by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera - £12.99 Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2014)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781408854761 | ISBN 10: 1408854767
On 11 September 1973, President Salvador Allende of Chile, Latin America's first democratically elected Marxist president, was deposed in a violent coup d'etat. Early that morning the phone lines to Allende's office were cut, army officers loyal to the republic were arrested and shortly afterwards bombs from four British-made Hawker Hunter jets began slamming into the presidential palace. Allende refused to leave his post, making broadcasts to encourage the Chilean people until the last pro-government radio station was silenced. Later that morning he was found dead, with an AK-47 that had been a gift from Fidel Castro by his side. The coup had been planned for months, even years before it actually happened. In fact, from the moment Allende's electoral victory in 1970 became a possibility, business leaders in Chile, extreme right-wing groups, high-ranking officers in the Chilean military and the US administration and the CIA worked together to secure a prompt and dramatic end to his progressive social programme.
Why Allende seemed such a threat in the political and economic context of the time and how the coup was engineered is the story Oscar Guardiola-Rivera tells, drawing on a wide range of sources, including phone transcripts and documents released as recently as 2008. It is a radical retelling of a moment in history that even at the height of Cold War paranoia - a time when Henry Kissinger described Chile as 'a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica' -shocked the world and which continues to resonate today.
As the uprisings of the Arab Spring and the global protests at austerity measures introduced since the crash of 2008 show, the world is struggling to deal with the economic and political dilemmas Allende faced at the time.
(Price & availability last checked: November 2014)