Salvador Allende, Chile’s former president from 1970 to 1973, was Latin America’s first democratically elected Marxist president. Allende’s involvement in Chilean politics began in 1933, when he co-founded and became chairman of a section of the Socialist Party of Chile. His interest in politics began during his college years, when he was arrested multiple times for participating in radical politics as a medical student. He ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1952, 1958, and 1964 before winning the 1970 open elections and becoming Chile’s first democratically elected socialist president. When Allende took power, the country was undergoing a severe economic crisis. At the time, socioeconomic problems such as unemployment, inflation, and malnutrition were widespread in the country. As president, he attempted to create a socialist society by nationalizing industries and instituting a collectivist policy. He instituted a roughly 40% wage increase while prohibiting companies from raising prices. He also reestablished diplomatic relations with China, Cuba, and the Democratic Republic of the German Democratic Republic. His enthusiasm for socialism, on the other hand, strained his relationships with business leaders and a large number of other politicians. Despite widespread support from farmers and the common man, his government was deposed in a military coup in September 1973.
Childhood & Adolescence
Salvador Allende was born in Guatemala City to Salvador Allende Castro and Laura Gossens Uribe. He was of Belgian and Basque ancestry. His family had a long history of involvement in both medicine and politics.
He attended high school at Valpara’s Liceo Eduardo de la Barra. He then enrolled at the University of Chile, earning his medical degree in 1933. In his doctoral thesis ‘Crime and Mental Hygiene,’ he criticized Cesare Lombroso’s proposals.
Career of Salvador
In 1933, he co-founded The Socialist Party of Chile with Colonel Marmaduque Grove, Oscar Schnake, and Carlos Alberto Mart nez, among others. Allende was elected as the organization’s first chairman.
In 1938, he was in charge of the Popular Front’s electoral campaign, which won with the slogan “Bread, a Roof, and Work.” He was appointed Minister of Health by President Pedro Aguirre Cerda’s reformist government.
He instituted a number of social reforms, including increased pensions for widows, free school lunch programs, maternity care, and factory worker safety laws.
The Popular Front was renamed the Democratic Alliance in 1941, with Allende elected as its deputy.
From 1945 to 1969, he served as a senator for several provinces. He sponsored legislation creating Chile’s National Health Service.
He unsuccessfully ran for President three times (in 1952, 1958, and 1964). In 1966, he was elected President of the Chilean Senate.
He ran for president again in 1970, this time as the leader of the Unidad Popular coalition. He received 36.6 percent of the vote, while his closest rival, National Party candidate Jorge Alessandri, received 35.29 percent.
Due to the fact that no candidate obtained an absolute majority, a subsequent vote by the National Congress was required to confirm Allende as the winner.
At the time he assumed office, the government was experiencing severe socioeconomic problems, with inflation reaching 30% and more than 50% of children suffering from malnutrition.
Allende enthusiastically embarked on what became known as ‘The Chilean Path to Socialism.’ Increases in wages of up to 40% were implemented, and many large industries and banks were nationalized.
He revitalized education, health care, and government administration. He sought to improve the socioeconomic circumstances of Chile’s poorest citizens by increasing employment opportunities.
Allende gained popular support among the populace as a result of his reforms, but there were numerous opposition parties to his radical socialist policies. Businessmen, landlords, civil servants, and politicians all opposed him strenuously. Chile’s government’s relations with the United States were also deteriorating.
Augusto Pinochet’s military coup deposed Allende’s government in 1973, and Pinochet took over the presidency officially in 1974.
Significant Works of Salvador
After assuming power in 1970, Allende implemented a series of reformist policies aimed at restructuring Chile’s economy. He restructured the educational system with the assistance of an educator from the United States, Jane A.
Hobson-Gonzalez, and announced 3000 scholarships for Mapuche children.
He sponsored programs that provided free grains to the country’s poorest citizens and free milk to nursing mothers and school-aged children.
He altered the wage and salary structure, announcing wage increases of up to 40%. Taxes on low-income individuals and property were eliminated, and the minimum taxable income was increased.
He began an anti-illiteracy campaign and expanded adult education programs, as well as providing educational opportunities for workers. Between 1971 and 1973, enrollment in schools throughout Chile increased significantly.
In rural, low-income neighborhoods, improved health and sanitation services were provided. There have been additional hospitals, maternity clinics, and health centers established.
The Women’s Secretariat was established in 1971 with the goal of enhancing women’s social and economic status. It addressed issues such as health care, public food programs, and day care centers.
Personal History and Legacies
In 1940, he married librarian Hortensia Bussi, with whom he had three daughters. Two of his daughters went on to become politicians as well.
During the 1973 Chilean coup that deposed his government, Allende delivered an impassioned farewell speech on live radio, extolling his love for Chile. Later, it was revealed that he had shot himself to death. His wife and daughters fled to Mexico following Allende’s death.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Salvador is about $16million.
He reportedly killed himself with a rifle Fidel Castro gave him. There was considerable controversy surrounding his death, with some claiming that he was assassinated.
Subsequent investigations established that it was, in fact, a case of suicide, not assassination. Additionally, one of his daughters committed suicide.