This book begins with a focus on 5 November 1970, when thousands of people crammed into Chile's national stadium to mark the beginning of Salvador Allende's presidency and what was being heralded as the birth of a new revolutionary road to socialism. For some, Allende's inauguration two days earlier had been a cause for mass celebration. Along the length of Santiago's principal avenue, musicians, poets, dancers, and actors had performed on twelve open-air stages specially erected for the occasion, and crowds had partied into the evening. Now, on a sunny spring afternoon, along with foreign journalists and invited dignitaries from around the world, they flocked to hear the president's first major speech. As Allende rose to the podium to deliver a message of national emancipation and rebirth, he looked out on a sea of flags in optimistic anticipation of what was to come. He then proclaimed that Chile was ready to shape its own destiny.
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