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11 September 1973

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From Christopher Hitchens’s review of Andy Beckett’s Pinochet in Piccadilly, published in the LRB in July 2002:

For many people including myself, 11 September has long been a date of mourning and rage. On that day in 1973, lethal aircraft flew low over a major city and destroyed a great symbolic building: the presidential palace in Santiago, known (because it had once been a mint) as La Moneda. Its constitutional occupant, Salvador Allende, could perhaps have bargained to save his own life, but elected not to do so. Instead, over a crackling radio, he made a speech that will bear comparison with the last broadcasts from Athens in 1941 and Budapest in 1956:

This is certainly the last time I shall speak to you… History has given me a choice. I shall sacrifice my life in loyalty to my people, in the knowledge that the seeds we planted in the noble consciousness of thousands of Chileans can never be prevented from bearing fruit… Much sooner than later, the great avenues towards a new society will open again, and the march along that road will continue.

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