Pinochet's coup in Chile - the first democratically elected Marxist head of state Salvador Allende is overthrown by a military coup, ushering in 17 years of dictatorship under General Pinochet
In nearly three years as Chilean president, Allende worked to restructure Chilean society along socialist lines while retaining democratic government and respecting civil liberties and the due process of law. Meanwhile, President Nixon and the CIA worked to destabilize Allende’s government, as, according to the Dimono Theory, they were afraid of another Fidel Castro in Latin America .
Opposition groups received funding from the CIA, anti-Allende propaganda efforts continued, strikes were instigated in key sectors of the Chilean economy, and CIA agents maintained close contact with the Chilean military. However, the real cause of the 1973 coup against President Allende was not the insidious activities of American spies but rather the U.S.-led international backlash against his economic policies, which had a disastrous effect on the Chilean economy.
In 1971, President Allende began nationalizing foreign businesses in Chile, including U.S.-owned copper mines–Chile’s main source of protection–and a large U.S.-run telephone company. Nixon was outraged, and ordered economic reprisals against Chile, including sinking the world price of copper and a complete ban on U.S. economic aid. The World Bank was successfully pressured to end all loans to Chile, and the Export-Import Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank likewise turned their back on the country. Meanwhile, other foreign investment in Chile dried up out of fears of nationalization.
By 1973, the Chilean economy was in shambles. Inflation, labor strikes, and food shortages were rampant, and violence between the right and the left became a daily occurrence. President Allende still had the support of many workers and peasants, but the middle class was united in opposition to him, and there was open talk of an impending military coup.
On September 11, 1973, Chile’s three armed forces launched a concerted attack against Chile’s democratic government. Allende gathered with his loyal presidential guard at La Moneda, the presidential palace. He was photographed inspecting the palace’s defenses, rifle in hand. Tanks and troops surrounded La Moneda, and Allende and his supporters were ordered to surrender by 11 a.m. or face attack by the Chilean air force. Allende refused.
At 11 a.m., via telephone, Allende’s voice was broadcast over Radio Magallanes, the Communist Party radio station. “I can only say this to the workers: I will not resign,” he declared. “With my life I will pay for defending the principles dear to our nation. I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this gray and bitter moment where betrayal threatens to impose itself. Continue knowing, all of you, that much sooner than later, the great avenues will open through which will pass free men in order to construct a better society. These are my last words having the certainty that this sacrifice has not been in vain.”
Just before noon, two fighter jets flew over Santiago and descended on La Moneda, firing rockets with pinpoint accuracy through the doors and windows of the north side of the palace. Six more attack waves came during the next 20 minutes. The palace was in flames, but Allende survived in a wing of the building. Sometime around 2 p.m., Allende allegedly died by placing his rifle under his chin and firing. Reportedly, a gold metal plate affixed to the stock of the gun had an inscribed message that read, “To my good friend Salvador Allende from Fidel Castro.”
In the aftermath of the coup, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, commander in chief of the armed forces, became dictator of Chile. He rounded up hundreds of Allende’s supporters, including two American citizens, and had them tortured and executed. The United States immediately offered military and economic aid to the new ruler of Chile–”the savior of democracy”–and the CIA may have helped him identify and capture dissidents. In his 17 years of repressive authoritarian rule, more than 3,000 political opponents were assassinated or “disappeared.”
Yom Kippur War - Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack on Israel, with the aim of retaking territory lost during the 1967 war
Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War of 1967 left the Jewish nation in control of territory four times its previous size. Egypt lost the 23,500-square-mile Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, Jordan lost the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Syria lost the strategic Golan Heights.
When Anwar el-Sadat became president of Egypt in 1970, he found himself leader of an economically troubled nation that could ill afford to continue its endless crusade against Israel. He wanted to make peace and thereby achieve stability and recovery of the Sinai, but after Israel’s 1967 victory it was unlikely that Israel’s peace terms would be favorable to Egypt. So Sadat conceived of a daring plan to attack Israel again, which, even if unsuccessful, might convince the Israelis that peace with Egypt was necessary.
In 1972, Sadat expelled 20,000 Soviet advisers from Egypt and opened new diplomatic channels with Washington, which, as Israel’s key ally, would be an essential mediator in any future peace talks. He formed a new alliance with Syria, and a concerted attack on Israel was planned.
When the fourth Arab-Israeli war began on October 6, 1973, many of Israel’s soldiers were away from their posts observing Yom Kippur (or Day of Atonement), and the Arab armies made impressive advances with their up-to-date Soviet weaponry. Iraqi forces soon joined the war, and Syria received support from Jordan.
After several days, Israel was fully mobilized, and the Israel Defense Forces began beating back the Arab gains at a heavy cost to soldiers and equipment. A U.S. airlift of arms aided Israel’s cause, but President Nixon delayed the emergency military aid for a week as a tacit signal of U.S. sympathy for Egypt. On October 25, an Egyptian-Israeli cease-fire was secured by the United Nations.
Israel’s victory came at the cost of heavy casualties, and Israelis criticized the government’s lack of preparedness. In April 1974, the nation’s prime minister, Golda Meir, stepped down.
Although Egypt had again suffered military defeat at the hands of its Jewish neighbor, the initial Egyptian successes greatly enhanced Sadat’s prestige in the Middle East and gave him an opportunity to seek peace. In 1974, the first of two Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreements providing for the return of portions of the Sinai to Egypt were signed, and in 1979 Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the first peace agreement between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors. In 1982, Israel fulfilled the 1979 peace treaty by returning the last segment of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.
For Syria, the Yom Kippur War was a disaster. The unexpected Egyptian-Israeli cease-fire exposed Syria to military defeat, and Israel seized even more territory in the Golan Heights. In 1979, Syria voted with other Arab states to expel Egypt from the Arab League.