Salvador Allende

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We already had success in creating a democratic, national government that is revolutionary and popular. That is how socialism begins, not with decrees.

Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens (26 June 190811 September 1973) was a Chilean politician of the Socialist Party, and President of Chile from November 1970 up until his death during the 1973 coup.


For you to be a Communist or a Socialist is to be totalitarian; for me no.… On the contrary, I think Socialism frees man.
We never take advantage of experience wherever it comes from, but adapting it to our reality.
  • Stalin was an example of creativity, humanism and an edifying example of peace and heroism! [...] Everything that he did, he did at the service of the people. Our father Stalin is dead, but when remembering his example, our affection towards him will make our arms grow strong for the building of a great tomorrow, to assure a future in memory of his magnificent example.
  • Now the question is, "Who is going to use whom?" Even accepting the form of the question, the answer is the proletariat. If it wasn't so I wouldn't be here. I am working for Socialism and through Socialism.
    • As quoted in Conversations With Allende (1970) by Regis Debray
  • 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.
    • As quoted in Conversations With Allende (1970) by Regis Debray
  • We already had success in creating a democratic, national government that is revolutionary and popular. That is how socialism begins, not with decrees.
    • As quoted in Conversations With Allende (1970) by Regis Debray
  • 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 in "Allende Sees Chile Finding Her Own Way to Socialism" by Joseph Novitski, in The New York Times (4 October 1970)
  • I have been to Cuba many times. I have spoken many times with Fidel Castro and got to know Commander Ernesto Guevara well enough. I know Cuba's leaders and their struggle. It has been difficult to overcome the blockade. But the reality in Cuba is very different from that in Chile. Cuba came from a dictatorship, and I arrived at the presidency after being senator for 25 years.
    • Interview with Saul Landau (1971)
  • I have experience and I am employing it in the service of a Chilean road for Chile's problems. We always take advantage of experience wherever it comes from, but adapting it to our reality. I am putting it to use in a Chilean way, for the problems of Chile. We are not anyone's mental colonists.
    • Interview with Saul Landau (1971)

Final address (1973)[edit]

I have faith in Chile and its destiny.
The last radio broadcast of Allende (11 September 1973 at 9:10 am.) Spanish text with English translation · Audio mp3
  • Surely, this will be the last opportunity for me to address you. The Air Force has bombed the antennas of Radio Magallanes. My words do not have bitterness but disappointment. … the only thing left for me is to say to workers: I am not going to resign!
  • Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for loyalty to the people with my life. And I say to them that I am certain that the seeds which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever. They have force and will be able to dominate us, but social processes can be arrested by neither crime nor force. History is ours, and people make history.
  • Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty that you always had, the confidence that you deposited in a man who was only an interpreter of great yearnings for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the Constitution and the law and did just that.
  • I address the youth, those who sang and gave us their joy and their spirit of struggle. I address the man of Chile, the worker, the farmer, the intellectual, those who will be persecuted, because in our country fascism has been already present for many hours — in terrorist attacks, blowing up the bridges, cutting the railroad tracks, destroying the oil and gas pipelines, in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation to act.
    They were committed. History will judge them.
    Surely, Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal instrument of my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you. At least my memory will be that of a man of dignity who was loyal to his country.
  • The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.
    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, great avenues will again be opened, through which will pass the free man, to construct a better society.
    Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!
    These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain, I am certain that, at the very least, it will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice, and treason.


  • I am not the president of all the Chileans. I am not a hypocrite that says so.
    • Quoted by Chilean newspapers as a remark at a public rally (17 January 1971). Allende sent a public letter to El Mercurio newspaper to deny the quotation
      • Citied in Jonathan Haslam's "The Nixon Administration and the Death of Allende's Chile"

Quotes about Allende[edit]

Allende is seeking the totality of power, which means Communist tyranny disguised as the dictatorship of the proletariat. ~ Christian Democratic Party
Of all of the leaders in the region, we considered Allende the most inimical to our interests. ~ Henry Kissinger
The Popular Unity government represented the first attempt anywhere to build a genuinely democratic transition to socialism — a socialism that, owing to its origins, might be guided not by authoritarian bureaucracy, but by democratic self-rule. ~ North American Congress on Latin America
Sorted alphabetically by author or source
The armed forces have acted today solely from the patriotic inspiration of saving the country from the tremendous chaos into which it was being plunged by the Marxist government of Salvador Allende. ~ Augusto Pinochet
  • I think Pinochet has been proven to be an evil dictator in the eyes of most people in the world, and most people see Allende as a dreamer and even as a visionary.
  • Allende was proposing very deep reforms. He had a dream. He was a socialist, a Marxist, the first socialist Marxist president ever to be elected by a democratic free election. He wanted to institute these reforms within the bounds of Chile's constitution. We continued to enjoy all the civil rights we had before: freedom of the press, speech, education and religion. Within the constitutional framework, he tried to redistribute the land and that meant taking it from rich landowners who owned half the country. He also attempted to regain control of Chile's copper mines from the North Americans, and do many other things that were very important to our economy and for our dignity as a country. It was a fascinating process and a beautiful dream. Before that, Chile had been a democracy, but without social justice. How can you have a social democracy if there is such great inequality that a few people have all the opportunities and all the wealth while the great majority does not?
    • Isabel Allende, Interviews with Latin American writers by Marie Lise Gazarian Gautier (1989)
  • I don't think he influenced my life much until he died, although I always had great admiration for him. When we had the military coup in Chile in 1973, it was not he, but the military coup that changed the lives of so many Chileans. It affected half the population dramatically. Salvador Allende was my father’s first cousin. I saw him on weekends, sometimes on vacations, but I did not live with him. After the military coup, I realized that he had a historical dimension. I only saw that after I left Chile. Following the coup, his name was banned throughout Chile. When I went to Venezuela, every time I said my name, people would ask immediately if I was related to Salvador Allende. He has become a legendary figure, a hero.
  • Allende is seeking the totality of power, which means Communist tyranny disguised as the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  • Chile had long been polarized between conservatives and reformers. Socialists had the upper hand until World War II, after which liberal Christian Democrats dominated, following many socialist programmes. When conservatives and liberals split in 1970, Salvador Allende, a prominent and eloquent Marxist, won the election with 36 per cent of the vote. He pledged to rule democratically, but brought in ideologues whose policies caused crippling shortages and explosive inflation. Hostility between left and right paralyzed the government, while strikes and Allende's efforts to create a popular militia increased the fury of the opposition. The military had traditionally stood outside politics, but now seemed the country's only hope for stability. Urged on by politicians and the press, leaders of the navy and air force planned a coup. They called on General Pinochet to join them.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 188
  • Except perhaps for Che Guevara, no one has quite been the heroic totem to the global left than the late Marxist president of Chile, whose death in 1973 made him a martyr to socialism.
    Allende seemingly legitimized socialism as a democratically elected leader, the first Marxist who in 1970 didn't shoot his way to power.That gave the left hope for more.
    Elected with just 36% of the vote in a split election, he believed he had a mandate to ram through a hard-core Marxist program of expropriation and indoctrination like that of his mentor, Cuba's Fidel Castro.
    In the process Allende left Chile's economy in ruins and trampled the rule of law so badly he brought his country to the brink of civil war. He was stopped only when the legislature charged him with 22 constitutional violations and ordered Chile's military to oust him.
  • I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.
    • Henry Kissinger, in a meeting of the US "40 Committee" overseeing covert actions (27 June 1970)
  • Of all of the leaders in the region, we considered Allende the most inimical to our interests. He was vocally pro-Castro and opposed to the United States. His internal policies were a threat to Chilean democratic liberties and human rights.
  • Since the 1950s, several democratically elected socialist governments have nationalized large parts of their extractive sectors and begun to redistribute to the poor and middle class the wealth that had previously hemorrhaged into foreign bank accounts, most notably Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran and Salvador Allende in Chile. But those experiments were interrupted by foreign-sponsored coups d'état before reaching their potential.
    • Naomi Klein This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014)
  • The Popular Unity victory did not bring on the social panic US intelligence had expected. On the contrary, the new government’s independence in international affairs and its decisiveness in economic matters immediately created an atmosphere of social celebration.
    During the first year, 47 industrial firms were nationalised, along with most of the banking system. Agrarian reform saw the expropriation and incorporation into communal property of six million acres of land formerly held by the large landowners. The inflationary process was slowed, full employment was attained and wages received a cash rise of 30 per cent. … Popular Unity, with a single legal act supported in Congress by all of the nation’s popular parties, recovered for the nation all copper deposits worked by the subsidiaries of the American companies Anaconda and Kennecott. Without indemnification: the government having calculated that the two companies had made a profit in excess of $800m over 15 years.
    The petite bourgeoisie and the middle class, the two great social forces that might have supported a military coup at that moment, were beginning to enjoy unforeseen advantages and not at the expense of the proletariat, as had always been the case, but, rather, at the expense of the financial oligarchy and foreign capital. The armed forces, as a social group, have the same origins and ambitions as the middle class, so they had no motive, not even an alibi, to back the tiny group of coup-minded officers. Aware of that reality, the Christian Democrats not only did not support the barracks plot at that time but resolutely opposed it, for they knew it was unpopular among their own rank and file.
    Their objective was something else again: to use any means possible to impair the good health of the government so as to win two-thirds of the seats in Congress in the March 1973 elections. With such a majority, they could vote for the constitutional removal of the president of the republic.
  • In that final battle, with the country at the mercy of uncontrolled and unforeseen forces of subversion, Allende was still bound by legality. The most dramatic contradiction of his life was being at the same time the congenital foe of violence and a passionate revolutionary. He believed that he had resolved the contradiction with the hypothesis that conditions in Chile would permit a peaceful evolution toward socialism under bourgeois legality. Experience taught him too late that a system cannot be changed by a government without power.
    That belated disillusionment must have been the force that impelled him to resist to the death, defending the flaming ruins of a house that was not his own, a sombre mansion that an Italian architect had built to be a mint and that ended up as a refuge for presidents without power. He resisted for six hours with a sub-machine gun that Castro had given him and was the first weapon that Allende had ever fired. … According to the story of a witness who asked me not to give his name, the president died in an exchange of shots with that gang. Then all the other officers, in a caste-bound ritual, fired on the body. Finally, a non-commissioned officer smashed in his face with the butt of his rifle.
    A photograph exists: Juan Enrique Lira, a photographer for the newspaper El Mercurio took it. He was the only one allowed to photograph the body. It was so disfigured that when they showed the body in its coffin to Señora Hortensia Allende, his wife, they would not let her uncover the face.
  • His greatest virtue was following through but fate could grant him only that rare and tragic greatness of dying in armed defence of an anachronistic booby of bourgeois law, defending a Supreme Court of Justice that had repudiated him but would legitimise his murderers, defending a miserable Congress that had declared him illegitimate but which was to bend complacently before the will of the usurpers, defending the freedom of opposition parties that had sold their souls to fascism, defending the whole moth-eaten paraphernalia of a shitty system that he had proposed abolishing but without a shot being fired.
    The drama took place in Chile, to the greater woe of the Chileans, but it will pass into history as something that has happened to us all, children of this age, and it will remain in our lives for ever.
  • I knew what none of them could possibly know, that the corporatocracy, its band of EHMs [economic hitmen), and the jackals waiting in the background would never allow the little guys to gain control. I only had to draw upon the examples of Arbenz and Mossadegh — and more recently, upon the 1973 CIA overthrow of Chile's democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.
  • The armed forces have acted today solely from the patriotic inspiration of saving the country from the tremendous chaos into which it was being plunged by the Marxist government of Salvador Allende.… The Junta will maintain judicial power and consultantship of the Public Accounts Control. The Chambers will remain in recess until further orders. That is all.
  • Twenty-nine years ago, in Chile, on the 11th of September 1973, General Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in a CIA-backed coup. “Chile should not be allowed to go Marxist just because its people are irresponsible,” said Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Laureate, then the U.S. Secretary of State... Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Mexico and Colombia – they’ve all been the playground for covert – and overt – operations by the CIA. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been killed, tortured or have simply disappeared under the despotic regimes that were propped up in their countries...

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