The Poet and the Coup

Professor Fernando Alegría became a leader of the Chilean community in exile.

September 2023

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Fernando Alegría

¡VIVA CHILE MIERDA!: Alegría. Photo: Government of Chile

Stanford professor of Spanish and Portuguese Fernando Alegría was a poet, a novelist, and a literary critic. In September 1973, he was also banned from his native Chile by the dictator Augusto Pinochet, who led a military coup that month, supported by the United States, that deposed Chile’s democratically elected president Salvador Allende, who died by suicide during the takeover. Allende and Alegría were friends; Allende used Alegría’s poem ¡Viva Chile Mierda! in his 1964 campaign. After Allende’s election in 1970, he named Alegría his cultural attaché in Washington, D.C. Alegría was in Santiago at the time of the coup. The Stanford Daily reported that he had “no difficulty” leaving the country after Pinochet took over, but, according to people close to him, Alegría was able to do so only with help from Stanford and the U.S. Department of State; he was apparently disguised as either a nun or a priest. Alegría was a leading voice of the Chilean exile community in the United States and later wrote a novel based on Allende’s life and death. He retired from Stanford in 1988 and died in 2005.

Rebecca Beyer is a Boston-area journalist. Email her at stanford.magazine@stanford.edu.

Vintage 1973 Collection

Stanford is 50! It turns out we’re not the only one. Walk with us down memory lane as we sample some of the wonders and horrors of the 1973–74 academic year on the Farm, and in the world around.

Start the Presses

Were Golden

89 Rodins Find a New Home

A Godfather Delivers a Ransom Payment

A Splashy Debut

The Winds of Freedom

SLE Club

‘Until the Birds Took Over the Singing’

The Poet and the Coup

Steps Toward Saving Salamanders Are Set in Motion

A Sequel for Supersonic Flight?

The First Stanford Astronaut Returns from Space

The End of the Nursing Education Era

Keepers of the Flame

50 Years After the Stanford Murders, Three of Four Families Have Answers

A Classic Is Released

A Young Lawyer Wins an Educational Equity Case

Joining the Force


The Axe Is Stolen One Last Time

Fit to Be Tried

For Commencement Speaker, a Watergate Special Prosecutor

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