Presidential Palace at Santiago
Haldeman: Things started to unravel at the mine. We had this new plant starting up, and now we got sabotage. The pump would shut down, and we'd open it up and find bolts and nuts in it. The thickener rakes. stopped in these 325-foot thickeners and were all bent over; somebody had thrown a railroad tie about four feet long in the bottom. It caught the rakes and doubled them up. At Anaconda, the workers decided they were soon going to take over management, and they were led by their political hacks and the union leaders, who in copper mines were in the majority --socialists and communists-- left-wingers. In Chuqui, on one shift in the afternoon, the union showed up with two lambs. They shut down the converter and turned it over on its side. You've seen what a converter is; that's where they put in the matte and blow the air through it. They turned it over so that the mouth was alongside the floor and set up a barbecue rack. Production shut down, and they all had a barbecue and got drunk on that shift. Anaconda still had the property. It was just absolutely chaos. In February or March they dug up out of the files an ancient law; I think it was enacted in 1887. For some reason, at that time it said that in vital or basic industries in the country, if for any reason the government feels they are being mismanaged and go against the interest of the country, they can appoint interventores, or watchdogs, overseers, for those key positions to make sure that the people in those positions aren't destroying the operation of the country, the economy, et cetera. They dug that law up. The next day I was advised that the government was sending over six people: one for my job, Grant's job, the three managers, and the controller the cash. We had to report to them, and they were privy to all information and had to sit in at all meetings. They could sit in my office and watch what I did all the time; I had to make office space for them. I got an interventor by the name of Mr. Arancibia, an economist, twenty-eight, and a socialist. Mr. Grant got an engineering student from the university, a communist. The lawyer got another student, who brought his girlfriend as secretary. They locked up at three o'clock in the afternoon and made love on the sofa. [laughs] It was just chaos. You can't imagine. Mr. Simian left his post as president, and he went to Ecuador. Mr. Arancibia took his office and took this [points] picture down off the wall and put up a 5 x 6-foot picture of Che Guevara right behind his desk. Then the Congress started a bunch of investigating committees, because they were saying that we were sabotaging; we were putting the nuts and bolts in the pumps, and it was our fault that the production wasn't up. [They said that] it was Anaconda's fault that their copper production was going down. Well, the guys just didn't want to work and shut the mine down for barbecues and so forth. It was absolute chaos. There were incidents in the street- -rock throwing and the like. It was horrible.
Index to Haldeman Interview