Rene Schneider

Rene Schneider was an important political figure in Chile during the reign of Salvador Allende. His life (and death) were crucially significant for the history of Chile's freedom. He was the commander and chief of Chile's military under Salvador Allende until his own assassination in 1970. He was succeeded by the infamous Augosto Pinochet, who was responsible for the military coup that overthrew the Chilean government.

Rene Schneider was born in Concepcion, Chile on December 31, 1913
Schneider was a descendant of ethnic German immigrants.

Schneider was born one year before the completion of the Panama Canal. Also a year after his birth, World War I became a global conflict. When he was born, Ramon Barros Luco was the president of Chile.

Ramon Barros Luco (1835-1919)

Ramon Barros Luco became President of Chile in 1910, when he was 75 years old. He served until 1915. Before his presidency, he helped endorse a move to dismiss Jose Manuel Balmaceda (his predecessor) from the presidency. This move was supported by Congress. He was elected after he was chosen to represent both political parties, the Liberals and the Nationals. His neutral stance was satisfying for both parties. The phrase often used to describe his policies was "El 99% de los problemas se resuelven solos y el 1% restante no tiene solucion" (99% of problems solve themselves, and the remaining 1% have no solution)

In 1915, when Rene Schneider was 2 years old, Juan Luis Sanfuentes succeeded Ramon Barros Luco as President of Chile.

Juan Luis Santafuentes (1858-1930)

Juan Luis Sanfuentes was Chile's President during the beginning of World War I, through which Chile remained neutral. During the years of the War, domestic industry in Chile grew 53%.

Escuela Militar de Chile

Rene Schneider graduated from the Escuela Militar del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, which was created March 16, 2817 by General Bernardo O'Higgins. The Escuela Militar was an institute in charge of training officers for Chile's army. Graduates of this school enter into the military with the officer degree of Lieutenant.

On October 21, 1969, General Roberto Viaux led a military insurrection against President Eduardo Frei Montalva. This demonstration was for the purpose of calling attention to the need for a military reform. Though this was non-violent, the Army Commander-in-Cheif, General Sergion Castillo and General Tulio Marambio, minister of Defense were forced to retire. After getting the desired changes, Viaux accepted forced retirement as well.

This Military insurrection became known as the Tacnazo Insurrection or "The Tacnazo"

After General Sergion Castillo failed to prevent the Tacnazo insurrection, Rene Schneider became the new Commander-in-Chief of Chile's Army. This was part of the Tacnazo agreement. In addition, the government agreed to increase the salaries of army personnel and upgrade the military budget.

Eduardo Frei Montalva (1911-1982)

Under the military leadership of Rene Schneider, Frei was forced to carry out Viaux's petition. Army general's salaries were doubled (being 6x minimum wage before, and 12x minimum wage afterwards). The government increased the military budget by 50%.

This government continued until the elections of 1970, where Salvador Allende was introduced. Salvador Allende was part of the socialist party, which differed greatly from Schneider's Right-Wing Marxist ideas. Schneider disagreed with Allende's policies during the political race.

Salvador Allende (1908-1973)

The 1970 election included three candidates: Jorge Alessandri, Radomiro Tomic, and Salvador Allende. None of the candidates achieved a majority vote. This left the decision to Congress. In the past, Congress has decided on the candidates with the most votes (plurality), which would give the presidency to Allende. Many Right-Wing politicians planned for Allende's failure, by means of political manipulation or by means of a military coup.

Rene Schneider

Despite his Right-Wing Marxist political stance, Rene Schneider possessed a strong belief that military had a singular goal: to defend the constitution of Chile. He believed that military involvement in politics was inappropriate and morally wrong. He stood by these beliefs, even as Left-Wing Salvador Allende's prospect of presidency grew. Schneider's vocal expression of these beliefs turned other Right-Wing politicians against him. General Viaux then made it his goal to get Schneider out of the way during the election, and he ordered his followers to kidnap General Schneider.

The first attempt on Schneider's kidnapping was on October 16, 1970. Viaux's men attempted to apprehend Schneider in his home. The anonymous tip they had received was false, however. Schneider had been on vacation, and would not return until a day after the kidnapping attempt.

The second attempt on October 19, 1970 involved General Viaux's men plotting to grab General Schneider as he was transported from an official dinner. The men were planning on using tear gas grenades in order to assist in the kidnapping. This attempt failed because Schneider did not use the official vehicle to return from the dinner, rather he drove a personal car.

On the third and final kidnapping attempt was an ambush on Schneider's official vehicle. On October 22, 1970, assailants broke the window of his car and shot Schneider multiple times after he drew a gun to defend himself. His injuries led to his death three days later.

Throughout the attempts on Schneider's life, the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States (CIA) was internationally involved in fighting Communism. The CIA saw Allende's election as a threat against Democracy because of Allende's Socialist views. This lead the CIA to provide support against Allende. Since Rene Schneider was set on defending the legitimacy of Allende's election. The CIA financially supported General Viaux and others who planned on removing Schneider from the election. During this time, Henry Kissinger was the head of the CIA. It is debated whether the CIA had intentions of terminating Schneider, but it is difficult to deny that the CIA had a hand in his demise.

Schneider's death caused a political uproar, which helped support the election and presidency of Salvador Allende. Because of this tragic event, Chile's government became the first to elect a socialist president by democratic vote.

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