Chilean Court Finds U.S. Complicit in Murder of Two Americans During Washington-Backed 1973 Chile Coup

Posted July 16, 2014

MP3 Interview with Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst with the National Security Archive, conducted by Scott Harris


Many Americans are unaware of their government’s involvement in a host of Cold War-era coup d’état’s targeting nations mostly in the developing world that were viewed as allies of the Soviet Union and a threat to U.S. national security. One of those nations was Chile, where a moderate socialist, Salvador Allende was democratically elected as president in 1970. Then, U.S. President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger supported a plan to overthrow Allende’s government by backing a military coup launched by Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet. After Pinochet seized power on Sept. 11, 1973, Allende was killed or committed suicide and thousands of suspected leftists were rounded up, with many being tortured or executed.

Among those who were murdered by the U.S.-backed regime were two U.S. citizens, 31-year-old filmmaker Charles Horman and 24-year-old student Frank Teruggi, who were both living in Chile during the coup. Horman’s wife and parents’ search for answers about his disappearance was the subject of the Academy Award-winning 1982 movie, “Missing,” starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek.

Now, 40 years after their deaths, a Chilean Court issued a ruling on June 30 that found that the U.S. government was complicit in the murders of Horman and Teruggi, by providing Chile’s military information that led to the orders for their execution. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst with the National Security Archive and author of "The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability." Here, he assesses the significance of the Chilean court decision both for Chile and current U.S. foreign policy.

For more information on the National Security Archive, visit

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