Hortensia Bussi

Mercedes Hortensia Bussi Soto de Allende (22 July 1914 – 18 June 2009) was the wife of Chilean President Salvador Allende. She was married to him from 1940 until he killed himself during the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, serving as First Lady of Chile from 1970 to 1973. Her daughters are Beatriz, Isabel and Carmen Paz.

Hortensia Bussi Soto de Allende
Hortensia Bussi de Allende.jpg
Bussi in 1970
First Lady of Chile
In role
3 November 1970 – 11 September 1973
PresidentSalvador Allende
Preceded byMaría Ruiz-Tagle Jiménez
Succeeded byLucía Hiriart
Personal details
Mercedes Hortensia Bussi Soto

(1914-07-22)22 July 1914
Rancagua, Chile
Died18 June 2009(2009-06-18) (aged 94)
Santiago, Chile
(m. 1940; died 1973)
ChildrenBeatriz Allende (1943–1977)
Carmen Paz Allende (born 1944)
Isabel Allende (born 1945)
ParentsCiro Bussi Aguilera
Mercedes Soto García
OccupationFirst Lady of Chile, Educator, Organizer


Bussi, nicknamed "Tencha", was born in Rancagua to a well-off family. She was the daughter of Ciro Bussi Aguilera, an officer in the country's merchant marine and Mercedes Soto García.[1] She graduated from the University of Chile as a teacher of History and Geography and worked as a librarian at the National Statistics Office.

Bussi met her future husband in the aftermath of the 1939 Chillán earthquake,[2] in which more than 40.000 Chileans lost their lives.[3] They were involved in the campaign for those made homeless by the earthquake. They married a year later, in 1940. Allende then became minister of health in the Popular Front government of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, at the start of his political career.[2]

After the military coup which overthrew her husband, Bussi went into exile in Mexico, and campaigned against the Pinochet regime. In 1975, she was a member of the jury at the 9th Moscow International Film Festival,[4] and in 1977 she stood as candidate for Rector of the University of Glasgow,[2] losing to the student John Bell.[5] She returned to Chile in 1988.[6]


Bussi returned to Chile in 1990 after 17 years in exile and kept a quiet life. She died at the age of 94 in Santiago.[2]


  1. ^ "Family tree of Mercedes Hortensia Bussi Soto". Geneanet. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  2. ^ a b c d The Guardian obituary for Hortensia Bussi de Allende
  3. ^ Hortensia Bussi, widow of Salvador Allende
  4. ^ "9th Moscow International Film Festival (1975)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  5. ^ University of Glasgow Story-John Bell
  6. ^ Hortensia Bussi SotoCHILEAN FIRST LADY

External linksEdit

Honorary titles
Preceded by
María Ruiz-Tagle Jiménez
First Lady of Chile
Succeeded by
Lucía Hiriart