Salvador Allende, Chile

The Pierre Trudeau government was hostile to Salvador Allende’s elected government and predisposed to supporting Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Days after the September 11 1973 coup against Allende, Andrew Ross, Canada’s ambassador to Chile cabled External Affairs: “Reprisals and searches have created panic atmosphere affecting particularly expatriates including the riffraff of the Latin American Left to whom Allende gave asylum … the country has been on a prolonged political binge under the elected Allende government and the junta has assumed the probably thankless task of sobering Chile up.” Thousands were incarcerated, tortured and killed in “sobering Chile up”.

Within three weeks of the coup, Canada recognized Augusto Pinochet’s military junta. Diplomatic support for Pinochet led to economic assistance. Just after the coup Canada voted for a $22 million Inter American Development Bank loan “rushed through the bank with embarrassing haste.” Ottawa immediately endorsed sending $95 million from the International Monetary Fund to Chile and supported renegotiating the country’s debt held by the Paris Club. After refusing to provide credits to the elected government, on October 2nd, 1973, Export Development Canada announced it was granting $5 million in credit to Chile’s central bank to purchase six Twin Otter aircraft from De Havilland, which could carry troops to and from short makeshift strips.

By 1978, Canadian support for the coup d’etat was significant. It included:

• Support for $810 million in multilateral loans with Canada’s share amounting to about $40 million.

• Five EDC facilities worth between $15 and $30 million.

• Two Canadian debt re-schedulings for Chile, equivalent to additional loans of approximately $5 million.

• Twenty loans by Canadian chartered banks worth more than $100 million, including a 1977 loan by Toronto Dominion to DINA (Pinochet’s secret police) to purchase equipment.

• Direct investments by Canadian companies valued at nearly $1 billion.