The world lost a great living symbol of democracy yesterday when Hortensia Bussi, widow of Salvador Allende, passed away in her sleep. She was 94 at the time of her death in Santiago, Chile. Bussi became the First Lady of the world’s longest and thinnest country when her husband, a self-described Marxist, won the presidential election on September 4th, 1970. She would be exiled from Chile when the U.S. backed coup of Allende’s Popular Unity government initiated a reign of terror starting on September 11th, 1973.
It was at that moment in time when “Tencha” – as she was known – traveled the world keeping the flame of international solidarity strong against the fascism that had consumed the land of her birth. Her return to Chile in 1990 was a welcomed sign that the darkest days of Pinochet’s regime were coming to an end. A supreme believer in democracy, Tencha even urged leftist leader Fidel Castro to hold free elections in Cuba even though the bearded revolutionary had been a loyal supporter of her husband.
Tencha was a strong woman who suffered greatly in this world. Not only did her husband commit suicide amidst the flames and smoke that engulfed the Moneda presidential palace, but her daughter Beatriz Allende also took her own life in Havana, Cuba a few years later consumed by grief.
One can only hope that the great avenues apart from this world have led her back to the happiness and warmth of their embrace, once more…