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Hortensia Bussi, 94; was widow of Chile’s Allende

A day after earning the most votes for president of Chile, Salvador Allende and his wife, Hortensia Bussi, greeted reporters from the window of their home in Santiago. A day after earning the most votes for president of Chile, Salvador Allende and his wife, Hortensia Bussi, greeted reporters from the window of their home in Santiago. (AP/File 1970)
Associated Press / June 19, 2009
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SANTIAGO, Chile - 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 yesterday. She was 94.

Her physician, Dr. Paz Rojas, said Ms. Bussi died while taking a morning nap.

Her husband, an avowed Marxist, was elected president in 1970 and was toppled three years later in an uprising by the military led by General 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 Vina del Mar for her husband’s burial. She would later complain that the military sealed the coffin without letting her see his body.

Ms. 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.

Ms. Bussi returned to Chile in 1990 after civilian rule was restored.

Born in the port of Valparaiso, Hortensia Bussi was a history and geography teacher before working at the government’s statistics institute.

She met Allende in 1939, when they both were volunteers in a campaign to aid victims of an earthquake in southern Chile.

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