22 February 2011

Ch 58: Haldeman Interview: Leaving the Country--Arriving NYC

Kennecott HQ in the Equitable Insurance Bldg, 120 Broadway, NYC

Swent: How had you let Grant know that you were leaving?

Haldeman: Over the scrambler, and we had talked about it before. This was
about a week or ten days before the bill had to be voted in the
Congress for expropriation in July. Grant knew exactly how to
handle it with the lawyers. But we figured it was better not to
have me in a kangaroo court. Grant, working out in the plant,
wasn't known. He wasn't a political target; he didn't mean
anything in the whole political picture. I was the fellow they
were after. That's the trouble with being famous, I suppose.

Anyway, I got to New York and called up Mr. Michaelson. He
said, "Where in the hell are you?"

I said, "What do you mean? Christ, I'm in New York in the
Hotel Barclay."

He said, "Well, an awful lot of people are looking for
you. "

I said, "What do you mean?"

He said, "The Chilean foreign department called up
Washington State Department and demanded to find out how in the
hell you left the country, who gave you permission to leave the
country, and where are your papers."

Braniff's manager, Carlos Brunson, sent a telex and said,
"Bob, I need all your documents and everything. The government
is after me." I sent a telex that said, "Carlos, tell them to
go to hell. Best regards, Bob." [laughs]

I snuck out under the wire. Just made it. My wife
unpacked the suitcase, and she said, "Good heavens. You know
what happened? I forgot to bring underwear." [laughter]

So we just left everything as it was.
Swent: You did get some of your furniture out?

Haldeman: That was out ahead of time, the nice pieces that we wanted to
save. I left all my clothes.

Swent: It doesn't matter at that point, does it?

Haldeman: Nope.

Swent: Did they ever go after Grant?

Haldeman: Yes. The bill went into Congress in what they call the sesion
plenaria, a joint session of the Senate and the House of
Representatives. Everybody of all political parties showed up;
there wasn't a single absentee. Every vote was for
nationalization, from the Right to the Left. There wasn't one
person who abstained or who walked out. There are your
political parties for you. Some of those people who voted for
it are alive today. You ask them, "Why didn't you vote against

Swent: "Well, Bob, those were political times,
think--." What are you going to do?

Haldeman: The bill went through, and the government took over. I was
now in New York in an apartment at the Beekman Arms, and there I
stayed from July '71 until April '72. I participated with some
of the staff preparing white papers--our legal actions taken
against the Chilean government for its expropriation without
compensation or indemnification. We spent a lot of time on it.
I don't have a copy of the set of books, but they were very well
documented from history and told the whys and wherefores. We
wanted just compensation for the expropriation.

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