22 February 2011

Ch 54: Haldeman Interview: "Things Started to Unravel at the Mine"

"Things Started to Unravel at the Mine" 

 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 

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 

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 

Index to Haldeman Interview

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