Chile: “I Have the President on the Line”; Allende’s Last Message

By Alexis Polo Gonzalez on September 10, 2023

Allende, photo: memoriachilena

In the early hours of September 11, 1973, the coup forces carried out Operation Silence, in order to silence the media supporting Salvador Allende’s government. The military’s mission was a complete success. However, before they managed to bomb all the transmitting antennas, Allende was able to address the country for the last time.

The president’s last speech to the country was through Radio Magallanes in the midst of the shooting in the vicinity of La Moneda Palace, the seat of the executive. Journalist Leonardo Cáceres informed the microphone that Allende would speak to the country. It was 09:20 in the morning of September 11, 1973, the day of the coup d’état, and the station was the only one that had not yet been bombed.

“We were announcing something that I don’t remember and at that moment, Guillermo Ravest, who was director of Radio Magallanes shouted to me, through the internal communication system, that he had the president on the line. Skinny, announce it’, he told me. I began to announce it and there Allende transmitted his last message,” Cáceres recalled in a conversation with Sputnik.

In the early hours of that September 11, four Hawker Hunter fighter planes took off from the Carriel Sur airport in Concepción, a city located 434 kilometers south of Santiago, with the mission of silencing the radio stations in Santiago that rejected the military coup.

These were the radio stations that were part of the chain La Voz de la Patria, which included: Corporación, Portales, Nacional, Luis Emilio Recabarren, Candelaria, UTE and Magallanes.

La Voz de la Patria was coordinated through the Office of Information and Broadcasting of the Presidency of the Republic. The workers, in the midst of the onslaught of disinformation and misrepresentations of the oligarchic media -such as the case of El Mercurio, a newspaper financed by the CIA-, made it possible for the country to know the truth of what was happening.

Oriana Zorilla, photo: Alexis Polo Gonzalez

“If the radio network La Voz de la Patria had not existed, the world would never have heard or known the first three speeches and the last words of President Salvador Allende, with his enormous moral lesson for the future,” Oriana Zorilla, historical leader of the Chilean Journalists’ Association and journalist of Radio UTE in 1973, told Sputnik.

The radio station where I worked had been bombed earlier. At 4:00 a.m., since it was close to a military compound. We were silenced very early. Then Corporación and Portales were bombed”, said the journalist.

“This will surely be the last opportunity in which I can address you. The Air Force has bombed the towers of Radio Portales and Radio Corporación,” Allende began his last message.

The president had been elected on September 4, 1970, becoming the first Marxist president to become head of state through democratic elections. However, three years later, and after an intense boycott by the United States and the internal opposition, on September 11, 1973, the Armed Forces staged a coup d’état.

“Faced with these facts, I can only say to the workers: I am not going to resign! Placed in a historic transition, I will pay with my life for the loyalty of the people. And I tell them that I am certain that the seed that we delivered to the dignified conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans cannot be definitively cut down,” Allende said on Radio Magallanes.

“ We were witnesses of a transcendental moment”.

Leonardo-Caceres, photo: Alexis Polo Gonzalez

Leonardo Cáceres arrived at Radio Magallanes at 8 o’clock in the morning of September 11, 1973. When he entered the premises of the radio station, there were several journalists and the director of the radio station. “We began to distribute tasks, to watch the news, to verify the information that was coming in.

Allende, recalls the journalist, had a magneto telephone in his office with which he communicated directly to the radio station that broadcast his last words.

For Cáceres, introducing Allende and listening to him was one of the “most impressive things in my life. We were witnesses of a transcendental moment”. The former speaker commented that everyone’s life “was cut short”.

For Zorrilla the radio played a “fundamental” role that September 11 since it was thanks to it that Allende’s last words could be transmitted.

“Surely Radio Magallanes will be silenced and the quiet metal of my voice will not reach you. It does not matter, you will still hear it. I will always be with you. At least, my memory will be that of a worthy man who was loyal to the loyalty of the workers. The people must defend themselves, but not sacrifice themselves. The people must not allow themselves to be razed or riddled with bullets, but neither can they humiliate themselves,” Allende said.

“Workers of my country: I have faith in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this gray and bitter moment, where betrayal intends to impose itself. Keep on knowing that, sooner rather than later, you will once again open the great avenues through which the free man will pass to build a better society. Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!”.

“These are my last words and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain. I am certain that, at least, there will be a moral lesson that will punish felony, cowardice and treason”, the president concluded.

Air Force planes bombed the antenna of Radio Magallanes and at 10:15 a.m., the last radio station supporting the Popular Unity Government stopped broadcasting.

Source: Sputnik, translation Resumen Latinoamericano-English