On Friday morning (June 19th) a tank unit shelled the Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile, but later surrendered after being repulsed by Loyalist troops.
On Friday morning (June 19th) a tank unit shelled the Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile, but later surrendered after being repulsed by Loyalist troops. Six people were killed and eighteen wounded. But by the afternoon, the streets were safe enough for demonstrations supporting Marxist President Salvador Allende.
Santiago remained under the strict control of the army and a curfew was imposed. However, in accordance with their tradition of none-interference, many Loyalist units withdrew to their barracks after it was clear they were not needed. Defence Minister Senor Jose Toha came to inspect the scene. After the shooting, around 200,000 supporters of President Allende's coalition government poured into the city centre in a display of allegiance. Later President Allended who had not been in residence at the time of the shooting, addressed them from a balcony. He told them that he would ask Congress to declare a ninety-day 'State of Siege', but said that they did not have the power to close Congress. The majority in Congress is opposed to his government.
Colonel Roberto Souper, alleged to be the ring-leader and about 100 soldiers were later reported to be in custody.
Dr. Allende came to power in 1970 as the first freely-elected Marxist head of state in the Western World. His main pledge was to nationalise the country's basic resources -- copper, iron and nitrates. But the fact that his coalition government is in a minority in both houses of parliament has led to much legislation being blocked. Also food shortages have caused unrest. Even before the tank incident, Santiago Province had been put under military control, following an assassination attempt on Army Commander-in-Chief, General Carlos Prats.
SYNOPSIS: Santiago, the capital of Chile, remained under the strict control of the army of Friday afternoon, after a tank unit had shelled the Presidential Palace in the morning. But the tanks were easily driven off by Loyalist guards and most of the rebel troops surrendered.
Six people were killed and eighteen wounded in the two-hour gun battle.
Some tanks tried to escape when it became clear the rest of the army was against them.
Although the fighting was fierce and some civilians were killed, the attack was not sustained. Later it was reported that Colonel Roberto Souper, who is alleged to be the ring-leader, and about 100 troops were being held in custody.
A curfew was imposed on several evenings following the incident.
But on Friday afternoon around 200,000 supporters of President Allende's coalition government poured into the city centre in a spontaneous display of allegiance.
The Minister of Defence Jose Toha -- in civilian clothing -- was among the troops.
Although troops were in evidence, many of the Loyalist units withdraw when it became clear that they would not be needed. This is in accordance with a tradition of non-interference in state matters.
The mass of demonstrators came from the Central Labour Organisation. When President Allende announced over the radio that the revolt was finished, they filled the streets chanting 'Allende, Allende, the people defend you', and 'The Left, United, can never be defeated'.
President Allende was not in the Presidential Palace, known as 'La Moneda', at the time of the attack, but returned while sniper fire was still underway.
Later he addressed a mass rally. To the cries of the crowd that Congress should be closed, he replied that this could not be done without another election. His government is in a minority in both Houses of Parliament and this has frequently led to the blocking of legislation. He is pledged to nationalise major industries.