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Hortensia Bussi dies at 94; widow of former Chilean President Salvador Allende

PoliticsDeathPolitical SystemsSalvador AllendeUnrest, Conflicts and WarChileCoup d'Etat

Hortensia Bussi, the widow of Chilean President Salvador Allende who helped lead opposition to the military dictatorship that ousted her socialist husband in a bloody 1973 coup, died Thursday. She was 94.

Her physician, Dr. Paz Rojas, said Bussi died during a nap.

Bussi's husband, an avowed Marxist, was elected president in 1970 and toppled three years later in an uprising by the military led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Allende killed himself Sept. 11, 1973, while under air and ground attack at the presidential palace, rather than surrender.

His wife, known as Tencha, had sought refuge at the home of a family friend. The next day, she was flown on a small air force plane to the resort city of Viña del Mar for her husband's burial. She later complained that the military sealed the coffin without letting her see his body.

Bussi went into exile in Mexico, where she was active in campaigns against the Pinochet dictatorship. She lived there with two of her three daughters -- Carmen Paz and Isabel, who is now a congresswoman for her father's Socialist Party. The third daughter, Beatriz, lived in Havana with her Cuban husband.

Bussi returned to Chile in 1990 after civilian rule was restored, and she spent the last few years virtually confined to her Santiago home.

Born July 22, 1914, in the port of Valparaiso, Bussi was first a history and geography teacher, and then worked for some time at the government's statistics institute.

She met Allende in 1939, when both were volunteers in a campaign to aid victims of an earthquake in southern Chile. They married the next year.

Although she mostly kept a low profile, Bussi accompanied her husband during his political campaigns, including three presidential races before he was finally elected in 1970. As first lady, she was active in several social aid programs.

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