On September 11, 1973, the long-planned CIA-military coup against the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was put into action. Connecting the generals was a somewhat makeshift radio network. The liaison post, Post Three, was located at the Military Academy, where it was staffed by young, inexperienced officers. This post acted as a switchboard between generals Pinochet, Leigh, Díaz, and Vice Admiral Carvajal, the officers of the Chilean military who would soon become the members of the ruling junta.
Of course, secrecy was essential for their plan. What they did not know, however, was that a civilian in the area would stumble upon their frequency, realise who was talking, and get the whole thing on tape. This tape, containing all of the communications between the high command on the day of the coup, was kept hidden in a basement for 25 years, until it was brought, in 1998, to a Chilean news magazine, and eventually published in audio and book form (Interferencia Secreta, by Patricia Verdugo, Editorial Sudamericana, 1998). The authenticity of the recordings has been confirmed by more than one of the generals involved.
Below is an English translation of the content of the tapes, prepared by me.
Post Five (Ministry of Defence): Attention, Post One, Post One, from Post Five. Go ahead, over.
Post Three (Military Academy): Fuck, One...fucking hysterical with the QRT...sure...the generals are talking (whistling).
Post One: ...over.
Post Five: Patricio needs to speak with Augusto.
Pinochet: Augusto here, Augusto here.
Carvajal: I think the suicide thing was wrong. I just got done talking with the naval aide-de-camp, Commander Grez, who says that the three aides-de-camp are coming out of La Moneda and going to the Ministry of Defence. I told him to urge the head of the National Police to give up his troops because we're going to bomb them. So the police have to leave La Moneda at this time. General Brady has been informed so that he won't shoot at the soldiers who are evacuating La Moneda.
Pinochet: Very well. Just now, I got a call from Domínguez, the subsecretary of the Navy. He said that the three commanders in chief should go to ask for the President's surrender. You know how slick that bastard is. It's the other way around. You know what he's got to do: if he wants, he can go to the Ministry of Defence and give himself up to the three Commanders in Chief.
Carvajal: I spoke to him personally. I urged him to surrender to the Commanders in Chief and he responded by swearing at me.
Pinochet: So, at 11, when the first guys get there, you'l see what happens. We're bombing at 11 sharp!.
Carvajal: It will be easier to attack La Moneda once it's been evacuated.
Pinochet: Once we've we've bombed it, we'll hit with the Buin [Regiment] and the Infantry School. We have to tell Brady.
Carvajal: We'll just wait until the aides-de-camp and the MPs have been evacuated.
Pinochet: Very well.
Carvajal: OK, over.
Pinochet: So the police we're in contact with are loyal?
Carvajal: The police who are surrounding La Moneda are loyal...
Pinochet: ...to us??
Carvajal: Some of them pulled back, but we still don't know where to and whether they might have given themselves up to Mendoza or just ran off.
Pinochet: So La Moneda's all alone? La Moneda's alone, I mean, there are no police there, or are there still some inside?
Carvajal: (interference)...army troops now. I'll check to see what forces are around La Moneda, both police and Armed Forces, and I'll let you know.
Pinochet: Correct. There can't be anybody there when we bomb it.
Carvajal: Correct. I'll give my approval before the bombing starts.
Pinochet: It seems to me that His Excellency might have run off in a tank.
Post Two (Air Force): Five, five, from Two. Over.
Pinochet: ...we've got to find the tanks. And what about Mendoza, aren't you in contact with him?
Carvajal: No, but not the tanks, he didn't flee in the tanks. The tanks left beforehand and I spoke personally with him on the phone afterwards.
Pinochet: Very well, very well. So we've got to stop him leaving. If he leaves, we've got to take him prisoner.
Carvajal: I also talked later with the Naval Aide-de-camp, and he confirmed that Allende is in La Moneda.
Pinochet: So we've got to be ready to act against him. Kill the bitch and you take care of the litter.
Carvajal: Exactly. The only thing we're waiting for is for the aides-de-camp and the police to leave .
The Pinochet Tapes: September 11, 1973, Part 2