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Salvador Allende Gossens

Allende Gossens, Salvador (sälväħōrˈ äyānˈdā gōˈsāns) [key], 1908–73, president of Chile (1970–73). A physician, he helped found the Chilean Socialist party in 1933, was minister of health (1939–42) and president of the senate (1965–69). Four times a presidential candidate, he won in 1970 by a narrow plurality. Attempting to implement socialism by democratic means ("the Chilean road to socialism"), he nationalized industries, including the U.S.-owned copper multinationals, and pushed extensive land reform. As a minority president, however, his programs provoked strong resistance in the opposition-controlled congress and judiciary. The Chilean people, too, became highly polarized, resulting in vocal support and often violent opposition. Instability was further fueled by soaring inflation and widespread shortages, caused in part by the U.S. economic blockade and the undercover activities of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. In Sept., 1973, Allende was overthrown in a bloody military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. He was reported to have committed suicide during the coup, but many believed that he had been murdered. In 2011 his body was exhumed for an autopsy, which confirmed his suicide. Democracy was not restored in Chile until 1990.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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