15 October 2010

Bob Haldeman interview (47)

Nobody said anything, so I said to Mr. Simian, "Mr.
President, do you think we could have a break now?"

"That would be wonderful, if you don't mind, Bob."

I got up, high-signed all of my people, walked into the
other room, and closed the door. I left him with his
representatives. An hour and a half later he came out and said,
"Bob, these guys want to have the meeting tomorrow."

I said, "Ed, it would be a dead dog. By that time they'll
get to La Moneda (the presidential palace)."

He said, "I know it. They wanted me to come out and ask
you if you are absolutely sure that you are willing to stake
your reputation, blah, blah, blah, and aren't you making a

I said, "Ed, you can tell them, or do you want me to go in
and tell them?"

He said, "Well, no, I'll tell them." He went back in the
room, and later someone said to come back in, and the meeting
went on. You can imagine the faces in there. But they awarded
the bid.

Oh, boy, the flak flew the next day all over the place.
Mr. Simian went over to see the president, and he said, "Mr.
Frei, I want to tell you what happened. We went over the
numbers, and I go along and share the responsibility with Mr.
Haldeman. You don't always get the best job at the lowest

Mr. Frei said, "If you people are responsible for it, and
that's what you want, so be it." He stood up for it. Imagine!
No political pressure on me. You couldn't have asked for any
better relationship.

Swent: It wasn't a Chilean versus gringo split on the board, was it?

Haldeman: The four directors from the government were all Chilean.
Swent: Were the three others non-Chileans?

Haldeman: No. There was myself, Mr. Grant, and Carlos Tolosa, the Chilean
business manager. And the replacement was a Chilean, too.

Swent: So it wasn't a strict gringo-Chilean split?
Haldeman: No.

So we got off to a very good start. We started to build a
plant, and it went along just like clockwork. We had a really
fine team of people there, and the contractors complied up to
the last comma and dot. Everything went excellently.

Swent: Were you able to get your production up to what you had

Haldeman: Well, now we come up to '69, and elections are in '70. We get
back into the same atmosphere of political things, and we are
about 70 or 80 percent along on our construction job. All the
pressure we were putting on was all we could do to get this
inaugurated before Frei left office. Of course, that's what he
wanted for his candidate, Mr. Radomiro Tomic, the Christian
Democrat and ex-ambassador who was running.

Index to Haldeman Interview

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