Scene 1: Washington, the Oval Office, September 1970. Dr Salvador Allende, a man of culture, grand bourgeois and charismatic founder of the Socialist Party, has just won the presidential election in Chile fair and square, with 36.22% of the votes. Nixon and Kissinger receive Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Richard Helms. Nixon tells Helms, according to Kissinger, that he wants “a major effort to see what could be done to prevent Allende’s accession to power. If there were one chance in 10 of getting rid of Allende, we should try it.”
Scene 2: Santiago, La Moneda Palace, September 11 of the year 1973, 8am. Allende, the democratically elected president of Chile, is worried about a general called Augusto Pinochet. Radio stations are mute. The navy has taken over Valparaiso – where the president was born. But he worries about his new army commander, chosen less than three weeks ago: “Poor Pinochet, he must have been arrested …”

General Pinochet is far from arrested: he is conducting a coup. Troops march over Santiago. At 8.30am a solemn military declaration makes treason official. Tanks roll into the city center. At noon, four Stuka planes destroy Allende’s private residence on Tomas Moro Street and bomb La Moneda Palace. The president chooses resistance, fighting the troops surrounding the palace and spurning offers of a plane for himself and his family to leave the country. When his capture is imminent, Allende presses his chin against the AK-47 that Cuban leader Fidel Castro gave him, and fires. At 2pm [Sept 11th], the military junta takes power. Systematic arrests, torture and executions start almost immediately.

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Total deaths as a result of the coup 3,000