Born: July 26, 1908 in Valparaíso, Chile
Died: Sep. 11, 1973 in Santiago, Chile
Salvador Allende was the first democratically elected Marxist leader of a Latin American country. With high unemployment and an estimated half of all children under age fifteen malnourished, he set out to redistribute Chile’s wealth and land.
The U.S. government had tried to prevent Allende’s election and was further angered by the socialization of Chile. On September 11, 1973, Chile was the scene of a military coup. The 9/11 “terrorist” attacks that struck the U.S. in 2001 occurred on the same date, a reminder that the U.S. supported Chile’s coup.
Allende committed suicide rather than surrender. He was replaced by General Augusto Pinochet, who led a reign of terror that included the brutal murder of Victor Jara, a famous poet, singer-songwriter, theater director and political activist. Another Chilean who was tortured to death was General Alberto Bachelor Martínez. His daughter, Michelle Bachelet — who was also tortured — became the first woman elected president in Chile.