Allende Gossens, Salvador

(1908–1973)
   President of Chile (1970–1973). Allende Gossens was a physician, a socialist leader, and the first government official to attempt Marxist reforms in a democracy. He was born into an upper-middle-class family in Valparaíso on 26 July 1908. After completing secondary school and serving in the army, he entered the School of Medicine at the University of Chile, where he became interested in radical politics. His social activism led to his being jailed twice and then expelled from the university. Readmitted, he earned a medical degree in 1932. The next year, he helped found the Partido Socialista (PS, Socialist Party), and would later serve twice as its secretary-general. He began his government career in 1937, when he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a Socialist. In 1945 he was elected to the first of three consecutive eight-year terms in the Senate, serving as Senate vice president for five years and then as Senate president (1965–1969). After losing three consecutive bids for the presidency (in 1952, 1958, and 1964), Allende Gossens participated in the presidential election of 4 September 1970 as the candidate of Unidad Popular (UP, Popular Unity), a coalition including the Partido Comunista de Chile (PC, Communist Party of Chile), the PS, and breakaway members of the Partido Demócrata Cristiano (PDC, Christian Democratic Party). The three-way race was close. Allende Gossens won 36.2 percent of the vote; Jorge Alessandri, an ex-president representing the right, 34.9 percent; and Radomiro Tomic, a left-leaning candidate of the PDC, 27.8 percent. Because Allende Gossens obtained a plurality, not a majority, of the vote, the Chilean Congress was to decide the winner in a runoff election. Ordinarily, Congress would favor the front-runner, but a Marxist candidate was a different matter. Many Chileans feared a left-wing dictatorship. Of the 200 votes available in Congress (150 members of the Council of Deputies and 50 senators), 80 were in the hands of the UP. To win, Allende Gossens would have to find support from other parties, most likely the PDC, which controlled 75 votes. In October he reached an understanding with the PDC. In return for their support in the runoff, he agreed to sign a Statute of Guarantees, affirming such principles as the freedom of political parties, trade unions, and private education. On 24 October 1970 Congress confirmed Allende Gossens over Alessandri by a vote of 153 to 35.
   Succeeding Eduardo Frei Montalva, a Christian Democrat who was president from 1964 to 1970, Allende Gossens was inaugurated on 3 November 1970, becoming the first freely elected Marxist president in the world. Though lacking a majority of support in both the electorate and the Congress, he embarked on a wide-ranging program of socialist reforms. His government nationalized industry (including copper and banking), took over factories and farms, and raised the standard of living. For his UP followers—peasants, factory workers, students—the reforms held the promise of an end to capitalism and the creation of a more just society. Among many in the working, middle, and upper classes, however, the program caused anger and resentment. Economic policies like boosting salaries while freezing prices led to bankruptcies and high inflation. The wealthy lost property and social standing. And shortages of basic goods—exacerbated by truckers’ strikes—led to food lines and rationing. At the same time, right-wing groups engaged in acts of economic sabotage, and in the United States the administration of Richard Nixon worked to destabilize the Chilean economy and support the opposition. By 1973 Congress was at an impasse. In that year’s midterm elections, the UP had failed to win a majority that would allow it to continue its program of reforms through legislation. On the other side, the opponents of Allende Gossens lacked enough seats to force him from office. While Allende Gossens sought compromise, some of his radical supporters called for violent confrontation. On 11 September 1973 the socialist experiment ended in a bloody military coup. Allende Gossens died during the ground assault on the presidential palace, La Moneda. For many years, his followers and widow claimed that he was killed; evidence would later indicate, however, that the president committed suicide rather than surrendering. Allende Gossens was buried in an unmarked grave in Viña del Mar and later reinterred in a state funeral when democratic government returned to Chile in 1990.

Historical Dictionary of the “Dirty Wars” . . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Allende (Gossens), Salvador — born July 26, 1908, Valparaiso, Chile died Sept. 11, 1973, Santiago Socialist president of Chile (1970–73). Of upper middle class background, Allende took a degree in medicine and in 1933 helped found Chile s Socialist Party. He ran for president …   Universalium

  • Allende Gossens, Salvador — (1908–1973)    Marxist president of Chile from 1970 to1973 and founder of the Chilean Socialist Party, he died in the course of a United States Central Intelligence Agency backed coup against his government. He was born in Santiago and before his …   Historical dictionary of Marxism

  • Allende Gossens,Salvador — Al·len·de Gos·sens (ä yĕnʹdĕ gōʹsĕns), Salvador. 1908 1973. Chilean politician who as president (1970 1973) was considered the first democratically elected Marxist head of government. He was killed in a coup d état. * * * …   Universalium

  • Allende (Gossens), Salvador — (26 jul. 1908, Valparaíso, Chile–11 sep. 1973, Santiago). Presidente socialista de Chile (1970–73). Nacido en la clase media alta, se tituló de médico y, en 1933, participó en la fundación del Partido Socialista de Chile. Fue candidato a la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Salvador Allende Gossens — Salvador Allende Pour les articles homonymes, voir Allende. Salvador Allende …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Salvador Allende Gossens — [salbaˈdoɾ aˈʎende ˈgosens] (* 26. Juni 1908 in Valparaíso; † 11. September 1973 in Santiago de Chile) war promovierter Arzt und von 1970 bis 1973 Präsident Chiles. Allendes Präsidentschaft war der Versuch, auf demokratischem Wege eine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Allende Gossens — (izg. aljénde gòsens), Salvador (1908 1973) DEFINICIJA čileanski lijevo orijentirani političar i predsjednik (od 1970), ubijen u vojnom puču što ga je predvodio A. Pinochet …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Allende Gossens — Allende Gọssens   [a jende ], Salvador, chilenischer Politiker, * Valparaíso 26. 7. 1908, ✝ Santiago de Chile 11. 9. 1973, Onkel von Isabel Allende; Arzt; seit 1943 Generalsekretär des Partido Socialista (PS, deutsch: Sozialistische Partei),… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Allende Gossens — biographical name Salvador 1908 1973 Chilean Marxist; president of Chile (1970 73) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Allende Gossens — /ah yen de gaw sens/ Salvador, 1908 73, Chilean political leader: president 1970 73. * * * …   Universalium

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