A fictional account of the suicide of President Salvador Allende Gossens.
President Salvador Allende Gossens reflected on his time in office as he awaited the arrival of the only two supporters he could reach. What had he done that was so wrong? Perhaps he should have listened more to the protests of his people; not to mention the movements of the military. If only he'd had more control this would never have happened. Looking around the towering white room Allende sighed as he got to his feet and headed to one of the large windows. Despite the fact that there was a coup going on the world outside was quiet, so very quiet. Almost deafeningly so.
The large open grounds below were empty. No one moved out there at all. This Palace, La Moneda, would be the place of his last stand. It was the safest place he could be at the moment, which didn't say much for his safety. The palace was a huge solid structure, but could hardly be fortified on such short notice. Each window was a beckoning entrance, and the doors may be forced as well as they may be fortified. The other danger would come from the air. Allende knew that now.
"President, they have arrived." A voice called. Allende knew it to be one of the bodyguards who had brought him here in the first place, and now worked so diligently to fortify the palace for him. Turning from the window the aging man nodded and waved his hand, the young man in the doorway nodding and ushering two other men inside, both of whom were approaching the president's age. Jose Maria Sepulveda of the Uniformed Police and Alfredo Joignant of the Plain Clothes Detectives stood before him, one in uniform and one not.
"My friends; thank you for coming...This is a grave time." Allende greeted anxiously as he took his place behind the desk once more. The two men stood before him gravely, the noise outside telling Allende that they had brought some of their own men with them to help in his defence.
"Grave hardly covers it I fear Sir. Contact with all military sectors has either been lost or they have confirmed they're against us." Jose reported, though Allende was more than aware of this already. He'd thought not so long ago that it was only the navy, but then whispers had arrived about the air force and the army. Before he could respond the telephone on his desk gave a shrill ring. Allende calmly lifted the receiver and held it to his ear.
"President Allende?" A familiar voice inquired on the other end, Allende's brow furrowing warily as he caught the eye of the other two men in the room.
"Pinochet." Allende said stiffly.
"It is. I have been chosen to inform you that we have complete control of the area. Chile is now under out control. We demand that you step down from your presidency." General Pinochet replied firmly. To say Allende was shocked was an understatement. He'd been so sure of Pinochet's loyalty he would have gambled anything. What could possibly have driven this man to go against him? He'd made mistakes perhaps, certainly where the economy was concerned, but surely he'd not been this bad?
"I refuse. I was elected by the people for the people, and I intend to complete my time in office. If you want me out of office you'll have to bring your full military force and remove me from it General." Allende replied, giving the man no time to respond before replacing the receiver on the black cradle. The other two men needed no more instruction; they left to organise their men to defend the palace for as long as possible. How long would it take them to arrive? If they had control of most of his country already then it wouldn't take long to reach the palace.
He'd tried so long and fought so hard to get where he was. Twice before he had run for president and been outdone, and when he finally got his chance everything started to go wrong. There was nothing wrong with the way he was running the country; many of his subjects agreed with his socialist ideals. Perhaps he hadn't listened as often as he aught, but he was responsible for the welfare of the whole country.
Heavy boots sounded on the pavement below, along with the shouts of his men to secure the entrance. They had arrived. Surely it hadn't been half an hour already. With nothing more he could do Allende looked down from his window to the grounds below, where uniformed soldiers stood poised to close in when given the word. Turning away Allende moved to the door, where a bodyguard awaited his orders.
"I need to use the broadcasting equipment." Allende announced as he headed down the hall to a smaller study, where equipment was kept in case there was need for a radio broadcast. Now there was a need. Allende prepared quickly to speak to his people one last time:
"Surely this will be the last opportunity I will have to address myself to you. The Air Force has bombed the towers of Radio Portales and Radio Corporacion. My words are not tainted by bitterness, but rather by deception. I hope there may be a moral punishment for those who betrayed the oath they took as soldiers of Chile: ... Admiral Merino, who has self-designated himself commander of the Navy; Mr. Mendoza, the callous general who only yesterday declared his loyalty to the government, and has been named director-general of the Carabineros police.
In the face of these facts, the only thing left for me to say to the workers is: I will not resign! Placed in this historical transition, I will pay with my life the loyalty of the people. I say to you that I am sure that the seed that we now plant in the dignified conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans cannot be forever blinded.
They have the power. They can smash us, but social processes are not detained; not through crimes nor power. History is ours, and the people will create it.
Workers of my country: I want to thank you for the loyalty which you have always shown, the trust which you placed in a man who was only the interpreter of the great desires for justice, who gave his word that he would respect the constitution and the law, and I did just so.
In this moment of definition, the last thing I can say to you is that I hope you will learn this lesson: foreign capital and imperialism united with reactionary elements, created the climate for the armed forces to break with their tradition, that belonging to General Schneider, and which Commander Araya reaffirmed, a victim of the same social sector which right now are in their homes, waiting to take power ... to continue defending their huge estates and privileges.
I address myself above all to the modest woman of our country; to the peasant woman who believed in us, to the working woman who worked more, to the mother who knew of our concern for her children. I address myself to the professionals of our land, to the patriotic professionals, to those who were working against the sedition carried out by the professional schools, class ridden schools which defend the advantages which capitalist society gives them.
I address myself to the youth; to those who sang, who gave their joy and spirit to the struggle. I address myself to the Chilean man; to the worker, the peasant, the intellectual. To those who will be persecuted because fascism has already been present in our country for many hours; those terrorists which blew up bridges, cutting railway lines, destroying oil and gas pipelines in the face of the silence of those who had the obligation of raising their voices. History will judge them.
Probably Radio Magallanes will be silenced, and the calm metal of my voice will not reach you. It does not matter. You will continue to hear me. I will always be beside you, or at least my memory will be that of a dignified man; that of a man who was loyal.
Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this gray and bitter moment where treason tries to impose itself. May you continue to know that much sooner than later the great avenues, through which free men will walk to build a better society, will open.
Long live Chile! Long live the People! Long live the Workers! These are my last words. I am sure that my sacrifice will not be in vain. I am sure that it will at least be a moral lesson which will punish felony, cowardice and treason."
With his last words spoken Allende headed to the doors and down the long white staircase, where his allies were waiting. Jose and Alfredo were already outside facing the army, which was fast advancing. Outside he could hear the shots and cries as men were hit and killed. His long time friend and Doctor, Enrique Paris Roa, was there to offer his support. Allende met his friend's eye and knew it was useless; if his friend has lost hope then there was nothing more to be done.
"President. A message from the Socialist Party. They are willing to help you escape to the San Joaquin industrial zone. From there we can regroup and stage a counter-attack." Camillieri reported hopefully. Allende turned to the security officer with a grave expression. Things were certainly hopeless if his security staff suggested running. He was losing it. Losing it all. Everything he'd fought and worked for.
"Thank you Camillieri, but no. I will remain here; but as for the rest of you, surrender. I thank all of you for your support and hard work, but we cannot win this." Allende replied solemnly, forcing a smile as he shook hands with his supporters and employees. His two doctors, Patricio Guijon and Jose Quiroga; Arsenio Poupin Oissel, his Assessor and one of his cabinet members; and finally two of his security detail, David Garrido and Ricardo Pincheira. Finally he took the hand of his head security officer, Pablo Manuel Zepeda Camillieri. "Send out the message to surrender. I will be in the Independence Salon." Allende ordered, Camillieri nodding before heading off to pass the message to the men outside.
Allende climbed the stairs one last time, knowing what would happen if he was caught alive. He would be tortured into confessing God knows what and then he would be executed, unless he died during torture beforehand. If only his family were with him. Then they could all go. He was loathe to leave them. They too would be tortured and imprisoned. As for the men downstairs, some may live through torture, confession or pardon while the rest would be executed.
In the salon, in pride of place on the back wall, was a special gift that he had treasured. It was an AK-47 assault rifle, a gift from his friend Fidel Castro, loaded and ready. Allende lifted the heavy weapon and turned it over in his hands, his eyes grazing over the golden plaque. ‘To my good friend Salvador from Fidel, who by different means tries to achieve the same goals.' Allende had failed to achieve those goals. He had failed.
Holding the barrel beneath his chin he could barely reach the trigger of the rifle, which was down near his thigh. Taking a seat behind the desk Allende reached down for the trigger. He took a breath. And pulled.