The fall in global copper prices hit Chile hard. Its fiscal deficit rose, and Allende announced the country would have to default on international debts. Inflation, already high before his presidency, was not controlled.
Allende’s policies made powerful enemies. The US funded the opposition in the hope of preventing his electoral victory in 1970. When that plan failed, they sought other means to undermine him. Nationally, he made obvious enemies. On top of those who lost out from nationalisation or expropriation, the Church and Christian Democrats disliked the perceived secularisation of society.
Truckers, copper miners, and some students went out onto the streets in 1972. Whether this was manipulated by the US and the national opposition, we may never know. However, these actions had a negative impact on the economy.
Opposition to Allende’s government in the Congress and the Supreme Court grew, and in 1973 Congress called on the military to intervene to ‘restore order’. Allende accused the Congress of having hindered progress and of promoting a coup or civil war.
On 11 September 1973, the day Allende was planning to propose a plebiscite to solve the ‘constitutional crisis’, troops surrounded the presidential palace. The rest is history.
Allende refused to surrender.
The coup ended 48 years of Chilean democratic rule.
Pinochet ruled a military junta from 1973 to 1990, presiding over repression, forced ‘disappearances’, and a reversal of most of the positive programs started by Allende’s government.