Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens (American Spanish: [salβaˈðoɾ aˈʝende ˈɣosens]; 26 June 1908 – 11 September 1973) was a Chilean physician and politician, known as the first Marxist to become president of a Latin American country through open elections.
Allende's involvement in Chilean political life spanned a period of nearly forty years. As a member of the Socialist Party, he was a senator, deputy and cabinet minister. He unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in the 1952, 1958, and 1964 elections. In 1970, he won the presidency in a close three-way race. He was elected in a run-off by Congress as no candidate had gained a majority.
As president, Allende adopted a policy of nationalization of industries and collectivisation; due to these and other factors, increasingly strained relations between him and the legislative and judicial branches of the Chilean government culminated in a declaration by Congress of a "constitutional breakdown". A centre-right majority including the Christian Democrats, whose support had enabled Allende's election, denounced his rule as unconstitutional and called for his overthrow by force. On 11 September 1973, the military moved to oust Allende in a coup d'état supported by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). As troops surrounded La Moneda Palace, he gave his last speech vowing not to resign. Later that day, Allende committed suicide with an assault rifle, according to an investigation conducted by a Chilean court with the assistance of international experts in 2011.
Following Allende's death, General Augusto Pinochet refused to return authority to a civilian government, and Chile was later ruled by a military junta that was in power up until 1990, ending almost four decades of uninterrupted democratic rule. The military junta that took over dissolved the Congress of Chile, suspended the Constitution, and began a persecution of alleged dissidents, in which thousands of Allende's supporters were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered.
He is also known as Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens.
Just before the capture of La Moneda (the Presidential Palace), with gunfire and explosions clearly audible in the background, Allende gave his farewell speech to Chileans on live radio, speaking of himself in the past tense, of his love for Chile and of his deep faith in its future. He stated that his commitment to Chile did not allow him to take an easy way out, and he would not be used as a propaganda tool by those he called "traitors" (he refused an offer of safe passage), clearly implying he intended to fight to the end.