Honors Program

Project Presenters

Alexander Allison

Title: “To Save Chile: The Nixon Administration’s Efforts to Exacerbate Pre-Existing Polarizations within Allende’s Chile”
Major: History
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Richard Weiner (History)
Second Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stephen Buttes (ILCS)
Honors Program Council Liaison: Dr. Suzanne LaVere (History)

Alex Allison enrolled at IPFW in the fall of 2009 and since 2010 he has dedicated his studies to the fields of history and Spanish. Throughout his tenure at IPFW, Alex has developed a keen interest in Latin American history and is specifically interested in modern Chilean history. In 2010, Alex studies abroad in Salamanca, Spain. More recently, he spent a semester in Valparaíso, Chile where he studied at the Pontífica Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. In the summer of 2014 Alex co-authored an article on Immanuel Wallerstein with Dr. Richard Weiner for publication in OUP’s forthcoming Encyclopedia of World Poverty. For the past six months, Alex has assisted Dr. Weiner in his work for the academic journal Enterprise and Society and has served as the Assistant Book Review Editor. In March 2015, Alex will move to Barcelona, Spain.


In 1970, President Nixon witnessed the rise of what he perceived as a threat to US hemispheric power when the Chilean socialist candidate Salvador Allende unexpectedly and legally secured the presidential office via the ballot. Allende, an ardent nationalist and firm opponent of imperialism, sought to transform Chilean society, re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba, nationalize key industries, and assert Chile’s right to dissent from US political influence and policy. Eager to “save” Chile from Allende’s socialist revolution, the Nixon administration initiated a series of covert operations designed to undermine the Allende regime and provoke a military coup. Beginning in 1970, the CIA, US State Department, and the US Treasury Department went to work on multiple fronts to create social unrest and hinder Allende’s ability to consolidate power. Their efforts continued unabated until a military coup in 1973 overthrew the Allende government and the subsequent military junta realigned Chile within the United States’ sphere of influence. For over four decades scholars have examined the role the Nixon administration played in the downfall of Allende’s socialist revolution. While there seems to be relative agreement amongst scholars on the Nixon administration’s intent, there is still no consensus as to the impact that the Nixon administration’s clandestine efforts had on the Allende regime. Looking at works that have been published following the Clinton administration’s Chile Declassification Project in 1999, the purpose of my research is to examine how American scholars have gauged the significance of US interference in Chile, and to develop a more nuanced argument than what has traditionally been offered. Rather than making sweeping claims which either absolve the Nixon administration of culpability, or which attribute the failure of the Allende regime almost entirely to the US, I believe that a middle-ground approach must be established in order to accurately understand the success and failures of US covert operations in Chile. Specifically, I intend to demonstrate that the true significance of US clandestine activity in Chile was that it succeeded in exacerbating pre-existing fissures in the Chilean economy, military, society, and government thereby limiting Allende’s ability to consolidate power and govern effectively.

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Richard Weiner is a professor of history at IPFW and the chair of the Department of History. His area of specialization is Latin America, and his research is on Mexican intellectual and cultural history with a focus on the topics of development and economy.