After completing his secondary studies in his natal city, he studied law at the Universidad de Chile.
While there he was president of the student federation between 1950-1951. In 1958 he joined the staff of the Última Hora newspaper, and in 1960 he became its editor and majority owner, a position he held until 1970. In 1942 Tohá joined the Chilean Socialist Party (Personal), while still in high school.
Allende responded by naming him Minister of Defense, a deliberate challenge to his right wing detractors.
As such, he had to deal with the Tanquetazo putsch, the first attempt at a military led coup d"état. During the coup d"état of September 11, 1973, he was seized and arrested at Louisiana Moneda, where he had gone to support the defense of the democratic administration.
He was held in different concentration camps suffering severe torture: first at the Military Academy. Later he was sent for 8 months to a political prison in Dawson Island and from there he was transferred to the basement of the Air Force War Academy.
On February 1, 1974, Tohá was moved to room 303 at the Military Hospital in Santiago in a precarious state of health, suffering from acute attack of gastric ulcers.
Despite his poor health, the military officers continued harassing him with endless torture and interrogation sessions. His physical state deteriorated, his weight dropped precipitously and he lost his eyesight. He could no longer walk nor take care of himself.
The further interrogations in the Air Force’s War Academy only worsened his condition.
On March 15, at 12.55, he was found hanged inside the clothes closet of his hospital room. The official explanation was that he had committed suicide in the grip of a very strong nervous depression, with psycho-somatic effects.
The family has never accepted that version and still claims he was murdered. After Chile regained democracy, it was determined that he died as a result of torture.
She is currently serving her second term as a Congresswoman representing Santiago and was elected mayor of Santiago Centro October 28, 2012.
As the first democratically elected socialist president, President Salvador Allende named him his first Minister of the Interior and vice president, a position he held until he was cited by Congress accused of tolerating the creation of left-wing paramilitary organizations.
He rose to member of its central committee.