Great men are bound to do great things. And, the greatest ones of these, are humble and modest about their accomplishments. Chilean Photographer Leopoldo Víctor Vargas, was one of these men.
Ten years ago, on the afternoon of Saturday 26th, 2011, Presidential Photographer and Chilean Air Force NCO (R) Leopoldo Víctor Vargas past away in Santiago de Chile, at age 78.
As Presidential Photographer (1964-1973), at the Chilean seat of government La Moneda Palace, he is the real author of the World Press Photo of the Year 1973, the Presidential Official Portrait of late President Salvador Allende (1970), and at the Diego Portales building, he shot the first official portrait of each one of the four members of the Military Junta (1973)- Army Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Admiral José Toribio Merino, Aviation Gen. Gustavo Leigh, and Carabineros Gen. César Mendoza.
One of his pictures is among the “100 most influential images of all time“, the “photos that changed the world“, and is also considered “a universal icon of photography“.
But above of all of his life achievements, he was a God fearing man, a dear husband, father, and grandfather. Today we commemorate his death (3/26/2021).
His widow, and family members, with deep love and respect, look forward to see him again in the fast approaching day of resurrection.
La Moneda Palace is being bombarded during the coup d’état at noon on September 11th 1973.
Forty three years ago, on Friday 29th, June 1973, there was a putsch against the government of Chilean President Salvador Allende. This failed putsch is known as Tanquetazo or Tancazo.
Commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army
Last Monday 26th, January 2015, was the 41st anniversary of the publication, in the American newspaper The New York Times, of the picture of the only Chilean photographer winner of the prestigious prize World Press Photo of the Year 1973, awarded by the World Press Photo Foundation in the Netherlands. It is the world’s most important prize in Photojournalism. The image shows one of the last photos of Chilean President Dr. Salvador Guillermo Allende Gossens alive, wearing a helmet and rifle on his shoulder, inside the Chilean Palace of Government, La Moneda, the day of the Coup d’état, on September 11, 1973. It was taken that fateful morning at about 09:40 a.m. by Leopoldo Víctor Vargas– presidential photographer and non-commission officer (NCO) of the Chilean Air Force.  Since it’s publication in The New York Times this picture has become a truly world photo icon.
The World Press Photo of the Year 1973 depicts Chilean President, Dr. Salvador Allende, during his tour of inspection through La Moneda Palace of government, looking for the best positions for its defense, while the Coup is in progress. Allende is flanked by two members of his personal guard, known by the acronym GAP, which in Spanish stands for “Group of Personal Friends” of the President. On Allende’s far right is Héctor Daniel Urrutia Molina (a.k.a. Miguel) and to the far left side is, the tallest one, squinting, Luis Fernando Rodríguez Riquelme (a.k.a. Mauricio). Right behind the President is José Muñoz, Captain of the Carabineros Presidential Guard, and Allende’s friend Dr.Danilo Bartulín Fovich.