1973 — Salvador Allende dies

More than 40 years later, it remains a matter of some dispute whether Salvador Allende, President of Chile, committed suicide (as the official version claims), or was assassinated. Given the circumstances of his death – he died on the same day that Augusto Pinochet, the commander in chief of the Chilean army, led a CIA-approved military coup d’etat against him, and the ‘official version’ is that of Pinochet, after all.

He was the President from 1970 to 1973, and although seen in the US as a Soviet puppet, was generally treated poorly by them. A lack of expected Soviet aid spending worsened the economic conditions in Chile, which created the conditions that led to the coup, although Allende’s economic reforms, which threatened the interests of the establishment while promoting those of the indigenous population, were also a factor.

Referenced in:
Mal Sacate — Kris Kristofferson

1977 – Steve Biko dies in prison

Steve Biko was born in King William’s Town, south Africa in 1946. He went to the University of Natal, where he studied medicine. While he was studying, he became involved in various political causes. By the late sixties, he was head of the Black Consciousness Movement, a grassroots anti-apartheid movment.

Biko and the BCM played a significant role in organising the series of protests which culminated in the Soweto Uprising of 16 June, 1976. In the aftermath of the uprising, which was crushed by heavily armed police shooting school children protesting, the authorities began to target Biko further.

On the 21st of August, 1977, he was arrested at a roadblock. He was assaulted while in custody, and suffered severe injuries. On the 11th of September, he was driven, naked in the back of a police vehicle and still badly injured, for 1500 miles to Pretoria prison. He was declared dead shortly his arrival there, which the police claimed was due to a hunger strike.

Biko became a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement, and in a more general sense, of oppressed peoples everywhere.

Referenced in:

Biko – Peter Gabriel
I’m a African – Dead Prez
Biko Drum – Christy Moore
Mal Sacate – Kris Kristofferson
Biko – Sweet Honey in the Rock
Biko’s Kindred Lament – Steel Pulse
Tribute To Steve Biko – Tapper Zukie
A Motor Bike In Afrika – Peter Hammill
The Death of Stephen Biko – Tom Paxton
Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto – Sweet Honey in the Rock