Two years before the coup that toppled the leftist leader of Chile, President Richard Nixon and Brazilian President Emilio Medici discussed coordinated intervention in that nation and Cuba, according to a newly declassified document.
The formerly Top Secret account of a Dec. 9, 1971, White House Oval Office meeting spells out a desire by the U.S. and Brazilian presidents to foment the overthrow of leftist governments, especially those of Chile's Salvador Allende and Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Declassified in July, the memo is now part of the official history of U.S. foreign policy in a State Department series called "Foreign Relations of The United States."
The National Security Archive, a private group, posted the document on its Web site Sunday.
The still-emerging history of the Nixon administration shows that American officials wanted to stop Allende from taking power in 1970, after the U.S. government had publicly stressed the importance of democratic elections there.
The eventual CIA-supported coup in Chile, led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, overthrew the government of Allende on Sept. 11, 1973.
Brazil's military government
Medici's presidency in Brazil was that of a strong military government marked by strict press censorship, torture and destruction of a guerrilla movement.
In the 1971 Oval Office meeting, Nixon said that "this should be held in the greatest confidence. But we must try and prevent new Allendes and Castros and try where possible to reverse these trends."
Medici said he was happy to see that the Brazilian and American positions and views were so close.
Nixon asked whether Medici thought the Chilean armed forces were capable of overthrowing Chile's Allende, prompting a response from Medici that he felt they were capable.
Medici added that Brazil was exchanging many officers with the Chileans "and made clear that Brazil was working towards this end."
Offer of aid
Nixon said that "if the Brazilians felt that there was something we could to be helpful in this area, he would like President Medici to let him know," the document stated.
Nixon told Medici that if money were required or other discreet aid, "we might be able to make it available," according to the document.
On Castro, Medici said the large number of Cubans living in the U.S. claimed they could overthrow Castro's regime, raising the question, "should we help them or not."
Nixon responded that "we should, as long as we did not push them into doing something that we could not support, and as long as our hand did not appear."