A long-standing mystery about the demise of a famous Latin American leader has apparently been solved.
A judge in Chile has determined that the country’s former president Salvador Allende had committed suicide, squelching speculation that he was murdered during the military coup of September 1973 which overthrew his Socialist government.
A panel of experts gathered by Judge Mario Carroza concluded that based on an authoritative autopsy of the body, Allende shot himself with an AK-47 rifle while holed up in La Moneda, the presidential palace in Santiago.
Carroza was order by Chile’s Supreme Court to re-open the long dormant case.
For many years, Allende’s death has been a mystery, although many observers speculated the possibility of suicide. Others believed Allende was killed by his own bodyguard or by soldiers.
Regardless, the demise of the left-wing Allende allowed the rise of General Augusto Pinochet – a violent transition of power that led to more than 700 deaths and disappearances. Pinochet’s rule in the country would feature large-scale corruption and unspeakable brutality.
The U.S. government is also believed to have played a significant role in the demise of Allende. The CIA admitted years later that it became involved in Chilean politics prior to the coup, but claimed it had nothing directly to do with Allende’s death.
Allende’s Socialist policies, particularly his move to nationalize the country’s key copper industry, alienated not only Chile’s business sector, but also Washington D.C.
US President Richard Nixon was on record saying that Allende’s rule was “unacceptable.”