physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America
Allende's involvement in Chilean political life spanned a period of nearly forty years. As a member of the Socialist Party
, he was a senator
and cabinet minister.
"The answer is the proletariat. If it wasn't so I wouldn't be here [...] As for the bourgeois state, at the present moment, we are seeking to overcome it. To overthrow it. [...] Our objective is total, scientific, Marxist socialism" — In an interview with French journalist Regis Debray in 1970.
"We already had success in creating a democratic, national government that is revolutionary and popular. That is how socialism begins, not with decrees." — Regis Debray interview.
(Attributed) "I am not the president of all the Chileans. I am not a hypocrite that says so." — At a public rally, quoted by all Chilean newspapers, January 17, 1971. President Allende sent a public letter to El Mercurio newspaper to deny this alleged statement.
"¡Viva Chile! ¡Viva el pueblo! ¡Vivan los trabajadores!" ("Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!") — last known words (in a radio broadcast on the morning of September 11, 1973)
"We start from different ideological positions. For you to be a Communist or a Socialist is to be totalitarian; for me no...On the contrary, I think Socialism frees man." — Quoted by the New York Times in 1970.
physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America
Allende's involvement in Chilean political life spanned a period of nearly forty years. As a member of the Socialist Party
, he was a senator
and cabinet minister. He unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in the 1952
, and 1964
elections. In 1970
, he won the presidency in a close three-way race, formally elected by Congress as no candidate had gained a majority.
Allende adopted the policy of nationalization
of industries and collectivization. Amidst strikes by the far-right Patria y Libertad and CIA opposition under the Nixon administration, as well as by militant leftist opposition, demonstrations were held for and against Allende's presidency. On 11 September 1973 the military, citing a call by the Chilean Congress to end his presidency, illegally staged a coup against Allende. As the armed forces surrounded La Moneda Palace, Allende gave his last speech vowing not to resign, and allegedly committed suicide thereafter. After Allende's ouster Chile
was led by a military junta
, and then as a dictatorship
by General Augusto Pinochet
Early lifeAllende was born on 26 July 1908 in Valparaíso
. He was the son of Salvador Allende Castro and Laura Gossens Uribe. Allende's family
belonged to the Chilean upper class
and had a long tradition of political involvement in progressive and liberal
causes. His grandfather was a prominent physician and a social reformist who founded one of the first secular
schools in Chile. Salvador Allende was of Belgian and Basque
Allende attended high school at the Liceo Eduardo de la Barra in Valparaíso. As a teenager, his main intellectual and political influence came from the shoe-maker Juan De Marchi
, an Italian-born anarchist. Allende was a talented athlete in his youth, being a member of the Everton de Viña del Mar sports club (named after the more famous English football club of the same name
and which regularly competes at the highest level in Chilean football), where he is said to have excelled at the long jump
. Allende then graduated with a medical degree
in 1926 from the University of Chile.
He co-founded section Socialist Party of Chile
(founded in 1933 with Marmaduque Grove
and others) in Valparaíso
and became its chairman. He married Hortensia Bussi with whom he had three daughters. In 1933, he published his doctoral thesis Higiene Mental y Delincuencia (Crime and Mental Hygiene) in which he criticized Cesare Lombroso
In 1938, Allende was in charge of the electoral campaign of the Popular Front
headed by Pedro Aguirre Cerda
. The Popular Front's slogan was "Bread, a Roof and Work!" After its electoral victory, he became Minister of Health in the Reformist Popular Front government which was dominated by the Radicals
. While serving in this position, Allende was responsible for the passage of a wide range of progressive social reforms, including safety laws protecting workers in the factories, higher pensions for widows, maternity care, and free lunch programmes for schoolchildren.
Upon entering the government, Allende relinquished his parliamentary seat for Valparaíso, which he had won in 1937. Around that time, he wrote La Realidad Médico Social de Chile (The social and medical reality of Chile). After the Kristallnacht
in Nazi Germany
, Allende and other members of the Parliament sent a telegram to Adolf Hitler
denouncing the persecution of Jews. Following Aguirre's death in 1941, he was again elected deputy while the Popular Front was re-named Democratic Alliance
In 1945, Allende became senator for the Valdivia
, Aisén and Magallanes
provinces; then for Tarapacá
in 1953; for Aconcagua
in 1961; and once more for Chiloé, Aisén and Magallanes in 1969. He became president of the Chilean Senate in 1966.
and 1964 election
s) prompted Allende to joke that his epitaph would be "Here lies the next President of Chile." In 1952, as candidate for the Frente de Acción Popular (Popular Action Front, FRAP), he obtained only 5.4% of the votes, partly due to a division within socialist ranks over support for Carlos Ibáñez. In 1958, again as the FRAP candidate, Allende obtained 28.5% of the vote. This time, his defeat was attributed to votes lost to the populist
Antonio Zamorano. In 1964, once more as the FRAP candidate, he lost again, polling 38.6% of the votes against 55.6% for Christian Democrat
. As it became clear that the election would be a race between Allende and Frei, the political right
which initially had backed Radical
Julio Durán. settled for Frei as "the lesser evil".
Allende's socialist beliefs and friendship with Cuban president Fidel Castro
made him deeply unpopular within the administrations of successive U.S. presidents, from John F. Kennedy
to Richard Nixon
; they believed there was a danger of Chile becoming a communist state
and joining the Soviet Union's sphere of influence
. Allende, however, publicly condemned the Soviet invasion of Hungary
(1956) and of Czechoslovakia
(1968) but he later made Chile the first Government in continental America to recognize the People's Republic of China
Relationship with the Chilean Communist PartyAllende had a close relationship with the Chilean Communist Party
from the beginning of his political career. On his fourth (and successful) bid for the presidency, the Communist Party appointed him as the alternate for its own candidate, the world-renowned poet Pablo Neruda
During his presidential term, Allende took positions held by the Communists, in opposition to the views of the socialists
. Some argue, however, that this was reversed at the end of his period in office.
Allende won the 1970 Chilean presidential election as leader of the Unidad Popular ("Popular Unity") coalition. On 4 September 1970, he obtained a narrow plurality of 36.2 percent to 34.9 percent over Jorge Alessandri
, a former president, with 27.8 percent going to a third candidate (Radomiro Tomic
) of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), whose electoral platform was similar to Allende's. According to the Chilean Constitution of the time, if no presidential candidate obtained a majority of the popular vote, Congress would choose one of the two candidates with the highest number of votes as the winner. Tradition was for Congress to vote for the candidate with the highest popular vote, regardless of margin. Indeed, former president Jorge Alessandri had been elected in 1958 with only 31.6 percent of the popular vote, defeating Allende.
One month after the election, on 20 October, while the senate had still to reach a decision and negotiations were actively in place between the Christian Democrats and the Popular Unity, General René Schneider
, Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army, was shot resisting a kidnap attempt by a group led by General Roberto Viaux
. Hospitalized, he died of his wounds three days later, on 23 October. Viaux's kidnapping plan had been supported by the CIA, although the then U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger
claims to have ordered the plans postponed at the last moment. Many believe Kissinger's statement to be false and evidence points towards CIA director Richard Helms
following orders directly from President Nixon to do whatever was necessary in order “to get rid of him”, referring to Allende. Nixon handed over a blank check to Helms, which allowed him to use full discretion in ridding Chile of Allende’s presence and “making the economy scream”. Schneider was a defender of the "constitutionalist" doctrine
that the army's role is exclusively professional, its mission being to protect the country's sovereignty and not to interfere in politics.
General Schneider's death was widely disapproved of and, for the time, ended military opposition to Allende, whom the parliament finally chose on 24 October. On 26 October, President Eduardo Frei
named General Carlos Prats
as commander in chief of the army to replace René Schneider.
Allende assumed the presidency on 3 November 1970 after signing a Statute of Constitutional Guarantees proposed by the Christian Democrats in return for their support in Congress. In an extensive interview with Régis Debray
in 1972, Allende explained his reasons for agreeing to the guarantees. Some critics have interpreted Allende's responses as an admission that signing the Statute was only a tactical move.
of large-scale industries (notably copper mining and banking), and government administration of the health care system, educational system (with the help of an U.S. educator, Jane A. Hobson-Gonzalez from Kokomo, Indiana
), a programme of free milk for children in the schools and shanty towns of Chile, and an expansion of the land seizure and redistribution already begun under his predecessor Eduardo Frei Montalva
, who had nationalized between one-fifth and one-quarter of all the properties listed for takeover. The Allende government's intention was to seize all holdings of more than eighty irrigated hectares. Allende also intended to improve the socio-economic welfare of Chile's poorest citizens; a key element was to provide employment, either in the new nationalised enterprises or on public work projects.
Allende’s first step in early 1971 was to raise minimum wages (in real terms) for blue-collar workers in real terms by 37%-41% and 8%-10% for white-collar workers. Educational, food, and housing assistance was significantly expanded, with public-housing starts going up twelvefold and eligibility for free milk extended from age 6 to age 15. A year later, blue-collar wages were raised by 27% in real terms and white-collar wages became fully indexed. Price controls were also set up, while the Allende Government introduced a system of distribution networks through various agencies (including local committees on supply and prices) to ensure that the new rules were adhered to by shopkeepers.
The new Minister of Agriculture, Jacques Chonchol, promised to expropriate all estates which were larger than eighty “basic” hectares. This promise was kept, with no farm in Chile exceeding this limit by the end of 1972.
The Allende Government also sought to bring the arts (both serious and popular) to the mass of the Chilean population by funding a number of cultural endeavours. With eighteen-year olds and illiterates now granted the right to vote, mass participation in decision-making was encouraged by the Allende government, with traditional hierarchical structures now challenged by socialist egalitarianism. The Allende Government was also able to draw upon the idealism of its supporters, with teams of Allendistas travelling into the countryside and shanty towns to perform volunteer work.
Social spending was dramatically increased, particularly for housing, education, and health, while a major effort was made to redistribute wealth to poorer Chileans. As a result of new initiatives in nutrition and health, together with higher wages, many poorer Chileans were able to feed themselves and clothe themselves better than they had been able to before. Public access to the social security system was increased, while state benefits such as family allowances were raised significantly.
Chilean presidents were allowed a maximum term of six years, which may explain Allende's haste to restructure the economy. Not only was a major restructuring program organized (the Vuskovic plan
), he had to make it a success if a Socialist successor to Allende was going to be elected. In the first year of Allende's term, the short-term economic results of Minister of the Economy Pedro Vuskovic
's expansive monetary policy were highly favorable: 12% industrial growth and an 8.6% increase in GDP, accompanied by major declines in inflation (down from 34.9% to 22.1%) and unemployment (down to 3.8%). However by 1972, the Chilean escudo had an inflation rate of 140%. The average Real GDP contracted between 1971 and 1973 at an annual rate of 5.6% ("negative growth"); and the government's fiscal deficit soared while foreign reserves declined [Flores, 1997: source requires title/publisher]. The combination of inflation and government-mandated price-fixing, together with the "disappearance" of basic commodities from supermarket shelves, led to the rise of black markets in rice, beans, sugar, and flour. The Chilean economy also suffered as a result of a US campaign against the Allende government.
The Allende government announced it would default on debt
s owed to international creditors and foreign governments. Allende also froze all prices while raising salaries. His implementation of these policies was strongly opposed by landowners, employers, businessmen and transporters associations, and some civil servants and professional unions. The rightist opposition was led by National Party, the Roman Catholic Church (which in 1973 was displeased with the direction of educational policy), and eventually the Christian Democrats
. There were growing tensions with foreign multinational corporation
s and the government of the United States.
Allende also undertook Project Cybersyn
, a system of networked telex
machines and computers. Cybersyn was developed by British cybernetics
expert Stafford Beer
. The network transmitted data from factories to the government in Santiago, allowing for economic planning in real-time.
In 1971, Chile re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba
, joining Mexico
in rejecting a previously-established Organization of American States
convention prohibiting governments in the Western Hemisphere
from establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Shortly afterward, Cuban president Fidel Castro
made a month-long visit to Chile. Originally the visit was supposed to be one week, however Castro enjoyed Chile, and one week turned to another. The visit, in which Castro held massive rallies and gave public advice to Allende, was seen by those on the political right as proof to support their view that "The Chilean Path to Socialism" was an effort to put Chile on the same path as Cuba.
October 1972 saw the first of what were to be a wave of strikes. The strikes were led first by truckers, and later by small businessmen, some (mostly professional) unions and some student groups. Other than the inevitable damage to the economy, the chief effect of the 24-day strike was to induce Allende to bring the head of the army, general Carlos Prats
, into the government as Interior Minister. Allende also instructed the government to begin requisitioning trucks in order to keep the nation from coming to a halt. Government supporters also helped to mobilize trucks and buses but violence served as a deterrent to full mobilization, even with police protection for the strike breakers. Allende's actions were eventually declared unlawful by the Chilean appeals court and the government was ordered to return trucks to their owners.
Throughout this presidency racial tensions between the poor descendants of indigenous people, who supported Allende's reforms, and the white settler elite increased.
Allende raised wages on a number of occasions throughout 1970 and 1971, but these wage hikes were negated by the in-tandem inflation of Chile's fiat currency. Although price rises had also been high under Frei (27% a year between 1967 and 1970), a basic basket of consumer goods rose by 120% from 190 to 421 escudos in one month alone, August 1972. In the period 1970–72, while Allende was in government, exports fell 24% and imports rose 26%, with imports of food rising an estimated 149%.
Export income fell due to a hard hit copper industry: the price of copper on international markets fell by almost a third, and post-nationalization copper production fell as well. Copper is Chile's single most important export (more than half of Chile's export receipts were from this sole commodity). The price of copper fell from a peak of $66 per ton in 1970 to only $48–9 in 1971 and 1972. Chile was already dependent on food imports, and this decline in export earnings coincided with declines in domestic food production following Allende's agrarian reforms.
Throughout his presidency, Allende remained at odds with the Chilean Congress, which was dominated by the Christian Democratic Party. The Christian Democrats (who had campaigned on a socialist platform in the 1970 elections, but drifted away from those positions during Allende's presidency, eventually forming a coalition with the National Party), continued to accuse Allende of leading Chile toward a Cuban-style dictatorship, and sought to overturn many of his more radical policies. Allende and his opponents in Congress repeatedly accused each other of undermining the Chilean Constitution and acting undemocratically.
Allende's increasingly bold socialist policies (partly in response to pressure from some of the more radical members within his coalition), combined with his close contacts with Cuba
, heightened fears in Washington
. The Nixon administration
began exerting economic pressure on Chile via multilateral
organizations, and continued to back Allende's opponents in the Chilean Congress. Almost immediately after his election, Nixon directed CIA and U.S. State Department officials to "put pressure" on the Allende government.
Foreign relations during Allende's presidencyAllende's Popular Unity government tried to maintain normal relations with the United States. When Chile nationalized its copper industry, Washington cut off U.S. credits and increased its support to opposition. Forced to seek alternative sources of trade and finance, Chile gained commitments from the Soviet Union
to invest some $400 million in Chile in the next six years. Allende's government was disappointed that it received far less economic assistance from the USSR than it hoped for. Trade between the two countries did not significantly increase and the credits were mainly linked to the purchase of Soviet equipment. Moreover, credits from the Soviet Union were much less than those provided to the People's Republic of China and countries of Eastern Europe
. When Allende visited the USSR
in late 1972 in search of more aid and additional lines of credit, after 3 years of political and economic failure and chaos, he was turned down.
US involvementThe possibility of Allende winning Chile's 1970 election was deemed a disaster by a US administration
which wanted to protect US business interests and prevent any spread of Communism during the Cold War
. In September 1970, President Nixon
informed the CIA that an Allende government in Chile would not be acceptable and authorized $10 million to stop Allende from coming to power or unseat him. The CIA's plans to impede Allende's investiture as President of Chile were known as "Track I" and "Track II"; Track I sought to prevent Allende from assuming power via so-called "parliamentary trickery", while under the Track II initiative, the CIA tried to convince key Chilean military officers to carry out a coup.
During Nixon's presidency, U.S. officials attempted to prevent Allende's election by financing political parties aligned with opposition candidate Jorge Alessandri
and supporting strikes in the mining and transportation sectors.
After the 1970 election, the Track I operation attempted to incite Chile's outgoing president, Eduardo Frei Montalva
, to persuade his party (PDC) to vote in Congress for Alessandri. Under the plan, Alessandri
would resign his office immediately after assuming it and call new elections. Eduardo Frei would then be constitutionally able to run again (since the Chilean Constitution did not allow a president to hold two consecutive terms, but allowed multiple non-consecutive ones), and presumably easily defeat Allende. The Chilean Congress instead chose Allende as President, on the condition that he would sign a "Statute of Constitutional Guarantees" affirming that he would respect and obey the Chilean Constitution
, and that his reforms would not undermine any of its elements.
Track II was aborted, as parallel initiatives already underway within the Chilean military rendered it moot.
During the second term of office of Democratic
President Bill Clinton
, the CIA acknowledged having played a role in Chilean politics prior to the coup, but its degree of involvement is debated. The CIA was notified by its Chilean contacts of the impending coup two days in advance, but contends it "played no direct role in" the coup.
Much of the internal opposition to Allende's policies came from business sector, and recently-released U.S. government documents confirm that the U.S. indirectly funded the truck drivers' strike, which exacerbated the already chaotic economic situation prior to the coup.
The most prominent U.S. corporations in Chile prior to Allende's presidency were the Anaconda
copper companies, and ITT Corporation
, International Telephone and Telegraph. Both the copper corporations aimed to expand privatized copper production in the city of El Teniente
in the Chilean Andes
, the world's largest underground copper mine. At the end of 1968, according to US Department of Commerce
data, U.S. corporate holdings in Chile amounted to $964 million. Anaconda and Kennecott accounted for 28% of U.S. holdings, but ITT had by far the largest holding of any single corporation, with an investment of $200 million in Chile. In 1970, before Allende was elected, ITT owned 70% of Chitelco, the Chilean Telephone Company and funded El Mercurio
, a Chilean right-wing newspaper. Documents released in 2000 by the CIA confirmed that before the elections of 1970, ITT gave $700,000 to Allende's conservative opponent, Jorge Alessandri, with help from the CIA on how to channel the money safely. ITT president Harold Geneen
also offered $1 million to the CIA to help defeat Allende in the elections.
After General Pinochet assumed power, United States Secretary of State
Richard Nixon that the U.S. "didn't do it," but "we helped them...created the conditions as great as possible." (referring to the coup itself). Recent documents declassified under the Clinton administration's Chile Declassification Project show that the United States government and the CIA sought the overthrow of Allende in 1970 immediately before he took office ("Project FUBELT
"). Many documents regarding the 1973 coup remain classified.
CrisisOn June 29, 1973, Colonel Roberto Souper
surrounded the presidential palace, La Moneda, with his tank regiment but failed to depose the government. That failed coup d’état – known as the Tanquetazo
("tank putsch") – organised by the nationalist Patria y Libertad paramilitary group, was followed by a general strike at the end of July that included the copper miners of El Teniente.
In August, 1973, a constitutional crisis
occurred, and the Supreme Court of Chile
publicly complained about the inability of Allende government to enforce the law of the land. On August 22nd, the Chamber of Deputies (with the Christian Democrats uniting with the National Party) accused the government of unconstitutional acts through Allende's refusal to promulgate constitutional amendments, already approved by the Chamber, which would have prevented his government from continuing his massive nationalization
plan and called upon the military to enforce constitutional order.
For months, Allende had feared calling upon the Carabineros
("Carabineers", the national police force), suspecting them of disloyalty to his government. On August 9th, President Allende appointed General Carlos Prats
as Minister of Defence
. On August 24, 1973, General Prats was forced to resign both as defense minister and as the commander-in-chief of the army
, embarrassed by both the Alejandrina Cox incident
and a public protest in front of his house by the wives of his generals. General Augusto Pinochet
replaced him as Army commander-in-chief the same day.
Supreme Court's resolutionOn May 26, 1973, the Supreme Court of Chile
unanimously denounced the Allende government's disruption of the legality of the nation in its failure to uphold judicial decisions, because of its continual refusal to permit police execution of judicial decisions contrary to the government's own measures.
Chamber of Deputies' resolutionOn August 22, 1973, the Christian Democrats and the National Party members of the Chamber of Deputies joined together to vote 81 to 47 in favor of a resolution that asked the authorities to "put an immediate end" to "breach[es of] the Constitution . . . with the goal of redirecting government activity toward the path of law and ensuring the Constitutional order of our Nation, and the essential underpinnings of democratic co-existence among Chileans."
The resolution declared that Allende's government sought "to conquer absolute power with the obvious purpose of subjecting all citizens to the strictest political and economic control by the State . . . [with] the goal of establishing . . . a totalitarian system" and claimed that the government had made "violations of the Constitution . . . a permanent system of conduct." Essentially, most of the accusations were about disregard by the Socialist government of the separation of powers, and arrogating legislative and judicial prerogatives to the executive branch of government.
Specifically, the Socialist government of President Allende was accused of:
- Ruling by decree, thwarting the normal legislative system
- Refusing to enforce judicial decisions against its partisans; not carrying out sentences and judicial resolutions that contravened its objectives
- Ignoring the decrees of the independent General Comptroller's Office
- Sundry media offenses; usurping control of the National Television Network and applying economic pressure against those media organizations that are not unconditional supporters of the government
- Allowing its Socialist supporters to assemble with arms, and preventing the same by its right-wing opponents
- Supporting more than 1,500 illegal "takings" of farms
- Illegal repression of the El Teniente miners’ strike
- Illegally limiting emigration
Finally, the resolution condemned the creation and development of government-protected [socialist] armed groups, which . . . are headed towards a confrontation with the armed forces. President Allende's efforts to re-organize the military and the police forces were characterized as notorious attempts to use the armed and police forces for partisan ends, destroy their institutional hierarchy, and politically infiltrate their ranks.
President Allende's responseTwo days later, on 24 August 1973, President Allende responded, characterising the Congress's declaration as destined to damage the country’s prestige abroad and create internal confusion, predicting It will facilitate the seditious intention of certain sectors. He noted that the declaration (passed 81–47 in the Chamber of Deputies) had not obtained the two-thirds Senate majority constitutionally required to convict the president of abuse of power
: essentially, the Congress were invoking the intervention of the armed forces and of Order against a democratically-elected government and subordinat[ing] political representation of national sovereignty to the armed institutions, which neither can nor ought to assume either political functions or the representation of the popular will.
Mr Allende argued he had obeyed constitutional means for including military men to the cabinet at the service of civic peace and national security, defending republican institutions against insurrection and terrorism. In contrast, he said that Congress was promoting a coup d’état or a civil war with a declaration full of affirmations that had already been refuted beforehand and which, in substance and process (directly handing it to the ministers rather than directly handing it to the President) violated a dozen articles of the (then-current) Constitution. He further argued that the legislature was usurping the government's executive function.
President Allende wrote: Chilean democracy is a conquest by all of the people. It is neither the work nor the gift of the exploiting classes, and it will be defended by those who, with sacrifices accumulated over generations, have imposed it . . . With a tranquil conscience . . . I sustain that never before has Chile had a more democratic government than that over which I have the honor to preside . . . I solemnly reiterate my decision to develop democracy and a state of law to their ultimate consequences . . . Parliament has made itself a bastion against the transformations . . . and has done everything it can to perturb the functioning of the finances and of the institutions, sterilizing all creative initiatives.
Adding that economic and political means would be needed to relieve the country's current crisis, and that the Congress were obstructing said means; having already paralyzed the State, they sought to destroy it. He concluded by calling upon the workers, all democrats and patriots to join him in defending the Chilean Constitution and the revolutionary process.
The coupIn early September 1973, Allende floated the idea of resolving the constitutional crisis with a plebiscite. His speech outlining such a solution was scheduled for 11 September, but he was never able to deliver it. On 11 September 1973, the Chilean military staged a coup
(the Presidential Palace), with gunfire and explosions clearly audible in the background, Allende gave his (subsequently famous) farewell speech to Chileans on live radio, speaking of himself in the past tense, of his love for Chile and of his deep faith in its future. He stated that his commitment to Chile did not allow him to take an easy way out, and he would not be used as a propaganda tool by those he called "traitors" (he refused an offer of safe passage), clearly implying he intended to fight to the end.
|"Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail. Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society. Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!"|
|President Salvador Allende's farewell speech, 11 September 1973.|
Shortly afterwards, the coup plotters announced that Allende committed suicide. An official announcement declared that he had committed suicide with an automatic rifle. Prior to his death he had been photographed several times holding an Ak-47, a gift from his good friend Fidel Castro. He was found dead with this gun. In his 2004 documentary Salvador Allende
, Patricio Guzmán
incorporates a graphic image of Allende's corpse in the position it was found after his death. According to Guzmán's documentary, Allende shot himself with a pistol and not a rifle.
For years, Chilean left-wing maintained that Allende had been assassinated, considering that a suicide would weaken Allende's figure. His doctor, José Quiroga, witness of Allende's suicide, but who kept silence for a long time, said “It was more important the political issue of everybody believing that Allende had been killed by the military”. In recent years the view that he committed suicide has become more broadly accepted, particularly as different testimonies appear to confirm details of the suicide reported in news and documentary interviews. His personal doctor described the death as a suicide, and his family accepts the finding. The theory that he was assassinated persists and is referenced in the Michael Moore film Bowling for Columbine
In 2011, the controversy over the cause of death was reopened as the subject of an official investigation. On the basis of the original 1973 autopsy, Luis Ravanal, a medical examiner, expressed the opinion that the wounds on the body were not consistent with the theses of the alleged witnesses, namely that there were wounds caused by different guns. In January 2011, a Chilean judge ordered an inquiry, the first judicial investigation of the death. On May 23, 2011, Allende's body was exhumed in order to have an autopsy performed by an international forensic team. On May 31, TVN, the state television station, reported the recent discovery of a secret 300-page military account of Allende's death. The document had been kept in the home of a former military justice official, and was discovered when his house was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake
. After reviewing the report, two forensic experts told TVN "that they are inclined to conclude that Allende was assassinated." This belief is supported by forensic expert Luis Ravanal who has been studying Allende's autopsy since 2007. Ravanal says he found details in the autopsy that weren't in line with the official version of Allende's death. The cranium, he says, shows evidence of a first shot with a small gun, like a pistol, and then, a second shot from a larger weapon — like an AK-47 — which could mean that Allende was shot and killed, then shot a second time with his own gun, to make it look like suicide. Chile's Legal Medical Service confirmed on July 19, 2011 that the death was suicide, consistent with the beliefs of Allende's family. Dr. Patricio Bustos, the director of Chile's LMS, described the conclusions as "definitive". Briton
David Prayer, an expert in ballistics, stated that the former president died as the result of two gunshots wounds which came from an assault rifle placed between his legs and aimed at his chin. The scientific autopsy team delivered a unanimous finding that Allende used an AK-47
rifle given to him by Fidel Castro
. The gun was set to fire automatically and the shots tore off the top of his head, killing him instantly.
- History of ChileHistory of ChileThe territory of Chile has been populated since at least 2,000 BC. By the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors began to subdue and colonize the region of present-day Chile, and the territory became a colony from 1540 to 1818, when it gained independence from Spain...
- Allende stampsAllende stampsOne of the first postage stamps to commemorate Salvador Allende, released after the 1973 coup in Chile, was the Soviet one. It was issued just two months after the event and had a circulation of 3.8 million. The issue was designed by the painter A...
- Chile under AllendeChile under AllendeSalvador Allende was the president of Chile from 1970 until 1973, and head of the Popular Unity government; he was the first Marxist ever to be elected to the national presidency of a democracy...
- Death of Salvador AllendeDeath of Salvador AllendeSalvador Allende, President of Chile, reportedly committed suicide during the Chilean coup of 1973. Since that time, there has been great controversy between supporters and detractors of Allende on the circumstances of his death, since the military junta's version of his suicide was discounted by...
- Marta HarneckerMarta HarneckerMarta Harnecker is a Chilean sociologist, political scientist, journalist and activist. Harnecker, a descendant of Austrian immigrants, was a Roman Catholic in her childhood. She visited Cuba in 1960-Early life:...
- Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents relating to the Military Coup, 1970–1976, (From the United States' National Security ArchiveNational Security ArchiveThe National Security Archive is a 501 non-governmental, non-profit research and archival institution located in the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.. Founded in 1985 by Scott Armstrong, it archives and publishes declassified U.S. government files concerning selected topics of US...
- Thomas Karamessines (1970). Operation Guide for the Conspiration in Chile, Washington: United States National Security Council.
- Isabel AllendeIsabel AllendeIsabel Allende Llona is a Chilean writer with American citizenship. Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the "magic realist" tradition, is famous for novels such as The House of the Spirits and City of the Beasts , which have been commercially successful...
, Chilean writer, Allende's cousin once-removed.
- Henry A. Kissinger
- La Batalla de Chile) – Cuba/Chile/França/Venezuela, 1975, 1977 e 1979. Director Patricio Guzmán. Duration: 272 minutes.
- Márquez, Gabriel García. Chile, el golpe y los gringos. Crónica de una tragedia organizada, Manágua, Nicaragua: Radio La Primeirissima, 11 de setembro de 2006
- Kornbluh, Peter. El Mercurio file, The., Columbia Journalism Review, Sep/Oct 2003
- Victoria A. Schobert-Gonzalez, Jane A. Gonzalez's American daughter-in-law, Writer, Historian, Artist, Naturalist
- Photos of the public places named in homage to the President Allende all around the world
- Salvador Allende's "Last Words" Spanish text with English translation. The transcript of the last radio broadcast of Chilean President Salvador Allende, made on 11 September 1973, at 9:10 am. MP3 audio available here http://www.salvador-allende.cl/Audio/Salvador_Allende_11sept_1973.mp3.
- Caso Pinochet. While nominally a page about the Pinochet case, this large collection of links includes Allende's dissertation and numerous documents (mostly PDFs) related to the dissertation and to the controversy about it, ranging from the Cesare Lombroso material discussed in Allende's dissertation to a collective telegram of protest over KristallnachtKristallnachtKristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...
signed by Allende.
- An Interview with Salvadore Allende: President of Chile, interviewed by Saul LandauSaul LandauSaul Landau is journalist, filmmaker, and commentator. He is Professor Emeritus at California State University, Pomona. He is a senior Fellow at and Vice Chair of the Institute for Policy Studies.-Career:...
, Dove Films, 1971, 32 min. (previously unreleased):
- Video (Spanish with English subtitles) in El Clarin de Chile. (Alternative location at Google Video)
- September 11, 1973, When US-Backed Pinochet Forces Took Power in Chile – video report by Democracy Now!Democracy Now!Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television; the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of...