Chile: Inquiry into the death of our Salvador Allende

Chile has commenced its first ever investigation into the death of former president Salvador Allende.

His dead body was discovered in Santiago’s presidential palace after the building was attacked by troops as well as planes as part of the 1973 coup that eventually brought General Augusto Pinochet into power and led to him starting a 17-year rule that saw thousands of Chileans tortured and killed.

The new investigation will try to establish whether Allende committed suicide before he could be killed by the military or whether the troops were the ones that caused his death.

The Allende case is just one of an outstanding 726 complaints of human rights violations accusations that were put to a judge in the Santiago on Wednesday. Mario Carroza, the judge hearing the case, branded the investigation a tremendous responsibility. A prosecutor, Beatriz Pedrals, has asked for human rights cases to be presented that have thus far not been addressed by Chile’s judicial system.

Allende, who was 65 years of age when he died in the La Moneda palace on the 11th of September 1973, was deemed by an official autopsy to have committed suicide using a gun given to him by a close friend, Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

After the conclusion was confirmed by Allende’s own doctor and then accepted by his family, many of his supporters have questioned the suggestion, with widespread beliefs that he might have been murdered by soldiers.

The democratically elected socialist died on Sept. 11, 1973, when Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s forces stormed La Moneda, the presidential palace, during a military coup.

An official autopsy at the time concluded that Allende had committed suicide, but that account has never been independently confirmed. A federal judge in Chile has included the death as part of a major investigation into human rights abuses from 1973 to 1990.

Pinochet died in his private home in Santiago in 2006, where he had been living under house arrest. At least 3,000 people were killed, and thousands more tortured, during his dictatorship.

Merco Press

January 27, 2011

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