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December 20, 2016
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March 15, 2006
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August 15, 1969
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Approved For Release 2006/04/13 : CIA-RDP79-00927AO0720 80002-5 secret DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY SUMMARY Special Report The Chilean Military Establishment Secret N?_ 38 15 August 1969 No. 0383 / 69A Approved For Release 2006/04/13 : CIA-RDP79-00927AO07200080002-5 25X1 Approved For Release 2006/04/13 : CIA-RDP79-00927AO07200080002-5 Approved For Release 2006/04/13 : CIA-RDP79-00927AO07200080002-5 Approved For Release 20 -00927A007200080002-5 Chile's armed forces are reputed to be among the most apolitical i Latin America. They have not actively intervened in the government since 1932; a record equaled` in few other countries in the hemisphere. The armed forces as well as the police are respected for their professional attitude and capability, although deficiencies in training and equipment are becoming more pronounced. Asa result of its-financial difficulties, the government has not provided much modern equipment for the armed forces. Some officers are beginning to view this as an indication that the civilian government is indifferent to the military requirements of the country and of the fighting forces. Furthermore, some conservative officers are concerned that a Cz mmunist-sup- ported candidate may be elected in the presidential election next yea HISTORICAL BACKGROUND During colonial times the army was' the mainstay of the government. Because of the army's small size, a militia was developed to sup- plement the regular army. Most of the militia officers were young native-born colonials, and the militia was an important factor in the struggle for independence. Chile maintained a relatively democratic po- litical system until 1924. At that time, disgusted with the country's economic situation and with extensive political bickering, a group of conserva- tive generals dissolved Congress and forced the resignation of the president, Arturo Alessandri. Early the next year a more liberal group, led by Colonels Carlos Ibanez and Marmaduke Grove, led a coup against the conservative junta and brought Alessandri back to serve out the re- mainder of his term. During 1926 and 1927 Ibanez became concerned about the inefficient way the government was being run, and in the 1927 election he managed to win the presidency. Coping with the effects of the depression, which Special Report hit Chile very hard, was too much for him, how- ever, and he resigned in 1931. A spokesman for the oligarchy was elected to replace him. In June 1932 Grove, by now head of the air force, led a coup that established a "socialist republic." Twelve days later he was overthrown by a con- servative military group. An election was held in October, and Arturo Alessandri was again elected president. After this time, the military remained out of politics. In fact, a "republican militia" backed by respected elements in society and pol- itics was formed to make sure that the armed forces confined new activities strictly to military matters. Since the 1930s the Chilean armed forces have been concerned primarily with what they see as a threat from Argentina and with improving their internal security capability. Only in recent years have salary difficulties and increasing in- ternal security problems caused them to renew their active interests in politics. Many Chileans look upon the 1927-32 period as one of aberra- tion in the face of economic disaster and believe - 1 - 15 August 1969 Approved For Release 2006/0~p(~I~-,F DP79-00927A007200080002-5 Approved For Release 7norubbG nL RDE79_00927A007200080002-5 Special Report that an apolitical military establishemnt is the only possible system for their country. COMPOSITION AND CAPABILITIES The Chilean armed forces are among the most competent and professional in Latin Amer- ica. There are 23,000 men in the army, 14,000 in the navy, and 10,000 in the air force. The carabi- neros, or national police force, have 24,000 men. The armed forces' equipment, however, is for the most part obsolescent. This situation is responsi- ble for some of the most bitter complaints against the government. They see the Argentine armed forces receiving modern weapons and fear that these weapons may one day be turned against Chile. The air force in 1966 began a program of purchasing subsonic Hawker Hunter aircraft from Great Britain. The air force would like to buy F-5s from the United States, bait budgetary con- siderations and the prospect of a cutoff of US economic aid if such equipment is bought have delayed any such negotiations. The navy, too, is plagued by aging equip- ment. Although it carries two submarines in its inventory, one is in overhaul and the other is in only slightly better condition. Argentina's pur- chase in 1968 of an aircraft carrier of World War II vintage triggered considerable uneasiness in the Chilean Navy. The carabineros are a professional national police force of extremely high standards. They probably would be able to contain civil disturb- ances, even if these were widespread. If the unrest continued over a long period, however, they prob- ably would be forced to call on the army for help. The army recently has been increasing its internal security capability, but it is still likely to rely more on firepower than on less drastic riot- control techniques. 2- 15 August 1969 25X1 25X1 Approved For Release 2006/04/~~:1P79-00927A007200080002-5 Approved For Release rGak9fi 79-00927A007200080002-5 Although the armed forces have remained out of the political mainstream, they are very much a part of Chilean life. They are entitled by law to a percentage of the revenues from the copper industry. Many military officers are bitter because they claim that they have not been re- ceiving this money and that, in fact, the govern- ment owes the armed forces a great deal of money. In addition to these budgetary privileges, the military courts have certain judicial prerogatives that are regularly exercised. Military courts have jurisdiction over civilians who abuse the military as an institution, abuse individuals because they are members of the military, or insult the national flag. They also have jurisdiction over crimes against the military whether committed by mili- tary or civilian personnel. In 1968, a Socialist senator was convicted of insulting the military and was jailed for some time. A newspaper direc- tor was also jailed briefly. Such actions do not cause much outcry, even among Chileans who are most conscious of their civil liberties. CHANGING POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE Although the armed forces have become in- creasingly sensitive to the political situation in Chile, they have not yet broken with their tradi- tional stance of avoiding unconstitutional acts and direct political involvement. A substantial number believe, how- ever, that extraconstitutional change will become necessary to break the current stalemate between the executive and legislative branches. They also believe that the military should be given a greater voice in the formation of foreign policy. Another important factor contributing to the military uneasiness is the possibility that a Communist-supported candidate such as pro- Castro Socialist Salvador Allende could win the presidential election scheduled for September Special Report 1970. It is possible that if the Socialists, Com- munists, and Radicals could combine in an elec- toral coalition, and if the candidate of this coali- tion were clearly leading the field, the military might undertake a coup. Such a move would be most likely to come before the election, to avoid the appearance of deliberately flouting the popu- lar will. This sentiment for action against a leftist government is by no means held universally within the armed forces. Many officers are reluc- tant to undertake the task of government them- selves. In addition, they believe that they could not be much worse off under a leftist government than they are now. Military men holding such opinions probably would take a wait-and-see atti- tude toward the government. Younger officers, in particular, are more likely to respond to leftist ideology and thus would be more willing to ac- cept a leftist president unless he ignored the sad state of equipment and training in the Chilean armed forces or moved overtly against military institutions and traditions. Events in neighboring countries are having an influence in Chile. The military take-overs in Brazil, Argentina, and Peru have given many Chil- ean officers food for thought. They see these governments attempting reforms without being hampered by political bickering; they wonder if similar methods might work in Chile. 15 August 1969 Approved For Release 2006/0tp~(~I- pP79-00927AO07200080002-5 Approved For Release 2 might well feel compelled to take direct action. neros very seriously. Should there be any wide- spread breakdown of public order, the military Strikers Repelling Carabineros With Stones INTERNAL SECURITY PROBLEMS The increase in terrorism and violence has begun to worry both the military and the carabi- Many military officers believe that former president Jorge Alessandri would be an excellent person to head a military backed government. Alessandri is presently in a very strong position with respect to the presidential race and could win a plurality of the votes next year. If no candidate wins a majority, however, congress de- cides between the two top vote-getters. Should Allende be the runner-up, the leftist congressmen might vote for Allende. Under these conditions, the military well might step in to install Ales- sandri as president. A restraining factor in any military action against the goverment is the lack of strong leader- ship at the top. In addition, the assistance, or at least the acquiescence, of the carabineros would be essential to any successful coup. Special Report During the past 12 months subversion, in- cluding both street riots and isolated acts of ter- rorism, has risen markedly. Opposition elements have increased their ability to create civil dis- orders. These activities have been led by the youth wings of the Communist and Socialist par- ties and the extremist Movement of the Revolu- tionary Left, which is suspected of being the paramilitary arm of the Socialist Party. In June two terrorist bases were discov- ered-a "guerrilla training school" in the Santiago area and an arms cache farther south. Bombs, weapons, and maps of military bases and other 15 August 1969 Approved For Release 2006/04112tii PfP79-00927A007200080002-5 ECRET Approved For Release 2 - -00927AO07200080002-5 25X1 strategic locations were found at both sites along with evidence that the Socialist Party was heavily involved. This development would increase the armed forces' concern-and possibly their willingness to intervene-if the Socialist candidate appears to be winning the presidential election. Special Report Violence will continue to be a problem, es- pecially if the government attempts to hold down on wage increases to combat the soaring inflation. In addition, Socialist provocateurs could take ad- vantage of rural grievances over land reform de- lays to carry out more "invasions" of land hold- ings. It was under similar circumstances that eight people were killed last March in Puerto Montt, causing serious political repercussions. granted. The provocation for a coup in Chile would have to be relatively grave, considering the weight of tradition that is on the side of constitutional- ity. Nevertheless, the apolitical nature of the Chil- ean armed forces can no longer be taken for 15 August 1969 Approved For Release 2006/Olpt. RI P79-00927AO07200080002-5 Approved For Release 2006/04/13 : CIA-RDP79-00927AO07200080002-5 Secret Secret Approved For Release 2006/04/13 : CIA-RDP79-00927AO07200080002-5