With his tailor-made suits and thick black glasses, Salvador Allende did not look the part of a revolutionary. Indeed, his love of high-end clothing and fine wine would seem to belie his status as a champion of the working class. It is widely reported that at dinner parties in the Chilean presidential palace, Allende would approach nattily attired guests and say, half in jest, “That’s a nice jacket you’re wearing, but it would look even better on a president, don’t you think?” By night’s end, the guests would have dutifully contributed their jackets to Allende’s already extensive wardrobe.
But make no mistake about it: even though he was not as earthy or tousled as his contemporaries in Cuba, Allende was every bit as dedicated to revolutionary change. He simply disagreed with the means through which such change could come about. Instead of adhering to then ruling leftist practice of revolutionary change through violence and terror, Allende proposed an unprecedented democratic route to socialism, one where ballots would replace arms. It would be, in his words, “a revolution of empanadas and red wine”—socialism Chilean style.
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