1973 Coup Anniversary in Chile Date in the current year: September 11, 2024

1973 Coup Anniversary in Chile On September 11, Chileans commemorate the 1973 coup d'état that deposed the government of President Salvador Allende and marked the beginning of the military dictatorship that lasted for seventeen years.

Salvador Allende was a socialist politician who became the first Marxist to be elected president in a liberal democracy in Latin America. He unsuccessfully ran for presidency three times before winning the 1970 presidential election in a close three-way race. Upon assuming the post, Allende began to implement his socialist program, which put him at odds with the Congress that was dominated by right-wing parties.

Allende’s government also had a tense relationship with the United States. When Allende nationalized Chilean copper mines, Washington cut off most of its foreign aid to Chile, fearing that the country would be pushed into socialism and become “another Cuba”. It is believed that the United States had a part in the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power.

The first coup attempt against Allende’s government occurred on June 29, 1973. Rebelling officers led by Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Souper attempted to seize La Moneda (the seat of the president), but loyal officers and soldiers successfully put down the coup attempt. Interestingly, General Augusto Pinochet was one of the officers that helped quell the rebellion.

In the morning of September 11, 1973, the Navy captured the seaport of Valparaiso, the Army closed most of the radio and television networks in Santiago, and the Air Force bombed the stations that remained active. The President’s loyalists were rendered incommunicado, and Allende received incomplete information about the coup, which made him believe that some units of the Armed Forces remained loyal to him.

By nine in the morning, the army controlled most of the country, except for the Santiago city center. Allende remained in La Moneda, refusing to surrender, but he also refused to escape and lead an insurgency against the coup. Just before La Moneda was captured by the rebels, Allende addressed Chileans on live radio for the last time and shot himself.

The 1973 coup ended civilian rule in Chile and resulted in seventeen years of military junta let by Pinochet, whose regime was characterized by suppression of opposition, censorship, and numerous human rights violations.

The anniversary of the coup have been commemorated by both supporters and opponents of Pinochet’s regime in various ways. The 40th anniversary was particularly intense, with hundreds of people posing as dead in the streets of the capital city of Santiago to honor the memory of those who were killed or disappeared during the years of Pinochet’s dictatorship. The government and the opposition organized separate commemoration event on the occasion.

Generally, the 1973 coup anniversary is marked with commemoration events and even protests held by various political and social groups across the country. Most of them are held to highlight the abuses and crimes committed by Pinochet’s regime, as well as pay tribute to its victims.

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