Business Group for Latin America

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The Business Group for Latin America "had been organized in 1963 by David Rockefeller, president of the Chase Manhattan Bank, at the express request of President Kennedy, who was directing his administration’s fight against Castro and the spread of communism in Latin America. It included on its executive committee such prominent corporation executives as C. Jay Parkinson, board chairman of Anaconda; Harold S. Geneen, head of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, which owned and operated the telephone facilities in Chile; and Donald M. Kendall, chairman of PepsiCo, the softdrink company, which had extensive business activities in Latin America.

"The principal contact in Chile for the CIA as well as for the American corporations was the organization of Agustín Edwards, a close friend of Kendall’s, who was the owner of the conservative El Mercurio newspaper chain in Chile and a focal point for the opposition to Allende and the left. The CIA and the Business Group, which by 1970 had been reorganized into the Council of the Americas, relied heavily on Edwards to use his organization and his contacts to channel their moneys into the 1964 political campaign. Many of the ties between the Business Group and the CIA in 1964 remained in place long after the election. For example, Enno Hobbing, a CIA official who had initially been assigned as liaison to the Business Group, eventually left the CIA and became the principal operations officer for the Council."

Edwards later "flew within days to see Kendall in Washington, who immediately hired him as a PepsiCo vice president and invited him to be a houseguest. On September 14, according to Kissinger’s memoirs, Kendall met privately with Richard Nixon, a meeting that, like many others, did not appear in Nixon’s daily log as maintained by the Secret Service. On the next morning, John Mitchell and Kissinger, at Nixon’s direction, had breakfast with Kendall and Edwards; hours later, Kissinger asked Helms to meet Edwards for, as Kissinger writes, “whatever insight he might have.” Helms later told an interviewer that Kendall was with Edwards when they met in a Washington hotel. The two men appealed passionately for CIA help in blocking Allende—an argument, Helms realized, they must have made to Nixon. In the early afternoon, Nixon summoned Helms, Mitchell, and Kissinger to his office, and, in essence, gave Helms a blank check to move against Allende without informing anyone—even Korry—what he was doing." [1]

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  1. theatlantic The Price of Power, organizational web page, accessed April 6, 2018.