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César Mendoza


Medal record
Competitor for 22x20px Chile
Equestrian
Olympic Games
Silver 1952 Helsinki Team Jumping
Pan American Games
Gold Buenos Aires 1951 Team Jumping
Gold Chicago 1959 Team Dressage
Bronze Chicago 1959 Individual Dressage

General César Leonidas Mendoza Durán (September 11, 1918 – September 13, 1996) was a member of the Government Junta which ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, representing the country-wide police force, the Carabineros de Chile.

Mendoza was born in Santiago, the youngest of the eleven children of Atilio Mendoza Valdebenito, a science teacher and first mayor of La Cisterna, and Amalia Durán, a pianist. In 1938, young César Mendoza began his compulsory military service. In 1940, he matriculated at the Carabineros' School, from which he was graduated as a second lieutenant the following year. Mendoza worked in different cities during his police career, starting in 1942 as a lieutenant at Molina, Talca, and the Carabineros' School. He was promoted to captain in 1953, to major in 1959, to lieutenant colonel in 1965, to colonel in 1968, to general in 1970, and to inspector general of the carabineros in 1972.

A noted horseman, Mendoza won a silver medal in the XV Olympiade of 1952 at Helsinki as a member of the show jumping team.[1]

In 1973, after being contacted by General Gustavo Leigh just a day before the coup (that is, on September 10th), he joined the plan to depose President Salvador Allende, reserving for himself the position of Director General of Carabineros (on September 10th, he had been fourth in line of command), removing José María Sepúlveda. When Mendoza joined the junta, he made history by becoming the first member of the carabineros in a Chilean government.

He was awarded medals by the police of Peru and Ecuador, in addition to receiving the medal of the Royal Victorian Order from Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

In 1985, communists José Manuel Parada, Manuel Guerrero, and Santiago Nattino were found beheaded. The blame was quickly put on the Carabineros, and the Caso Degollados ("case of the slit throats") led to Mendoza's resignation on August 2, 1985. He was replaced by General Rodolfo Stange.

In 1987, Mendoza and others founded the Las Condes University. Together with his wife, Alicia Godoy, whom he married in 1948 and with whom he has two children, Mendoza founded a charity organization to help children. In 1996, after a long illness and ninety-three days in the Carabineros' hospital, Mendoza died of cancer of the pancreas, two days after his seventy-eighth birthday.

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