Dr. Danilo Bartulin, a prominent Chilean politician and medical professional, remains a living testament to a pivotal chapter in Chilean history. His life’s journey has been marked by close collaboration with former President Salvador Allende and his harrowing survival of the tumultuous events of September 11, 1973.
Born in Chile, Dr. Bartulin earned his medical degree from the University of Chile and specialized in neurology and psychiatry. His political journey led him to the Chilean Socialist Party, where he became a close friend and ally of Salvador Allende, who led the Popular Unity coalition to victory in the 1970 presidential election.
Dr. Bartulin was appointed as the director of the National Health Service, a role where he worked tirelessly to implement Allende’s progressive social and health policies. He accompanied President Allende on significant foreign missions, including a pivotal visit to Cuba in 1972.
However, it was the tragic day of September 11, 1973, that etched Dr. Bartulin’s name into history. He was at the presidential residence of La Moneda with Salvador Allende when it came under a devastating attack by the air force and army led by General Augusto Pinochet. Dr. Bartulin witnessed Allende’s final national speech, in which the president made the courageous decision to stay in the palace until the end.
Tragically, Dr. Bartulin also witnessed the death of President Allende, who reportedly took his own life with a firearm given to him by Fidel Castro. Despite surviving the explosions and gunfire, Dr. Bartulin was arrested and subjected to torture by the authorities.
His ordeal included transfers to multiple detention facilities, including the notorious National Stadium, where he bravely attempted to assist other injured or unwell detainees.
Following his release, Dr. Bartulin was exiled and found refuge in Spain, where he continued his medical career. He became a respected neurologist and psychiatrist, specializing in brain injury rehabilitation. He went on to establish the Spanish Society of Neurorehabilitation.
Dr. Bartulin also became a prolific writer, publishing several books and essays that documented his experiences in Chile and his medical expertise. He actively participated in documentaries and interviews, sharing insights into Salvador Allende’s life and legacy.
As of now, there is uncertainty about Dr. Bartulin’s current status, as credible reports regarding his whereabouts or condition remain elusive. According to a 2006 report, he was known to be living in exile, a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of the events he witnessed and the courageous spirit that defined his life.
In a tragic twist of fate, Dr. Bartulin’s life intersected with another prominent figure of Chilean history, Victor Jara, the renowned singer-songwriter and political activist. Both were arrested, tortured, and held at the Estadio Chile, enduring the horrors of captivity together. Their shared ordeal, though marked by fear and isolation, bears witness to the indomitable spirit of those who stood against tyranny.
Victor Jara, despite the torment, defiantly sang a portion of the Popular Unity party’s anthem. He paid the ultimate price, losing his life to a hail of bullets from a machine gun. His lifeless body, along with five others, was discovered near the Metropolitan Cemetery on the early hours of September 16, 1973, leaving an indelible mark on Chile’s history of resistance.