Salvador Allende was a Chilean President and Socialist leader.
Early Life Edit
Allende was born in Valparaiso and involved in politics while a medical student at the University of Chile in 1926. He earned a Medical Degree at that university in 1932, chosing to become a pediatrician. In 1933, Allende helped organize the Socialist Party of Chile (PSC). He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies, a house of the Chilean legislature, from 1937 to 1945. Allende later served as Chile's Minister of Health. From 1945 to 1970, he served in the Senate.
Unlike the Communists in the Soviet Union and Cuba, Allende believed in Democratic Socialism — that the workers' revolution of Marx could be achieved democratically. In an election that surprised most of Chile's small wealthy class, Senator Allende was elected Chilean president with the support of his Socialists and the Communist Party of Chile in September, 1973.
He immediately began agrarian (land) reform — taking large estates, breaking them up, and giving the small plots to poor peasants. He also proposed nationalizing many industries in the country, such as Chile's valuable copper mines. He re-opened diplomatic relations with Cuba, which had been discontinued after Fidel Castro had come to power in 1959. This worried the American establishment — whose businessmen owned shares in the mines.
With the backing of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began training right-wing soldiers in the Chilean military, preparing them for a coup. This idea was fully supported by the entire Nixon Administration. In 1973, Chilean general Augusto Pinochet began the military coup d'état that the US had been hoping for, overthrowing the democratic government and installing a fascist dictatorship. Pinochet had Allende executed while the latter man was defending the Presidential Palace.
The right-wing dictatorship of Pinochet lasted for two decades. Thousands of leftists and dissidents ("The Disappeared") were arrested and executed by this fascist regime. Although supported by the Reagan Administration and others, Pinochet was eventually overthrown by pro-democratic movements initiated by the Chilean people. Pinochet went into hiding in Great Britain before being found and extradited to Chile. Allende's Socialist Party returned to power through new democratic elections.
Many say that the death of Allende shows how honestly the American government "defends democracy," as well as showing how closely tied the government is to business interests and right-wing militarists who would love to become dictators with the help of the US.