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Chile instead asked that the United States remain neutral. backed President José Manuel Balmaceda, as a way to increase their influence in Chile, while the UK backed the Congressional forces.

The United States only contained a few wooden vessels, and Chile had two new armored warships, the U. knew they were unable to match Chilean naval power, backed down. As such, after the defeat of Balmaceda, they were determined to assert their influence in Chilean domestic affairs (then dominated by the victorious Congress) by any means, including war, pushing out British interests in the region.

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One file describes an ink recipe made of "a solution of nitrate of soda and starch in water" that "may be carried for example in handkerchiefs or starched collars, starched shirts or anything else starched." Additional options for secret writing included lemon juice or iron sulfate "developed preferably with ferro cyanite of potassium." Another document provides 12 methods for opening a sealed envelope and detecting chemical traces on the paper.

But arguably one of the more intriguing CREST file categories is "STARGATE," a project that ran from 1978 through 1995. In the 1969 file "' Magician' Walks Into the Laboratory," a Russian construction engineer shares a series of stories about a local psychic who supposedly had "miracle-working" hands that he used to heal people.

In the manner of a Renaissance prince - except that it acted secretly - the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art - President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: "If that's art, then I'm a Hottentot." As for the artists themselves, many were ex- communists barely acceptable in the America of the Mc Carthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing. Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US.

Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden.

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The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947.

Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations.

United States intervention in Chilean politics started during the War of Chilean Independence.