Protesters marking the 40th anniversary of Chile’s military coup clashed with police today, throwing rocks and petrol bombs and setting up burning barricades. Thirteen people were arrested and a police officer was injured.
The anniversary of the 1973 coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power is often marked by violence, as a new generation continues to demand the overhaul of the economic system set up by the dictatorship.
But the anniversary is also marked with quiet grief by many, including Chile’s former President Michelle Bachelet, who wept as she attended a commemoration ceremony on Tuesday at the Villa Grimaldi compound, the former detention and torture centre where she and her mother were taken after being arrested in 1975. Ms Bachelet’s father, who was a general, was tortured to death for opposing the coup.
On 11 September 1973, Pinochet oversaw a fierce aerial bombardment of the presidential palace. The Socialist President, Salvador Allende, committed suicide rather than surrender. His death marked the start of a brutal 17-year dictatorship. The government estimates that 3,095 people were killed during Pinochet’s rule, including about 1,200 who were forcibly “disappeared”. Pinochet died under house arrest in 2006 before he could stand trial on charges of illegal enrichment and human rights violations.