgeois” elements who opposed U.S. “imperialism” and were willing to unite politically with the far left. In Moscow's view, the presence of the powerful comprador class meant that the transition to socialism would take longer in Latin America than even in more economically backward Africa.83

In political terms, Allende's victory was an ideologically appropriate way of demonstrating to the world that the process under way in Chile was a direct contribution to the “international Communist movement.” Although Soviet internationalist strategy was generally committed to supporting anti-imperialist-oriented governments and the UP's La vía chilena was a manifestation of the “peaceful path of revolution” that Moscow actually seemed to prefer for Latin America, Soviet leaders worried that full-scale support for radically anti-imperialist regimes would trigger Washington's further involvement across the continent, including possible action against Cuba. Accepting the possibility of a “peaceful road to socialism” in Chile, Moscow advised Chilean leaders to make sure they formed a wide coalition and gained support from sympathetic elements in the armed forces.84 The Soviet envoys thought it crucial for the success of the UP government and the leftwing political parties that favorable political trends be consolidated through collaboration with the Christian Democrats in order to isolate the Chilean “reactionaries.”85 Allende's inability to achieve these goals left him facing opposition both in Chile and abroad and also within the UP's own ranks. East-bloc observers could see that Allende was having trouble keeping together the various ideological, political, and tactical strands within the coalition. His propensity to take decisions unilaterally was a further irritant, deepening the splits within the coalition. At the same time, as Fidel Castro observed, Allende lacked the Bolsheviks’ boldness and decisiveness.86

Soviet-bloc representatives understood that deep internal cleavages—especially between the PCCh, Allende's own Partido Socialista de Chile (PS), the more radical Revolutionary Left Movement (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria, MIR), and the Popular Unitary Action Movement (Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitario, MAPU)—threatened the coalition. Castro was right in asserting that “the UP lacked a common strategy.”87 According to Carlos Toro, a PCCh Central Committee member and state security chief under Allende, the UP had to maintain a balance between the fractured unity of the PS, the ultra-left position of the different groups inside and outside the UP, MAPU's insistence on the acceleration of the revolutionary process, and the shaky ”petit bourgeois” positions of the radical party.88 Sectarian strife within the UP reached such a grand scale that MIR was suspected of working with foreign intelligence agencies, including the CIA, to conspire against the government of which it was a constituent element. Through a sectarian, adventurous policy on the so-called alliance question, MIR was also seen as helping the forces of “reaction” and “counterrevolution.”89 Angered by MIR's tactics, the PCCh asked Allende to liquidate the movement. According to PCCh Deputy General Secretary Víctor Díaz, Allende failed to oblige for several reasons. One of his daughters was a MIR activist, and, more importantly, as a pro-Cuban element MIR not only was inspired by the Cuban revolution but also maintained close contacts with the Cuban embassy. According to Allende, MIR supporters were true revolutionaries but lacked ideological training and for that reason failed to grasp Chilean realities. Ultimately, the UP's failure to set clearly the limits of its tactical retreat from the “counterrevolution” (a retreat begun specifically to neutralize hostile forces) precipitated its downfall.90

Although Allende's experience represented something new for Marxist political programs, his attempt to build a new society without destroying the existing army, judiciary, and government bureaucracy was, from the Soviet and East European point of view, a risky enterprise. La vía chilena served as a sort of “laboratory test” in which both East and West could see whether a peaceful road to Cuban-style socialism was possible given international and socioeconomic constraints.91 The downfall of the UP in Chile and the advent of Pinochet's junta complicated the limited presence of the Communist states and signaled a qualitatively new stage in relations between the European and Chilean left.

The Eastern Bloc Reacts to Pinochet

The military coup on 11 September 1973 prompted Allende to commit suicide in his La Moneda presidential palace. The new military junta led by General Pinochet violently suppressed many leftwing activists and politicians. The United States was not directly involved in Pinochet's coup, but U.S. officials over the previous few years had secretly worked to destabilize Allende's government and had thereby helped to create favorable conditions for the coup, as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told Nixon.92 Realities aside, direct U.S. involvement was immediately suspected, especially when a crackdown on Soviet-bloc influence proceeded. Polish mining specialists, for instance, were subjected to repression, and their work site came under military aircraft fire.93 The Polish-Chile Cultural Institute was plundered, and its employees subjected to repressive measures.94 At the same time, the Soviet non-diplomatic community encountered “exceptionally rough treatment” from the Chilean army. Soviet technicians, such as civil engineers and housing construction specialists, as well as members of their families, were repeatedly threatened, insulted, and menaced with bayonets.95 Soon after the coup, following the abusive treatment of local representatives, Soviet and East European diplomatic posts in Santiago closed down.

On previous occasions when leftist regimes in Latin America had been overthrown, the Soviet Union had maintained diplomatic relations with the new governments. Moscow, for example, had seemed content to maintain relations with Brazil after the fall of Goulart, with Bolivia after the overthrow of Torres, and with Uruguay after the military coup in 1973. The Chilean case, however, provoked serious discussions in Moscow about how to react to Pinochet's coup. Soviet leaders were evidently divided on whether to maintain or suspend relations with the Chilean military junta. The long-standing director of the journal Latin America of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Sergo Mikoyan, later recalled that the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Andrei Gromyko, was opposed to the suspension of relations, whereas officials of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) overseeing international affairs, particularly Suslov and Ponomarev, were the most active promoters of the idea. Both Suslov and Gromyko were full members of the CPSU Politburo, and Ponomarev was a candidate member of the Politburo, and the decision was therefore subject to debate. Ultimately, the decision came down in favor of suspending diplomatic relations.96

The decision was motivated by deep regret over the loss of the close ties that had existed between Allende and Moscow along with the CPSU's strong ties with the PCCh. Soviet leaders were also dismayed by the junta's severe clampdown on Chilean Communists.97 Because Chile had little economic importance for the Soviet bloc, Soviet officials believed the USSR “would not lose much” economically by breaking relations with Chile. In the meantime, the Soviet Union could exploit the propaganda value of opposing Pinochet's regime.98 On 18 September, a week after the coup, CPSU General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev gave a clear indication of the view in Moscow, leaving little room for other Warsaw Pact states to maneuver. During a conversation in Sofia with Bulgarian Communist Party First Secretary Zhivkov, Brezhnev reiterated Moscow's line that diplomatic relations with Chile must be severed and that the Soviet Union would block any attempts by the Chileans to maintain relations selectively with certain East-bloc states. He drew a contrast with Cambodia, where the Soviet Union chose to maintain diplomatic relations despite refusing to recognize Lon Nol's new government at the request of the Vietnamese Communists. In the case of Chile, no such circumstances had to be taken into account when pondering whether to maintain diplomatic relations. Brezhnev then snapped, “Who should we comply with in Chile, with American imperialism?”99

Saving Comrade Corvalán

After the coup, Pinochet's staunchly anti-Communist stance subjected the remains of the UP coalition to harsh repression, and its surviving members were forced to flee the country. A diverse form of internationalism and solidarity then ensued on the part of both Communist and non-Communist countries, transcending the geopolitical divisions of the Cold War. As many as 260,000 Chileans fled the country after the coup, making it the largest exodus in Chile's history. Chilean exiles went to as many as 140 countries around the globe, and nearly half of them settled in Western Europe. The USSR, its East European allies, and Cuba welcomed the members of the PCCh, PS, and MIR.100 At the same time, France and Italy, owing to their central location, became a meeting place for the various Chilean parties-in-exile and also a haven for Chilean intellectuals.101 The Chilean opposition's concept of democracy, based on a combination of fair elections, social justice, and the observance of basic human rights, resonated with most European political movements. Support for the Chilean opposition became a way of “affirming belief in the basic tenets of democracy.”102

Of the numerous officials from the various political strands of the former UP, the members of the PCCh proved to be among the most active Chilean political activists in exile. In the first half of 1974 alone, the PCCh held 43 meetings with leaders of other Communist parties.103 These meetings were not confined to the ruling parties of Communist countries; the PCCh activists also met with their counterparts in North America, Latin America, and Western Europe. For example, Volodia Teitelboim, who was a member of the PCCh's Political Commission, was received in London by the then governing Labour Party. The meeting marked the first time a Chilean Communist leader had been offered such a high-level welcome in the British capital.104 At the same time, as the many bilateral and multilateral talks between East European states’ leaders made clear, solidarity with the Chilean left and consultations on the fate of the Chilean emigrants markedly intensified. Because of the SED's staunch ties with the PCCh and Allende's government, East Germany took the lead among the East European states in dealing with the Chilean diaspora. In the fifteen years after Pinochet's coup, approximately 5,000 Chilean emigrants were accepted by the GDR, which became the center of Chilean leftwing resistance to Pinochet's rule. Chile also moved higher on the GDR's political agenda: the SED Politbüro dealt with the Latin American country as many as 50 times in the 1970s.105

At the same time that Allende's former colleagues fled for their lives to places as far away as East Germany and Romania, the KGB used the ousted president's memory to counter U.S. interests across the globe. Its “active measures” aimed to ensure that Allende became the “most powerful cult figure since his old friend Che Guevara,” as the British journalist Alistair Horne observed at the time.106 A KGB influence operation in 1976, codename “Operation Toucan,” featured elaborate KGB counterfeiting to suggest that Pinochet's security and intelligence service—the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA)—was carrying out political killings and terrorist acts outside Chile. To the KGB's benefit, the U.S. media also speculated about possible links between DINA and the CIA. After 1973 Allende arguably became “a martyr of the left,” an image that was more useful to the KGB than his previous image as a “catastrophic and politically insignificant leader.”107

One of the cases that most attracted international attention during Pinochet's early years was that of Corvalán, the leader of the PCCh. His detention on 27 September 1973 provoked considerable reaction in the Soviet bloc as well as from West European Communist parties.108 Numerous declarations of solidarity with the Chilean Communist leader began to circulate throughout Eastern Europe, both within embassies and in the international departments of the ruling Communist parties. The ruling organs of the Polish United Workers’ Party (the Communists) issued a declaration of solidarity demanding Corvalán's immediate release, an end to the “terror and persecutions of democratic activists in Chile,” and preservation of the UP's achievements.109 The GDR took more concrete measures, extending financial support to female politicians from Chile whose husbands or partners had been murdered by the military junta, remained in prison, or had been exiled to countries other than the GDR.110 These gestures were made in the course of the numerous visits Chilean Communist leaders paid to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to mobilize support for saving Corvalán's life and to persuade the military junta to provide him with much-needed medical treatment. For example, in July 1975 a Chilean delegation led by Teitelboim traveled to Budapest to seek Hungarian medical help for the PCCh leader (choosing Hungary for fear that Soviet physicians would not be permitted to enter Chile).111 Later, on 4 September 1975, a meeting was held in Moscow with the deputy heads of the international departments of the Bulgarian, Czechoslovak, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Mongolian, East German, and Soviet Communist parties to discuss cooperation on measures to strengthen solidarity work with the Chilean left. The consultative meeting was also attended by a delegation of the PCCh, led by Teitelboim.112 The Eastern bloc's solidarity campaign focused on the release of Chilean political prisoners and Corvalán's liberation, and Communist party leaders saw it as “an internationalist duty for all progressive powers.”113

Covert activities aimed at saving Corvalán's life used open diplomatic as well as party channels. Nikolai Leonov remembers a plan contemplated by KGB operatives to deploy a merchant ship, military attack helicopters, and two submarines to rescue the Chilean Communist leader from a prison on Dawson Island in the Magellan Straits. Control of sea and air was to be provided by means of space reconnaissance. Corvalán would be flown by helicopter some 50 kilometers away to a place previously assigned for the submarines. However, Soviet leaders were unwilling to take such risks and immediately rejected the audacious plan.114 Later, the KGB got involved at a much more pragmatic operational level. On behalf of the CPSU Politburo, the KGB provided Western physicians for the Chilean Communist leader. The physicians traveled at Soviet expense to Chile on behalf of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent to examine Corvalán.115

Eventually, Corvalán was exchanged on 19 December 1976 for the imprisoned Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky. The exchange took place at a Zurich airport, a popular place for political exchanges between the USSR and the West.116 To neutralize an anti-Soviet campaign connected with Corvalán's liberation and the deportation of Bukovsky, KGB agents were instructed to emphasize that the exchange was not a deal with the Chilean junta, branding such allegations as flagrant misinformation distributed by the CIA. Instead, Corvalán's liberation was depicted as an exchange of political prisoners.117 To establish a moral victory for the Soviet bloc, the PCCh extended warm thanks to the international solidarity campaign, which had forced the Chilean junta to abandon its original intention to assassinate Corvalán and other UP leaders.118 A Stasi report confirmed the observation that the liberation of the PCCh General Secretary was a great victory for the Chilean people and for international solidarity and demonstrated the “power of proletarian internationalism and anti-imperialist solidarity” under the “reliable support” of the Soviet Union and the entire socialist community.119 Corvalán was equally impressed. He remembered that only after arriving at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow could he fully appreciate the “profound international solidarity” his detention had attracted.120


In the early 1970s, battered by frequent elections, foreign covert intervention, labor strikes, and popular unrest, the Chilean political establishment, notable for its deep-seated constitutionalism and democratic traditions, put forth leaders who embarked on a Marxist transformation of Chilean society through peaceful means. The UP's radical agenda caught the Soviet bloc by surprise insofar as previous wholesale transformations were imposed, at least in part, through violence. The East European view of relations between the Soviet bloc and Chile from the rise of Frei to the ouster of Allende and the international campaign of support for Corvalán suggests a fascinating story of suspicion, betrayal, and solidarity. Soviet and East European involvement in the Chilean domestic scene in the mid-1960s proved far from easy, despite the Chileans’ stated intentions. The Soviet bloc met with local suspicion that was apparently aggravated by U.S. political interests in the country. The activities of the Warsaw Pact states were also circumscribed by their own incapacity to project collective influence in the remote South American country.

Later in the Allende years, changes in the local political setting required urgent and comprehensive economic support from the Soviet bloc. The lack of willingness to extend greater financial resources to sustain Chile's leftist government was perceived as nothing less than betrayal. The ouster of the UP brought to the fore a military regime that initiated drastic political moves, including vehement anti-Communist repression. Chilean members of the left who survived Pinochet's repressive measures were forced to emigrate, sparking an extensive solidarity campaign that transcended national borders and Cold War divisions. The Allende government, previously largely underestimated by its European leftwing counterparts, began to play an important role in invigorating solidarity from Communists and other “progressives,” doing so more effectively after its demise than it had while in power. Used as an anti-imperialist banner, the UP became a symbol of the unity and strength of leftwing forces across the globe.

Secret dispatches from East-bloc diplomats show that Moscow's smaller partners were genuinely preoccupied with the fate of Chile's left. The reports also show that the East Europeans followed the Soviet Union's prudent example, itself the result of lessons learned from Moscow's near disastrous conflict with Washington in Cuba in the early 1960s. The evidence, however, reveals a few things about the specific interests of each Warsaw Pact state in Chile prior to Allende's ouster. Initially, Moscow, East Berlin, Prague, Warsaw, Sofia, and Budapest had no substantial collective plans vis-à-vis Chile, and their actions were constricted by the limited economic opportunities they found on the ground. Thus, they pursued the general objective of expanding their outreach into remote areas where they had previously lacked diplomatic and trade links. Soviet-bloc diplomats maintained a low-key presence, allowing for first-hand political observation and careful attempts to develop further economic contacts without provoking a hostile response from the United States or its local supporters. After Pinochet came to power, the bloc states’ mode of operation changed dramatically, in parallel with the international community's increased interest in Chile, as ideological considerations superseded pragmatic political and economic considerations. At that point, the Warsaw Pact countries’ consideration of the Chilean question became more organized and attracted more attention at higher decision-making levels.

The Soviet bloc's involvement in Chile in the 1960s and the 1970s produced a checkered camaraderie that failed to bring tangible economic benefits to any of the sides involved. Chile's limited interactions with the USSR and other Warsaw Pact states underscore the Soviet bloc's uneasy attempts at international expansion. The differences in how the bloc states responded to and became involved with Chile's domestic problems offer telling insights into the socialist states’ thinking and actions, as well as the restraints they faced on the international scene. The bloc's involvement in Chile offers a rich case study of the relationship between politics, economics, and ideology in the shaping of Soviet and East European policies toward those countries beyond the immediate perimeter of their strategic interests.


The author extends special thanks to Mark Kramer, Alex Pravda, Tristan Knight, and the journal's anonymous reviewers, all of whom had an instrumental role at various stages leading to the publication of this article.



Olga Ulianova, “La Unidad Popular y el golpe militar en Chile: Percepciones y análisis soviéticos,” Estudios públicos, No. 79 (2000), pp. 1–18.


Notable examples detailing East German involvement include Inga Emmerling, Die DDR und Chile (1960–1989): Außenpolitik, Außenhandel und Solidarität (Berlin: Christoph Links Verlag, 2013); and Georg Dufner, Joaquín Fermandois, and Stefan Rinke, eds., Deutschland und Chile, 1850 bis zur Gegenwart: Ein Handbuch (Stuttgart: Hans-Dieter Heinz Akademischer Verlag, 2016). See also Georg Dufner, Chile als Bestandteil des revolutionären Weltprozesses: Die Chilepolitik der DDR im Spannungsfeld von außenpolitischen, ökonomischen und ideologischen Interessen 1952–1973 (Saarbrücken: Vdm Verlag Dr. Müller E.K., 2008); and “Chile as a Litmus Test: East and West German Foreign Policy and Cold War Rivalry in Latin America,” in Agnes Bresselau von Bressensdorf, Elke Seefrid, and Christian F. Ostermann, eds., West Germany, the Global South and the Cold War (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017), pp. 77–117. Similarly, Joaquín Fermandois offers detailed discussion of GDR-Chile relations in the context of the East-West contest in La revolución inconclusa: La izquierda chilena y el gobierno de la Unidad Popular (Santiago: Centro de Estudios Públicos, 2013), pp. 196–203, 466. On Czechoslovakia's role, see Michal Zourek, Checoslovaquia y el Cono Sur 1945–1989: Relaciones políticas, económicas y culturales durante la Guerra Fría (Prague: Charles University, 2015); and Michal Zourek, “Political and Economic Relations between Czechoslovakia and the Military Regimes of the Southern Cone in the 1970s and 1980s,” Central European Journal of International and Security Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3 (2013), pp. 118–144.


James D. Cochrane, “Contending Perspectives on the Soviet Union in Latin America,” Latin American Research Review, Vol. 24, No. 3 (1989), pp. 211–233. Latin America's low priority for the Soviet Union is demonstrated in the figures for Soviet economic aid to the Third World from 1954 through 1975. Africa received $1.435 billion and the Middle East and South Asia were given $8.666 billion, whereas only $602 million was earmarked for Latin America. See Joseph L. Nogee and John W. Sloan, “Allende's Chile and the Soviet Union: A Policy Lesson for Latin American Nations Seeking Autonomy,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 3 (1979), p. 357.


Óscar Guardiola-Rivera, Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973 (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013), p. 315.


Jonathan Haslam, The Nixon Administration and the Death of Allende's Chile: A Case of Assisted Suicide (London: Verso, 2005), p. 152.


Christopher Andrew and Kristian Gustafson, “Santiago de Chile, 1970: Der Kalte Krieg im Sudkegel—der KGB in Chile,” in Andreas Hilger, ed., Die Sowjetunion und die Dritte Welt (Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag, 2009), p. 180.


Andrew and Gustafson, “Santiago de Chile,” p. 180.


Eduardo Frei, “Discurso ante el Congreso Internacional Democratacristiano, en Política y Espíritu Nº 150, enero de 1956,” cited in Felipe Rivera, “¡Ni capitalistas, ni comunistas! Una revolución en libertad en Guerra Fría,” in David Vásquez and Felipe Rivera, eds., Eduardo Frei: Fe, política y cambio social (Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional, 2013), p. 134.


Joaquín Fermandois, “¿Peón o actor? Chile en la guerra fría (1962–1973),” Estudios públicos, No. 72 (1998), p. 153.


Memorandum for the 303 Committee, 14 March 1969, in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976, Vol. XXI (Chile, 1969–1973), pp. 34–35.


See Marcelo Casals Araya, Del surgimiento del anticomunismo en Chile a la “campaña del terror” de 1964 (Santiago: LOM, 2016); and Casals Araya, “‘Chile en la encrucijada’: Anticomunismo y propaganda en la ‘campaña del terror’ de las elecciones presidenciales de 1964,” in Tanya Harmer and Alfredo Riquelme Segovia, eds., Chile y la Guerra Fría global (Santiago: RIL Editores, 2014), p. 92. See also Fermandois, “¿Peón o actor?”


West Germany, for example, remained Chile's preferred economic and political partner well into the 1960s. For more details on political and trade relations between Chile and the Federal Republic, see Georg Dufner, Partner im Kalten Krieg: Die politischen Beziehungen zwischen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und Chile (Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 2014), pp. 172–179. On the development of new trade, scientific, and cultural ties, see “Informacja Ambasady ZSRR o moskiewskich rozmowach Wiceministra S.Z. Chile, [Oscar] Pinocheta,” 15 August 1966, in Archiwum Ministerstwa Spraw Zagranicznych (AMSZ), Warsaw, DVI—1966, 27/29 W1, p. 1.


Letter to the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union, B. N. Ponomarev, ca. 1970, in Wilson Center Digital Archive, available online at http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113358, p. 3.


Ibid., p. 1; and Memorandum of Conversation between Dmitrii Aleksandrovich Zhukov and Marin Ivanov, 12 December 1970, in Tsentralen Darzhaven Arhiv (TsDA), Sofia, Fond (F.) 1477, Opis (Op.) 26, a.e. 2950, pp. 1–2 [39–40].


Like Poland, Hungary opened a trade office in Santiago in 1961 and established diplomatic relations in 1965, followed by the opening of embassies in Santiago and Budapest. See “Magyar-chilei kapcsolatok,” 26 April 1977, in Magyar Országos Levéltár (MOL), Budapest, KUM, XIX-J-1-j 1977 40d, p. 1. The Bulgarians followed suit, and after signing an agreement to reestablish full diplomatic relations with Chile on 25 February 1965, Bulgaria opened its embassy in Santiago on 25 February 1967. See “Otnosheniyata mezhdu Balgariya i Chili,” 25 December 1985, in Arhiv na Ministerstvoto na Vanshnite Raboti, Sofia, Op. 43-8, a.e. 348, p. 1 [8].


“Sprawozdanie II Sekretarza Ambasady PRL w Santiago Mariana Dąbrowskiego z pobytu na Placówce od 2.XII.65–31.VII.1969,” 18 July 1969, in Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warsaw, BU 2602/12757, pp. 25 [245], 25–26 [245–246].


“Notatka informacyjna dot. Stosunków Polsko-Chilijskich,” 14 September 1970, in AMSZ, DVI 1969, 36/75, W1.


“Sprawozdanie II Sekretarza Ambasady PRL w Santiago,” p. 25 [245].


“Koncepce práce čs. rozvědky v Latinské Americe,” November 1964, in Archiv bezpečnostních složek, Prague, I. správa SNB, 12387/000, p. 21.


Stanislav Svoboda, Czechoslovak Ambassador to Chile 1965–1969, interview by Michal Zourek, Prague, 30 October 2013. See Michal Zourek, “Checoslovaquia y el Cono Sur 1945–1989,” PhD Diss., Charles University, Prague, 2014, p. 460. The SED's International Relations Department made a similar assessment. See “Zur Entwicklung in Chile (Stand vom 29. November 1973),” 28 November 1973, in Die Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR (SAPMO), Berlin, DY 30 2432, fol. 1, Abteilung Internationale Verbindungen, p. 1.


The Polish ambassador offered a similar account to his Czechoslovakian counterpart. See “Nowe elementy sytuacji wewnętrznej i polityka zagraniczna Chile (skrót notatki Ambasadora PRL w Santiago de Chile),” 28 August 1967, in AMSZ, DVI, 1967, 49/70, W1, p. 5.


Svoboda, interview, p. 457.


Zourek, Checoslovaquia y el Cono Sur 1945–1989, p. 33.


“Nowe elementy,” p. 4.


“Polityka zagraniczna Chile,” 13 September 1968, in AMSZ, DVI, 1968, 21/74, W1, p. 8.


Memorandum of conversation between Tomás Pablo and Todor Zhivkov, 10 October 1969, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 25, a.e. 2799, p. 1 [1].


“Polityka zagraniczna Chile,” 13 September 1968, p. 8.


“Notatka Informacja dot. Chile,” 20 November 1970, in AMSZ, DVI, 1970, 36/75, W1, p. 4.


Memorandum for the 303 Committee, 14 March 1969. Supposedly, U.S. meddling not only included covert actions related to the election campaign but also involved intensified support for the Chilean army. According to information from Latin American political circles received by Czechoslovak security services and distributed to other Warsaw Pact security organs, Washington assisted the Chilean armed forces in procuring military materiel from the United Kingdom in the wake of the elections. The U.S. goal was understood to be the further strengthening of the Chilean army, which, through a possible intervention could overcome the potential victory of the candidate of the united Chilean left. See “Stanovishte na SASht po zakupuvaneto na oryzhie ot Chili vyv Velikobritaniya,” 5 January 1970, translated from the Czech, stored with Bulgarian commission overseeing former State Security archives (COMDOS), F.9, a.e. 781, p. 1.


U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, “CIA Activities in Chile,” 18 September 2000, available online, at https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/chile/.


Tanya Harmer, Allende's Chile and the Inter-American Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), pp. 2–3.


Thomas C. Wright, Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution (New York: Praeger, 1991), p. 130.


Peter Winn, “The Furies of the Andes: Violence and Terror in the Chilean Revolution and Counterrevolution,” in Greg Grandin and Gilbert M. Joseph, eds., A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence during Latin America's Long Cold War (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), p. 239.


Transcript of conversation between the Soviet ambassador in Chile, N. B. Alekseev, and Volodia Teitelboim, member of the Political Commission of the Central Committee of the CPC [in Spanish], 14 October 1970, from the diary of N. B. Alekseev, 1968–1971, Estudios públicos, No. 72 (1998), p. 412.


Tanya Harmer, “Two, Three, Many Revolutions? Cuba and the Prospects for Revolutionary Change in Latin America, 1967–1975,” Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 45, No. 1 (2013), pp. 75–76.


See Alfredo Riquelme Segovia, “La Guerra Fría en Chile: Los intrincados nexos entre lo nacional y lo global,” in Harmer and Riquelme Segovia, eds., Chile y la Guerra Fría global, p. 19. See also Joaquín Fermandois, “Castro, de Chile a Chile,” El mercurio, 6 December 2016, available online at Centro de Estudios Públicos, https://cepchile.cl/castro-de-chile-a-chile/cep/2016-12-20/093753.html.


Harmer, Allende's Chile, p. 4.


Foreign Minister Ivan Bashev to the BCP CC Politburo, 5 October 1970, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 26, a.e. 2950, pp. 3–4 [15–16].


Luis Corvalán, El gobierno de Salvador Allende (Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2003), pp. 145–146.


Mariano Ferrero, “La política internacional del siglo XX y sus encrucijadas en la Guerra Fría,” in David Vásquez, ed., Salvador Allende: Vida política y parlamentaria 1908–1973 (Santiago: Ediciones Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile, 2008), p. 237.


“Zur Entwicklung in Chile,” 28 November 1973, p. 5.


“Návrh koncepce čs.-chilských vztahů,” 19 April 1971, in Czech Foreign Ministry Archive (AMZV), TO-T, Chile 19701974, p. 6.


Ferrero, “La política internacional,” p. 214.


Memorandum of Conversation between Ivan Bashev and Clodomiro Almeyda, 2 June 1971, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 27, a.e. 3175, p. 3 [84].


“Rozmowy z Ministrem Spraw Zagranicznych Chile Clodomiro Almeyda,” 2 June 1971, in AMSZ, DIII, 1970, 40/75, W3, p. 8.


Bashev-Almeyda, p. 6.


“A Chilei Kommunista Párt 50: Évfordulójának ünnepségei (Pullai Árpád elvtárs jelentése),” 19 January 1972, in MOL, M-KS 288, F. 11/3292, p. 4.


Transcript of Alekseev-Teitelboim conversation, p. 412.


Joseph L. Nogee and John W. Sloan, “Allende's Chile and the Soviet Union: A Policy Lesson for Latin American Nations Seeking Autonomy,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 3 (1979), p. 356.


Ferrero, “La política internacional,” p. 214.


Institute of Latin America of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, “Situation in Chile and Perspectives of Soviet-Chilean Economic Collaboration, Moscow, 1972” [in Spanish], Estudios públicos, No. 72 (1998), p. 438.


“Report of the Delegation of the USSR That Visited Chile in Order to Participate in the Ceremony of the Transfer of Power to Salvador Allende (31.10–8.11.70)” [in Spanish], Estudios públicos, No. 72 (1998), p. 414. See also “Information über westdeutsche Aktivitäten gegenüber Chile sowie über die Reaktion der chilenischen Regierungsdelegation auf die Verhandlungen mit der DDR,” 5 April 1971, in Der Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (BStU), Berlin, MfS HVA Nr 180.


“Polityka zagraniczna Chile,” 13 September 1968.


“The Soviets Abandon Allende,” in U.S. National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), CREST, Document Number (FOIA) / ESDN: 0000307740, p. 1. However, as the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted when informing its Polish counterpart about talks between Leonid Brezhnev and Allende, the Soviet Union worried about the Chilean government's attempts to secure financial support from China, which mainly offered credit relief in exchange for “quiet entry” to Chile. See Kowalczyk's conversation with Kovnyuchin, Cypher 4354/2, 29 March 1973, in AMSZ, DIII 1973 14/78 W-3, C.O-2413-3-73, p. 2. Similarly, Almeyda's visit to Beijing in February 1973, which took place soon after the completion of Allende's trip to Moscow, prompted East European observers to interpret the Chilean move as an attempt to show that the UP had options beyond the Soviet bloc. See Dimitar Lazarov, “Informatsiya otnosno Chiliisko-kitaiskite otnosheniaa,” 25 June 1973, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 29, a.e. 3149, p. 3 [132].


“A Chilei Kommunista Párt 50,” p. 3.


“The Soviets Abandon Allende,” p. 2. A distraught Allende, upon returning from his unsuccessful visit to Moscow, told Chilean diplomat Ramón Huidobro and chief physician Óscar Soto about his disappointment in the lack of commitment from Brezhnev, Aleksei Kosygin, and Nikolai Podgornyi. Rather than increasing economic aid to Chile, they had reduced it from $144 million in 1972 to $63 million in 1973. See Óscar Guardiola-Rivera, Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973 (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2013), pp. 315–316.


“Politicko hospodarsky vyvoj Chile za I. pololeti 1973,” 10 July 1973, in Národní Archiv, Prague, KSČ-Ústřední výbor 1945–1989, Praha - Gustav Husák, karton 355, svazek. 10093, p. 1.


Nikolai Leonov, “La inteligencia soviética en América Latina durante la guerra fría,” Estudios públicos, No. 73 (1999), p. 53.


Ulianova, “La Unidad Popular,” p. 102.


Memorandum of Conversation between Raul Castro and Todor Zhivkov, 11 March 1974, in TsDA, F. 1B, Op. 60, a.e. 142, p. 44.


For an in-depth overview of the Soviet foreign policymaking process during this period, see Mark Kramer, “Foreign Policymaking and Party-State Relations in the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev Era,” in Rüdiger Bergen and Jens Gieseke, eds., Communist Parties Revisited: Sociocultural Approaches to Party Rule in the Soviet Bloc, 1956-1991 (New York: Berghahn, 2018), pp. 281–312.


Ulianova, “La Unidad Popular,” p. 102.


Leonov, “La inteligencia soviética,” p. 36.


CIA, “Soviet Policies and Activities in Latin America and the Caribbean,” SNIE 11/80/90-82, 25 June 1982, in NARA, RG263, Entry A1-29, Box 6, p. 3. Nogee and Sloan offer a similar assessment in “Allende's Chile and the Soviet Union,” p. 357. See also Cochrane, “Contending Perspectives on the Soviet Union in Latin America,” pp. 211–233.


See Memorandum on the meeting between PGU KGB USSR and MVR Bulgaria, 28 February–5 March 1972, in COMDOS, F. 9, a.e. 819, pp. 10–11.


Leonov, “La inteligencia soviética,” pp. 35–36.


Ibid., p. 55.


“Zur Entwicklung in Chile,” 28 November 1973, p. 6.


Ibid., p. 28.


“A Chilei Kommunista Párt 50,” 19 January 1972, p. 2.


“Zur Entwicklung in Chile,” 28 November 1973, p. 7.


“Spravka za Republika Chili i otnosheniata i s NR Balgaria,” ca. 1970, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 26, a.e. 2950, p. 4 [21].


“Návrh koncepce čs.-chilských vztahů,” 19 April 1971, p. 6. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry offers a similar assessment, blaming the Christian Democrats’ government for allowing the economic crisis to escalate during the last year of Frei's term. See Lyuben Avramov, “Informatsia otnosno zakonodatelni izbori v Chili,” 30 March 1969, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 25, d. 113, pr. 2798, p. 3 [3]. See also Memorandum of Conversation between Marin Ivanov and Víctor Díaz, 8 January 1972, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 28, a.e. 3293, p. 5 [16].


“Návrh koncepce čs.-chilských vztahů,” 19 April 1971.


Memorandum of Conversation between Marin Ivanov and Víctor Díaz, 8 January 1972, p. 5 [16].


Bulgarian Communist Party leader Zhivkov shared his memories of the conversation with Corvalán with CPSU Politburo member Andrei Kirilenko on 31 November 1978, in TsDA, F. 1B, Op. 60, a.e. 247, p. 39. Raúl Castro's reminiscence of his conversation with the PCCh leader is similar, indicating that Corvalán resorted to using the same historical argument at a time when in Cuba there was no doubt a coup was in the making. See Memorandum of Conversation between Raúl Castro and Todor Zhivkov, 11 March 1974, p. 41.


“A Chilei Szocialista Párt küldöttségének magyarországi látogatásáról,” 23 September 1975, in MOL, M-KS 288, F.11/3991, pp. 2–3.


Dimitar Lazarov, “Otnosno nyakoi momenti ot segashnoto vytreshno-politichesko polozhenie v Chili,” 10 July 1973, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 29, a.e. 3149, p. 4 [128].


“Informatsiya ot delegatsiyata na TsK na BKP, posetila Chili po sluchai 50-godishninata ot osnovavaneto na Chiliiskata komunisticheska partia,” 28 January 1972, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 28, a.e. 3295, p. 11 [23].


“Zur Entwicklung in Chile,” 28 November 1973, p. 31.


Ibid., p. 3.


Leonov, “La inteligencia soviética,” p. 53.


Nogee and Sloan, “Allende's Chile,” p. 359.


“Soviet Policies and Activities in Latin America and the Caribbean,” p. 6.


I. Yakovlev, Report of the Embassy of the USSR in Chile, “The Regrouping of the Political Forces of Chile and the Negotiations of the PDC with the Left Block of the Popular Unity” (in Spanish), 13 October 1970), Estudios públicos, No. 72 (1998), p. 410.


Memorandum of Conversation between Todor Zhivkov and Fidel Castro, 25 May 1972, in TsDA, F. 1B, Op. 60, a.e. 90, p. 46.


Ibid., p. 45.


Memorandum of conversation between Dimitar Lazarov and Carlos Toro, 9 January 1973, in TsDA, F. 1477, Op. 29, a.e. 3149, pp. 5–6 [47–48].


Several East-bloc reports deal with these issues, including “A MIR szervezeteinek felbomlása,” 24 February 1975, in MOL, KÜM, XIX-J-1-j 1975, 47d Chile, 25-2; “Zur Entwicklung in Chile,” 28 November 1973; and “A szocialista országok testvérpártjai külügyi osztályainak a chilei kérdésről tartott megbeszéléséről,” 12 September 1975, in MOL, M-KS 288, F.11/3983.


Memorandum of Conversation between Marin Ivanov and Víctor Díaz, 8 January 1972, p. 4 [15].


Wright, Latin America, p. 130.


TELCON: September 16, 1973, 11:50 a.m., Kissinger Talking to Nixon (pp. 1–2), 16 September 1973, in Peter Kornbluh, ed., The Kissinger Telcons: Kissinger Telcons on Chile, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 123, posted May 26, 2004, available online at http://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB123/chile.htm.


“Oświadczenie rządu PRL (projekt),” 1 October 1973, in Archiwum Akt Nowych (AAN), Warsaw, 1354 KC PZPR Kancelaria Sekretariatu, XI/524, p. 1.


Ibid., p. 2.


CIA Intelligence Memorandum, 9 October 1973, in CIA CREST, Doc. No. 0000345013.


Sergo Mikoyan, “The Soviet Union and Latin America: The Political and Strategic Domain,” in Edmé Domínguez, ed., The Soviet Union's Latin American Policy: A Retrospective Analysis (Göteborg: Göteborgs Universitet, 1995), p. 41. See also Ulianova, “La Unidad Popular,” p. 113.


Leon Gouré and Morris Rothenberg, Soviet Penetration of Latin America (Miami, FL: Center for Advanced International Studies at the University of Miami), 1975, p. 17.


Ulianova, “La Unidad Popular,” p. 113.


Memorandum of Conversation between Leonid Brezhnev and Todor Zhivkov, 18 September 1973, in TsDA, F. 1B, Op. 60, a.e. 125, pp. 19–20.


Thomas C. Wright and Rody Oñate Zúñiga, “Chilean Political Exile,” Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 34, No. 4 (2007), p. 36.


Loreto Rebolledo Gonzalez, “L'esilio cileno in Italia,” in Raffaele Nocera and Claudio Rolle Cruz, eds., Settantatré: Cile e Italia, destini incrociati (Naples: Think Thanks, 2010), pp. 119–122. See also Alan Angell, “International Support for the Chilean Opposition 1973–1989: Political Parties and the Role of Exiles,” in Laurence Whitehead, ed., The International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 179.


Angell, “International Support,” p. 192.


Olga Ulianova, “La nueva inserción internacional del comunismo chileno tras el golpe militar,” in Harmer and Riquelme Segovia, eds., Chile y la Guerra Fría global, p. 282.


Volodia Teitelboim, Noches de radio (Escucha Chile): Una voz desde lejos (Santiago: LOM, 2001), p. 168.


From 1949 to 1989, of all the Latin American countries only Cuba and Nicaragua appeared more often on the SED Politbüro agenda, with 153 and 56 occurrences respectively. See Raimund Krämer, “Die ganz andere Beziehung: Chile und die DDR Diese Solidarität musste niemand anordnen,” Der Freitag das Meinungsmedium, 19 September 2003, available online at https://www.freitag.de/autoren/der-freitag/die-ganz-andere-beziehung.


Alistair Horne, Small Earthquake in Chile: A Visit to Allende's South America (London: Macmillan, 1972), cited in Andrew and Gustafson, “Santiago de Chile,” p. 179.




The Chilean question became a commonplace in the conversations among socialist leaders and figured prominently in their joint statements. See, among others, Memorandum of Conversation between János Kádár and Todor Zhivkov, 3–5 December 1973, in TsDA, F. 1B, Op. 60, a.e. 130, p. 84; Memorandum of Conversation between Gustáv Husák and Todor Zhivkov, 20 January 1975, in TsDA, f, 1B, Op. 60, a.e. 162, p. 41; and Memorandum of Conversation between Erich Honecker and Todor Zhivkov, 14 September 1977, in TsDA, F. 1B, Op. 60, a.e. 230, p. 70.


“Oświadczenie Komitetu Centralnego polskiej zjednoczonej partii robotniczej,” 1 October 1973, in AAN 1354 KC PZPR Kancelaria Sekretariatu, XI/524, p. 1.


“Grundsätze für die finanzielle Unterstützung von Politemigrantinnen aus Chile, deren Ehemänner oder Lebensgefährten durch die Militär-junta ermordet wurden bzw. noch inhaftiert sind oder sich im Aufträge ihrer Partei außerhalb der DDR aufhalten,” n.d., in BStU, Archiv der Zentralstelle MfS, HAII/19 Nr 14298.


“Dr. Tóth József, Chilei KP kérése,” 22 July 1975, in MOL, KÜM, XIX-J–1-j 1975, 47d Chile, 25–2, p. 1.


“A szocialista országok,” 12 September 1975, p. 7.


Ibid., p. 10.


Leonov, “La inteligencia soviética,” pp. 62–63. With this plan, the KGB wanted to prove it could conduct combat operations that would resonate politically. See Nikolai Leonov, Likholetie (Moscow: TERRA, 1997). In an interview for St. Petersburg's Fontanka, Leonov expresses his regret for not having been allowed to proceed with the rescue operation. “Nikolay Leonov: Zhaleyu, chto ne dali osvobodit’ Korvalana,” Fontanka, 13 November 2010, http://www.fontanka.ru/2010/11/13/058/.


See Vasili Mitrokhin, comp., “The Bukovsky Case 1959–1976: Folder 26: The Chekist Anthology,” in Wilson Center Digital Archive, available Online at http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112818, pp. 3–4.


See Olga Ulianova's excellent article “Corvalán for Bukovsky: A Real Exchange of Prisoners during an Imaginary War: The Chilean Dictatorship, the Soviet Union, and US Mediation, 1973–1976,” Cold War History, Vol. 14, No. 3 (August 2014), pp. 315–336. See also CPSU Central Committee top secret documents pertaining to Corvalán's liberation from Bukovsky's collection, detailing the technical aspects of the exchange in RGANI, F. 89, Op. 9, 17, 19, 34, and 43.


See Mitrokhin, “The Bukovsky Case 1959–1976,” p. 2.


“Informacja dot. wizyty w Polsce delegacji KP Chile w dniach 19–23 września 1974 r.,” 19 October 1974, in AAN, KC PZPR 1354 Kancelaria Sekretariatu, XI/529, p. 1.


“Schutz, Sicherung und abwehrmäßige Bearbeitung der chilenischen politischen Emigration in der DDR,” March 1977, in BStU, Archiv der Zentralstelle MfS, HAII/19, Nr 14298, p. 1.


Luis Corvalán, Santiago-Moscú-Santiago (Apuntes del exilio) (Dresden: Verlag Zeit im Bild, 1983), pp. 77–78.