Alex von Tunzelmann

Last Hours at La Moneda

Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup against Salvador Allende, 11 September 1973


Bloomsbury 472pp £20) order from our bookshop

The story of Chilean president Salvador Allende’s downfall is the subject of Birkbeck-based academic Oscar Guardiola-Rivera’s new book. The book itself is riddled with problems, but one thing may be said in its favour: it does have a story worth telling.

Twenty-eight years before the day took on a new meaning signifying a change in the order of the world, 11 September marked a change in the order of Chile. On that morning in 1973, the country’s armed forces swarmed over the capital, Santiago, in a coup d’état. Salvador Allende, a democratically elected Marxist, broadcast to the nation from La Moneda Palace: ‘I have not sought this. I am not a martyr,’ he said. ‘But let them understand this very well, those who wish to roll history back and disavow the will of the majority of the people in this country … Only with bullets will they stop me from realising the project of the people of Chile.’

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