Gabriel Garcia Marquez on Allende's death as a fighter (resubmitted with a title)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sat Sep 6 21:52:52 MDT 2003

I actually want to dedicate this to Paul LeBlanc, a comrade I used to
disagree with on many things and probably still do. He challenged me
back in the 1970s about my -- and the Socialist Workers Party's --
characterization of Allende as a garden variety bourgeois-labor
politician who was adapting to a mass upsurge solely in order to
contain it.  LeBlanc was clearly in touch with an element of reality
that I had no contact with at the time, but I always remembered his
comments.  My position, which I defended quite firmly -- as I do all
my views, then and now -- against Paul's "deviation" did not keep me
from always believing that Allende died fighting against the coup.
(Progressive self-contradiction should not be discouraged.)

The official finding that he committed suicide was part of the Chilean
bourgeois democracy's attempt to keep the peace with the outgoing
military dicatatorship, whose work it has basically continued.  Now
that the bourgeois democracy is feeling mass pressure to present
itself as counterposed to the military dictatorship and Allende is
officially a national hero, as he has been all along, we can expect
the "suicide" version -- a negotiated solution if ever there was
one -- to fall apart and lose all credibility.

The introductory comment is by Walter Lippmann, moderator of the
CubaNews list, where the item first appeared.  To subscribe to the
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Fred Feldman

Here it is in not very good English:

The truthful death of a president
By Gabriel García Márquez

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, and believed having this contradiction
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 the government
but from power itself.

That late verification must have been the force that
prompted him to resist until death in the debris in flames
in a house that wasn't even his, a somber 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
and that was the first weapon Salvador Allende ever shot.

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 division Javier
Palacios managed to arrive to the second floor, with his
assistant captain Gallardo and a group of officers. There
amongst 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 in his arms, he didn't have a tie,
his clothes were dirtied by blood. He had a submachine gun
in his hands.

Allende knew general Palacios. Just 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 he wounded him in the

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 unforeseeable.
What Allende is 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 greater virtue was commitment, but destiny granted him
with 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 legitimize his
murderers, defending a miserable Congress that had declared
him illegitimate but that was going to succumbed pleased
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 shi
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 García Márquez : "The coup and the gringos" -
UNED Workshop translated by claudia raddatz

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