Salvador Allende is elected President of Chile

Salvador Allende is elected President of Chile

4 September 1970 AC

Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens (Spanish: [salβaˈðoɾ aˈʝende ˈɣosens]; 26 June 1908 – 11 September 1973) was a Chilean physician and politician, known as the first Marxist to become president of a Latin American country through open elections.


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, deputy and cabinet minister. He unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in the 1952, 1958, and 1964 elections. In 1970, he won the presidency in a close three-way race. He was elected in a run-off by Congress as no candidate had gained a majority.


As president, Allende adopted a policy of nationalization of industries and collectivization; due to these and other factors, increasingly strained relations between him and the legislative and judicial branches of the Chilean government – who did not share his enthusiasm for socialization – culminated in a declaration of a "constitutional breakdown" by the congress. A centre-right majority including the Christian Democrats, whose support had enabled Allende's election, denounced his rule as unconstitutional and called for his overthrow by force. On 11 September 1973 the military moved to oust Allende in a coup d'état sponsored by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. As troops surrounded La Moneda Palace, Allende gave his last speech vowing not to resign. He died later that day in uncertain and controversial circumstances.


Following Allende's deposition, army General Augusto Pinochet declined to return authority to the civilian government; and Chile became ruled by a military junta that was in power from 1973 to 1990, ending almost 41 years of Chilean democratic rule. The military junta that took over dissolved the Congress of Chile and began a ruthless persecution of alleged dissidents, in which thousands of Allende's supporters were murdered, including (in exile) his Minister of Foreign Affairs Orlando Letelier (killed in Washington D.C.) and his Deputy President Carlos Prats.