Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Günter Josef Bischof

Second Advisor

Andrea Mosterman

Third Advisor

Scott Pentzer


On September 11, 1973, the Chilean armed forces staged a coup d’état against their democratically elected and first socialist president, Salvador Allende. The coup ended in Allende’s death and seventeen years of military dictatorship under the auspices of General Augusto Pinochet. Although seemingly a domestic affair, the United States executive branch under the leadership of President Richard Nixon played a significant role in facilitating the coup and it is unlikely the coup would have occurred without U.S. support. While contemporary sources still point to American fears over communist incursion in the western hemisphere as the principal reason for U.S. involvement and support for the coup, the American intelligence and foreign policy community was much more preoccupied with maintaining U.S. hegemony in the western hemisphere and preventing rogue states from challenging that hegemony, especially through free and fair elections. Although this point is discussed in some of the literature on the subject, these works focus mainly on proving U.S. culpability rather than distinguishing the principal reason for its intervention. This paper directly points to the desire to maintain political hegemony in Latin America as the principal reason for intervention, using American declassified source material as the main line of evidence.


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