Author(s): Oscar Guardiola-Rivera
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.
The gripping story of the military coup against Salvador Allende, President of Chile - what was at stake and what his legacy means for the world today.
An improbable proposition that is used to examine the economic dynamism and political creativity of a continent that is relatively neglected amid all the excitement about the emergence of new powers in Asia Financial Times, Books of the Year [on What if Latin America Ruled the World?] An ambitious book with an ambitious agenda, both are to be applauded. If after reading it my North is still not quite the South, it has helped turn my intellectual compass through a few degrees. The world now looks more complex and more interesting Independent Puts the solutions to the current economic crisis of the rich world into their proper global perspective Guardian
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera teaches international law and international affairs at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has served as an aide to the Colombian Congress and as a consultant to the United Nations in South America. He has lectured in law, philosophy, and politics on three continents, writes a regular column for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador, is an occasional contributor to the Guardian and is the author of What if Latin America Ruled the World?: How the South Will Lead the North into the 22nd Century. He lives in London.