1. Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende, Chile's first socialist president, served from 1970 until his death in 1973. A physician and politician, Allende championed nationalisation of industries and social welfare reforms, confronting US-led corporations (many of whose holdings he nationalized during his brief rule).
Allende delivers a passionate speech in 1971
Allende's radical politics incited deep controversy, precipitating the military coup that resulted in his tragic suicide. While America's exact role in that coup is still heatly debated, much evidence does suggest Washington did its best to foment a "coup climate."
A fragment of Allende's interview to AP
Posthumously, Allende's narrative evolved into an international symbol of democratic socialism and resistance against imperialist intervention. His presidency reshaped Chile's political landscape, leaving an indelible mark on history, inspiring generations to question prevailing global political and economic paradigms.
Allende's biographies in English are, surprisingly, sparse. Victor Figueroa Clark's Salvador Allende: A Revolutionary Legacy (Pluto Press, 2013) is a rare exception. Fernando Alegria's historical fictio Allende: A Novel (Stanford University Press, 1994) is also worth a read. Peter Winn's first-hand recollections (in an academic journal) also paint a vivid picture.
In Spanish, the two books by Mario Amorós (read our interview with him here) remain the go-to sources: see Allende. La biografía (Ediciones B: 2013) and Compañero Presidente: Salvador Allende, una vida por la democracia y el socialismo (Publicacions de la Universitat de València: 2008).