Chilean air force general and one of four commanders who on 11 September 1973 overthrew the Marxist president Salvador Allende Gossens. Leigh Guzmán ordered the bombing of La Moneda, the presidential palace, by Hawker Hunter jets—one of the most enduring images of the coup. After the coup, Leigh Guzmán and the other three commanders formed the ruling junta. An anticommunist hard-liner, he appeared on television the night of the coup, telling the Chilean public that the coup was necessary to “extirpate the Marxist cancer.” To that end, he pursued trade unionists and other suspected leftists, many of whom joined the ranks of the desaparecidos (missing). Despite his reputation as a hard-liner, he believed that once the military had eliminated the perceived communist threat, it should return power to civilians as soon as possible. On this and other issues he had a falling-out with General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, who in July 1978 engineered his removal from the junta. Once out of government, Leigh Guzmán ran a real-estate business and kept a low profile. In March 1990 he survived an assassination attempt by the Frente Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez (FPMR, Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front), a communist guerrilla organization, an attack in which he was hit by five bullets and lost an eye. Shortly before his death on 29 September 1999, he joined other former members of the military regime to protest Pinochet Ugarte’s detention in Britain.

Historical Dictionary of the “Dirty Wars” . . 2010.

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