Chile’s journalists union kicked out a powerful media mogul for taking CIA propaganda cash


LIMA, Peru — The US government’s covert role in the brutal overthrow of President Salvador Allende — Chile’s 9/11 — is angering Chileans once again.

Earlier this week, the national journalists association kicked out a prominent media mogul, Agustin Edwards. He is the 87-year-old owner and columnist of El Mercurio, a leading newspaper of record, and his family’s media group owns dozens more papers, magazines and other media companies.

Citing declassified US documents, the journalists group found that Edwards had taken CIA cash to smear Allende in the runup to the Sept. 11, 1973 military coup, in which the Chilean president died.

It was the latest backlash against influential Chileans who allegedly worked with the CIA in the 1970s to help turn the public against the country’s democratically elected socialist leader.

The ouster ushered in a 17-year-long, hard-right dictatorship under Gen. Augusto Pinochet, during which more than 2,000 people were murdered or “disappeared” for political reasons.

In a statement, the association also accused Edwards of covering up the torture of two students by the dictatorship in the 1980s.

The association’s president, Javiera Olivares, said her pro-democracy group “is not willing to have members who have committed acts that made them complicit in such dark moments for Chile, of torture, detention and death.”

The move, by the association’s ethics committee, came after testimonies against Edwards by bereaved relatives of Pinochet’s victims.

Declassified US government documents long ago established the Richard Nixon administration’s role in deliberately destabilizing the government of Allende, the first elected socialist president in the Western Hemisphere.

The CIA has even owned up to “forwarding worldwide propaganda information for placement in local media [in Chile, and] initiating efforts to promote public opposition to Allende among leading newspapers such as El Mercurio.”

The money paid to El Mercurio could have been the equivalent of many millions in today’s dollars.

One declassified US Senate file says:

 “$1.5 million was spent in support of El Mercurio, the country’s largest newspaper and the most important channel for anti-Allende propaganda. According to CIA documents, these efforts played a significant role in setting the stage for the military coup of September 11, 1973.”

Edwards’ office did not answer GlobalPost’s phone calls. He has not responded publicly to the association’s decision.

In his 2013 court testimony, Edwards did acknowledge meeting CIA Director Richard Helms and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger after Allende won the presidency. But he claimed that “in no circumstance did..

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