Illustration, Visual arts and Graphic Narrative

THE LAST DAY – Narration One


Allende’s first radio transmissionMilitary´s Bandos

Chile, 11 September 1973.

At 00:00 hrs the military action begins with operation “Silence”, taking down several radio stations. At the same time, in the Ministry of Defence, civilians and military recorded the “bandos”, the radio transmission that will be heard during the morning announcing the future course of the events for the rest of the day.

In Conception City at 5:00, two Hawker Hunter aircraft are preparing to take off and in Valparaiso, Navy ships are returning from the UNITAS exercise. However, by 06:00, Navy forces takes control of the port of Valparaiso, the building of the Regional Government and the telephone company, isolating the city completely.

In the capital, the military high command meets in Santiago city, representing all the branches of the armed forces and Carabineros (the Uniformed Police) represented by:
Vice Admiral Patrico Carvajal (Navy), General Augusto Pinochet (Army), General Gustavo Leigh (Air Force), and General Cesar Mendoza (Carabineros) who carries out his own coup in his own institution.

At about 06:30, President Salvador Allende is awakened in his house by a Carabinero officer on the phone, informing him of the insurrection in Valparaiso. After the launching of the security measures and contacting his Cabinet Ministers, but without any response from the military forces that he considered loyal, he decides to take the defence of the state into the very centre of constitutional power, the presidential palace “La Moneda”.

Allende arrives at La Moneda at 07:30 hours with his personal bodyguards also known as “GAP” (Group of Personal Friends), they are young volunteers on average 22 years old, mostly members of the Socialist party, with very basic paramilitary training, but willing to take part in the defence of the president. Although there is no contingency plan for the protection of La Moneda, still the president organizes a defence of the building. After a couple of minutes the first rebel military troops surround the building, establishing a security perimeter.

By 07:45 all the heads of military units are at their posts, Augusto Pinochet arrives at the Peñalolen quarter to direct the operations, and General Javier Palacios is in charge of the Armoured Regiment n°2 to lead the attack.

During the morning about 109 people come to La Moneda, government officials, journalists, advisors, ministers, doctors, family members, secretaries, members of the armed forces and Carabineros, detectives and members of the GAP, a group of 8 of whom at this moment have taken position on the roof of the building of the MOP (Ministry of Public Works).

Before 08:00 the president gives his first radio broadcast to the country informing them that part of the Navy has taken Valparaiso. In his opinion, in Santiago the situation is normal and the Army forces are still loyal to the president and the constitutional government, however two Hunter aircraft fly over La Moneda, at the same time as Carabineros forces take control of the Regional Government building, and antennas are destroyed and radio stations loyal to the government are raided by military forces.

After 08:20, Allende finally realises the magnitude of the situation, through radio stations that are in favour of the coup or also named the ‘democratic chain’, the “bando” is heard, in which the military demands the unconditional surrender of Allende and offer a plane to the president to leave the country. The transmission is signed by the all commanders-in-chief of the branches of the military forces and the police.

While the military perimeter is settled around La Moneda, there is still division between Carabineros forces inside the palace about the coup. From now on, all the radio stations repeatedly transmit the bando. Allende then tries for the last time to get in contact with the commanders of the military forces with no success, all the officers loyal to the president have been eliminated or neutralized.

Aides from the Air Force, Navy and Army offer the president on behalf of the new military government the opportunity of surrender and a plane to take him out of the country with his family. Allende categorically refuses, determined to die if necessary.