History, The Allende Regime
basic industries, food shortages, redistribution of income, nationalization, land reform
As the presidential election of 1970 approached, leftist opposition united to form a Popular Unity coalition; it nominated Salvador Allende Gossens, who waged his campaign on a platform that promised full nationalization of all basic industries, banks, and communications. He received about 37 percent of the votes, and Congress backed him overwhelmingly against his rightist opponent, former president Alessandri.
Once installed as president, Allende quickly began to implement his campaign promises, turning the country toward socialism. State control of the economy was instituted; mineral resources, foreign banks, and monopolistic enterprises were nationalized; and land reform was accelerated. In addition, Allende initiated a redistribution of income, raised wages, and controlled prices. Opposition to his program, however, was strong from the beginning, and by 1972 the result was seen in severe economic problems and a sharply polarized citizenry. The situation grew still more critical in 1973, when skyrocketing prices, food shortages (caused by the reduction of foreign credits), strikes, and political violence brought Chile to the brink of chaos. The crisis was aggravated by the United States, which worked to undermine the Allende regime. The climax came on September 11, 1973, when the military stormed the presidential palace and seized power. After the coup Allende was found dead of bullet wounds. Officially his death was declared a suicide, although some believe he was assassinated by the military after the presidential palace was seized.
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