SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The shattered left eyeglass of socialist President Salvador Allende, rescued from the bombed ruins of the national palace and now on display in Chile’s national history museum, is a testament to the brutality of Chile’s own 9-11.
On that day in 1973, Gen. Augusto Pinochet seized power in a military coup that prompted Allende to commit suicide rather than surrender, ending Chile’s experiment with nonviolent revolution.
As Chile marks Wednesday’s 40th anniversary of the beginning of its long dictatorship, Allende is receiving tributes for his idealism, courage and sacrifice, while Pinochet is mostly loathed for his human rights crimes and corruption.
But Pinochet still has his loyalists, and even his own museum in an upscale neighborhood of Santiago. Visitors can see the throne-like chair that the strongman, who once compared himself to the greatest Roman emperors, used to watch TV after he lost power. The dictator’s uniforms, medals and black beret, even his large collection of toy soldiers, representing the different branches of Chile’s military, are also on display.
On another side of Chile’s capital, visitors to the Allende Foundation can see photographs of Allende’s days as a young physician and his Socialist Party identification card. Postal stamps, copper engravings with his image and his presidential sash are also here, along with curiosities such as his wallet, his watch and a handwritten letter by his friend Fidel Castro dated exactly two years before Allende took his life with an assault rifle the Cuban leader gave him.
Here’s a gallery of images from Allende and Pinochet’s personal objects and memorabilia.
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