Chile Exhumes Allende to Settle Suicide Mystery

Country hopes to lay past to rest with Allende investigation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2011 5:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – "Placed at a historical crossroads, I will pay with my life for the loyalty of the people," vowed Chilean President Salvador Allende as forces loyal to army chief Augusto Pinochet closed in on the presidential palace in a 1973 coup. Allende was found dead from gunshot wounds hours afterward; Now, investigators have exhumed his body in an effort to determine once and for all whether he committed suicide or was assassinated by Pinochet's forces, the Independent reports.

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The coup ushered in 17 years of dictatorial rule that ended in 1990, after some 3,000 Chileans were killed or disappeared under Pinochet's notorious regime. The judicial probe into what some consider Chile's greatest unsolved mystery has the backing of opposing political coalitions—including Allende's family—and analysts call it a symbol of the country's political maturity. "People previously didn’t want to look into the past too carefully because it would destabilize the emerging democracy,” an expert in Chilean politics tells Bloomberg. “Now that democracy is very stable and the past is gone, history can come in and do its job." (Read more Salvador Allende stories.)

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