Peter Kornbluh and Marc Cooper: Chile's Buried Secrets

Roundup: Talking About History

Peter Kornbluh is a senior analyst at the National Security Archive and the author of "The Pinochet File." Marc Cooper is a journalism professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism; in 1973 he was a translator for President Salvador Allende, and lived through the military coup.

Nearly 40 years after the violent military coup in which he perished, the remains of former Chilean President Salvador Allende will be exhumed in Santiago on Monday under the supervision of an investigating magistrate and a team of forensic experts.

The exhumation is part of an attempt to determine once and for all whether the democratically elected Socialist president was killed by the Chilean air force jets and troops that bombed and assaulted his presidential palace or if, as most witnesses concur, Allende took his own life.

The formal judicial inquiry surrounding the exhumation carries significance far beyond simply solving the mystery of Allende's death on Sept. 11, 1973. The wide-ranging investigation has the potential to redefine the infamous coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Rather than being remembered as an act of political violence, it may now be acknowledged as a criminal enterprise.

Allende's disinterment comes as part of a sweeping criminal probe of about 725 deaths that took place under the military regime that ruled in the wake of the coup. These deaths, like Allende's, have never been fully investigated by the Chilean courts....

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