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Salvador Isabelino del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Allende Gossens (26 June 1908 - 18 January 1987) was a Chilean communist political leader and dictator, ruling as the President of Chile between 1964 and 1987 during the Chilean Communist Era. While initially a wildly popular left-wing caudillo opposing the military-backed right-wing government of Chile, Allende's hard-left policies alienated many moderates within Chile and the collapse of the Western Hemisphere's financial structure in 1979 produced the first famine in Chilean history in the fall of 1979 into 1980.
He became increasingly marginalized within his own Communist Party, which had banned or outmuscled its opposition in the late 1960's, as one of the last hard-left ideologues left in the party, and the disastrous 1984 World Cup, a logistical and propaganda nightmare, led to the rapid erosion of his support amongst moderate Socialists and the attempted 1986 power grab by Ernesto Platera. While Allende promised to hold an open party referendum on leadership in the spring of 1987, he passed away at the age of 78, two months before the referendum, after suffering a major heart attack.
The legacy of Allende is somewhat mixed in Chile - while initially beloved by his people and regarded as instrumental in removing the entrenched and corrupt power brokers in the Chilean government, the decay of the Chilean economy, the 1979 famine and the 1984 World Cup are typically blamed squarely on his policies, as were strained relations with the United States and popular anger over his closeness with Hugo Savala of Brazil, his ideological opposite and an unlikely ally. The death of Allende was seen as important to the fall of Savala, and the fall of Savala is equally seen as critical to the 1989 collapse of communism in Chile.