December 13, 2013

Marie Arana’s review of Oscar Guardiola-Rivera’s bookStory of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende” [Outlook, Dec. 8] unquestioningly accepted the author’s version of the United States’ involvement in Salvador Allende’s overthrow on Sept. 11, 1973. In doing so, Ms. Arana fell prey to one of the left’s enduring myths: that the United States was behind the planning and execution of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup in Chile.

As was brought out in Sen. Frank Church’s 1975 Senate hearings on CIA activities, the agency provided $8 million over a three-year period to various opposition groups in Chile to keep them going, including labor unions and the anti-Allende newspaper El Mercurio (which Allende was attempting to shut down by having the nationalized banks withhold credit for newsprint). Nevertheless, the United States provided neither funding nor assistance in the planning and execution of the coup itself.

Anyone who served in Chile or studied the 1973 coup would find it risible to hear someone insist that the Chilean military needed assistance from the United States. The Chilean military was based on the Prussian model, was (and is) a very professional military and was perfectly capable of planning and executing the coup on its own. That the United States was glad to see Allende overthrown is undeniable. It does not follow, however, that the United States engineered the action that led to his overthrow.

William H. Barkell, Arlington

The writer is a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer.

Apparently Post editors missed the irony of headlining a review of a book about one of the most egregious acts of U.S. imperialism in the Western Hemisphere with “America” as a synonym for the United States [“How America overthrew a pacifist president,” Outlook, Dec. 8].

Geography books in the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking worlds view America as encompassing everything between the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Canada and Tierra del Fuego. Hence, Latin Americans take great umbrage when U.S. residents forget that people south of the Rio Grande also live in America. The arrogant appropriation of “America” to include only the United States contributes to the feeling of a “continent held in virtual submission, languishing in invisibility” that Marie Arana noted in her book review.

Thomas Andrew O’Keefe, San Francisco