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Chile's Allende Family Requests Exhumation of Remains


An image of the late Chilean President Salvador Allende

An image of the late Chilean President Salvador Allende

The family of late Chilean President Salvador Allende has asked for his remains to be exhumed as part of an ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death in 1973.

Allende's daughter, Senator Isabel Allende, met with an investigating judge this week and asked him to proceed with the probe.

At issue is whether the elected president was killed or committed suicide during the September 1973 coup that brought military dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. A Marxist, Allende is reported to have committed suicide as the coup occurred.

President Allende was found dead in the presidential palace as soldiers supporting the coup closed in and warplanes bombed the building.

Allende took power in 1970 after being elected with only 36 percent of the vote. During his tenure in office, Chile experienced severe shortages of consumer goods, food and manufactured products, and domestic production fell. Inflation climbed to 1,000 percent per year, and mass protests erupted due to the country's economic problems.

Following the 1973 coup, General Pinochet held power until 1990. He died in December 2006, leaving incomplete many court cases that had charged him with human rights violations. More than 3,000 people disappeared or were killed during his 17-year rule.

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