The death of a truthful President
by Gabriel Garcia Márque At the moment of the final battle, with the country at the mercy of the unleashed forces of subversion, Salvador Allende continued to hold himself to legality. The most dramatic contradiction in his life was to have always been a congenital enemy of violence and a passionate revolutionary. He held the belief that this contradiction could be resolved with the hypothesis that the conditions in Chile permitted a peaceful evolution towards socialism within the bourgeois democratic legality. Experience taught him too late that a system cannot be changed from government but from power itself. That late verification must have been the force that prompted him to resist until death in the debris and flames in a house that wasn't even his — a sombre mansion that an Italian architect built as a money factory and finished as the refuge of a powerless President. He resisted for six hours with a submachine gun; a present from Fidel Castro. It was the first weapon Salvador Allende ever used. The journalist Augusto Olivares resisted by Allende's side until the end. He was injured several times and bled to death at a public hospital. At around four in the afternoon General of the Javier Palacios division with his assistant Captain Gallardo and a group of officers managed to reach the second floor, There among the false Luis XV chairs and the vases with Chinese Dragons and Rugendas paintings in the Red Parlor, Salvador Allende was expecting him. He was wearing a miner's helmet his sleeves were rolled up his arms, he didn't have a tie, his clothes were dirtied by blood. He had a submachine gun in his hands. Traitor Allende knew General Palacios. Just a few days before Allende commented to Augusto Olivares that Palacios was a dangerous man, who maintained close ties with the United States Embassy. As soon as he saw him appear in the staircase, Allende shouted at him: "Traitor", and wounded him in the hand. Allende died in an exchange of shots with that patrol. Then all the officers in a cast rite, shot at Allende's body. Finally an officer destroyed Allende's face with the butt of his rifle. The photo does exist: it was taken by the photographer Juan Enrique Lira, from the newspaper El Mercurio, the only one granted permission to do this portrait of the corpse. Allende was so disfigured that Hortencia Allende, his wife, was only allowed to see the body in the coffin, but they did not permit her to discover the face. He had turned 64 in July the previous year and was a perfect Leo: tenacious, determined and unpredictable. He loved life What Allende was thinking only Allende knows. One of his Ministers had said to me, He loved life, he loved flowers and dogs, and he was of a gallantry a little old fashioned, with scented notes and furtive encounters. His greatest virtue was commitment, but destiny granted him the rare and tragic greatness to die defending with bullets the anachronistic monstrosity which is the bourgeois legality, defending a Supreme Court of Justice that had repudiated him and was going to legitimise his murderers, defending a miserable Congress that had declared him illegitimate and was going to succumb before the will of the usurpers, defending the will of the opposition parties that had sold their souls to fascism, defending the moth-eaten paraphernalia of a system of shit that he had been determined to annihilate without shooting a shot. The drama occurred in Chile, bad luck for the Chileans, but it should be passed on to history as something that happened hopelessly to all of us people of this time, and that will remain in our lives forever.
* * *Gabriel Garcia Márquez: The Coup and the Gringos, UNED Workshop. Translated by Claudia Raddat